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  • May 18, 2016
  • 02:57 AM

Siblings of probands with autism: preferential screening suggested?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders cluster among siblings of probands with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."That was the research bottom line presented in the paper by Elina Jokiranta-Olkoniemi and colleagues [1] who extracted data from the Finnish Prenatal Study of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (FIPS-A). FIPS-A has been mentioned previously on this blog (see here) but this time around the aim was to look not at the various risk factors potentially associated........ Read more »

Jokiranta-Olkoniemi, E., Cheslack-Postava, K., Sucksdorff, D., Suominen, A., Gyllenberg, D., Chudal, R., Leivonen, S., Gissler, M., Brown, A., & Sourander, A. (2016) Risk of Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Among Siblings of Probands With Autism Spectrum Disorders. JAMA Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0495  

  • May 17, 2016
  • 02:43 AM

Immigrant background and risk of offspring ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] was significantly increased among children of two immigrant parents... and children of an immigrant father."So said the findings published by Venla Lehti and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme from this authorship group (see here) on how immigration might, for various reasons, bring about an increased or decreased risk of certain behavioural and/or psychiatric outcomes. This time a........ Read more »

Lehti V, Chudal R, Suominen A, Gissler M, & Sourander A. (2016) Association between immigrant background and ADHD: a nationwide population-based case-control study. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27133554  

  • May 16, 2016
  • 04:00 AM

Sorry to say, but your pilot's decisions are probably just as irrational as yours and mine

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Flying a plane is no trivial task, but adverse weather conditions are where things get seriously challenging. Tragically, a contributing factor to many fatal accidents is when the pilot has misjudged the appropriateness of the flying conditions. Now in a somewhat worrying paper in Applied Cognitive Psychology Stephen Walmsley and Andrew Gilbey of Massey University have shown that pilots’ judgment of weather conditions, and their decisions on how to respond to them, are coloured by three classi........ Read more »

  • May 16, 2016
  • 02:40 AM

More [metabolomic] evidence for dysbiosis and some autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Xiyue Xiong and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) took my attention recently and some further evidence contributory to the idea that the trillions of wee beasties that call our gastrointestinal (GI) tract home - collectively known as the gut microbiome - might have some important links to at least 'some' autism.Describing the results of "a GC/MS based metabolomic approach"  - GC-MS being gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and metabolomic(s) being the analysis o........ Read more »

  • May 14, 2016
  • 06:16 PM

What's really the deal with toxoplasma gondii and human behavior?

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

T. gondii cyst in a mouse brain.

For a simple protozoan, Toxoplasma gondii has experienced something of a meteoric rise in popularity over the past several years. Actually, to be fair T. gondii has garnered quite a bit of interest since the 1930s, when it was discovered the parasite could be transmitted from a mother to a fetus in the womb, sometimes resulting in severe congenital disorders. Curiosity about T. gondii grew significantly in the early 2000s, ........ Read more »

Parlog A, Schlüter D, & Dunay IR. (2015) Toxoplasma gondii-induced neuronal alterations. Parasite immunology, 37(3), 159-70. PMID: 25376390  

  • May 14, 2016
  • 03:29 AM

On autism symptoms in ADHD (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Continuing a research theme (see here), the paper by Jessica Green and colleagues [1] again focuses the spotlight on how the various childhood developmental diagnoses often enjoy mingling together when it comes to their real-life presentation; real ESSENCE in action. Such overlaps can and do present challenges to diagnosticians to unpick often complicated presentations (no, your 'Am I autistic?' screen is not really a good idea) and onwards the best way forward to manage symptoms ........ Read more »

Green JL, Sciberras E, Anderson V, Efron D, & Rinehart N. (2016) Association between autism symptoms and functioning in children with ADHD. Archives of disease in childhood. PMID: 27117836  

  • May 13, 2016
  • 04:00 PM

Neuroscientists discover new learning rule for pattern completion

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Recently, scientists discovered a new learning rule for a specific type of excitatory synaptic connection in the hippocampus. These synapses are located in the so-called CA3 region of the hippocampus, which plays a critical role for storage and recall of spatial information in the brain. One of its hallmark properties is that memory recall can even be triggered by incomplete cues. This enables the network to complete neuronal activity patterns, a phenomenon termed pattern completion.

... Read more »

  • May 13, 2016
  • 12:03 PM

We all differ in our ability to cope with contradictions and paradoxes. Introducing the "aintegration" test

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Life is full of paradoxes and uncertainty – good people who do bad things, and questions with no right or wrong answer. But the human mind abhors doubt and contradictions, which provoke an uncomfortable state of "cognitive dissonance". In turn, this motivates us to see the world in neat, black and white terms. For example, we'll decide the good person must really have been bad all along, or conversely that the bad thing they did wasn't really too bad after all. But a pair of researchers in Isr........ Read more »

  • May 13, 2016
  • 02:21 AM

Autism and the [different] expression of pain

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Two papers provide some brief discussion today. The first by Janice Goldschmidt [1] titled: 'What Happened to Paul? Manifestation of Abnormal Pain Response for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder' provides an account of a young man with autism who during a "pilot nutrition intervention designed to teach cooking skills to young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" fell quite seriously. We are told that: "After his accident, which resulted in broken and dislocated bones in his ankle, ........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2016
  • 03:30 AM

After learning to identify with someone else's face, do people think their appearance has changed?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Past research has shown that it’s possible to hack our sense of our own bodies in bewildering ways, such as perceiving another person’s face as our own by stroking both in synchrony. These body illusions can alter our sense of self at a psychological level too. For example, embodying a child-sized body in a virtual reality environment leads people to associate themselves with child-like concepts. Can such effects also operate in the opposite direction, from the psychological to the physical?........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2016
  • 03:00 AM

Shared genetics? Autism, gastrointestinal issues and serotonin

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I note the paper by Kara Gross Margolis and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) has been garnering a few media headlines with the suggestion that: "Gastrointestinal [GI] problems in autistic children may be linked to the same genetic mutations that cause other characteristics of autism spectrum disorder."The study, focusing on the idea that SERT (the serotonin transporter) encoded by the SLC6A4 gene might show some connection to 'some' autism [2], looked to model........ Read more »

Margolis KG, Li Z, Stevanovic K, Saurman V, Israelyan N, Anderson GM, Snyder I, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD, & Gershon MD. (2016) Serotonin transporter variant drives preventable gastrointestinal abnormalities in development and function. The Journal of clinical investigation. PMID: 27111230  

  • May 11, 2016
  • 02:58 PM

Could flies help us understand brain injuries?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Each year, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These injuries occur most frequently from falling, but can also result from military combat, car accidents, contact sports or domestic abuse. Recently, physicians and researchers have become increasingly concerned that even mild cases of repetitive brain trauma could have long-term, unanticipated consequences.

... Read more »

Barekat, A., Gonzalez, A., Mauntz, R., Kotzebue, R., Molina, B., El-Mecharrafie, N., Conner, C., Garza, S., Melkani, G., Joiner, W.... (2016) Using Drosophila as an integrated model to study mild repetitive traumatic brain injury. Scientific Reports, 25252. DOI: 10.1038/srep25252  

  • May 11, 2016
  • 10:00 AM

Dog Attacks on Guide Dogs: The Personal and Financial Cost

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new report finds there are 11 dog attacks on guide dogs every month in the UK, on average.The lifetime cost of a guide dog for the blind is approximately US$75,000Guide dogs provide essential assistance to people who are blind or partially sighted. When other dogs attack guide dogs, the consequences can be severe. The charity Guide Dogs has been keeping records of these attacks, and a new paper by Rachel Moxon (of Guide Dogs) et al details the problems faced over a 56 month period from 2010 to........ Read more »

  • May 11, 2016
  • 04:16 AM

Why do women do so much better at university than their school test scores predict?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Picture an American high school staff-room, late in the academic year, where a teacher called Alice is listening to her colleagues ride their favourite hobby horse: picking out which students have the most promise.Eventually Alice leans forward and taps her laptop. “Less talk, guys, more data. If you want to know how a student will do when they get to college, look at their aptitude test scores.” Betty throws her a look. “That won’t work,” she says, ”girls go on to do better than the........ Read more »

  • May 11, 2016
  • 02:57 AM

Vitamin D and autism: the story so far...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't want to keep you too long today aside from directing you to the literature review by Hajar Mazahery and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) discussing the collected peer-review literature on the topic of vitamin D and autism to date.Anyone that stops by this blog might already know about my interest in the science around this issue (see here and see here for example) and how quite a few more resources really should be directed into this 'sunshine' research area. The Mazahery........ Read more »

Mazahery H, Camargo CA, Conlon C, Beck KL, Kruger MC, & von Hurst PR. (2016) Vitamin D and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Literature Review. Nutrients, 8(4). PMID: 27110819  

  • May 10, 2016
  • 09:34 PM

The Face as Destiny

by John DiPrete in EmbodiCog

Here is a graphic tutorial on the large impact that small changes can make in a face's superficial architecture...... Read more »

Merton, R. (1948) The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. The Antioch Review, 8(2), 193. DOI: 10.2307/4609267  

  • May 10, 2016
  • 04:55 PM

Research shows body image linked to overall life satisfaction

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

We're constantly bombarded by advertisements telling us we are too fat, too thin, not curvy enough, not flat enough -- or more often than not -- simply not enough. It shouldn't be a surprise to see that effect our day to day life, like it or not -- and it has. Researchers have just published results from a national study on the factors linked to satisfaction with appearance and weight.

... Read more »

  • May 10, 2016
  • 06:36 AM

Psychosis: Understanding The Symptoms

by Pieter Carrière in United Academics

Dealing with psychotic patients takes more than looking at their diagnostic labels.... Read more »

Heering, H., Koevoets, G., Koenders, L., Machielsen, M., Meijer, C., Kubota, M., de Nijs, J., Cahn, W., Hulshoff Pol, H., de Haan, L.... (2015) Structural MRI Differences between Patients with and without First Rank Symptoms: A Delusion?. Frontiers in Psychiatry. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00107  

Perälä, J., Suvisaari, J., Saarni, S., Kuoppasalmi, K., Isometsä, E., Pirkola, S., Partonen, T., Tuulio-Henriksson, A., Hintikka, J., Kieseppä, T.... (2007) Lifetime Prevalence of Psychotic and Bipolar I Disorders in a General Population. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(1), 19. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.64.1.19  

  • May 10, 2016
  • 05:29 AM

Men who can tell a good story are seen as more attractive and higher status

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The results fit with evolutionary theoryStories can change how we think about the world, about the people they describe, and even ourselves. According to new research, they also influence our attitude to the storyteller. An article published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests that people portrayed as stronger storytellers are considered as higher status than those that aren’t – and this status can make them more romantically attractive, at least in the eyes of women. Cue editing ........ Read more »

  • May 10, 2016
  • 04:29 AM

What does a gluten-free diet do to the gut microbiome?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In answer to the question posed in the title of this post: "A GFD [gluten-free diet] changes the gut microbiome composition and alters the activity of microbial pathways."So said the findings reported by Marc Jan Bonder and colleagues [1] (open-access) who presented results based on the "changes in the gut microbiomes of 21 healthy volunteers who followed a GFD for four weeks." Said research volunteers (12 women and 9 men) initially followed a GFD for 4 weeks following some baseli........ Read more »

Bonder MJ, Tigchelaar EF, Cai X, Trynka G, Cenit MC, Hrdlickova B, Zhong H, Vatanen T, Gevers D, Wijmenga C.... (2016) The influence of a short-term gluten-free diet on the human gut microbiome. Genome medicine, 8(1), 45. PMID: 27102333  

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