The findings reported by Naushad Shaik Mohammad and colleagues  provide some blogging fodder today and the suggestion of a link between some of the genetics of the folate pathway and the finding of elevated levels of homocysteine with [some] autism in mind.OK, from the start, the genetics of folate metabolism mentioned in the context of autism typically means reference to the quite well replicated finding of issues with the gene methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) (see ........ Read more »
Shaik Mohammad N, Sai Shruti P, Bharathi V, Krishna Prasad C, Hussain T, Alrokayan SA, Naik U, & Radha Rama Devi A. (2016) Clinical utility of folate pathway genetic polymorphisms in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Psychiatric genetics. PMID: 27755291
"This study demonstrates an association between antibiotic use in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes in childhood."So said the findings reported by Slykerman and colleagues  who relied on data from the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative Study (an initiative set up to determine whether "internationally recognized risk factors for small-for-gestational-age (SGA) term babies were applicable in New Zealand") to examine the suggestion that early life antib........ Read more »
Slykerman RF, Thompson J, Waldie KE, Murphy R, Wall C, & Mitchell EA. (2016) Antibiotics in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992). PMID: 27701771
Teaching a quiet behaviour using an automatic feeder is a promising solution to barking problems.Some dogs bark when their owner is out and they are left home alone. A recent study by Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University) et al investigates the effectiveness of a humane, automated approach to solving barking problems.The research was conducted because some owners use citronella or shock collars to try and prevent their dogs from barking. While the devices may sometimes work, there ........ Read more »
Protopopova, A., Kisten, D., & Wynne, C. (2016) Evaluating a humane alternative to the bark collar: Automated differential reinforcement of not barking in a home-alone setting. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. DOI: 10.1002/jaba.334
If a primary goal of medicine is to relieve pain and suffering then the paper by Andrew Stickley and colleagues  might provide an important insight into how medicine might be missing some important groups when it comes to the experience of pain "assessed by the degree to which it interfered with work activity in the previous month."Drawing on data from the English 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) (a resource that has cropped up on this blog before), auth........ Read more »
The quote titling this brief post - "increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression" - comes from the review by Parker and colleagues  who seem to be no strangers to reviewing evidence on a possible link between the sunshine vitamin/hormone and depression .Affiliated to the Black Dog Institute in Oz ('black dog' being used as a metaphor for depression for quite a few years), the authors surveyed the quite voluminous peer-reviewed research literat........ Read more »
What can we learn from Halloween? A lot, judging by numerous scientific studies and less scientific surveys. Halloween could help to collect a wide range of extreme facial expressions, including highly negative situations when children discover their parents ate up all their Halloween candy. This is what was done in the recent study and an ongoing youtube challenge. Smile! You are being watched [...] ... Read more »
Wenzler S, Levine S, van Dick R, Oertel-Knöchel V, & Aviezer H. (2016) Beyond pleasure and pain: Facial expression ambiguity in adults and children during intense situations. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 16(6), 807-14. PMID: 27337681
Diener, E., Fraser, S., Beaman, A., & Kelem, R. (1976) Effects of deindividuation variables on stealing among Halloween trick-or-treaters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33(2), 178-183. DOI: 10.1037//0022-3522.214.171.124
Woolley, J., Boerger, E., & Markman, A. (2004) A visit from the Candy Witch: factors influencing young children's belief in a novel fantastical being. Developmental Science, 7(4), 456-468. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2004.00366.x
Jamison, J., & Karlan, D. (2016) CANDY ELASTICITY: HALLOWEEN EXPERIMENTS ON PUBLIC POLITICAL STATEMENTS. Economic Inquiry, 54(1), 543-547. DOI: 10.1111/ecin.12233
"To date, there is no evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves core symptoms and associated symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the results of the review by Xiong and colleagues  (open-access available here) completed under the auspices of the Cochrane Collaboration, leaders in the science and publication of systematic reviews (see here for another example).Looking at the collected peer-reviewed science on the topic of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for aut........ Read more »
Xiong T, Chen H, Luo R, & Mu D. (2016) Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. PMID: 27737490
Bugs Bunny in Hyde and Hare (1955)Delusional misidentification syndromes have fascinated filmmakers and psychiatrists alike. Afflicted individuals suffer under the false belief that persons or things around them have changed their identities or appearance. Classification schemes have varied, but a general outline includes:Capgras delusion Fregoli delusion Intermetamorphosis Subjective doublesfrom Table 1 (Ellis et al., 1994). Classification and description of the four principal delusional miside........ Read more »
Malliaras DE, Kossovitsa YT, Christodoulou GN. (1978) Organic contributors to the intermetamorphosis syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 135(8), 985-987. DOI: 10.1176/ajp.135.8.985
In the spirit of Halloween we bring you the science fact and fiction behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little guys, (and girls) are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic zombie, but did you know that we aren't the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn't a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction, so let's dive in.
... Read more »
Lafferty KD. (2006) Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 273(1602), 2749-55. PMID: 17015323
Vyas A, Kim SK, Giacomini N, Boothroyd JC, & Sapolsky RM. (2007) Behavioral changes induced by Toxoplasma infection of rodents are highly specific to aversion of cat odors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(15), 6442-7. PMID: 17404235
Passamonti L, Crockett MJ, Apergis-Schoute AM, Clark L, Rowe JB, Calder AJ, & Robbins TW. (2012) Effects of acute tryptophan depletion on prefrontal-amygdala connectivity while viewing facial signals of aggression. Biological psychiatry, 71(1), 36-43. PMID: 21920502
Thomas, F., Schmidt-Rhaesa, A., Martin, G., Manu, C., Durand, P., & Renaud, F. (2002) Do hairworms (Nematomorpha) manipulate the water seeking behaviour of their terrestrial hosts?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15(3), 356-361. DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00410.x
W. Wesołowska T. Wesołowski. (2014) Do Leucochloridium sporocysts manipulate the behaviour of their snail hosts?. Journal of Zoology , 292(3), 151-155. info:/10.1111/jzo.12094
In the previous post, I’ve concluded, with Ben Walters, that we need to “make art that wins hearts and arguments that win minds“. The aim is to contrast the rise of populism, or, following the current slang, fight against post-fact…Read more ›... Read more »
Fernbach, P., Rogers, T., Fox, C., & Sloman, S. (2013) Political Extremism Is Supported by an Illusion of Understanding. Psychological Science, 24(6), 939-946. DOI: 10.1177/0956797612464058
Tuller, HM., Bryan, CJ., Heyman, GD., & Christenfeld, NJS Volume 59, July 2015, Pages 18–23. (2015) Seeing the other side: Perspective taking and the moderation of extremity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 18-23. info:/10.1016/j.jesp.2015.02.003
Appreciating that the autism spectrum is truly a wide and heterogeneous one (or even several?), I'd like to direct your attention today to the findings reported by Jocelyn Bessette Gorlin and colleagues  on the topic of "the experiences of families living with a child with severe autism."In particular, I'd like to highlight the six areas that emerged from the "29 interviews with 22 participants from 11 families" related to family experiences and how, minus any sweeping generalisations, m........ Read more »
Bessette Gorlin J, McAlpine CP, Garwick A, & Wieling E. (2016) Severe Childhood Autism: The Family Lived Experience. Journal of pediatric nursing. PMID: 27720503
Earlier this week, we wrote on the question of whether those who have a higher score on the Need for Cognition Scale are just lazy (and the answer was no, not really). If you read this blog regularly, you know that bias is where we work and focus. We also like a curious juror (sometimes) […]
Uncommon Wisdom: Lessons from Patent and IP Mock Jurors
Choosing to either disgust your jurors or tick them off
Choosing science over beliefs: Frequency of dog bites and feelings of........ Read more »
Kahn, Landrum, Carpenter, Helft, & Jameson. (2016) Science curiosity and political information processing. . Advances in Political Psychology. info:/
So: "Results indicate that individuals diagnosed with PDD [pervasive developmental disorder] by DSM-IV-TR criteria may not be diagnosed using DSM-5 criteria."That was the conclusion reached by Ferhat Yaylaci & Suha Miral  following their study of 150 children (3-15 years old) diagnosed with PDD "by DSM-IV-TR" whose symptoms/presentation were "reviewed through psychiatric assessment based on DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 criteria." The percentage figure they arrived at (19.3%) indicat........ Read more »
Yaylaci, F., & Miral, S. (2016) A Comparison of DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 Diagnostic Classifications in the Clinical Diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2937-8
Italy's school for water rescue dogs, the Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, has trained hundreds of animals in canine heroics. The dogs work on Italian police and coast guard boats, and with fire departments and the navy. They can even jump into the ocean from a hovering helicopter to save a person.
They're pros at taking commands from humans. So researchers wondered if the dogs could help them understand what kind of command works best: Words? Or gestures?
Biagio D'Aniello, a biologis... Read more »
D'Aniello B, Scandurra A, Alterisio A, Valsecchi P, & Prato-Previde E. (2016) The importance of gestural communication: a study of human-dog communication using incongruent information. Animal cognition, 19(6), 1231-1235. PMID: 27338818
I just came across a remarkable new paper on the science of salt-passing behavior: Expected Results Show that a Longer Nose Means Slower Times for Passing the Salt and Pepper: A Second Report
The article, which I have no doubt is entirely serious in nature, lists as its authors Canadian researchers Minér Patrick, Léon Le Néz and Pat Minér.
Here's how Patrick et al. describe their work:
Eighty female student subjects were tested by being asked to pass salt or pepper by another stud... Read more »
Patrick M, Le Néz L, Minér P. (2016) Expected Results Show that a Longer Nose Means Slower Times for Passing the Salt and Pepper: A Second Report. Dual Diagnosis: Open Access. info:/
I'd like to think that the review article by Annik Simons and colleagues  (open-access) highlights some pretty strong evidence to suggest there being at least some connection between some autism and some of the collected inborn errors of metabolism. Indeed, when people generally talk about 'not knowing what causes autism' if we perhaps consider a more plural view of 'the autisms', there is a case to be made to say we might know what causes 'some' autism and some of it might lie in this area.......... Read more »
Simons A, Eyskens F, Glazemakers I, & van West D. (2016) Can psychiatric childhood disorders be due to inborn errors of metabolism?. European child . PMID: 27695954
Most dogs show signs of impaired welfare at the vet, according to their owners.A survey of 906 dog guardians in Italy found most people report their dog as being stressed at all stages of the visit to a vet clinic, from being in the waiting room to being examined by the vet. 6.4% of dogs had actually bitten their guardian at the vet and 11.2% had growled or snapped at the vet.The report by Chiara Mariti (University of Pisa) et al draws important conclusions about what owners and vets need to do ........ Read more »
Mariti C, Pierantoni L, Sighieri C, & Gazzano A. (2016) Guardians' Perceptions of Dogs' Welfare and Behaviors Related to Visiting the Veterinary Clinic. Journal of applied animal welfare science : JAAWS, 1-10. PMID: 27712096
The title of this post is partially taken from the BBC take on the findings reported by Andrew Pickles and colleagues  detailing a long-term follow up (and slight adjustment to the calculation of behavioural scores) of the Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT). PACT by the way, is a strategy based on the important tenet of shared attention where: "The approach aims to help parents adapt their communication style to their child’s impairments and respond to their child with enhance........ Read more »
Pickles, A., Le Couteur, A., Leadbitter, K., Salomone, E., Cole-Fletcher, R., Tobin, H., Gammer, I., Lowry, J., Vamvakas, G., Byford, S.... (2016) Parent-mediated social communication therapy for young children with autism (PACT): long-term follow-up of a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31229-6
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
While it may be 2016, there are still some judges who view women and men differently even when they commit the same offense. When it comes to killing your spouse—apparently, the difference lies in the gender of the defendant. Australian researchers looked at the sentencing remarks from nine different judges from trials involving men killing […]
Does race make a difference in how jurors perceive battered spouse syndrome cases?
Female serial killers: Who they are and how........ Read more »
Hall, G., Whittle, M., & Field, C. (2015) Themes in Judges' Sentencing Remarks for Male and Female Domestic Murderers. . Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 23(3), 395-412. DOI: 10.1080/13218719.2015.1080142
"We aimed to investigate the risk of substance use-related problems in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Findings: "The risk of substance use-related problems was the highest among individuals with ASD and ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the findings reported by Agnieszka Butwicka and colleagues  (open-access) looking again at an important but slightly uncomfortable topic: substance use-related problems or substance use disorder (SUD) with autism in ........ Read more »
Butwicka, A., Långström, N., Larsson, H., Lundström, S., Serlachius, E., Almqvist, C., Frisén, L., & Lichtenstein, P. (2016) Increased Risk for Substance Use-Related Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2914-2
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