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  • July 13, 2016
  • 06:11 AM
  • 140 views

Psychologists still don't know why you are oblivious to your blinks

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you were sat in a dark room and the lights flickered off every few seconds, you'd definitely notice. Yet when your blinks make the world go momentarily dark – and bear in mind most of us perform around 12 to 15 of these every minute – you are mostly oblivious. It certainly doesn't feel like someone is flicking the lights on and off. How can this be?A new study in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance has tested two possibilities – one is that after each bl........ Read more »

Irwin, D., & Robinson, M. (2016) Perceiving a Continuous Visual World Across Voluntary Eye Blinks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000267  

  • July 13, 2016
  • 04:35 AM
  • 150 views

Immune reactivity to gluten and (some) autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Not so long ago I blogged about the research paper from Faezeh Ghalichi and colleagues [1] (see here) describing the result of their relatively small scale (non-blinded, not placebo-controlled) trial on the use of a gluten-free diet (GFD) with a cohort of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).The results, taking into account certain methodological issues, were generally quite favourable when it came to the analysed behavioural measurements used and importantly on the presence........ Read more »

Faezeh Ghalichi, Alireza Ostadrahimi, Ayyoub Malek, & Jamal Ghaemmaghami. (2016) The effect of gluten free diet on markers of celiac disease and association with behavioral symptoms in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Progress in Nutrition, 18(2). info:/

  • July 13, 2016
  • 01:00 AM
  • 143 views

Another one bites the dust?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

The music theory literature has been suggesting it for a long time: the idea that simultaneous sounding tones with frequency relationships that are low integer multiples, like 1:2 (octave) or 3:2 (a perfect fifth), are determinant of how listeners perceive consonance. It is an idea that is often related to the overtone structure of natural sounds (such as the voice or string instruments) suggesting that musical harmony is reflective or even a result of the acoustic structure that is found in nat........ Read more »

Honing, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140088-20140088. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088  

  • July 12, 2016
  • 03:39 PM
  • 133 views

When staff absenteeism seems catching, it could be the team culture that's sick

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When the morning alarm carves us out of our slumber, restoring the previous night’s raspy throat and foggy head, we have a decision to make: get up and go, or call in sick. What happens next is influenced by workplace norms about whether absence is commonplace or exceptional, a current pulling us towards the office or letting us settle back into bed. But new research in Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processing from a Dutch-Canadian team, led by Lieke ten Brummelhuis, suggest........ Read more »

ten Brummelhuis, L., Johns, G., Lyons, B., & ter Hoeven, C. (2016) Why and when do employees imitate the absenteeism of co-workers?. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 16-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2016.04.001  

  • July 12, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 161 views

Bowel issues in autism may cluster with other symptoms

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Clinicians should be aware that gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, and autonomic dysfunction may cluster in children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and should be addressed in a multidisciplinary treatment plan."So said the findings by Bradley Ferguson and colleagues [1] who, continuing an autism research theme (see here), "examined the relationship between gastrointestinal symptomatology, examining upper and lower gastrointestinal tract symptomatology separately, and autonomic n........ Read more »

Ferguson BJ, Marler S, Altstein LL, Lee EB, Akers J, Sohl K, McLaughlin A, Hartnett K, Kille B, Mazurek M.... (2016) Psychophysiological Associations with Gastrointestinal Symptomatology in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27321113  

  • July 11, 2016
  • 05:14 AM
  • 99 views

Huh? Study finds taboo billboards improve driving performance

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

By guest blogger Richard StephensThe 1994 Wonderbra© billboard campaign with its distinctive “Hello Boys!” catchphrase regularly gets a mention as one of most iconic advert series of all time. Its portrayal of super model Eva Herzigova clad only in black lacey pants and gravity-defying bra is said to have sent drivers veering off the roads. However a new study published in the esteemed journal Acta Psycologica suggests that attention grabbing billboard ads may actually have the opposite eff........ Read more »

  • July 11, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 160 views

Expanding MAR autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

MAR autism - maternal autoantibody-related autism - is a term that has graced this blog before (see here). Describing a state where autoantibodies directed against foetal brain proteins have been detected in some mothers who have children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the suggestion is that such evidence further substantiates a role for various maternal immune functions and processes when it comes to offspring risk of at least some types of autism.Although interesting, t........ Read more »

Krakowiak P, Walker CK, Tancredi D, Hertz-Picciotto I, & Van de Water J. (2016) Autism-specific maternal anti-fetal brain autoantibodies are associated with metabolic conditions. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27312731  

  • July 10, 2016
  • 09:25 AM
  • 85 views

Can Psychologists Learn More by Studying Fewer People?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a brief new Frontiers in Psychology paper, Matthew P. Normand argues that Less Is More: Psychologists Can Learn More by Studying Fewer People.





Normand writes that the conventional wisdom - that a bigger sample size is better - is wrong. Repeated measurements of a few subjects, or even just one individual, can be more informative than casting the net widely, he says
Psychologists tend to view the population of interest to be people, with the number of individuals studied taking pre... Read more »

  • July 10, 2016
  • 04:53 AM
  • 184 views

Project TENDR and chemical exposures

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yes, I know I'm writing on a Sunday again, but it will be a short-ish post I promise you. The reason for the entry is this brief communication [1] reporting: "The TENDR [Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks] authors agree that widespread exposures to toxic chemicals in our air, water, food, soil, and consumer products can increase the risks for cognitive, behavioral, or social impairment, as well as specific neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit........ Read more »

Bennett, D., Bellinger, D., Birnbaum, L., Bradman, A., Chen, A., Cory-Slechta, D., Engel, S., Fallin, M., Halladay, A., Hauser, R.... (2016) Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks The TENDR Consensus Statement. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(7). DOI: 10.1289/EHP358  

  • July 9, 2016
  • 04:11 AM
  • 177 views

Pregnancy paracetamol use and "autism spectrum symptoms" (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Continuing something of a research theme whereby pregnancy paracetamol (acetaminophen) use has been *correlated* with a few offspring developmental outcomes (see here and see here), the paper by Claudia Avella-Garcia and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) makes for some blogging fodder today.Including data from some 2,600 mother-child pairs living in Spain, researchers prospectively gathered data on maternal paracetamol use ("never, sporadic, persistent") during pregnancy alongside deve........ Read more »

Avella-Garcia CB, Julvez J, Fortuny J, Rebordosa C, García-Esteban R, Galán IR, Tardón A, Rodríguez-Bernal CL, Iñiguez C, Andiarena A.... (2016) Acetaminophen use in pregnancy and neurodevelopment: attention function and autism spectrum symptoms. International journal of epidemiology. PMID: 27353198  

  • July 8, 2016
  • 05:53 AM
  • 92 views

The "imagined contact" intervention for reducing prejudice can backfire

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If insights from psychology can reduce conflict between groups, it feels like we need that help now more than ever. A new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that a simple anti-prejudice intervention, grounded in research and advocated by many social psychologists, can backfire for some people. This sounds like a bad news story, but it isn't. The result adds to our understanding of when the intervention is likely to help and when to take extra care.The background to t........ Read more »

  • July 8, 2016
  • 03:00 AM
  • 210 views

Cow's milk allergy and risk of psychiatric disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Psychiatric disorders are frequent and severe in pre-school children with cow's milk allergy."That research 'bottom line' reported by Topal and colleagues [1] looking at the possibility of behavioural correlations accompanying an immune response to milk caught my eye recently. Building on the idea that atopic or allergic disease might elevate the risk of various behavioural outcomes (see here) or vice-versa, researchers set about comparing rates of various behavioural conditions using the "Earl........ Read more »

Topal E, Catal F, Soylu N, Ozcan OO, Celiksoy MH, Babayiğit A, Erge D, Karakoç HT, & Sancak R. (2016) Psychiatric disorders and symptoms severity in pre-school children with cow's milk allergy. Allergologia et immunopathologia. PMID: 27240441  

  • July 7, 2016
  • 10:46 AM
  • 261 views

Psychologists have identified the length of eye contact that people find most comfortable

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's a dilemma extremely familiar to anyone with social anxiety – for how long to make eye contact before looking away? The fear is that if you only ever fix the other person's gaze for very brief spells then you'll look shifty. If you lock on for too long, on the other hand, then there's the risk of seeming creepy. Thankfully a team of British researchers has now conducted the most comprehensive study of what people generally regard as a comfortable length of eye contact.For the research publ........ Read more »

Binetti, N., Harrison, C., Coutrot, A., Johnston, A., & Mareschal, I. (2016) Pupil dilation as an index of preferred mutual gaze duration. Royal Society Open Science, 3(7), 160086. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160086  

  • July 7, 2016
  • 05:08 AM
  • 245 views

Is OCD fuelled by a fear of the self?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Most of us have unwanted thoughts and images that pop into our heads and it's not a big deal. But for people with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) these mental intrusions are frequently distressing and difficult to ignore. A new article in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy explores the possibility that the reason these thoughts become so troubling to some people is that they play on their fears about the kind of person they might be. The reasoning goes something like this: ........ Read more »

  • July 7, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 249 views

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) associated with autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) refers to a collection of conditions also headed under the label of connective tissue disorder. EDS affects the 'cellular glue' that basically gives biological tissues their shape and stability such as cartilage. There are various types of EDS and symptoms can vary from person-to-person but one of the most frequent characteristics of the syndrome is joint hypermobility.I've speculated a few times on this blog about the possibility that EDS and/or joint hypermobility ........ Read more »

  • July 6, 2016
  • 03:00 AM
  • 205 views

Pregnancy infection and offspring autism risk meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Another day, another short post about a meta-analysis; this time based on the suggestion that maternal infection during the critical 'nine months that made us' might elevate the risk of offspring autism and reported on by Hai-yin Jiang and colleagues [1].Based on the collected analysis of 15 peer-reviewed studies covering some 40,000 people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the authors concluded that yes, "maternal infection during pregnancy was associated with an ........ Read more »

  • July 5, 2016
  • 02:50 AM
  • 188 views

Autism and asthma meta-analysed.. or is it?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, the results of this meta-analysis do not suggest an association between asthma and ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Further prospective studies ascertaining the association between asthma and ASD are warranted."So said the results of the meta-analysis by Zhen Zheng and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and with it some research that made me think a little. Think because, on more than one occasion, I've talked about research suggesting that there might be a link betw........ Read more »

  • July 4, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 201 views

Autism: visual stress and coloured overlays?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The small study from Amanda Ludlow & Arnold Wilkins [1] is introduced for your reading pleasure today and the idea that "atypical sensory behaviours and symptoms of visual stress" were not uncommon features when it came to a diagnosis of autism and/or Tourette's syndrome (TS). As per that opening sentence, this was a small study - 12 children with autism, 12 children with TS and 12 controls - but that doesn't mean that the results might not be important...So far you might be slightly un........ Read more »

  • July 2, 2016
  • 04:37 AM
  • 192 views

The gut microbiome and coeliac disease risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Elective caesarean delivery and repeated maternal urinary tract infections during pregnancy are associated with increased risk of CD [coeliac disease] onset during childhood, suggesting the role of dysbiosis during early life."Those were some of the rather surprising findings reported by Fredinah Namatovu and colleagues [1] (open-access) following their pretty well-powered study covering "1 912 204 children born between 1991 and 2009, 6 596 of whom developed CD before 15 years of........ Read more »

Namatovu, F., Olsson, C., Lindkvist, M., Myléus, A., Högberg, U., Ivarsson, A., & Sandström, O. (2016) Maternal and perinatal conditions and the risk of developing celiac disease during childhood. BMC Pediatrics, 16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12887-016-0613-y  

  • July 1, 2016
  • 02:34 AM
  • 184 views

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): another over-represented condition in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Returning to the idea that not every symptom/characteristic present in cases of autism is necessarily 'due to autism' are the findings reported by Heifert and colleagues [1] and the observations that: "Children with ASD are more likely to be diagnosed with EoE [Eosinophilic esophagitis] compared to controls" and further: "A diagnosis of feeding disorder was strongly associated with EoE."EoE is something that has been discussed before on this blog in relation to the myriad of gastrointe........ Read more »

Heifert TA, Susi A, Hisle-Gorman E, Erdie-Lalena CR, Gorman G, Min SB, & Nylund CM. (2016) Feeding Disorders in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Are Associated with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. PMID: 27276430  

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