Childhood obesity affects more than double the amount of children it did 30 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). To figure out why the rate is increasing researchers studied the relationship between parents and their obese children to determine how to improve pediatric health. The study actually reveals how poorly parents rate their own child’s weight issues — at least until they reach extreme levels of obesity.... Read more »
Black et al. (2015) Child obesity cut-offs as derived from parental perceptions: cross-sectional questionnaire. British Journal of General Practice. info:/10.3399/bjgp15X684385
"The autism sera injected rats demonstrated developmental delay and deficits in social communication, interaction, and novelty."That was one of the findings reported in the paper by Syed Faraz Kazim and colleagues  (open-access) who, among other things, injected intracerebroventricularly sera collected from children with autism into newborn rats and examined behavioural effects compared with injections of sera from asymptomatic controls. Actually, that was only one part of the resea........ Read more »
Kazim, S., Cardenas-Aguayo, M., Arif, M., Blanchard, J., Fayyaz, F., Grundke-Iqbal, I., & Iqbal, K. (2015) Sera from Children with Autism Induce Autistic Features Which Can Be Rescued with a CNTF Small Peptide Mimetic in Rats. PLOS ONE, 10(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118627
When you consider that so much of our energy and such a large portion of our behavioral repertoire is devoted to ways of ensuring our survival, suicide appears to be perhaps the most inexplicable human behavior. What would make this human machine--which most of the time seems to be resolutely programmed to scratch, claw, and fight to endure through even the most dire situations--so easily decide to give it all up, even when the circumstances may not objectively seem all that desperate? Suicide i........ Read more »
Sometimes being too focused on a task is not a good thing. During tasks that require our attention, we might become so engrossed in what we are doing that we fail to notice there is a better way to get the job done. For example, let’s say you are coming out of a New York City subway one late afternoon and you want to find out which way is west. You might begin to scan street signs and then suddenly realize that you could just look for the setting sun.... Read more »
Nicolas W. Schuck, Robert Gaschler, Dorit Wenke, Jakob Heinzle, Peter A. Frensch, John-Dylan Haynes, & Carlo Reverberi. (2015) Medial Prefrontal Cortex Predicts Internally Driven Strategy Shifts. Neuron. info:/Link
by Sergio Graziosi in Evolutionary Games Group
A recurrent theme here in TheEGG is the limits and reliability of knowledge. These get explored from many directions: on epistemological grounds, from the philosophy of science angle, but also formally, through game theory and simulations. In this post, I will explore the topic of misbeliefs as adaptations. Misbeliefs will be intended as ideas about […]... Read more »
Kaznatcheev, A., Montrey, M., & Shultz, T.R. (2014) Evolving useful delusions: Subjectively rational selfishness leads to objectively irrational cooperation. Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society. arXiv: 1405.0041v1
In the Journal of Personality, a new study reports on the uniformity of human experience around the globe: The World at 7: Comparing the Experience of Situations Across 20 Countries
The research was an online survey of a total of 5447 people. Each participant was asked to think about what happened the previous evening at 7 pm. Then they were asked to describe the 7 pm scene by means of 89 statements (descriptors), which included things like: "Rational thinking is called for.", "Situation ra... Read more »
Guillaume E, Baranski E, Todd E, Bastian B, Bronin I, Ivanova C, Cheng JT, de Kock FS, Denissen JJ, Gallardo-Pujol D.... (2015) The World at 7: Comparing the experience of situations across 20 countries. Journal of personality. PMID: 25808415
"A positive screen on the M-CHAT [Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers] occurs more commonly in very preterm infants than those born at term."So said the study by Peter Gray and colleagues  as the topic of preterm status - that is, babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy - potentially being linked to a greater risk of autism or at least, increased risk of screening positive for autism, crops up yet again on this blog (see here).Gray et al examined a cohort of children bo........ Read more »
Gray PH, Edwards DM, O'Callaghan MJ, & Gibbons K. (2015) Screening for autism spectrum disorder in very preterm infants during early childhood. Early human development, 91(4), 271-276. PMID: 25766314
The sparring mitt, yellow stitches spelling "SLUGGER" casually lying on the desk. The Mathlete trophy on a high shelf. A Ganesha statue, slightly chipped. Why do people bring these kinds of personal objects into the workplace?Researchers Kris Byron and Gregory Laurence found answers by consulting 28 people in a range of jobs and workplaces. They used the "grounded theory" approach, starting with a clutch of more open-ended interviews and then pursuing the lines of inquiry that emerged, in every ........ Read more »
Byron, K., & Laurence, G. (2014) Diplomas, Photos, and Tchotchkes as Symbolic Self-Representations: Understanding Employees' Individual Use of Symbols. Academy of Management Journal, 58(1), 298-323. DOI: 10.5465/amj.2012.0932
Is it cool or existentially disturbing to think that your personal brain quirks might come from the toys you played with as a toddler?
In a study published earlier this month, psychologists asked 6,588 American synesthetes what colors they associate with each letter of the alphabet. Then they compared these associations to a certain vintage set of Fisher-Price alphabet magnets. They found that at least 6% of their synesthetes had improbably close matches to the colors of the magnets.
T... Read more »
Witthoft, N., Winawer, J., & Eagleman, D. (2015) Prevalence of Learned Grapheme-Color Pairings in a Large Online Sample of Synesthetes. PLOS ONE, 10(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118996
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
There is a lot of literature on fire-setters but not, apparently, on how psychotic fire-setters differ from those who are not psychotic. As it turns out, there are some significant differences. Researchers in The Netherlands examined the records of 124 fire-setters (30 psychotic and 94 non-psychotic) sent for pretrial forensic mental health assessments between 2000 […]
But, your honor! That witness was drunk!
Can you trust the results of forensic evaluations on legal sanit........ Read more »
Dalhuisen, L., Koenraadt, F., & Liem, M. (2015) Psychotic versus non-psychotic firesetters: similarities and differences in characteristics. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry , 1-22. DOI: 10.1080/14789949.2015.1018927
A quote to begin: "acute inflammation can lead to decreases in the ability to accurately and reliably comprehend emotional information from others."It comes from the article published by Mona Moieni and colleagues  who examined a concept familiar to many people with a connection to autism either personally or professionally: Theory of Mind (ToM). Rather interestingly, Moieni et al "examined whether exposure to an experimental inflammatory challenge led to changes in ToM." Inflammato........ Read more »
Moieni M, Irwin MR, Jevtic I, Breen EC, & Eisenberger NI. (2015) Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing: a randomized controlled trial of endotoxin. Brain, behavior, and immunity. PMID: 25770082
For treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder to be effective, is it really necessary to focus on the trauma itself? ... Read more »
Barlow DH, Bullis JR, Comer JS, & Ametaj AA. (2013) Evidence-based psychological treatments: an update and a way forward. Annual review of clinical psychology, 1-27. PMID: 23245338
Gerger, H., Munder, T., Gemperli, A., Nüesch, E., Trelle, S., Jüni, P., & Barth, J. (2014) Integrating fragmented evidence by network meta-analysis: relative effectiveness of psychological interventions for adults with post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological Medicine, 3151-3164. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291714000853
Schnurr PP. (2007) The rocks and hard places in psychotherapy outcome research. Journal of traumatic stress, 779-92. PMID: 17955539
Watts BV, Schnurr PP, Mayo L, Young-Xu Y, Weeks WB, & Friedman MJ. (2013) Meta-analysis of the efficacy of treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry. PMID: 23842024
Stereotypes about people can affect how we look at a person, but sometimes it causes other problems. Gender stereotypes about women’s ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men and women wrongly believe those stereotypes will not undermine women’s math performance — but instead motivate them to perform better.... Read more »
Boucher, K., Rydell, R., & Murphy, M. (2015) Forecasting the experience of stereotype threat for others. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 56-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2015.01.002
We hear in the media all the time, obesity is effecting our health. In most cases when we talk obesity we are talking about heart disease, sedentary activity, or chronic overeating. But what if a high-fat diet — regardless of obesity — has more than just an affect on your waistline? What if the consumption of fatty foods can change your behavior and your brain?... Read more »
Bruce-Keller, A., Salbaum, J., Luo, M., Blanchard, E., Taylor, C., Welsh, D., & Berthoud, H. (2015) Obese-type Gut Microbiota Induce Neurobehavioral Changes in the Absence of Obesity. Biological Psychiatry, 77(7), 607-615. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.07.012
When I finished my PhD 15 years ago, the neurosciences defined the main function of brains in terms of processing input to compute output: “brain function is ultimately best understood in terms of input/output transformations and how they are produced” […] ↓ Read the rest of this entry...... Read more »
Gordus, A., Pokala, N., Levy, S., Flavell, S., & Bargmann, C. (2015) Feedback from Network States Generates Variability in a Probabilistic Olfactory Circuit. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.018
Published at the same time and in the same journal as the 'MoBa does bowel issues in autism' paper from Bresnahan and colleagues , the study results from Jean-Paul Selten et al  reporting that "A diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] is associated with a substantially increased risk for NAPD [nonaffective psychotic disorder] and BD [bipolar disorder]" has, at the time of writing this post, received little or no press attention in comparison despite ........ Read more »
Selten JP, Lundberg M, Rai D, & Magnusson C. (2015) Risks for Nonaffective Psychotic Disorder and Bipolar Disorder in Young People With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Study. JAMA psychiatry. PMID: 25806797
Can we recognize if people around us are stressed, anxious or fearful without observing their facial expressions, body language and actions or hearing their voice and messages? Can we understand if we are stressed ourselves without assessing our heart rate, blood pressure, noticing dry throat, sweating, drops or surges in energy? Yes, we can - by using our nose - as humans, too, recognize and transmit their emotions through chemical senses.When we are stressed or panic we become more sensit........ Read more »
Haegler, K., Zernecke, R., Kleemann, A., Albrecht, J., Pollatos, O., Brückmann, H., & Wiesmann, M. (2010) No fear no risk! Human risk behavior is affected by chemosensory anxiety signals. Neuropsychologia, 48(13), 3901-3908. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.09.019
Dowlaty N, Yoon A, & Galassetti P. (2013) Monitoring states of altered carbohydrate metabolism via breath analysis: are times ripe for transition from potential to reality?. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 16(4), 466-72. PMID: 23739629
'MoBa' in the title of this post, refers to the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and a handy resource which has already impacted on autism research (see here for example).Now MoBa has turned its epidemiological clout to an issue which less and less is encountering scientific resistance: are gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of autism? Further, when do such bowel issues start to present?The answer, shown in the paper by Michaeline B........ Read more »
Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Schultz, A., Gunnes, N., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Roth, C., Schjølberg, S.... (2015) Association of Maternal Report of Infant and Toddler Gastrointestinal Symptoms With Autism. JAMA Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034
One of the pairs of cards used in Asch's1950s research. Image from Wikipedia. Like Zimbardo's prison study and Milgram's so-called "obedience experiments", the research that Solomon Asch conducted at Swarthmore College in the 1950s has acquired an almost mythical quality, being distorted and exaggerated in frequent retellings over time. Asch's studies arguably showed the power of people's independence in the face of an apparently misguided majority, and yet paradoxically they've come to be ........ Read more »
Griggs, R. (2015) The Disappearance of Independence in Textbook Coverage of Asch's Social Pressure Experiments. Teaching of Psychology, 42(2), 137-142. DOI: 10.1177/0098628315569939
From free-ranging dog to new home. It sounds like a fairy-tale, but how does it work out?A recent survey by Yasemin Salgiri Demirbas (Ankara University) et al investigates how well free-roaming urban dogs fit into a family home once they are adopted. The results show the dogs adapt well to their new homes.The scientists say, “Every year in Turkey, thousands of free-ranging dogs are brought to dog shelters. These dogs are mongrel dogs with stray origins.” There is often a bias against adoptin........ Read more »
Blackwell, E., Twells, C., Seawright, A., & Casey, R. (2008) The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 3(5), 207-217. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2007.10.008
Salgirli Demirbas, Y., Emre, B., & Kockaya, M. (2014) Integration ability of urban free-ranging dogs into adoptive families' environment. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 9(5), 222-227. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2014.04.006
Lord, L., Reider, L., Herron, M., & Graszak, K. (2008) Health and behavior problems in dogs and cats one week and one month after adoption from animal shelters. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 233(11), 1715-1722. DOI: 10.2460/javma.233.11.1715
McMillan, F., Duffy, D., & Serpell, J. (2011) Mental health of dogs formerly used as ‘breeding stock’ in commercial breeding establishments. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 135(1-2), 86-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.09.006
Sherman, B., & Mills, D. (2008) Canine Anxieties and Phobias: An Update on Separation Anxiety and Noise Aversions. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 38(5), 1081-1106. DOI: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2008.04.012
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