Today I'm (belatedly) talking about the paper by Robert Naviaux and colleagues  (open-access) and some further peer-reviewed discussion concerning the metabolomics of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Suggesting that "targeted, broad-spectrum metabolomics of plasma not only revealed a characteristic chemical signature but also revealed an unexpected underlying biology" when it comes to CFS, it is not surprising that this work has attracted some media interest (indeed, quite a lot of m........ Read more »
Training the brain to treat itself is a promising therapy for traumatic stress. The training uses an auditory or visual signal that corresponds to the activity of a particular brain region, called neurofeedback, which can guide people to regulate their own brain activity. However, treating stress-related disorders requires accessing the brain's emotional hub, the amygdala, which is located deep in the brain and difficult to reach with typical neurofeedback methods.
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Keynan, J., Meir-Hasson, Y., Gilam, G., Cohen, A., Jackont, G., Kinreich, S., Ikar, L., Or-Borichev, A., Etkin, A., Gyurak, A.... (2016) Limbic Activity Modulation Guided by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging–Inspired Electroencephalography Improves Implicit Emotion Regulation. Biological Psychiatry, 80(6), 490-496. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.12.024
"Tablet and phone games could help diagnose autism, study suggests" went the BBC headline covering the paper by Anna Anzulewicz and colleagues  (open-access). The idea being that the way that touch screens are used on tablet and smart phones could potentially 'separate out' those with autism from those with not-autism.Based on a small participant number of "37 children 3–6 years old with autism and 45 age- and gender-matched children developing typically" researchers set about examinin........ Read more »
Anzulewicz A, Sobota K, & Delafield-Butt JT. (2016) Toward the Autism Motor Signature: Gesture patterns during smart tablet gameplay identify children with autism. Scientific reports, 31107. PMID: 27553971
Recent research published in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education shows that older women are “ideal learners”... Read more »
Rubin, M., Scevak, J., Southgate, E., Macqueen, S., Williams, P., & Douglas, H. (2016) Older women, deeper learning, and greater satisfaction at university: Age and gender predict university students’ learning approach and degree satisfaction. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. DOI: 10.1037/dhe0000042
A tiny RNA appears to play a role in producing major depression, the mental disorder that affects as many as 250 million people a year worldwide. Major depression, formally known as major depressive disorder, or MDD, brings increased risk of suicide and is reported to cause the second-most years of disability after low-back pain.
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Roy, B., Dunbar, M., Shelton, R., & Dwivedi, Y. (2016) Identification of microRNA-124-3p as a Putative Epigenetic Signature of Major Depressive Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2016.175
Community characteristics play an important role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts, according to a new study by sociologists who examined clusters in a single town. The study illustrates how the homogeneous culture and high degree of social connectedness of a community can increase suicide risk, particularly among teenagers.
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Mueller, A., & Abrutyn, S. (2016) Adolescents under Pressure: A New Durkheimian Framework for Understanding Adolescent Suicide in a Cohesive Community. American Sociological Review. DOI: 10.1177/0003122416663464
Just over a quarter of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with self-injurious behaviour (SIB).That was the headline finding reported by Gnakub Soke and colleagues  who surveyed the 8000+ children "in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network during the 2000, 2006, and 2008 surveillance years." THE ADDM network, as some people might know, is one and the same network that comes up with the [estimated] prevalence of autism in the Unit........ Read more »
Soke GN, Rosenberg SA, Hamman RF, Fingerlin T, Robinson C, Carpenter L, Giarelli E, Lee LC, Wiggins LD, Durkin MS.... (2016) Brief Report: Prevalence of Self-injurious Behaviors among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder-A Population-Based Study. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 27565654
"The results suggest that post-exertional malaise [PEM] is composed of two empirically different experiences, one for generalized fatigue and one for muscle-specific fatigue."So said the findings reported by Stephanie McManimen and colleagues  looking at one of the most common and debilitating aspects of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and how rough-and-ready generalised descriptions often do little to reveal the complexities of this particular sympt........ Read more »
McManimen SL, Sunnquist ML, & Jason LA. (2016) Deconstructing post-exertional malaise: An exploratory factor analysis. Journal of health psychology. PMID: 27557649
Most people remember where they were when the twin towers collapsed in New York ... new research reveals why that may be the case. The study has shed new light on the biological mechanisms that drive the process, known as flashbulb memory.
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Takeuchi, T., Duszkiewicz, A., Sonneborn, A., Spooner, P., Yamasaki, M., Watanabe, M., Smith, C., Fernández, G., Deisseroth, K., Greene, R.... (2016) Locus coeruleus and dopaminergic consolidation of everyday memory. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature19325
"Metformin may be effective in decreasing weight gain associated with atypical antipsychotic use and is well tolerated by children and adolescents with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the paper by Evdokia Anagnostou and colleagues  (open-access) tackling an increasingly important health issue related to the pharmacological 'management' of some aspects of some autism.Metformin is the treatment of choice when it comes to the management of type 2 diabetes (the one where "t........ Read more »
Anagnostou E, Aman MG, Handen BL, Sanders KB, Shui A, Hollway JA, Brian J, Arnold LE, Capano L, Hellings JA.... (2016) Metformin for Treatment of Overweight Induced by Atypical Antipsychotic Medication in Young People With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA psychiatry. PMID: 27556593
Scientists find unanticipated results in a study that compares the clicker to a verbal reward-marker and the use of food alone in dog training.The study, by Cinzia Chiandetti (University of Trieste) et al took 51 pet dogs and trained them on a novel task. 17 dogs were trained using a clicker, 17 using a verbal reward marker (“Bravo”), and 17 with only a reward. Then they tested the dogs to see how well they performed when asked to generalize the training to something similar and someth........ Read more »
Chiandetti, C., Avella, S., Fongaro, E., & Cerri, F. (2016) Can clicker training facilitate conditioning in dogs?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. DOI: http://dx.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.08.006
'Chemicals banned decades ago linked to increased autism risk today' went the press release attached to the findings reported by Kristen Lyall and colleagues  (open-access).Observing that "higher levels of some organochlorine compounds during pregnancy are associated with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and ID [intellectual disability]" the Lyall results once again push environmental factors back into the research spotlight. Indeed, environmental factors that were bann........ Read more »
Lyall K, Croen LA, Sjödin A, Yoshida CK, Zerbo O, Kharrazi M, & Windham GC. (2016) Polychlorinated Biphenyl and Organochlorine Pesticide Concentrations in Maternal Mid-Pregnancy Serum Samples: Association with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability. Environmental health perspectives. PMID: 27548254
Although I'm not really one for deep philosophical discussions or anything related (unless linked to a specific galaxy far, far away...), I was recently interested to read the paper by Martine Lappé  talking about how "complex narratives of autism’s causes and social anxieties surrounding child development have helped situate autism risk in women’s bodies before and during pregnancy."I'm as guilty as anyone for discussing the pretty constant stream of peer-reviewed research evidence........ Read more »
Lappe, M. (2016) The maternal body as environment in autism science. Social Studies of Science. DOI: 10.1177/0306312716659372
I'm a fan of scientific replication on this blog. Y'know, when one group comes out with some new marvellous research findings and another [independent] group says 'yep, we found that too'.It is with that sentiment in mind that I'm talking about the results published by Mats Johnson and colleagues  who suggested that "3 months of Omega 3/6 treatment improved reading ability" following a "3-month parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial" with schoolchildren aged 9-10 years o........ Read more »
Johnson M, Fransson G, Östlund S, Areskoug B, & Gillberg C. (2016) Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27545509
Parents who excel at math produce children who excel at math. This is according to a recently released study, which shows a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to child. The study specifically explored intergenerational transmission--the concept of parental influence on an offspring's behavior or psychology--in mathematical capabilities.
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Braham, E., & Libertus, M. (2016) Intergenerational associations in numerical approximation and mathematical abilities. Developmental Science. DOI: 10.1111/desc.12436
"Our results support a significantly higher prevalence rate of BD [bipolar disorder] in IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] patients than in controls."So said the results of the meta-analysis and systematic review published by Ping-Tao Tseng and colleagues  (open-access available here) based on the suggestion that "both IBS and BD may, at least partially, share a similar mechanism of pathophysiology" specifically with immune function in mind.Building on previous research sugges........ Read more »
Tseng PT, Zeng BS, Chen YW, Wu MK, Wu CK, & Lin PY. (2016) A meta-analysis and systematic review of the comorbidity between irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. Medicine, 95(33). PMID: 27537599
At the dinner table, babies do a lot more than play with their sippy cups, new research suggests. Babies pay close attention to what food is being eaten around them - and especially who is eating it. The study adds evidence to a growing body of research suggesting even very young children think in sophisticated ways about subtle social cues.
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Liberman, Z., Woodward, A., Sullivan, K., & Kinzler, K. (2016) Early emerging system for reasoning about the social nature of food. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(34), 9480-9485. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1605456113
"The developmental concerns expressed by parents of undiagnosed toddlers were highly consistent with the diagnosis the child later received."So said the findings reported by Megan Richards and colleagues  who continue a research theme suggesting that when it comes to 'developmental concerns' about offspring behaviour, parents are generally pretty good at spotting potential red flags and professionals should perhaps take further note.Based on data derived from "a toddler screening study" some ........ Read more »
Richards M, Mossey J, & Robins DL. (2016) Parents' Concerns as They Relate to Their Child's Development and Later Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP. PMID: 27541581
The children of traumatized people have long been known to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mood and anxiety disorders. However, there are very few opportunities to examine biologic alterations in the context of a watershed trauma in exposed people and their adult children born after the event.
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Yehuda, R., Daskalakis, N., Bierer, L., Bader, H., Klengel, T., Holsboer, F., & Binder, E. (2016) Holocaust Exposure Induced Intergenerational Effects on FKBP5 Methylation. Biological Psychiatry, 80(5), 372-380. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.08.005
Don't look now, but this spineless sea creature may be able to count better than your toddler.
Cuttlefish need to be savvy if they want to eat. They're always on the lookout for shrimp, fish or crabs. When a cuttlefish spots a potential victim, it shoots out two specialized, sucker-bearing tentacles and nabs it. Since these hunters have to make constant judgments about which prey are worth targeting, it would make sense for them to have advanced cognitive skills—say, the ability to cou........ Read more »
Yang TI, & Chiao CC. (2016) Number sense and state-dependent valuation in cuttlefish. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 283(1837). PMID: 27559063
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