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  • May 6, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 171 views

Autism prevalence in the Somali population in Minneapolis continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A very quick post today to direct you to the paper by Amy Hewitt and colleagues [1] who seem to have finally published their findings on autism prevalence in the Somali population in Minneapolis in the peer-reviewed domain. I had previously covered their report on this blog (see here) and the suggestion that: "Somali (1 in 32) and White (1 in 36) children were about equally likely to be identified with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], but more likely to be identified with ASD than Black and ........ Read more »

Hewitt, A., Hall-Lande, J., Hamre, K., Esler, A., Punyko, J., Reichle, J., & Gulaid, A. (2016) Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Prevalence in Somali and Non-Somali Children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2793-6  

  • May 5, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 205 views

NAC for 'social impairment' in youth with autism... probably not

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The results of this trial indicate that NAC [N-acetylcysteine]  treatment was well tolerated, had the expected effect of boosting GSH [glutathione] production, but had no significant impact on social impairment in youth with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the results reported by Logan Wink and colleagues [1] (open-access) who, continuing an autism research theme, looked at whether this important L-cysteine prodrug might have more to give when it comes to a........ Read more »

  • May 4, 2016
  • 10:00 AM
  • 173 views

Behaviour Problems in Puppies from Pet Stores

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Dogs originally bought from pet stores are more likely to be aggressive to their owner compared to those from responsible breeders, even after owner-related factors are taken into account.Research by Frank McMillan et al (2013) found that dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores are more likely to have a whole range of behaviour problems than those from responsible breeders, including 3x more likely to be aggressive towards their owner. Pet store puppies come from commercial breeding establishme........ Read more »

  • May 4, 2016
  • 09:13 AM
  • 192 views

Imagine These Experiments in Aphantasia

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

When you hear the word “apple”, do you picture a Red Delicious apple or a green Granny Smith? Or neither, because you can't conjure up a visual image of an apple (or of anything else, for that matter)? Aphantasia is the inability to generate visual images, which can be a congenital condition or acquired after brain injury (Farah, 1984). The most striking aspect of this variation in mental life is that those of us with imagery assume that everyone else has it, while those without are flabberg........ Read more »

  • May 4, 2016
  • 08:18 AM
  • 168 views

Genetic research can promote peace or conflict, depending on how it's used

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's becoming easier than ever to research the genetic roots of different ethnic groups and these findings can be framed differently to either emphasise that groups are similar or different. For example, a BBC headline from 2000 stated "Jews and Arabs are 'genetic brothers'" while a 2013 Medical Daily headline claimed "Genes of most Ashkenazi Jews trace back to indigenous Europe, not Middle East". As political leaders have started citing this kind of evidence to promote their particular agenda, ........ Read more »

  • May 4, 2016
  • 02:34 AM
  • 212 views

The developmental correlates of asthma (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Can I just get it out of the way? May the 4th be with you.OK. The results from Mark Strom & Jonathan Silverberg [1] caught my eye recently and further evidence of a 'correlation' between asthma and developmental and/or behavioural outcomes. This time around it was "caregiver-reported speech disorders in US children" and how the appearance of asthma, hay fever and/or food allergy might show some important relationships with something like speech disorder. This follows other, similar work from........ Read more »

Strom MA, & Silverberg JI. (2016) Asthma, hay fever and food allergy are associated with caregiver-reported speech disorders in US children. Pediatric allergy and immunology : official publication of the European Society of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. PMID: 27091599  

  • May 3, 2016
  • 04:28 AM
  • 153 views

A laughing crowd changes the way your brain processes insults

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

We usually think of laughter as a sound of joy and mirth, but in certain contexts, such as when it accompanies an insult, it takes on a negative meaning, signaling contempt and derision, especially in a group situation. Most of us probably know from experience that this makes insults sting more, now a study in Social Neuroscience has shown the neural correlates of this effect. Within a fraction of a second, the presence of a laughing crowd changes the way that the brain processes an insult.Marte........ Read more »

  • May 3, 2016
  • 02:58 AM
  • 206 views

Machine learning applied to autism screening going big time?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Machine learning, when machines, er.. learn, is of growing interest to the autism research field. The names Wall and Duda have filled quite a few posts on this blog (see here and see here for example) on this topic and their suggesting that applying machine learning algorithms to something like autism screening and detection could cut down on time taken and resources used.As per the publication of the paper by Daniel Bone and colleagues [1] it appears that others working in autism research are a........ Read more »

  • May 2, 2016
  • 02:45 PM
  • 234 views

Origin of synaptic pruning process linked to learning, autism and schizophrenia identified

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Vaccines don't cause autism, but because the brain is so complex, we still don't know how much of it works so figuring out the real causes (as in more than one) of autism has been slow going. Well, researchers have identified a brain receptor that appears to initiate adolescent synaptic pruning, a process believed necessary for learning, but in this case it is one that appears to go awry in both autism and schizophrenia.... Read more »

Sonia Afroz, Julie Parato, Hui Shen Sheryl, & Sue Smith. (2016) Synaptic pruning in the female hippocampus is triggered at puberty by extrasynaptic GABAA receptors on dendritic spines . eLife. info:/

  • May 2, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 205 views

On defining chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Most people who know a little bit about chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) will probably understand the potential importance of the findings reported by Leonard Jason and colleagues [1] (open-access available here). Suggesting that there may be "four groupings of patients" when it comes to how we "name and define the illnesses", this research group who surveyed over 500 people "in the United States, Great Britain, and Norway" report on one of the biggest challenge........ Read more »

Jason LA, McManimen S, Sunnquist M, Brown A, Furst J, Newton JL, & Strand EB. (2016) Case definitions integrating empiric and consensus perspectives. Fatigue : biomedicine, health , 4(1), 1-23. PMID: 27088059  

  • May 1, 2016
  • 02:17 PM
  • 206 views

Influence of religion and predestination on evolution and scientific thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Generally seen as antithetical to one another, evolution and religion can hardly fit in a scientific discourse simultaneously. However, in a new article, a biology researcher delves into observations on the influences a few major religions have had on evolutionists and their scientific thinking over the centuries.

... Read more »

  • May 1, 2016
  • 11:00 AM
  • 201 views

Being Explicit About Symmetry

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Working to orient oneself to the symmetries available in mathematical situations seems like one appropriate remedy to what I've called "left-to-rightism," or "cinemathematics"—a syndrome that makes us teach concepts like the equals sign (unwittingly) in a left-to-right way, such that students take away (unwittingly) the misconception that the equals sign indicates that some answer is to follow, rather than that two expressions are equal. Some recent research points........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:55 PM
  • 244 views

Salts in the brain control our sleep-wake cycle

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Insomnia, fun fact those of us who have served or are serving in the military have a much higher incidence of sleep problems. So if you are like me and have ever been prescribed something to help you sleep, you know that there are some unwanted side effects. For instance the time I lost memory of a whole day of interacting with people to the ambien I had taken the night before, not fun. Thankfully Danish researchers found that the level of salts in the brain plays a critical role in whether we a........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2016
  • 12:15 PM
  • 220 views

Words On The Brain: A Semantic Map of the Cortex

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a new Nature paper, Berkely neuroscientists Alexander G. Huth and colleagues present a 'semantic atlas' of the human brain. Huth et al. have mapped which brain areas respond to words, according to the semantics (meanings) of each word. It turns out that these maps are highly similar across individuals - which could have implications for 'mind reading' technology.



Huth et al. recorded brain activity with fMRI while seven volunteers listened to over two hours of audio narrative (taken fr... Read more »

Huth AG, de Heer WA, Griffiths TL, Theunissen FE, & Gallant JL. (2016) Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex. Nature, 532(7600), 453-8. PMID: 27121839  

  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:45 AM
  • 222 views

The 'anti-neuroinflammatory activity' of oxytocin

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whilst the package inserts of the various drugs that modern medicine has at its disposal provides important information on potential mode of action, there is a growing realisation that drugs generally have quite a few more molecular targets than are perhaps listed. Take for example the quite commonly used (in some parts of the world anyway) compound called melatonin  that in some instances can provide almost miraculous relief when it comes to sleeping issues under certain circumstances. A d........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 04:10 PM
  • 222 views

Don’t retweet if you want to remember

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The whole of human intelligence, right at your fingertips. Sure it might not make the layman an engineer or physicist, but if we want to learn about a particular topic the internet can give us that information. But you better hold on tight before you lose it. New research finds retweeting or otherwise sharing information creates a “cognitive overload” that interferes with learning and retaining what you’ve just seen.

... Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 192 views

Phubbing, more FOMO, blonde jokes, and what holds our  attention?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It’s time to run down some articles that are curious, but not substantial enough to justify a full blog post. Once again, we have kept a few pearls in our virtual filing cabinet, and have combined them here for your curiosity and possibly entertainment. This is one of those combination posts that will offer you […]

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The Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) Scale
Red, redux: Men won’t pay attention to Tammy in red
Does this mean we need to pay no attention to 1 in  10 research f........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 04:54 AM
  • 72 views

Looking back on your past can make you less likely to suffer depression in the future

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Is spending time looking back on our lives good for our mental health? A lot of research suggests it is, but these studies have been cross-sectional, making it hard to form a clear causal story – for example, perhaps being happier makes it more likely that people will reminisce. On the other hand, there are therapeutic trials that show purposeful reminiscence can bring about clinically meaningful decreases in depression. Now, a longitudinal investigation in Applied Cognitive Psychology provide........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 203 views

Why organisations should encourage their staff to become friends

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

They say you should never mix business and pleasure but in reality many of us find that we become friends with the people who we work with. No wonder, when you consider the hours spent together and the deep bonds formed through collaboration and sharing the highs and lows of the job.A new study in Personnel Psychology is among the first to examine the effects on job performance of having more "multiplex relationships" – colleagues you work with directly who are also your friends outside of wor........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 02:33 AM
  • 210 views

Organophosphate exposure and ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with higher urinary DMP [dimethylphosphate] concentrations may have a twofold to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the results presented in the paper by Yu and colleagues [1] who looking at "97 doctor-diagnosed ADHD cases and 110 non-ADHD controls who were 4-15 years of age" examined urine and blood samples for various factors including "biomarkers of OP [organophosphate] pesticide exposure." Th........ Read more »

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