We’ve written about atheists here (and how unpopular they are in North America) a number of times. The first time was in 2010 when we wrote an article in The Jury Expert because we were so taken aback by the level of vitriol we’d seen in a blog post describing a new research article on […]
Everything you ever wanted to know about atheists (the 2016 update)
An update on disrupting suspicion of atheists
Everyone knows you just can’t trust an atheist!
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Edgell, P., Hartmann, D., Stewart, E., & Gerteis, J. (2016) Atheists and Other Cultural Outsiders: Moral Boundaries and the Non-Religious in the United States. Social Forces, 95(2), 607-638. DOI: 10.1093/sf/sow063
The paper by Nahit Motavalli Mukaddes and colleagues  provides some important, if small-scale, information when it comes to that still controversial term - optimal outcome - with the diagnosis of autism in mind. Optimal outcome basically refers to a particular 'type' of autism whereby following a definite diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a later re-evaluation of signs and symptoms reveals that diagnostic thresholds are subsequently not reached and/or exceeded a........ Read more »
Motavalli Mukaddes, N., Mutluer, T., Ayik, B., & Umut, A. (2016) What Happens to Children Who Move off the Autism Spectrum? A Clinical Follow-Up Study. Pediatrics International. DOI: 10.1111/ped.13202
The paper by Wenjie Sun and colleagues  (open-access) provides the blogging fodder for today's post and although based on the science of epigenetics, the usual suspect - DNA methylation - gives way to another concept: histone acetylation with autism in mind. Before heading into the paper myself, I'll draw your attention to some other write-ups of the study including a hat-tip to Jeff Craig and his piece on the topic (see here).So histone acetylation... I've covered the subject ........ Read more »
Sun, W., Poschmann, J., Cruz-Herrera del Rosario, R., Parikshak, N., Hajan, H., Kumar, V., Ramasamy, R., Belgard, T., Elanggovan, B., Wong, C.... (2016) Histone Acetylome-wide Association Study of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cell, 167(5), 1385-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.031
"The overall CD [coeliac disease or celiac disease depending on where you live] prevalence was 2.62%, which is statistically significant higher to that reported in the Italian paediatric population... If replicated, these data suggest the importance of regular screening for CD in young patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Those were some of the findings/conclusions reported in the paper by Sara Calderoni and colleagues  (open-access) and with them, some ........ Read more »
Calderoni, S., Santocchi, E., Del Bianco, T., Brunori, E., Caponi, L., Paolicchi, A., Fulceri, F., Prosperi, M., Narzisi, A., Cosenza, A.... (2016) Serological screening for Celiac Disease in 382 pre-schoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 42(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13052-016-0308-x
"After adjustment for several confounders, longer duration of breastfeeding was independently associated with better cognitive development and with fewer autistic traits."So said the paper by Olivier Boucher and colleagues  communicating findings based on the examination of data from "the INMA Project, a Spanish multicenter birth-cohort study" (an initiative that has cropped up on this blog before).Including over 1300 children who were subject to a battery of psychometric and behavioural asse........ Read more »
Boucher O, Julvez J, Guxens M, Arranz E, Ibarluzea J, Sánchez de Miguel M, Fernández-Somoano A, Tardon A, Rebagliato M, Garcia-Esteban R.... (2016) Association between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development, autistic traits and ADHD symptoms: a multicenter study in Spain. Pediatric research. PMID: 27846197
Children’s beliefs about animal welfare and sentience are linked to their own experiences with animals.Surprisingly little is known about children’s beliefs and knowledge about animals. Yet this information could help to improve humane education programs for children. Two recent studies begin to fill this gap, with recommendations for how humane education is taught.We know from previous research that even very young children like animals, and that children with pets are more likely to attrib........ Read more »
Hawkins, R., & Williams, J. (2016) Children’s Beliefs about Animal Minds (Child-BAM): Associations with Positive and Negative Child–Animal Interactions. Anthrozoös, 29(3), 503-519. DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2016.1189749
Muldoon, J., Williams, J., & Lawrence, A. (2016) Exploring Children’s Perspectives on the Welfare Needs of Pet Animals. Anthrozoös, 29(3), 357-375. DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2016.1181359
"This study does not support the hypothesis that MPH [methylphenidate] increases risk of incident psychotic events. It does indicate an increased risk of psychotic events before the first prescription of MPH, which may be because of an association between psychotic events and the behavioural and attentional symptoms that led to psychiatric assessment and initiation of MPH treatment."The results published by Man and colleagues  (open-access) sit right with me. I say that on the basis........ Read more »
Man, K., Coghill, D., Chan, E., Lau, W., Hollis, C., Liddle, E., Banaschewski, T., McCarthy, S., Neubert, A., Sayal, K.... (2016) Methylphenidate and the risk of psychotic disorders and hallucinations in children and adolescents in a large health system. Translational Psychiatry, 6(11). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.216
I'm gonna be fairly brief today and draw your attention to yet another systematic review and meta-analysis this time looking at how "probiotic supplementation can have a positive effect on mood and psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety."  Probiotics by the way, include a variety of bacteria and related lifeforms that are thought to confer some health advantage.The review/re-analysis by Jennifer McKean and colleagues found 7 studies on this topic in the peer-reviewed resea........ Read more »
McKean J, Naug H, Nikbakht E, Amiet B, & Colson N. (2016) Probiotics and Subclinical Psychological Symptoms in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 27841940
Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a founding father of phrenology
Phrenology was the pseudoscience of identifying a person's character and mental abilities on the basis of skull morphology (“bumps on the head”). The enterprise was based on four assumptions (Gross, 2009):
intellectual abilities and personality traits are differentially developed in each individual
these abilities and traits
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Eling, P., Finger, S., & Whitaker, H. (2016) On the Origins of Organology: Franz Joseph Gall and a Girl Named Bianchi. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.11.010
"CRP [C-reactive protein] concentrations are increased in bipolar disorder regardless of mood state, but are higher during mania than in depression and euthymia, suggesting an increased inflammatory burden in mania."So said the systematic review and meta-analysis published by Brisa Fernandes and colleagues  who surveyed the peer-reviewed literature on the topic of "measured serum and plasma CRP concentrations in adult patients with bipolar disorder (as defined by DSM-IV-TR) and........ Read more »
Fernandes BS, Steiner J, Molendijk ML, Dodd S, Nardin P, Gonçalves CA, Jacka F, Köhler CA, Karmakar C, Carvalho AF.... (2016) C-reactive protein concentrations across the mood spectrum in bipolar disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The lancet. Psychiatry. PMID: 27838212
Are the eyes the windows to intelligence? In an interesting paper, Georgia psychologists Jason S. Tsukahara and colleagues report that there's a positive correlation between pupil size and cognitive ability.
It's well known that our pupil size varies over time due to changes in both emotional state and cognitive 'effort'. As Tsukahara et al. put it
Starting in the 1960s it became apparent to psychologists that the size of the pupil is related to more than just the amount of light enterin... Read more »
Tsukahara JS, Harrison TL, & Engle RW. (2016) The relationship between baseline pupil size and intelligence. Cognitive psychology, 109-123. PMID: 27821254
The results published by Robert Joseph and colleagues  provide some blogging fodder today, observing that as part of the ELGAN (Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborns) Research Study, gestational age might matter when it comes to offspring risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Gestational age is a measure of how far along a pregnancy is but in the context of the Joseph study refers to premature birth or those "born at least 3 months early." Researchers included data for nearly 1000........ Read more »
Joseph, R., Korzeniewski, S., Allred, E., O’Shea, T., Heeren, T., Frazier, J., Ware, J., Hirtz, D., Leviton, A., & Kuban, K. (2016) Extremely low gestational age and very low birth weight for gestational age are risk factors for ASD in a large cohort study of 10-year-old children born at 23-27 weeks gestation. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.11.1009
It does not come as a surprise that background music in a café helps create the ambience and affects how much customers enjoy sipping their cappuccinos. But recent research suggests that the choice of lyrics can even impact the social behavior of customers. The researcher Nicolas Ruth and his colleagues from the University of Würzburg (Bavaria, Germany) assembled a playlist of 18 songs with pro-social lyrics which they had curated by surveying 74 participants in an online questionnaire as to w........ Read more »
Ruth, N. (2016) "Heal the World": A field experiment on the effects of music with prosocial lyrics on prosocial behavior. Psychology of Music. DOI: 10.1177/0305735616652226
Consider this short blog post an extension of some previous discussions (see here and see here) on a rather peculiar 'association' between urinary tract infections (UTIs) and psychosis. UTIs basically refer to an infection in any part of the urinary system (kidneys, bladder, etc) typically treated with antibiotics. Psychosis is a state that causes a person to perceive or interpret things around them in an atypical way, usually accompanied by delusions or hallucinations. For a while now........ Read more »
Carson, C., Phillip, N., & Miller, B. (2016) Urinary tract infections in children and adolescents with acute psychosis. Schizophrenia Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.11.004
Papers such as the one published by Nikko Da Paz & Jan Wallander  I think represent one of the most important areas of autism research and practice when it comes to the practical translation of science to real-life. Tackling a very important topic - caring for the carers - the authors provide a "narrative review" of the peer-reviewed science literature looking at how "treatments that directly target parents' psychological well-being" in the context of autism are doing so far.Personally, I........ Read more »
Da Paz NS, & Wallander JL. (2016) Interventions that target improvements in mental health for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders: A narrative review. Clinical psychology review, 1-14. PMID: 27816800
A remarkable paper claims that staying off Facebook for a week could make you happier: The Facebook Experiment, by Morten Tromholt of Denmark.
What makes this study so interesting is that it was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and so was able, at least in theory, to determine whether quitting Facebook actually causes changes in well-being. Previously, there has been lots of research reporting correlations between social network use and happiness, but correlation isn't causation.
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Tromholt M. (2016) The Facebook Experiment: Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 19(11), 661-666. PMID: 27831756
You are not seeing double. Over the last month we’ve kept reading and reading and reading but many of the articles we read for the blog were fun but just not substantive enough for a full blog post. So. Think of this as the director’s cut version of the blog—full of things you wish we’d […]
Science knowledge, objectifying women, earning power, and social media colors
Spiders, dogs, assassins, beards and the demons of sleep paralysis (things you want to know........ Read more »
Lanaj K, Johnson RE, & Wang M. (2016) When lending a hand depletes the will: The daily costs and benefits of helping. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(8), 1097-110. PMID: 27149605
Dixson BJ, Sulikowski D, Gouda-Vossos A, Rantala MJ, & Brooks RC. (2016) The masculinity paradox: facial masculinity and beardedness interact to determine women's ratings of men's facial attractiveness. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29(11), 2311-2320. PMID: 27488414
With all rights reserved for Keith Geraghty and his publication in the Journal of Health Psychology  (open-access) I want to reproduce his abstract relevant to the PACE trial commenting on the ups-and-downs of this study looking at the use of CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and GET (graded exercise therapy) for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME):"Science is not always plain sailing and sometimes the voyage is across an angry sea. A recent ........ Read more »
Geraghty KJ. (2016) 'PACE-Gate': When clinical trial evidence meets open data access. Journal of health psychology. PMID: 27807258
I talked about ESSENCE - Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations - only yesterday (see here) and here I am covering the topic again on this blog. There is good reason however that this concept appears once more, as I draw your attention to the paper by Anne-Katrin Kantzer and colleagues  and the specific observation that: "Co-existence with other conditions was the rule" when it comes to the diagnosis of autism.OK, it's nothing new to say that the l........ Read more »
Kantzer, A., Fernell, E., Westerlund, J., Hagberg, B., Gillberg, C., & Miniscalco, C. (2016) Young children who screen positive for autism: Stability, change and “comorbidity” over two years. Research in Developmental Disabilities. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2016.10.004
ESSENCE referred to in the title of this post concerns 'Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations', a concept championed by the ever-intrepid Prof. Christopher Gillberg and colleagues. Combined with some rather important discussions about the research validity of the concept of a singular 'autism' (see here) [part of the ESSENCE issues described] I'm drawn to quite a few of the proposals put forward by this research group it has to be said.It is with ESSENCE ........ Read more »
Baeza-Velasco C, Grahame R, & Bravo JF. (2016) A connective tissue disorder may underlie ESSENCE problems in childhood. Research in developmental disabilities. PMID: 27802895
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