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  • February 1, 2017
  • 03:21 AM
  • 524 views

Autism and a 'clear' reduction of behavioural severity in cases diagnosed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study provides the first clear evidence of a reduction over time in the behavioral severity of individuals diagnosed with Autistic Disorder during a period of stability in diagnostic criteria."So said the study findings reported by Andrew Whitehouse and colleagues [1] (a man not afraid to make waves when it comes to thinking about autism or about approaches to intervention) looking at "whether there were changes over time in the qualitative and quantitative phenotype of individuals wh........ Read more »

Whitehouse AJ, Cooper MN, Bebbington K, Alvares G, Lin A, Wray J, & Glasson EJ. (2017) Evidence of a reduction over time in the behavioral severity of autistic disorder diagnoses. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 28102641  

  • January 31, 2017
  • 03:18 AM
  • 498 views

S100B protein and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our findings showing an increase in peripheral concentrations of S100B and TNF-α provide limited support to the hypothesis about the roles of altered immune function and S100B in autism spectrum disorder (ASD)."So said the findings reported by Selin Aktan Guloksuz and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) continuing some discussions a few years back on a possible role for S100B in relation to at least some autism (see here).S100B - S100 calcium-binding protein B - is a compound invo........ Read more »

Guloksuz SA, Abali O, Aktas Cetin E, Bilgic Gazioglu S, Deniz G, Yildirim A, Kawikova I, Guloksuz S, & Leckman JF. (2017) Elevated plasma concentrations of S100 calcium-binding protein B and tumor necrosis factor alpha in children with autism spectrum disorders. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999). PMID: 28099628  

  • January 30, 2017
  • 07:02 AM
  • 515 views

When you have steady eye contact, it’s hard to think (even with  friends)!

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

In 2015, we wrote a one of our combination (“tidbit”) posts that included a bit of information on how extended eye contact can cause hallucinations. As it turns out, it also makes it hard to think (which seems reasonable if you are having hallucinations). The researchers we are covering today say that maintaining eye contact […]... Read more »

  • January 30, 2017
  • 03:08 AM
  • 539 views

High frequency of (self-reported) ADHD symptoms in eating disorders

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"There is a high frequency of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] symptoms in patients with binge eating/purging eating disorders that motivates further studies."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Nils Erik Svedlund and colleagues [1] (open-access) who, among other things, set out to "explore the prevalence and types of self-reported ADHD symptoms in a large, unselected group of ED [eating disorder] patients assessed in a specialized ED clinic." ........ Read more »

  • January 29, 2017
  • 10:05 AM
  • 554 views

Want a Deep Understanding? First, Know How Little You Know

by Winston Sieck in Thinker Academy

It’s natural to feel we have a deep understanding of the world. Unfortunately, we most often don’t. On the whole, we tend to think we understand how things work in much more detail than we actually do. Scientists continue to show us just how complex the world really is. And the devices we build are […]
Check out Want a Deep Understanding? First, Know How Little You Know, an original post on Thinker Academy.
... Read more »

  • January 28, 2017
  • 04:15 AM
  • 542 views

"Should gluten-free foods be available on prescription?"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Continuing the theme of blogging outside of the core material typically included on this site, I couldn't resist a mention of the 'head-to-head' debate talked about in the article by Matthew Kurien and colleagues [1] published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).As per the title of this post, the name of the game was gluten-free products being available on prescription here in Blighty, and in particular, the prescribing of gluten-free products to patients diagnosed with coeliac disease. Th........ Read more »

Kurien M, Sleet S, Sanders DS, & Cave J. (2017) Should gluten-free foods be available on prescription?. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). PMID: 28073799  

  • January 27, 2017
  • 07:02 AM
  • 498 views

Swearing makes you seem more honest 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

But we still don’t recommend it in polite company (aka, the courtroom)! An international team of researchers (from the Netherlands, Hong Kong, the United States and the United Kingdom) have just published an article examining two perspectives on profanity and honesty. The researchers say that, on one hand, profanity is considered a violation of social […]... Read more »

Feldman, G., Lian, H., Kosinski, M., & Stillwell, D. (2017) Frankly, We Do Give a Damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1177/1948550616681055  

  • January 27, 2017
  • 03:07 AM
  • 267 views

Vitamin D deficiency and risk of dementia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The results of this systematic review show that low vitamin D levels might contribute to the development of dementia."Whilst slightly off-topic when it comes to the core research material typically included on this blog, I did want to bring to your attention the systematic review and meta-analysis results published by Isolde Sommer and colleagues [1] (open-access) for your perusal. Although unable to "identify a single study investigating the association between sunlight exposure and demen........ Read more »

Sommer I, Griebler U, Kien C, Auer S, Klerings I, Hammer R, Holzer P, & Gartlehner G. (2017) Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC geriatrics, 17(1), 16. PMID: 28086755  

  • January 26, 2017
  • 03:10 AM
  • 289 views

Andrew Whitehouse on challenging yet another autism status quo: diagnosis before intervention

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This paper provides an overview of the benefits and drawbacks of the current clinical pathway that places primacy on a diagnostic assessment for triggering the commencement of therapy. The paper then presents an alternative clinical pathway - the identification and provision of therapy to infants at risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] - and provides a critical review of current evidence supporting this model."So said the 'lecture paper' by Andrew Whitehouse [1] and, as per the titl........ Read more »

  • January 25, 2017
  • 10:30 AM
  • 220 views

The Importance of Science in Horse Training

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Horse ‘licking and chewing’: is it a sign of learning, submission or stress?Guest post by Georgina (Gina) Bishopp (Hartpury College, UK). A little while ago I was having a lesson on my horse when my instructor beamed up at me and exclaimed, “There you go, she is licking and chewing – she’s really listening to you now, keep going!” and with excitement I continued on eagerly with the exercise we were practising. It wasn’t until the exhilaration of the moment had waned did I thin........ Read more »

  • January 25, 2017
  • 08:10 AM
  • 274 views

A poo transplant for [some] autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I've talked about 'fecal microbial transplants' a.k.a the poo(p) transplant before on this blog (see here). That previous entry was about the more typical (and potentially life-saving) use of a poo transplant - where stool from one person is extracted, 'repackaged' and transferred to another person - albeit with caveats in terms of possible long-term side-effects. Now it appears that poo transplants are being investigated with something rather more central to the typical cont........ Read more »

  • January 25, 2017
  • 07:02 AM
  • 229 views

Generational labels, researching emojis, and two persuasion  landmines

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We read so much for this blog (and just out of general curiosity) that we often find these small bits of information which don’t justify an entire blog post but that we want to share with you because they are just too good to ignore. Here’s another one of those combination posts that you simply […]... Read more »

  • January 25, 2017
  • 02:56 AM
  • 257 views

Autism and visual impairment reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Of the various autism science journals out there in peer-reviewed (La-La!) land, one journal in particular is really starting to grow on me: [The] Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.I like this journal because it is basically systematic review and meta-analysis heaven when it comes to the quite voluminous autism research literature and seems to publish some real gems (see here for example).Another paper from this journal caught my eye recently by Maggie Butchart and colleagues ........ Read more »

Butchart, M., Long, J., Brown, M., McMillan, A., Bain, J., & Karatzias, T. (2017) Autism and Visual Impairment: a Review of the Literature. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s40489-016-0101-1  

  • January 24, 2017
  • 11:52 AM
  • 276 views

Crowdfunding and Tribefunding in Science

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Competition for government research grants to fund scientific research remains fierce in the United States. The budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which constitute the major source of funding for US biological and medical research, has been increased only modestly during the past decade but it is not even keeping up with inflation. This problem is compounded by the fact that more scientists are applying for grants now than one or two decades ago, forcing the NIH to enforce strict........ Read more »

Vachelard J, Gambarra-Soares T, Augustini G, Riul P, & Maracaja-Coutinho V. (2016) A Guide to Scientific Crowdfunding. PLoS Biology, 14(2). PMID: 26886064  

  • January 24, 2017
  • 10:44 AM
  • 343 views

Whip Spiders Use Their Feet to Smell Their Way Home

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



After a late dinner, a jungle-dwelling whip spider can't rely on an Uber driver to get her home. She has to find the way herself, in the pitch-black, picking her way over thick undergrowth to reach the tree she lives on. It's a trick she can even manage when plucked from her home tree and tossed into the forest at random, up to 10 meters away. Now scientists think whip spiders don't use her eyes for this homing feat—they use their feet.

Whip spiders hunt by night and hunker down at dawn ........ Read more »

  • January 24, 2017
  • 04:49 AM
  • 254 views

Fatty acids 'for autism'? Meta-analysis says probably not but...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Because of the limited number of included studies and small sample sizes, no firm conclusions can be drawn. However, the limited data currently available suggest that ω-3 FA [fatty acid] supplementation does not enhance the performance of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Those were the conclusions reached in the systematic review and meta-analysis paper published by Andrea Horvath and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-reviewed literature on the topic up t........ Read more »

  • January 23, 2017
  • 12:09 PM
  • 215 views

Forensic Science Testimony: What most  influences jurors? 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We all want our expert witnesses to be influential with jurors. But when you have an expert testifying about forensic science (like fingerprint or DNA identification) what part of the testimony is going to influence jurors the most? Will it be the science? The technology used by the witness to interpret and understand the data? […]... Read more »

  • January 23, 2017
  • 02:45 AM
  • 272 views

Autism diagnoses (and diagnostic stability) in Germany

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"From 2006 to 2012, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in 0- to 24-year-olds increased from 0.22% to 0.38%."That was one of the details included in the rather interesting paper by Christian Bachmann and colleagues [1] who provided some introductory information on the the trends in autism diagnoses in Germany. I say 'introductory information' because it appears that autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has not exactly received the research attention in Germany that it p........ Read more »

Christian J Bachmann, Bettina Gerste, & Falk Hoffmann. (2016) Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders in Germany: Time trends in administrative prevalence and diagnostic stability. Autism: International Journal of Research . info:/10.1177/1362361316673977

  • January 22, 2017
  • 04:58 PM
  • 108 views

Nature Shapes Faithful and Unfaithful Brains

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Among monogamous animals, some individuals are more faithful than others. Could these differences in fidelity be, in part, because of differences in our brains? And if so, why does this diversity in brain and behavior exist?A snuggly prairie vole family. Photo from theNerdPatrol at Wikimedia Commons.Prairie voles are small North American rodents that form monogamous pair bonds, share parental duties, and defend their homes. Although prairie voles form monogamous pairs, that does not mean they ar........ Read more »

  • January 21, 2017
  • 03:25 AM
  • 299 views

"no evidence that the probiotic formulation is effective in treating low mood"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm a great believer in balance when it comes to this blog and its content. As enthusiastic as I might be about a particular topic or topics, I don't want to lose sight of the fact that peer-reviewed science is a messy business and often filled with contrary findings.With 'contrary' in mind, I want to talk today about a paper by Amy Romijn and colleagues [1] detailing the results of a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of a probiotic mix which contained "freeze-dried L. helv........ Read more »

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