I'm cautious about the findings reported by Daniel Blockmans & Philippe Persoons  talking about how long-term use of the stimulant medication methylphenidate (MPH) might be something to consider for at least some people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Cautious because the sole use of a questionnaire looking "for possible improvement of concentration difficulties and fatigue" following the use of MPH on this research occasion is not exactly a top tier scientific method...Non........ Read more »
Blockmans D, & Persoons P. (2016) Long-term methylphenidate intake in chronic fatigue syndrome. Acta clinica Belgica, 1-8. PMID: 27351244
In the latest research, the authors found that a blocked schedule (presenting examples from one category at a time) outperformed an interleaved schedule (interspersing examples from all the categories) for category learning when the examples to be classified were more highly discriminable. This result was consistent across the two experiments in the study (p = 0.055 and p = 0.04). Importantly, however, although interleaving was a better strategy for learning categories of lower discriminability,........ Read more »
Noh, S., Yan, V., Bjork, R., & Maddox, W. (2016) Optimal sequencing during category learning: Testing a dual-learning systems perspective. Cognition, 23-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.06.007
Human intelligence is being defined and measured for the first time ever. Researchers have been recently undertaken to quantify the brain's dynamic functions, and identify how different parts of the brain interact with each other at different times - namely, to discover how intellect works.
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Zhang, J., Cheng, W., Liu, Z., Zhang, K., Lei, X., Yao, Y., Becker, B., Liu, Y., Kendrick, K., Lu, G.... (2016) Neural, electrophysiological and anatomical basis of brain-network variability and its characteristic changes in mental disorders. Brain. DOI: 10.1093/brain/aww143
A quote to begin: "The AQ's [Autism Spectrum Quotient] utility for screening referrals was limited in this sample. Recommendations supporting the AQ's role in the assessment of adult ASD [autism spectrum disorder], e.g. UK NICE guidelines, may need to be reconsidered."Taken from the paper published by Ashwood and colleagues , the findings from this team don't make for great reading if you happen to be a fan of the AQ as a potential screening instrument for adult autism. Indeed,........ Read more »
Ashwood KL, Gillan N, Horder J, Hayward H, Woodhouse E, McEwen FS, Findon J, Eklund H, Spain D, Wilson CE.... (2016) Predicting the diagnosis of autism in adults using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) questionnaire. Psychological medicine, 1-10. PMID: 27353452
Where is the periaqueductal gray?
The periaqueductal gray, or PAG, is an area of gray matter found in the midbrain. The PAG surrounds the cerebral aqueduct (hence the name periaqueductal) and occupies a column of brainstem that stretches about 14 mm long. There are no obvious visible anatomical divisions within the PAG, but researchers have divided the PAG into four columns based on differences in connectivity and function: the dorsomedial, dorsolater........ Read more »
Behbehani, M. (1995) Functional characteristics of the midbrain periaqueductal gray. Progress in Neurobiology, 46(6), 575-605. DOI: 10.1016/0301-0082(95)00009-K
"The cause of ME/CFS [myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome] is unknown, but gut dysbiosis could be contributing to some of the symptoms and their severity. Developing therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing local inflammation, restoring gastrointestinal tract immunity and integrity and modifying the intestinal microbiome may ameliorate ME/CFS symptoms in a number of affected patients."Those were the important conclusions reported by Ludovic Giloteaux and colleagues [1........ Read more »
Giloteaux L, Goodrich JK, Walters WA, Levine SM, Ley RE, & Hanson MR. (2016) Reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut microbiome in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Microbiome, 4(1), 30. PMID: 27338587
In a new article I evaluate a recently developed test for music listening skills. To my great surprise the test behaves very well. This could open the path to better understand the psychology underlying music listening. Why am I surprised? I got my first taste of how difficult it is to replicate published scientific results […]... Read more »
Kunert R, & Scheepers C. (2014) Speed and accuracy of dyslexic versus typical word recognition: an eye-movement investigation. Frontiers in psychology, 1129. PMID: 25346708
Kunert R, Willems RM, & Hagoort P. (2016) Language influences music harmony perception: effects of shared syntactic integration resources beyond attention. Royal Society open science, 3(2), 150685. PMID: 26998339
Kunert R, Willems RM, & Hagoort P. (2016) An Independent Psychometric Evaluation of the PROMS Measure of Music Perception Skills. PloS one, 11(7). PMID: 27398805
Law LN, & Zentner M. (2012) Assessing musical abilities objectively: construction and validation of the profile of music perception skills. PloS one, 7(12). PMID: 23285071
Nichols SA, McLeod JS, Holder RL, & McLeod HS. (2009) Screening for dyslexia, dyspraxia and Meares-Irlen syndrome in higher education. Dyslexia, 15(1), 42-60. PMID: 19089876
When the dust settles on the tragedy of the latest mass shooting, gun clubs usually see a spike in their memberships as people look to arm and defend themselves. At the same time, many others argue for greater gun controls, and from their perspective, recreational target shooting is very much part of the problem, not the answer.Anecdotally, this is borne out by the many killers who often turn out to have been target shooters. Indeed, in Germany after the teenage perpetrators of two spree atrocit........ Read more »
Erle, T., Barth, N., Kälke, F., Duttler, G., Lange, H., Petko, A., & Topolinski, S. (2016) Are target-shooters more aggressive than the general population?. Aggressive Behavior. DOI: 10.1002/ab.21657
Hot on the heels of a recent post about a study to watch for (see here) details of yet another "randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial" have been published in the form of the trial protocol by Hajar Mazahery and colleagues .This time around the aim is to "investigate the effect of vitamin D, n-3 LCPUFAs [omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] or a combination of both on core symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" and hopefully with it, the generat........ Read more »
Mazahery H, Conlon C, Beck KL, Kruger MC, Stonehouse W, Camargo CA Jr, Meyer BJ, Tsang B, Mugridge O, & von Hurst PR. (2016) Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements in children with autism spectrum disorder: a study protocol for a factorial randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Trials, 17(1), 295. PMID: 27334138
Eyes shut tight, face contorted into a grimace. Are they ecstatic or anguished? Ignorant of the context, it can be hard to tell. Recent research that involved participants looking at images of the facial expressions of professional tennis players supported this intuition – participants naive to the context were unable to tell the difference between the winners and losers.From a scientific perspective, the problem with the tennis study is that the findings might have been affected by the player........ Read more »
Wenzler, S., Levine, S., van Dick, R., Oertel-Knöchel, V., & Aviezer, H. (2016) Beyond Pleasure and Pain: Facial Expression Ambiguity in Adults and Children During Intense Situations. Emotion. DOI: 10.1037/emo0000185
"Gastrin-releasing peptide was safe and well tolerated by most subjects and may be effective for core symptoms of autism."So said the results of the study - open trial - by Michele Michelin Becker and colleagues  continuing a research theme from this author  on the potential need for further scientific scrutiny when it comes to the use of gastrin-releasing peptides (GRP) and autism. Emphasising again that results were based on the use of an open trial (everyone knew what was bein........ Read more »
Becker MM, Riesgo RS, Roesler R, Bosa C, Ohlweiler L, Backes B, Endres RG, Zanon RB, Marchezan J, & Schwartsmann G. (2016) Improvement in Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children With the Use of Gastrin-Releasing Peptide: An Open Trial. Clinical neuropharmacology. PMID: 27332629
In a startling discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers have determined that the immune system directly affects - and even controls - creatures' social behavior, such as their desire to interact with others. So could immune system problems contribute to an inability to have normal social interactions?
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Filiano, A., Xu, Y., Tustison, N., Marsh, R., Baker, W., Smirnov, I., Overall, C., Gadani, S., Turner, S., Weng, Z.... (2016) Unexpected role of interferon-γ in regulating neuronal connectivity and social behaviour. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature18626
Dog safety education for children works, according to a systematic review of existing research.The CDC estimates that 4.5 million Americans are bitten by a dog every year. Children are at high risk, and bites to children are often more severe than those to adults. Bites to the head and neck are more common than for adults because children are smaller.The CDC says “Among children, the rate of dog-bite–related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Children are more likely than adults........ Read more »
Shen, J., Rouse, J., Godbole, M., Wells, H., Boppana, S., & Schwebel, D. (2016) Systematic Review: Interventions to Educate Children About Dog Safety and Prevent Pediatric Dog-Bite Injuries: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsv164
If you were sat in a dark room and the lights flickered off every few seconds, you'd definitely notice. Yet when your blinks make the world go momentarily dark – and bear in mind most of us perform around 12 to 15 of these every minute – you are mostly oblivious. It certainly doesn't feel like someone is flicking the lights on and off. How can this be?A new study in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance has tested two possibilities – one is that after each bl........ Read more »
Irwin, D., & Robinson, M. (2016) Perceiving a Continuous Visual World Across Voluntary Eye Blinks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000267
Not so long ago I blogged about the research paper from Faezeh Ghalichi and colleagues  (see here) describing the result of their relatively small scale (non-blinded, not placebo-controlled) trial on the use of a gluten-free diet (GFD) with a cohort of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).The results, taking into account certain methodological issues, were generally quite favourable when it came to the analysed behavioural measurements used and importantly on the presence........ Read more »
Faezeh Ghalichi, Alireza Ostadrahimi, Ayyoub Malek, & Jamal Ghaemmaghami. (2016) The effect of gluten free diet on markers of celiac disease and association with behavioral symptoms in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Progress in Nutrition, 18(2). info:/
The music theory literature has been suggesting it for a long time: the idea that simultaneous sounding tones with frequency relationships that are low integer multiples, like 1:2 (octave) or 3:2 (a perfect fifth), are determinant of how listeners perceive consonance. It is an idea that is often related to the overtone structure of natural sounds (such as the voice or string instruments) suggesting that musical harmony is reflective or even a result of the acoustic structure that is found in nat........ Read more »
Honing, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140088-20140088. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088
When the morning alarm carves us out of our slumber, restoring the previous night’s raspy throat and foggy head, we have a decision to make: get up and go, or call in sick. What happens next is influenced by workplace norms about whether absence is commonplace or exceptional, a current pulling us towards the office or letting us settle back into bed. But new research in Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processing from a Dutch-Canadian team, led by Lieke ten Brummelhuis, suggest........ Read more »
ten Brummelhuis, L., Johns, G., Lyons, B., & ter Hoeven, C. (2016) Why and when do employees imitate the absenteeism of co-workers?. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 16-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2016.04.001
"Clinicians should be aware that gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, and autonomic dysfunction may cluster in children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and should be addressed in a multidisciplinary treatment plan."So said the findings by Bradley Ferguson and colleagues  who, continuing an autism research theme (see here), "examined the relationship between gastrointestinal symptomatology, examining upper and lower gastrointestinal tract symptomatology separately, and autonomic n........ Read more »
Ferguson BJ, Marler S, Altstein LL, Lee EB, Akers J, Sohl K, McLaughlin A, Hartnett K, Kille B, Mazurek M.... (2016) Psychophysiological Associations with Gastrointestinal Symptomatology in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27321113
By guest blogger Richard StephensThe 1994 Wonderbra© billboard campaign with its distinctive “Hello Boys!” catchphrase regularly gets a mention as one of most iconic advert series of all time. Its portrayal of super model Eva Herzigova clad only in black lacey pants and gravity-defying bra is said to have sent drivers veering off the roads. However a new study published in the esteemed journal Acta Psycologica suggests that attention grabbing billboard ads may actually have the opposite eff........ Read more »
Chan M, Madan CR, & Singhal A. (2016) The effects of taboo-related distraction on driving performance. Acta psychologica, 20-6. PMID: 27136396
MAR autism - maternal autoantibody-related autism - is a term that has graced this blog before (see here). Describing a state where autoantibodies directed against foetal brain proteins have been detected in some mothers who have children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the suggestion is that such evidence further substantiates a role for various maternal immune functions and processes when it comes to offspring risk of at least some types of autism.Although interesting, t........ Read more »
Krakowiak P, Walker CK, Tancredi D, Hertz-Picciotto I, & Van de Water J. (2016) Autism-specific maternal anti-fetal brain autoantibodies are associated with metabolic conditions. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27312731
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