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  • February 21, 2017
  • 03:39 AM
  • 19 views

Neuropsychiatric disorder onset "temporally related to prior vaccinations"?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Given the modest magnitude of these findings in contrast to the clear public health benefits of the timely administration of vaccines in preventing mortality and morbidity in childhood infectious diseases, we encourage families to maintain vaccination schedules according to CDC guidelines."The quote opening this post comes from the paper published by Douglas Leslie and colleagues [1] (open-access) and offers not a conclusion from their study looking at the possibility that "the onset of some ne........ Read more »

  • February 20, 2017
  • 04:33 AM
  • 46 views

Catatonic symptoms and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Catatonic symptoms are more prevalent in young people with autism than previously thought" said the article recently published by Breen and Hare [1]. Continuing a research theme of at least one of the authors [2], the idea that catatonic symptoms - primarily manifesting as stupor, unresponsiveness to light, noise or touch, mutism, etc - might be over-represented when it comes to autism is not a new one by any means.Breen & Hare set about looking for "the presence and nature of such att........ Read more »

  • February 20, 2017
  • 02:24 AM
  • 47 views

This Is Why Squids End up with Mismatched Eyes

by beredim in Strange Animals


Deep sea creatures come with all kinds of strange features that help them to survive their cold, dark habitat.. Some have eyes the size of a basketball, others come with appendages that blink and glow, deep-sea dwellers have developed some strange features and the "cockeyed" squid Histioteuthis heteropsis has one normal eye and one giant, bulging, yellow eye.





Histioteuthis heteropsis
One ... Read more »

  • February 18, 2017
  • 04:30 AM
  • 93 views

Social interaction and autism: it takes two to tango

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Psychology experiments are not generally fodder for this blog when it comes to autism. The main reason being that quite a few appearing in the peer-reviewed literature tend to look at quite abstract features perhaps somewhat removed from the daily lives of autistic people and their significant others. A few also seem to struggle with the idea that grand over-arching psychological theories (that seem to inevitably follow psychological findings in particular) are not required when it comes to auti........ Read more »

  • February 17, 2017
  • 03:03 PM
  • 75 views

The Fantasy of Connecting Two Spinal Cords

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A peculiar new paper proposes the idea of "connecting two spinal cords as a way of sharing information between two brains". The author is Portuguese psychiatrist Amílcar Silva-dos-Santos and the paper appears in Frontiers in Psychology.



Frontiers are a publisher with a troubled history of publishing dubious science. But this paper is unusual, even by Frontiers' standards, because it contains virtually no science at all.

In a nutshell, Silva-Dos-Santos suggests that it would be interest... Read more »

  • February 17, 2017
  • 05:00 AM
  • 71 views

Friday Fellow: Brown-gutted Mud Roundworm

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll If you have your face buried in the mud at the bottom of a European lake, you may end up finding some of those tiny little roundworms known as Monhystera stagnalis. As usual, there is no common … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 17, 2017
  • 03:16 AM
  • 100 views

Vitamin D halting colds and flu?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case, although flu is far more serious than the common cold."That was some of the media interpretation of the paper - "systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data" - published by Adrian Martineau and colleagues [1] looking at the collected data on vitamin D supplementation "on risk ........ Read more »

Adrian R Martineau, David A Jolliffe, Richard L Hooper, Lauren Greenberg, John F Aloia, Peter Bergman, Gal Dubnov-Raz, Susanna Esposito, & et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. info:/10.1136/bmj.i6583

  • February 16, 2017
  • 03:14 AM
  • 125 views

"early medical events are associated with clinical ASD phenotypes"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Charlotte Willfors and colleagues [1] (open-access) provides some food for thought today and the observation that various individual and cumulative medical events - "early medical events likely to be caused by environmental factors" - may be important to at least some autism.Researchers "scrutinized the early medical histories of a rare and informative sample of 13 MZ [monozygotic] twin pairs discordant for clinical ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" also including "13 M........ Read more »

Willfors C, Carlsson T, Anderlid BM, Nordgren A, Kostrzewa E, Berggren S, Ronald A, Kuja-Halkola R, Tammimies K, & Bölte S. (2017) Medical history of discordant twins and environmental etiologies of autism. Translational psychiatry, 7(1). PMID: 28140403  

  • February 15, 2017
  • 08:08 AM
  • 120 views

New Species of Polychaete Worm Discovered in Antarctica

by beredim in Strange Animals



Flabegraviera fujiae (left), the new species described in the
in the new study, and Flabegraviera mundata (right).
(Scale bar: 1cm)

A few days ago, a team of Japanese scientists from the Hokkaido University announced the discovery a new species of polychaete, a type of marine annelid worm.

The discovery took place 9-meters deep underwater near Japan's Syowa Station in Antarctica and provides... Read more »

  • February 15, 2017
  • 04:30 AM
  • 126 views

"Androgens were not associated with autistic traits at 12 months of age"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

EARLI - the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation study - has been mentioned on this blog before (see here) with the aim of the initiative to "examine possible environmental risk factors for autism and study whether there is any interplay between environmental factors and genetic susceptibility."In this post I'm bringing the paper by Bo Park and colleagues [1] (open-access) to your attention and the observation(s) that umbilical cord blood levels of testosterone and other relate........ Read more »

Park, B., Lee, B., Burstyn, I., Tabb, L., Keelan, J., Whitehouse, A., Croen, L., Fallin, M., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Montgomery, O.... (2017) Umbilical cord blood androgen levels and ASD-related phenotypes at 12 and 36 months in an enriched risk cohort study. Molecular Autism, 8(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13229-017-0118-z  

  • February 14, 2017
  • 12:13 PM
  • 152 views

The Complexities of “The Love Hormone”

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

New York street art. Photo inWikimedia Commons posted by Pedroalmovar.Oxytocin, commonly known as “the love hormone”, is a small chemical that is produced in the brain of mammals, but can both act as a neurotransmitter and enter the blood stream and act as a hormone. It has long been heralded for its role in both maternal and romantic love, but more recent research is showing us just how complicated the physiology of love can be.Oxytocin is released in mammalian mothers after birth. It promo........ Read more »

Shamay-Tsoory SG, & Abu-Akel A. (2016) The Social Salience Hypothesis of Oxytocin. Biological psychiatry, 79(3), 194-202. PMID: 26321019  

  • February 14, 2017
  • 06:15 AM
  • 119 views

Amphioctopus Marginatus: The Octopus That Pretends to Be a Coconut

by beredim in Strange Animals



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Family: Octopodidae
Genus: Amphioctopus
Species: Amphioctopus  marginatus
Conservation Status: Not yet assessed
Common Name: Coconut octopus, Veined octopus

Meet Amphioctopus marginatus a medium-sized octopus found in the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean The species is best known as the "coconut octopus" ... Read more »

Finn JK, Tregenza T, Norman MD. (2009) Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus. . Curr. Biol, 19(23). info:/10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.052

  • February 14, 2017
  • 03:27 AM
  • 130 views

Relative age and ADHD medication

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Youngest children in class 'more likely to be given ADHD drugs'" went the NHS Choices headline that led me to the short report produced by Martin Whitely and colleagues [1] (open-access).ADHD - attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - is something of interest to this blog; not least the idea that relative age (age relative to peers in the same school year group) might be an important variable when it comes to at least some diagnoses of the condition (see here).The Whitely paper draws on ........ Read more »

Martin Whitely, Leanne Lester, John Phillimore, & Suzanne Robinson. (2017) Influence of birth month on the probability of Western Australian children being treated for ADHD. The Medical Journal of Australia. info:/

  • February 13, 2017
  • 04:28 AM
  • 141 views

Depression, SMILES and Modified Mediterranean diet (advice)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

SMILES in the title of this post refers to the SMILES trial - Supporting the Modification of lifestyle In Lowered Emotional States - and results recently published by Felice Jacka and colleagues [1] (open-access) pertinent to the idea that "dietary improvement" might be something to consider when a diagnosis of major depressive episode (MDE) is received.Having previously published their study protocol [2], researchers set about looking at whether under "single blind, randomised controlled" ........ Read more »

Jacka, F., O’Neil, A., Opie, R., Itsiopoulos, C., Cotton, S., Mohebbi, M., Castle, D., Dash, S., Mihalopoulos, C., Chatterton, M.... (2017) A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine, 15(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y  

  • February 11, 2017
  • 04:43 AM
  • 134 views

Pregnancy exposure to SSRIs and offspring autism risk: debate continues

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"It remains unclear whether the association between first trimester SSRI [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor] exposure and child autism that was present in the case-control studies even after adjustment for MMI [maternal mental illness] is a true association or a product of residual confounding."So said the results of the systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken by Hilary Brown and colleagues [1] looking at a potentially important association between pregnancy use of a class ........ Read more »

  • February 10, 2017
  • 07:19 AM
  • 135 views

BHD in patients undergoing chest CT and characteristics of BHD in Korea.

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

To date, there have been no prospective studies attempting to diagnose BHD syndrome or literature reviews on BHD in Korea. Park et al. (2017) address this in their new study that aims to detect BHD prospectively in patients undergoing chest computed tomography (CT) scans and to classify the characteristics of BHD in Korea.... Read more »

  • February 10, 2017
  • 05:00 AM
  • 106 views

Friday Fellow: Paraná pine

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll As the first conifer Friday Fellow, I decided to choose one of my beloved ones, the Paraná pine, Araucaria angustifolia, also known as Brazilian pine or candelabra tree. The Paraná pine can reach up to 50 m … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 10, 2017
  • 03:27 AM
  • 103 views

A few-foods diet for ADHD: a systematic review of meta-analyses of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"... the effect sizes of a few-foods diet are medium to large, justifying implementation of a diagnostic FFD [few-foods diet] in subgroups of children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], thus offering innovative treatment opportunities for ADHD."So said the "Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials" published by Lidy Pelsser and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) looking at various dietary interventions that have ........ Read more »

  • February 9, 2017
  • 03:01 AM
  • 123 views

On dietary and nutritional therapies for ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

ME/CFS in case you don't already know refers to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, according to the findings reported by Nadia Campagnolo and colleagues [1], is in need of quite a bit more scientific investigation when it comes to the application of dietary changes and nutritional supplements to potentially alter the course of the condition(s).Surveying the peer-reviewed literature "from 1994 to May 2016" the authors looked for peer-reviewed studies where "CFS/ME........ Read more »

Campagnolo N, Johnston S, Collatz A, Staines D, & Marshall-Gradisnik S. (2017) Dietary and nutrition interventions for the therapeutic treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a systematic review. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association. PMID: 28111818  

  • February 8, 2017
  • 05:36 AM
  • 131 views

Sex, alcohol, and structural variants in fission yeast

by Christophe Dessimoz in Open Reading Frame

Our latest study just came out (Jeffares et al., Nature Comm 2017). In it, we carefully catalogued high-confidence structural variants among all known strains of the fission yeast population, and assessed their impact on spore viability, winemaking and other traits. This post gives a summary and the story behind the paper.

Structural variants (SVs) measure genetic variation beyond single nucleotide changes …

Next generation sequencing is enabling the study of genomic diversity on unprec........ Read more »

Jeffares, D., Jolly, C., Hoti, M., Speed, D., Shaw, L., Rallis, C., Balloux, F., Dessimoz, C., Bähler, J., & Sedlazeck, F. (2017) Transient structural variations have strong effects on quantitative traits and reproductive isolation in fission yeast. Nature Communications, 14061. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14061  

Jeffares, D., Rallis, C., Rieux, A., Speed, D., Převorovský, M., Mourier, T., Marsellach, F., Iqbal, Z., Lau, W., Cheng, T.... (2015) The genomic and phenotypic diversity of Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Nature Genetics, 47(3), 235-241. DOI: 10.1038/ng.3215  

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