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  • August 1, 2016
  • 07:36 PM

This Month in Blastocystis Research - Interactive Edition

by Christen Rune Stensvold in Blastocystis Parasite Blog

What are your thoughts on Blastocystis carriage and age? Please comment!... Read more »

  • August 1, 2016
  • 03:10 PM

FAMIN or feast? Newly discovered mechanism influences how immune cells 'eat' invaders

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new mechanism that affects how our immune cells perform - and hence their ability to prevent disease - has been discovered by an international team of researchers. To date, researchers have identified hundreds of genetic variants that increase or decrease the risk of developing diseases from cancer and diabetes to tuberculosis and mental health disorders.

... Read more »

M Zaeem Cader, Katharina Boroviak, Qifeng Zhang, Ghazaleh Assadi, Sarah L Kempster, Gavin W Sewell, Svetlana Saveljeva, Jonathan W Ashcroft, Simon Clare, Subhankar Mukhopadhyay, Karen P Brown, Markus Tschurtschenthaler, Tim Raine, Brendan Doe, Edwin R Chilvers, Jules L Griffin, Nicole C Kaneider, R Andres Floto, Mauro D'Amato, Allan Bradley, Michael J O Wakelam.... (2016) C13orf31 (FAMIN) is a central regulator of immunometabolic function. Nature Immunology. info:/10.1038/ni.3532

  • August 1, 2016
  • 04:10 AM

Physical activity in children and youth: themes and consensus

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Physical activity boosts kids' brain power and academic prowess' went the press release accompanying the consensus statement published by Jens Bangsbo and colleagues [1] (open-access).The consensus statement brought together researchers from around the world "and from a variety of academic disciplines" to emphasise how undertaking all-manner of different kinds of exercise "are still a good investment in academic achievement" when it comes to children aged between 6-18 years of age.The statement is open-access but a few choice passages are particularly worthy of highlighting including the idea that there are various positive physical effects from exercise (as if you needed telling): "Frequent moderate-intensity and, to a lesser extent, low-intensity exercise improves cardiometabolic fitness in children and youth." I might at this point also refer you to the findings by Ekelund and colleagues [2] that made some headlines recently suggesting that about 65-70 minutes of "moderate intensity physical activity" a day might be something to aim for across different age groups. Yes, move more.Perhaps just as important are the various associations being made between exercise and other important areas of health and well-being including that: "Physical activity before, during and after school promotes scholastic performance in children and youth" and: "Mastery of fundamental movement skills is beneficial to cognition and scholastic performance in children and youth." Being careful not to fall into the trap that is 'those who exercise are more 'smarter' than those who don't' the idea that mastering movement skills might be another positive from exercise is an important point to make. As I've said before on this blog (see here) one particular pastime ticks a lot of boxes in terms of exercise and a particular focus on fine and gross motor skills: the martial arts. Added to the fact that some important life skills can be gained from disciplines such as karate (e.g. self-confidence) and I'd be the first to advocate more children and young adults getting involved in such activities. Indeed, this is something else covered in the Bangsbo article: "Physical activity-based positive youth development programmes that have an intentional curriculum and deliberate training are effective at promoting life skills (eg, interpersonal, self-regulation skills) and core values (eg, respect and social responsibility) in children and youth."Finally, I leave you with another important point raised in the consensus statement: "Social inclusion can be promoted by providing equal access to opportunities within physical activity and sports settings regardless of children and young people's social, cultural, physical and demographic characteristics." Wearing my autism research hat, I might agree with the tenets of this point (see here) applied to the autism spectrum and how participation in sports and exercise can be a really important part of social inclusion strategies.Now, added to exercise potentially improving academic outcomes, how about some outdoor learning too and importantly, making sure that children and young people get enough [quality] sleep?----------[1] Bangsbo J. et al. The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016: children, youth, and physical activity in schools and during leisure time. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Jun 27. pii: bjsports-2016-096325.[2] Ekelund U. et al. Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. Lancet. 2016. July 27.----------Bangsbo J, Krustrup P, Duda J, Hillman C, Andersen LB, Weiss M, Williams CA, Lintunen T, Green K, Hansen PR, Naylor PJ, Ericsson I, Nielsen G, Froberg K, Bugge A, Lundbye-Jensen J, Schipperijn J, Dagkas S, Agergaard S, von Seelen J, Østergaard C, Skovgaard T, Busch H, & Elbe AM (2016). The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016: children, youth, and physical activity in schools and during leisure time. British journal of sports medicine PMID: 27354718... Read more »

Bangsbo J, Krustrup P, Duda J, Hillman C, Andersen LB, Weiss M, Williams CA, Lintunen T, Green K, Hansen PR.... (2016) The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016: children, youth, and physical activity in schools and during leisure time. British journal of sports medicine. PMID: 27354718  

  • July 31, 2016
  • 03:38 PM

Tracking how HIV disrupts immune system informs vaccine development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

One of the main mysteries confounding development of an HIV vaccine is why some people infected with the virus make the desired antibodies after several years, but a vaccine can't seem to induce the same response.

... Read more »

M. Anthony Moody1,2,3,*,†, Isabela Pedroza-Pacheco4,†, Nathan A. Vandergrift1,5, Cecilia Chui4, Krissey E. Lloyd1, Robert Parks1, Kelly A. Soderberg1, Ane T. Ogbe4, Myron S. Cohen6, Hua-Xin Liao1,5, Feng Gao1,5, Andrew J. McMichael, David C. Montefiori, Laurent Verkoczy, Garnett Kelsoe, Jinghe Huang, Patrick R. Shea, Mark Connors, Persephone Borrow, & Barton F. Haynes. (2016) Immune perturbations in HIV-1–infected individuals who make broadly neutralizing antibodies. Science Immunology . info:/10.1126/sciimmunol.aag0851

  • July 31, 2016
  • 06:39 AM

The End of Ego-Depletion Theory?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

It's not been a good month for the theory of ego-depletion - the idea that self-control is a limited resource that can be depleted by overuse. Two weeks ago, researchers reported evidence of bias in the published literature examinig the question of whether glucose can reverse ego-depletion.

Now, the very existence of the ego-depletion phenomenon has been questioned by an international collaboration of psychologists who conducted a preregistered replication attempt (RRR). The results have just... Read more »

Hagger, M., & Chatzisarantis, N. (2016) A Multilab Preregistered Replication of the Ego-Depletion Effect. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(4), 546-573. DOI: 10.1177/1745691616652873  

  • July 30, 2016
  • 03:58 PM

Fish oil vs. lard -- why some fat can help or hinder your diet

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A diet high in saturated fat can make your brain struggle to control what you eat. If people are looking to lose weight, stay clear of saturated fat. Consuming these types of fatty food affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate hunger.

... Read more »

Viggiano, E., Mollica, M., Lionetti, L., Cavaliere, G., Trinchese, G., De Filippo, C., Chieffi, S., Gaita, M., Barletta, A., De Luca, B.... (2016) Effects of an High-Fat Diet Enriched in Lard or in Fish Oil on the Hypothalamic Amp-Activated Protein Kinase and Inflammatory Mediators. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2016.00150  

  • July 30, 2016
  • 05:55 AM

5 things we learned this week | open-access science week 30, 2016

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Finding flight MH370, origins of human speech, declining penguin colonies, safe carbon storage, and stressed out reef sharks: Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »

Jansen, E., Coppini, G., & Pinardi, N. (2016) Drift simulation of MH370 debris using superensemble techniques. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 16(7), 1623-1628. DOI: 10.5194/nhess-16-1623-2016  

Lameira, A., Hardus, M., Mielke, A., Wich, S., & Shumaker, R. (2016) Vocal fold control beyond the species-specific repertoire in an orang-utan. Scientific Reports, 30315. DOI: 10.1038/srep30315  

Kampman, N., Busch, A., Bertier, P., Snippe, J., Hangx, S., Pipich, V., Di, Z., Rother, G., Harrington, J., Evans, J.... (2016) Observational evidence confirms modelling of the long-term integrity of CO2-reservoir caprocks. Nature Communications, 12268. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12268  

Mourier, J., Maynard, J., Parravicini, V., Ballesta, L., Clua, E., Domeier, M., & Planes, S. (2016) Extreme Inverted Trophic Pyramid of Reef Sharks Supported by Spawning Groupers. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.05.058  

  • July 30, 2016
  • 03:32 AM

More scientific flesh on the bones of non-coeliac gluten/wheat sensitivity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was really, really pleased to read the paper by Melanie Uhde and colleagues [1] (open-access) I don't mind telling you. Covering a topic close to my blogging and research heart - sensitivity to wheat or gluten but not coeliac disease - the authors provide some much needed scientific clarification when it comes to how gluten or wheat might impact on some of those "who reported symptoms in response to wheat intake and in whom coeliac disease and wheat allergy were ruled out." Some media interest in the paper can also be seen here.With an authorship list including some of the great and good on this issue (see here for example) researchers included 80 participants presenting with non-coeliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) according to "criteria recently proposed by an expert group" [2]. These NCWS participants reported "experiencing intestinal and/or extraintestinal symptoms after ingestion of gluten-containing foods, including wheat, rye or barley. The reported symptoms in all subjects improved or disappeared when those foods were withdrawn for a period of 6 months, and recurred when they were re-introduced for a period of up to 1 month." All 80 provided serum samples for analysis that were compared with similar samples from 40 participants with "biopsy-proven active coeliac disease" and 40 samples from asymptomatic controls on a non-restrictive diet.The sort of information sought from those serum samples included quite a bit. Not only were "established markers" of coeliac disease (CD) assayed for - including IgA antibody to TG2 - but various immunological markers towards gluten were also included for study. Based also on the idea that "intestinal cell damage and systemic immune response to microbial components" might be an important feature of NCWS, researchers also markers associated with "compromised intestinal epithelial barrier integrity."Results: well, as per the media interest in this paper: "The findings suggest that these individuals [with NCWS] have a weakened intestinal barrier, which leads to a body-wide inflammatory immune response."A few further details are worthwhile discussing. First, the genetics of coeliac disease (those DQ2 and/or DQ8 heterodimers) were present in about a quarter of those with NCWS "a rate not substantially different than in the general population." Second, most of those with NCWS did not show the characteristic mucosal signs of CD as per the Marsh gradings (0 or 1) throughout the cohort. This was in direct contrast to the CD participants who all "expressed HLA DQ2 and/or DQ8 and presented with Marsh 3 grade intestinal histological findings." The conclusion: CD and NCWS participants are not one and the same (just in case you needed telling).Next: "Serum levels of both LBP [lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-binding protein (LBP)] and sCD14 were significantly elevated in individuals with NCWS in comparison with patients with coeliac disease and healthy individuals." This implies that there is 'systemic immune activation' on-going in those participants with NCWS not seen to the same extent in the other groups. These findings were also complemented by results indicative of that compromised intestinal epithelial barrier integrity previously discussed. The final picture emerging being one where NCWS participants seem to be in a state of 'immune activation' "linked to increased translocation of microbial and dietary components from the gut into circulation, in part due to intestinal cell damage and weakening of the intestinal barrier." I might add that some smaller scale analysis of serum samples from those NCWS participants "both before and after 6 months of a self-monitored diet free of wheat, rye and barley" suggested "a significant decline in the markers of immune activation and gut epithelial cell damage, in conjunction with the improvement of symptoms."And rest.For those as interested in this area of research as I am, I'm sure that you can understand my happiness in seeing the Uhde results and what it might mean for many, many people who've been perhaps been 'fobbed off' down the years with regards to their gluten ills. I can't help but see a possible connection between these findings and others reported with autism in mind for example (see here and see here). The added suggestion that 'intestinal cell damage' might be a feature of NCWS also possibly ties in with all that talk about 'leaky gut' and some autism (see here) but I don't doubt it may go well beyond just [some] autism [3]. Not looking so tree-hugging now eh?Of course there is more to do in this area: "Further research is needed to investigate the mechanism responsible for the intestinal damage and breach of the epithelial barrier, assess the potential use of the identified immune markers for the diagnosis of affected individuals and/or monitoring the response to specific treatment strategies, and examine potential therapies to counter epithelial cell damage and systemic immune activation in affected individuals." I might also add in a role for those trillions of wee beasties that call our gut home (the gut microbiota) as potentially also being a target for further scientific research too (see here for example).I await further studies...----------[1] Uhde M. et al. Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease. Gut. 2016. July 25.[2] Catassi C. et al. Diagnosis of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS): The Salerno Experts’ Criteria. Nutrients. 2015;7(6):4966-4977.[3] Whiteley P. Nutritional management of (some) autism: a case for gluten- and casein-free diets? Proc Nutr Soc. 2015 Aug;74(3):202-7.----------Uhde, M., Ajamian, M., Caio, G., De Giorgio, R., Indart, A., Green, P., Verna, E., Volta, U., & Alaedini, A. (2016). Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease Gut DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-311964... Read more »

  • July 29, 2016
  • 03:55 PM

Breastfeeding associated with better brain development and neurocognitive outcomes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study, which followed 180 preterm infants from birth to age seven, found that babies who were fed more breast milk within the first 28 days of life had had larger volumes of certain regions of the brain at term equivalent and had better IQs, academic achievement, working memory, and motor function.

... Read more »

Mandy B. Belfort, MD, Peter J. Anderson, PhD, Victoria A. Nowak, MBBS, Katherine J. Lee, PhD, Charlotte Molesworth, Deanne K. Thompson, PhD, Lex W. Doyle, MD, & Terrie E. Inder, MBChB, MD. (2016) Breast Milk Feeding, Brain Development, and Neurocognitive Outcomes: A 7-Year Longitudinal Study in Infants Born at Less Than 30 Weeks' Gestation. The Journal of Pediatrics. DOI:  

  • July 29, 2016
  • 08:00 AM

Friday Fellow: Royal sea star

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll In order to celebrate the 5oth Friday Fellow, which was posted today, I decided to bring you an extra Friday Fellow! Afterall, there are plenty of interesting lifeforms to be shown. As I have never presented … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • July 29, 2016
  • 07:00 AM

Friday Fellow: Cute bee fly

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Recently the appearance of a new pokémon, Cutiefly, has brought a lot of attention to the real world species in which it is based. So why not bring it to Friday Fellow so that you may … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • July 29, 2016
  • 04:20 AM

Pregnancy multivitamins 'are a waste of money' (except when they're not)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Science headlines eh? Who would trust them and their sometimes inflated press releases?I start today with a science headline taken from the BBC website reading: "Pregnancy multivitamins 'are a waste of money'" based on the findings of a review article [1] published in the journal Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.In it we are told that complex multi-vitamin and mineral supplements are 'unlikely to be needed and are an unnecessary expense' during the nine months that made us. Further that certain vitamins are not indicated for supplementation during pregnancy including that contributory to excess vitamin A. All pregnant women have to do, we are told is "to have a healthy, varied diet including fresh fruit and vegetables" and avoid the old phrase 'eating for two'. What could be simpler?The irony behind such findings and those BBC and other media headlines is that although one needs to be careful about one's vitamin and mineral intake (treat them as what they are, medicines) there is a long tradition of vitamin supplementation being indicated when it comes to that special time called pregnancy. Indeed, and I quote from the BBC article: "pregnant women should make sure they take folic acid and vitamin D, as well as eating a well-balanced diet, as per NHS guidelines, they add."So let me get this straight: don't take a multi-vitamin supplement but makes sure that you take a (multi) supplement containing folic acid and vitamin D? You can perhaps see how confusing such headlines are and how grandiose ideas that every woman pre-conceptual and during pregnancy is feasting down on 5-a-day (or even 8-a-day if you actually believe it will make you happier!) are not necessarily based in reality. We would all love to think that important health messages about maternal fruit and vegetable consumption during pregnancy for example, are being heard loud and clear but the reality is that they aren't for everyone. The reality is that people are using vitamin and mineral supplements to supplement their dietary needs for whatever reasons and headlines further confusing the population about such supplementation being a 'waste of money' is only likely to put more people off using them without perhaps giving greater thought about the ways and means to help people alter their diet accordingly. The net result: more pregnant women potentially becoming deficient in certain core nutrients during pregnancy and more potential effects/risks for her and her offspring.I do have a bee in my bonnet about this issue because time after time the research evidence points to how important pregnancy nutrition is for a variety of maternal and offspring outcomes [2]. Outside of folic acid and vitamin D, various other nutrients are also pretty important during pregnancy (i.e. iodine - 'good for baby, good for the economy') and the unfortunate reality is that most people can't or don't get enough of them from their diet alone. The late David Barker was a pioneer in the area of foetal programming including that related to pregnancy nutrition; one can only wonder what he would make of the suggestion that universally, supplementary multivitamin use during pregnancy is a 'waste of money'?And finally, you want more people to eat fruit and vegetables? Don't focus too much on just price and positioning at the supermarket, focus on home economics (or just cookery!) classes at school [3] for starters and make fruit and vegetables interesting...----------[1] Vitamin supplementation in pregnancy. Drug & Therapeutics Bulletin. 2016. July 11.[2] Harding JE. The nutritional basis of the fetal origins of adult disease. Int J Epidemiol. 2001 Feb;30(1):15-23.[3] McMorrow L. et al. Perceived barriers towards healthy eating and their association with fruit and vegetable consumption. J Public Health (Oxf). 2016 May 24.----------Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (2016). Vitamin supplementation in pregnancy Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin DOI: 10.1136/dtb.2016.7.0414... Read more »

Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. (2016) Vitamin supplementation in pregnancy. Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. DOI: 10.1136/dtb.2016.7.0414  

  • July 28, 2016
  • 03:23 PM

Why do antidepressants take so long to work?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Medication roulette, if you have ever had to deal with depression or other types of mental illness you know what I'm talking about. You take a pill that could help or could cause all sorts of horrid side effects. You cross your fingers as you take that first pill and in the 4-6 weeks it takes to start working you cross your fingers, hope, wish and probably even dread the outcome. But why does it take so long for antidepressants to start working in the first place and what could be done to change that?

... Read more »

  • July 28, 2016
  • 08:34 AM

Game of Farmers: Agriculture is coming

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Gron gazed across the plain from inside a tuft of long grass. There. Just in front of the far hillock. Gazelles. Meals on legs. He vaguely remembered mother carrying him through cooler forests when he was not yet old enough to walk. He had never understood why they had left. But he had learned, had […]... Read more »

Zeder MA. (2008) Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(33), 11597-604. PMID: 18697943  

Lazaridis, I., Nadel, D., Rollefson, G., Merrett, D., Rohland, N., Mallick, S., Fernandes, D., Novak, M., Gamarra, B., Sirak, K.... (2016) Genomic insights into the origin of farming in the ancient Near East. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature19310  

  • July 28, 2016
  • 03:49 AM

Autism in adults in the UK continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Traolach Brugha and colleagues [1] makes for some blogging fodder today and the suggestion that: "The combined prevalence of autism in adults of all ages in England was 11/1000."Just before going through the Brugha paper it is perhaps appropriate to put it into some context based on other work from this group previously covered on this blog (see here) and the findings again by Brugha and colleagues [2] (a further report on their findings that time around can be seen here).On that last occasion published in 2011, the estimated prevalence of adult autism in the UK - living in the community - was reported on, arriving at a figure of 9.8/1000. That finding was based on data from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) and whilst important, was not without it's methodological weaknesses including the fact that: "Sampling excluded institutional residents and adults with intellectual disability severe enough to prevent them from participating in the assessment." I'll come back to the 'weakness' issues shortly also with one of the screening instruments in mind...Anyhow, the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2007) once again formed the basis for the recent paper by Brugha added to "a population case-register survey of 290 adults with intellectual disability". Those additional 290 adults have already been discussed in another publication from this group (see here) and were collectively termed the IDCR cohort (Intellectual Disability Case Register study). I have to admit that at first I thought it was the 2014 reincarnation of the APMS that formed the bulk of the data for this latest paper - data from the publication of which is due out soon - but this was not the case as we are told that: "The sample from the first general population study was extended with the inclusion of representative samples of adults with intellectual disability omitted from the earlier survey" i.e. those additional 290 adults included as part of the IDCR study. The value added bit to the latest Brugha paper was the inclusion of adults both living in both private households or in communal care both "sampled from learning disability case registers."The 2-stage screening affair held with the 2007 APMS cohort where the the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) - the AQ20 - was the starting point, followed by the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) (module 4) as and when required. ADOS module 1 was actually the preferred assessment scheme for those IDCR study participants (module 1 "is designed for individuals who do not consistently use phrase speech") and the AQ initial screen did not seem to figure.The results: well, I've already indicated that the estimated prevalence was around 1.1% of the adult population, up from the previous 0.9% estimate. This was based on "14 men and 4 women with autism in the APMS subsample, and 49 men and 40 women with autism in the IDCR subsample." It should be noted that of the original 290 participants interviewed from the IDCR cohort, only 276 were eventually assessed for autism as a consequence of some presenting with quite profound difficulties not conducive to a "confident assessment".The authors report that estimated autism prevalence was higher in those with moderate to profound learning (intellectual) disability and that there was a 'gradient' of autism prevalence by learning disability status. A quote by the authors relays this finding perfectly: "almost two in five adults with moderate to profound intellectual disability had autism." Indeed, the link between autism and learning disability is something that has also been discussed in recent posts (see here) on this blog. Authors also observed that: "Male gender was a strong predictor of autism only in those with no or mild intellectual disability" so highlighting how the gender ratio for autism in those with moderate or profound intellectual disability was nowhere near the traditional 4:1 ratio commonly touted.Although important data filling a very important gap in terms of the estimated adult prevalence of autism here in Blighty, I would like to return to the potential 'weakness' aspect of the last and latest Brugha papers. For those who follow this blog you'll probably know that I have a few issues with one of the primary screening instruments put forward with 'autistic traits' in mind: the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). It's nothing personal when it comes to my growing unease with the instrument but in these days of the 'are you autistic?' pop psychology survey (see here) I'm not convinced that (a) it is all that reliable as an accurate screening measure [3] for autism and (b) that it is specifically 'tuned into autism' at the expense of other possible diagnoses (see here). The fact that the AQ20 was the first stage screener for those potentially requiring subsequent ADOS-ing at least in the APMS 2007 cohort does bring into question exactly how accurate the Brugha findings are in terms of the final estimated prevalence of adult autism among those where learning disability does not feature. Indeed, even the authors in a further relevant publication have even questioned their 2-stage methodology used [4]: "The AQ-20 was only a weak predictor of ADOS-4 cases." Hmm.To reiterate, I don't want to come down to hard on the Brugha findings because they are some of the best data we currently have when it comes to estimates of numbers of cases of adult autism in the UK. The fact that the data - systematically collected on this and the previous testing occasion - seemed to be pointing towards a significant role for learning disability when it comes to autism alongside an increase in cases when this factor is taken into consideration also plays into all those debates about whether autism is truly on the rise (see here) and what further planning and resources are going to be needed in future years. It is however only with time and continued monitoring that we will see what trends become apparent with regards to autism prevalence in adults here in the UK and what more we will see when APMS 2014 finally begins to report...To close, having watched the fantastic film Ant-Man with my brood recently, we're never going to look at Thomas the Tank Engine in quite the same light...----------[1] Brugha TS. et al. Epidemiology of autism in adults across age groups and ability levels. Br J Psychiatry. 2016 Jul 7.[2] Brugha TS. et al. Epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders in adults in the community in England. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011 May;68(5):459-65.[3] Ashwood KL. et al. Predicting the diagnosis of autism in adults using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) questionnaire. Psychol Med. 2016 Jun 29:1-10.[4] Brugha TS. et al. Validating two survey methods for ... Read more »

Brugha TS, Spiers N, Bankart J, Cooper SA, McManus S, Scott FJ, Smith J, & Tyrer F. (2016) Epidemiology of autism in adults across age groups and ability levels. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 27388569  

  • July 27, 2016
  • 03:39 PM

Common brain changes found in children with autism, ADHD and OCD

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of Toronto scientists has found similarities in brain impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The study involved brain imaging of white matter in 200 children with autism, ADHD, OCD or no diagnosis.

... Read more »

  • July 27, 2016
  • 02:38 PM

Deer Line Up North-South, Whether Relaxing or Running

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If you're ever lost in a remote European forest, you might be able to get your bearings by finding a herd of roe deer. These animals like to align themselves roughly north-south, whether they're standing still or fleeing danger.

Roe deer are small, reddish or grayish grazers common in Europe and Asia. Petr Obleser, of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, and his coauthors studied the behavior of these skittish herbivores to look for evidence that they can sense the earth's mag... Read more »

Obleser, P., Hart, V., Malkemper, E., Begall, S., Holá, M., Painter, M., Červený, J., & Burda, H. (2016) Compass-controlled escape behavior in roe deer. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 70(8), 1345-1355. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-016-2142-y  

  • July 27, 2016
  • 09:49 AM

The Myth of Human Adult Neurogenesis?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a new paper that could prove explosive, Australian neuropathologists C. V. Dennis and colleagues report that they found very little evidence for adult neurogenesis in humans.

In recent years, the idea that neurogenesis - the production of new neurons - occurs in specific regions of the adult brain has become widely accepted, and much discussed. Disruptions to neurogenesis have been proposed to play a role in stress, depression, and other disorders.

However, Dennis et al. say that ne... Read more »

Dennis CV, Suh LS, Rodriguez ML, Kril JJ, & Sutherland GT. (2016) Human adult neurogenesis across the ages: An immunohistochemical study. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology. PMID: 27424496  

  • July 27, 2016
  • 09:30 AM

HPV Human Papillomavirus Leads to Dysregulation of Immune Responses Through Epigenetic Mechanisms

by Louis Cicchini in EpiBeat

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are a diverse group of small double-stranded DNA viruses with specific mucosal or cutaneous tropisms. It is estimated that up to 80% of sexually active individuals will become infected with HPV sometime in their lifetime, making HPV the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection. HPVs can be further divided into high- and low-risk genotypes, based on their oncogenic potential. High-risk HPVs are implicated as causal in nearly 100% of cervical cancers, approximately 25% of head and neck cancers, and an astounding 5% of all human cancers overall. HPV-associated cancers, like most cancers, take decades to develop; however, HPV-positive head and neck cancers are known to harbor far fewer oncogenic mutations than HPV-negative HNCs.1 This suggests that HPV employs different mechanisms to achieve cellular transformation via viral factors.

Genome-wide studies have revealed that HPV-associated cancers carry distinct epigenetic markers, specifically when analyzing DNA methylation patterns, when compared to HPV-negative cancers in the same anatomical location.... Read more »

Stransky N, Egloff AM, Tward AD, Kostic AD, Cibulskis K, Sivachenko A, Kryukov GV, Lawrence MS, Sougnez C, McKenna A.... (2011) The mutational landscape of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Science (New York, N.Y.), 333(6046), 1157-60. PMID: 21798893  

Burgers WA, Blanchon L, Pradhan S, de Launoit Y, Kouzarides T, & Fuks F. (2007) Viral oncoproteins target the DNA methyltransferases. Oncogene, 26(11), 1650-5. PMID: 16983344  

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  • July 27, 2016
  • 07:20 AM

The Nature of Science of Nature

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

One the tenets of science is that hypotheses can't be proved, only disproved. But medical journals do not publish negative data, even though this is often helpful to scientists and physicians. A recent TED Talk by Ben Goldacre illustrates this point in the context of drug studies. In a bigger sense – is this really the only way to do science; to follow this one scientific method?... Read more »

Ben Goldacre. (2012) What doctors don't know about the drugs they prescribe. TED MED. info:/

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