Restricting access to firearms for people who misuse alcohol could prevent firearm violence, but policies that more clearly define alcohol misuse should be developed to facilitate enforcement, according to a review of existing research and public policies by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.... Read more »
Wintemute, G. (2015) Alcohol misuse, firearm violence perpetration, and public policy in the United States. Preventive Medicine. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.04.015
The naming of a new species of hominid -- Australopithecus deyiremeda -- made a lot of news this week. The purpose of this post is not to worry over the details of the fossils that were used to construct this new taxon, but to ask for some clarification about what is actually meant by the term "species" as paleoanthropologists use it. I'm going to tell you what I think it means, then I'm going to complain about it a little bit, then I'm going to ask you to tell me what you thin [...] ... Read more »
Haile-Selassie Y, Gibert L, Melillo SM, Ryan TM, Alene M, Deino A, Levin NE, Scott G, & Saylor BZ. (2015) New species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene hominin diversity. Nature, 521(7553), 483-8. PMID: 26017448
Many of us have been taught to self-promote and we may even think others enjoy hearing of our successes. We’ve written about the principle of schadenfreude here before and if you recall those posts you may have already happily predicted that this will be a post about just how annoying those braggarts are to their […]
How big is that potential juror’s house?
Facial disfigurement is too disturbing, or why I won’t hire you
So. Are you simply a Millennial or are you just a narcissist?
... Read more »
Scopelliti I, Loewenstein G, & Vosgerau J. (2015) You Call It "Self-Exuberance"; I Call It "Bragging": Miscalibrated Predictions of Emotional Responses to Self-Promotion. Psychological Science. PMID: 25953948
I've taken my time to come to discussing the findings from Laura Steenbergen and colleagues  (open-access) providing "the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood." It's not that I didn't find such results to be really interesting and having potential for quite a few different areas of psychiatry, but rather that other blogging topics have popped up in the meantime. No mind, we're here now.Based on a growing evidence base suggesting that those trillions of wee beasties which call our gastrointestinal (GI) tract home might be doing so much more than helping us to digest our food and produce the odd vitamin or two , Steenbergen et al set about looking at whether probiotic supplementation "may reduce cognitive reactivity in non-depressed individuals." Just in case you need further explanation about what was being tested, we are told that: "Cognitive reactivity refers to the activation of dysfunctional patterns of thinking that are triggered by subtle changes in mood, such as ruminative (e.g., recurrent thoughts about possible causes and consequences of one’s distress), aggressive (e.g., to think about hurting others or oneself), hopelessness (e.g., loss of motivation and expectations about the future), and/or suicidal thoughts (e.g., to think that one’s death is the only way to end the suffering)." The probiotic under examination was a mixture called 'Ecologic®Barrier' - "a multispecies probiotic containing Bifidobacterium bifidum W23, Bifidobacterium lactis W52, Lactobacillus acidophilus W37, Lactobacillus brevis W63, Lactobacillus casei W56, Lactobacillus salivarius W24, and Lactococcus lactis (W19 and W58)." This is also not the first time that this preparation has been looked at by some authors on the Steenbergen paper either .Using a "triple-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, pre- and post-intervention assessment design" - triple blind meaning that group allocator, participants and outcome assessor were all blinded as to whether participants were given Ecologic®Barrier or a placebo (maize starch and maltodextrins) - researchers examined data for two groups of young adults (approximately 20 years of age) allocated to either probiotic (n=20) or placebo (n=20) over 4 weeks. All participants were described as 'healthy' with "no reported cardiac, renal, or hepatic conditions, no allergies or intolerance to lactose or gluten, no prescribed medication or drug use, and who reported to consume no more than 3–5 alcohol units per week participated in the study." They were also all non-smokers. Also: "No information was provided about the different types of intervention (probiotics vs. placebo) or about the hypotheses concerning the outcome of the experiment." Mood and "dysfunctional thoughts" were assessed pre- and post intervention/placebo using the Leiden Index of Depression Sensitivity (LEIDS-r), the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II) and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and off they went.Results: bearing in mind that "cognitive reactivity is an important vulnerability marker of depression", authors reported that "a 4-week multispecies probiotic intervention reduced self-reported cognitive reactivity to sad mood, as indexed by the LEIDS-r." Specifically, scores on the rumination and aggression scales seemed to be most positively affected "indicating that in the probiotics supplementation condition participants perceived themselves to be less distracted by aggressive and ruminative thoughts when in a sad mood." Various other parameters also seemed to be affected by probiotic administration but these did not reach statistical significance.Just before however you rush out to buy a probiotic with the hope that your mood might be lifted and your ruminating somehow quashed, there are a few important caveats to note about the Steenbergen findings. First and foremost is their quite small participant group who were self-reporting. Self-report is a good tool when it comes to analysing a person's psychology, thoughts and feelings but is very dependent on the schedule used and how it 'grades' something like rumination or aggression. Normally, these are done in the form of statements and a Likert scale. The Steenbergen study did not rely on other 'objective' measurements.Second: "we did not include dietary measures and did not control for consumption of other probiotic products or fermented foods (e.g., yogurt)." From that point of view, we don't know whether simple dietary changes might also have exerted some effect on the results obtained. Indeed, whether illness or even natural biology - "Female participants were not controlled for the menstrual cycle" - might also have affected results bearing in mind that most participants were female.Finally is the issue of compliance and the lack of objective data on who actually stuck to the 4-week regime and how rigidly. By saying all this, I'm not trying to poo-poo the results, just highlighting limitations.Still with those caveats in mind, the Steenbergen results are a potentially important addition to the idea that gut bacteria might have some interesting effect on psychology (psychobacteriomics as I like to call it) as per the recent JAMA review . Whether there may be wider implications for the current results, perhaps overlapping with other research suggestions about probiotic administration and psychology/behaviour (see here) remains to be seen. Further inspection of the potential mechanisms of effect including the gut microbiota as part of the triad of gut barrier function and gut immunity are also indicated bearing in mind previous data on something like depression and the inner workings of the gut (see here).Oh, and I'll be coming to the paper by Lisa Christian et al  on gut bacteria and toddler temperament quite soon...Music: LunchMoney Lewis - Bills.---------- Steenbergen L. et al. A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2015. April 7. Magnúsdóttir S. et al. Systematic genome assessment of B-vitamin biosynthesis suggests co-operation among gut microbes. Front Genet. 2015 Apr 20;6:148. Van Hemert S. & Ormel G. Influence of the Multispecies Probiotic Ecologic® BARRIER on Parameters of Intestinal Barrier Function. FNS. 2014; 5: 1739-1745. Friedrich MJ. Unraveling the Influence of Gut Microbes on the Mind. JAMA. 2015; 313: 1699-1701. Christian LM. et al. Gut microbiome composition is associated with temperament during early childhood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2015; 45: 118-127.----------... Read more »
Steenbergen L, Sellaro R, van Hemert S, Bosch JA, & Colzato LS. (2015) A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain, behavior, and immunity. PMID: 25862297
Quadriceps spinal-reflexive excitability was greater 20 minutes following non-thermal therapeutic ultrasound compared with a sham treatment among individuals with a history of knee injury and quadriceps dysfunction.... Read more »
Norte GE, Saliba SA, & Hart JM. (2015) Immediate Effects of Therapeutic Ultrasound on Quadriceps Spinal Reflex Excitability in Patients with Knee Pathology. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation. PMID: 25839089
Intelligence tests have to be adjusted all the time because people score higher and higher. If the average human of today went 105 years back in time, s/he would score 130, be considered as gifted, and join clubs for highly intelligent people. How can that be? The IQ growth The picture above shows the development […]... Read more »
Pietschnig J, & Voracek M. (2015) One Century of Global IQ Gains: A Formal Meta-Analysis of the Flynn Effect (1909-2013). Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 10(3), 282-306. PMID: 25987509
One thing you won't find in the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar is the part where after transforming into a butterfly, he mates with a female who has a Very Hungry Reproductive Tract waiting to devour his sperm. She has a special digestive organ just for this purpose. It's so powerful that it could even compete with the gut that let the caterpillar, in his more innocent days, chew through those five oranges.
This sperm-hungry organ is called the bursa copulatrix. In female butterflie... Read more »
Plakke, M., Deutsch, A., Meslin, C., Clark, N., & Morehouse, N. (2015) Dynamic digestive physiology of a female reproductive organ in a polyandrous butterfly. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218(10), 1548-1555. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.118323
One of the seminal pieces of research on religion and society was done in the early 20th century by a guy named Max Weber, who concluded that what he called the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ helped explain why the countries of Northern Europe and America were so prosperous. It’s a provocative conclusion that later research has shown was [Read More...]... Read more »
Yeganeh, H. (2015) Religiosity, socio-economic development and work values: a cross-national study. Journal of Management Development, 34(5), 585-600. DOI: 10.1108/JMD-06-2014-0066
A new study has identified how the herb Dichroa febrifuga treats malaria, which is helping in the design of better therapies.... Read more »
Herman JD, Pepper LR, Cortese JF, Estiu G, Galinsky K, Zuzarte-Luis V, Derbyshire ER, Ribacke U, Lukens AK, Santos SA.... (2015) The cytoplasmic prolyl-tRNA synthetase of the malaria parasite is a dual-stage target of febrifugine and its analogs. Science translational medicine, 7(288). PMID: 25995223
When something goes bump in the night, most of us are little jumpier than we would be in the day. But is that just because it's dark, or is it more to do with our bodies and brains switching to a vigilant nocturnal mode?Yadan Li and her colleagues have attempted to disentangle the influences of darkness and nighttime. They recruited 120 young women to complete a computer task in a windowless cubicle, which involved them looking at neutral pictures (e.g. nature scenes), scary pictures (e.g. spiders; a person being attacked), and listening to scary sounds (e.g. screams) and neutral sounds (e.g. bird song).The women were split into four groups: some of them completed the task in the day-time with bright lights on; some in the day-time in darkness; others at night-time with a dim light on; and others at night-time in complete darkness (although presumably the computer screen created some light).The women who completed the task at nighttime said they found the scary pictures and sounds more scary (than the women tested in the day-time), and this was true regardless of whether they were tested in darkness or light. Moreover, their extra jumpiness was confirmed by recordings taken of their heart-rate and perspiration.In contrast, the time of testing made no difference to the women's responses to the neutral pictures and sounds. Also, the lighting levels, whether in the day-time or at nighttime, made no difference to the women's reactions to the neutral or scary stimuli.In other words, the findings appear to suggest that we're more sensitive to threats at nighttime because it's the night, not because it's dark. This raises the possibility that biological factors associated with our circadian rhythm affect our fear-sensitivity, although it's plausible that cultural factors are involved, in that we've learned to be more vigilant at night.The day-time testing took place at 8.00am and the nighttime testing at 8.00pm (in February, so it was dark outside) – it remains to be seen whether and how the findings might vary at different times of day and night. We also don't know if the same findings would apply to male participants, or participants from different cultures or stages of life (the study was conducted in China where the authors are based, and the student participants had an average age of 22 years).Li and her colleagues hope their findings will inspire other researchers to explore this topic. "[T]his study is merely a first step in understanding the underlying mechanisms involved in fear-related information processing and has implications for the underlying psychopathology of relevant phobias and anxiety disorders [such as nighttime panic attacks]," they said._________________________________ Li, Y., Ma, W., Kang, Q., Qiao, L., Tang, D., Qiu, J., Zhang, Q., & Li, H. (2015). Night or darkness, which intensifies the feeling of fear? International Journal of Psychophysiology DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.021 Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.
... Read more »
Li, Y., Ma, W., Kang, Q., Qiao, L., Tang, D., Qiu, J., Zhang, Q., & Li, H. (2015) Night or darkness, which intensifies the feeling of fear?. International Journal of Psychophysiology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.021
by Abzhanov in the Node
Nature’s most interesting secrets can sometimes be found in our own backyards. One such secret is related to all birds, those pigeons, thrushes and sparrows that we see everyday. This familiarity means that we do not think too much of birds passing them by on our way to work or school. However, if the birds […]... Read more »
Alberch,P., Gould,S.J., Oster,G.F., & Wake,D.B. (1979) Size and shape in ontogeny and phylogeny. Paleobiology , 296-317. info:/
Hodges, S., & Arnold, M. (1995) Spurring Plant Diversification: Are Floral Nectar Spurs a Key Innovation?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 262(1365), 343-348. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0215
Mallarino, R., & Abzhanov, A. (2012) Paths Less Traveled: Evo-Devo Approaches to Investigating Animal Morphological Evolution. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, 28(1), 743-763. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-101011-155732
Bhullar, B., Morris, Z., Sefton, E., Tok, A., Tokita, M., Namkoong, B., Camacho, J., Burnham, D., & Abzhanov, A. (2015) A molecular mechanism for the origin of a key evolutionary innovation, the bird beak and palate, revealed by an integrative approach to major transitions in vertebrate history. Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/evo.12684
I'm looking at two papers today which I'd like to think cover the title of this post pretty well dealing with the plurality of autism - the autisms - and the idea that intervention or management-wise, there is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to the autisms.First up are the findings reported by Ziats and colleagues  who presented results for a child - "A 4-year-old male with autism and two episodes of neurodevelopmental regression" - who was also found to have a "mutation in the TMLHE gene, which encodes the first enzyme in the carnitine biosynthesis pathway, and concurrent carnitine deficiency." Supplementation with carnitine (see here) seemed to lead to some interesting changes in the developmental profile for this boy such that: "the patient's regression ended, and the boy started gaining developmental milestones."Accepting that this was another example of the N=1 and autism (see here) I was rather interested in these results having previously blogged about issues with the TMLHE (trimethyllysine hydroxylase) gene in relation to autism (see here). The source of that previous post was the paper from Patricia Celestino-Soper and colleagues  (open-access) who concluded that: "TMLHE deficiency is a risk factor for autism" and quite a bit more should be done to screen for such issues. I wouldn't disagree with those sentiments (see here).Next up are the results reported by Serret and colleagues  (open-access) who presented findings based on two participants "diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders in childhood and presented regression with catatonia features and behavioural disorders after a stressful event during adolescence." Further: "both patients presented mutation/microdeletion of the SHANK3 gene, inducing a premature stop codon in exon 21." Issues with SHANK3 have been reported in relation to autism previously.Authors reported that: "lithium therapy reversed clinical regression, stabilized behavioural symptoms and allowed patients to recover their pre-catatonia level of functioning, without significant side effects." Further: "These cases support the hypothesis of a specific SHANK3 phenotype" and that lithium might hold some favour in improving clinical presentation in those cases.Again, I was interested in the Serret findings with the caveat about their also using the case study approach in their paper. Lithium is an interesting compound that has graced this blog a few times in relation to its potential 'anti-suicide' correlating properties (see here) and as a possible management tool when it comes to the presentation of mood disorders comorbid to a diagnosis of autism (see here). Accepting that lithium has its own potential side-effects profile, the idea that cost-benefits might be calculated and if so deemed more benefit and less cost subsequently applied to 'some' autism, is an interesting prospect.Reiterating my opening paragraph, what the Ziats and Serret papers serve to tell us is that within 'the autisms' there may be many different roads to a diagnosis of autism and that under the diagnostic label of 'autism', genetics, biochemistry and subsequent intervention/management strategies may vary from person to person. As I've said before, receipt of a diagnosis of autism (when it is eventually received) should be a starting point for further inquiry not the 'finishing line'.That comorbidity - if I can still call it that - might also be a 'target' for analysis and investigation is also an important point raised and further asks more questions about the value of intervening on said comorbidity and the possible knock-on effects on the presentation of more core autism symptoms (see here). Y'know something like what is emerging in the body of research looking at anxiety and autism (see here).With the body of work linking this, that and t'other to autism I'm starting to think that some further resources might be needed to pull all the available peer-reviewed information together in terms of what factors have been linked to those 'autisms'. I've always been very partial to autism research looking at inborn errors of metabolism (IEMs) as a starting point for investigations (see here) given both the data on overlap and even the idea that some of the various interventions for specific IEMs might hold promise for 'some' autism (see here). Analysis of things like rare genetic variations also being linked to the appearance of autism (see here) ties into the IEM investigations and perhaps represents the next tier of evaluation, bearing in mind the reduced costs of things like whole genome sequencing these days set within the perspective of personalised medicine (see here). Environment, bearing in mind the range of factors this might cover, should also be included in any diagnostic work-up based on the evolving science connecting something like infection to autism onset for some (see here and see here). There are various tests that could be performed covering a whole slew of potential infective agents (see here).This is just a rough-and-ready idea of where autism research and practice could go with this but much like the pathways to diagnosing and managing bowel issues when comorbid to autism for example (see here), a general diagnostic roadmap is perhaps indicated...Music: Years & Years - King.---------- Ziats MN. et al. Improvement of regressive autism symptoms in a child with TMLHE deficiency following carnitine supplementation. Am J Med Genet A. 2015 May 5. Celestino-Soper PB. et al. A common X-linked inborn error of carnitine biosynthesis may be a risk factor for nondysmorphic autism. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 22;109(21):7974-81. Serret S. et al. Lithium as a rescue therapy for regression and catatonia features in two SHANK3 patients with autism spectrum disorder: case reports. B... Read more »
Ziats MN, Comeaux MS, Yang Y, Scaglia F, Elsea SH, Sun Q, Beaudet AL, & Schaaf CP. (2015) Improvement of regressive autism symptoms in a child with TMLHE deficiency following carnitine supplementation. American journal of medical genetics. Part A. PMID: 25943046
Serret, S., Thümmler, S., Dor, E., Vesperini, S., Santos, A., & Askenazy, F. (2015) Lithium as a rescue therapy for regression and catatonia features in two SHANK3 patients with autism spectrum disorder: case reports. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12888-015-0490-1
by Andrea Vucicevic in genome ecology evolution etc
Introduction Darwin’s finches from Galapagos and Cocos Island are classic example of young adaptive radiation, entirely intact because none of the species having become extinct as a result of human activity. They have diversified in beak sizes and shapes, feeding … Continue reading →... Read more »
Lamichhaney, S., Berglund, J., Almén, M., Maqbool, K., Grabherr, M., Martinez-Barrio, A., Promerová, M., Rubin, C., Wang, C., Zamani, N.... (2015) Evolution of Darwin’s finches and their beaks revealed by genome sequencing. Nature, 518(7539), 371-375. DOI: 10.1038/nature14181
The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as “letters,” that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting for the first time that two new nucleotides can do the same thing — raising the possibility that entirely new proteins could be created for medical uses.... Read more »
Georgiadis, M., Singh, I., Kellett, W., Hoshika, S., Benner, S., & Richards, N. (2015) Structural Basis for a Six Nucleotide Genetic Alphabet. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b03482
One of the major lines of English as a lingua franca (ELF) research is how to describe the features of English in interaction between second-language users. With the multitude of accents and variable usage of English you find in the world today, the most obvious quality of ELF talk is its diversity (some say it’s […]... Read more »
Mauranen, Anna. (2012) Exploring ELF: Academic English shaped by non-native speakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. info:/
Mauranen, Anna. (2015) Second-order language contact: English as an academic lingua franca. The Oxford Handbook of World Englishes. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199777716.013.010
The recent announcement of the discovery in stone tools in Kenya dating to 3.3 million years ago (MYA) has been greeted with a lot of fanfare. I first heard the story at some point earlier in the academic year, and I know there was a lot of buzz about it at the SAAs and Paleoanthropology meetings in San Francisco in April. The publication of a formal paper in Nature last week (“3.3-Million-Year-Old Stone [...] ... Read more »
Harmand S, Lewis JE, Feibel CS, Lepre CJ, Prat S, Lenoble A, Boës X, Quinn RL, Brenet M, Arroyo A.... (2015) 3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya. Nature, 521(7552), 310-5. PMID: 25993961
When we study history, we tend to focus on the big events. This is especially true for medieval England where history is defined by wars, plagues, famines, and major changes […]... Read more »
Krakowka, K. (2015) Violence-related Trauma from the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary Graces and a Late Black Death Cemetery. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2462
This week’s Video Tip of the Week demonstrates PANDA, a tool for generating and examining annotations that are available for a list of genes, and evaluating them in the context of pathways. Two great tastes that taste great together, you know? So have a look at how PANDA can help you and your team to […]... Read more »
Hart, S., Moore, R., Zimmermann, M., Oliver, G., Egan, J., Bryce, A., & Kocher, J. (2015) PANDA: pathway and annotation explorer for visualizing and interpreting gene-centric data. PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.970
Crystalline silicon solar cells are reaching their efficiency limit and manufacturing costs. But a new method to create black-silicon solar cells, potentially cheaper, has led to a record 22.1% efficiency. Learn about the physics behind the record here!... Read more »
Savin H, Repo P, von Gastrow G, Ortega P, Calle E, Garín M, & Alcubilla R. (2015) Black silicon solar cells with interdigitated back-contacts achieve 22.1% efficiency. Nature nanotechnology. PMID: 25984832
Can people be blamed for dog training mistakes when there is so much erroneous information out there?Recently I saw a man walking a German Shepherd. Even from a distance it was clear the dog was nervous: his posture was low to the ground and the way he was walking made me wonder what kind of equipment he was on. As I waited at the traffic lights, I got a chance to see: a prong collar, tight, positioned high on his neck.There are easy alternatives, the simplest being a no-pull harness. I began to wonder: did the man not know there were other approaches? Did he not want to invest time in training loose-leash walking? Or did he think it looks good to have a big dog on a prong collar?While I don’t know his line of reasoning, we do know something about sources of training information. A recent survey of canine behavioural problems by Pirrone et al (2015) in Italy included a question about where people got information on dog training. 55% of respondents gave the answer, ‘myself’. This was broken down into two groups: 13% of dog owners who got their information ‘instinctively’, and 42% who got it from the web, TV or a book.The internet is a great source of both information and misinformation about dog training and animal behaviour. The same applies to TV shows and books, some of which are wonderful and others not so much. It’s hard for readers and viewers to separate fact from fiction, especially when there is so much conflicting advice.The other interesting thing to note about this answer, ‘myself’, is that it suggests most people do not discuss their dog’s behaviour with others, whether that is friends, family or vets. (In fact only 0.5% reported asking other dog owners).35% of people said they got information from a dog trainer, and 6% from a veterinarian. So are they safe if they ask a dog trainer? Sadly there are no standards in dog training, so responses could vary from dire to excellent. It’s not a surprise that vets came low on the list, as a study by Roshier and McBride found vets can miss opportunities to discuss behaviour problems with their clients, and many clients think this isn’t an appropriate topic for the vet.An earlier study by Herron, Shofer and Reisner included questions about people’s source of information for particular techniques and also found ‘self’ rated highly. Looking specifically at choke and prong collars, however, 66% said it was recommended by a trainer, while 21% credited themselves and 15% a friend or relative with the idea. In fact this was the second most common piece of advice to be credited to a trainer, after forcing the dog down with a leash at 70%. Both of these methods were categorized as "direct confrontation" by the authors. (More positively, the reward-based techniques of clicker training and teaching ‘look’ or ‘watch me’ were third on the list as trainer-recommendations). So is it lack of knowledge that causes people to use aversive training techniques? An Australian survey by Branson, Cobb and McGreevy found that only 6% of trainers of working dogs have a formal certification and 52% have no training at all. In other words, half of the trainers who responded to the survey do not even have on-the-job training. These are people training dogs for a range of law enforcement, protection, customs, search-and-rescue, farming, sports, and service roles. The same survey found the use of correction and electric shock collars was far more common amongst those with no training certification. Those with better education levels were more likely to use positive reinforcement. Learning theory is a dog trainer’s bread and butter – or at least it should be. How can you do a good job of training without an understanding of how dogs learn?Another issue is that people may genuinely not realize when their dog is stressed. Wan et al found experience with dogs is an important factor in people’s ability to recognize fear. When Deldalle and Gaunet compared the effects of positive reinforcement versus negative reinforcement (which uses aversives), they found dogs in the latter group were more stressed and looked less at their owners. The signs of stress included lowered body posture, lip-licking, and yawning. These could be missed by people who don't know what to look for.Which brings us back to the beautiful German Shepherd that was showing all three of these signs. There is a real need for better education about dog training. Without it, people will continue to use out-dated, inappropriate and even dangerous methods. If you’re looking for a dog trainer, here are some questions to ask, as considered by three excellent trainers: Maureen Backman, Lori Nanan and Helen Verte.The good news is that the push for humane training methods is gaining momentum. References:Branson, N., Cobb, M., & McGreevy, P. (2009). Australian Working Dog Survey Report Australian Animal Welfare StrategyDeldalle, S., & Gaunet, F. (2014). Effects of two training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 9 (2), 58-65 : http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2013.11.004... Read more »
Branson, N., Cobb, M., & McGreevy, P. (2009) Australian Working Dog Survey Report. Australian Animal Welfare Strategy. info:/
Deldalle, S., & Gaunet, F. (2014) Effects of two training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 9(2), 58-65. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2013.11.004
Herron, M., Shofer, F., & Reisner, I. (2009) Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117(1-2), 47-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2008.12.011
Pirrone, F., Pierantoni, L., Mazzola, S., Vigo, D., & Albertini, M. (2015) Owner and animal factors predict the incidence of, and owner reaction toward, problematic behaviors in companion dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2015.03.004
Roshier, A., & McBride, E. (2012) Canine behaviour problems: discussions between veterinarians and dog owners during annual booster consultations. Veterinary Record, 172(9), 235-235. DOI: 10.1136/vr.101125
Wan, M., Bolger, N., & Champagne, F. (2012) Human Perception of Fear in Dogs Varies According to Experience with Dogs. PLoS ONE, 7(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051775
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