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  • August 29, 2015
  • 05:17 AM

Maternal obesity and offspring autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "The meta-analysis results support an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children of women who were obese during pregnancy. However, further study is warranted to confirm these results."That was the conclusion reached by Ya-Min Li and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-reviewed data currently available on how maternal weight might impact on offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes. Without wishing to blame or stigmatise (this is a blog based on the examination of cold, objective, peer-reviewed science) such results are not altogether unexpected based on instances where maternal weight might impact on offspring autism risk have been discussed (see here).There are caveats to ideas of such an association. Not least that observational studies for example, often provide little information on 'cause and effect'. That not every child born to a mum who is overweight and/or obese develops autism should also be kept firmly in mind, as should the idea that overweight and/or obesity can sometimes sit with other comorbidity as part of the 'metabolic syndrome' so potentially introducing other variables into any association (see here). I might add that an array of other factors cross obesity and autism risk areas, not least mothers' nutritional status before and during pregnancy for example (see here).That all being said, there is more science to do in this area. Thinking back to other discussions on data about how father's weight might also influence offspring autism risk (see here) and the idea of foetal programming [2] based to a large extent on the writings of the late David Barker, one gets some ideas of where science might want to start heading in continuing this line of inquiry.Music: Keane - Everybody's Changing.----------[1] Li YM. et al. Association Between Maternal Obesity and Autism Spectrum Disorder in Offspring: A Meta-analysis. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Aug 9.[2] Lau C. & Rogers JM. Embryonic and fetal programming of physiological disorders in adulthood. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2004 Dec;72(4):300-12.----------Li YM, Ou JJ, Liu L, Zhang D, Zhao JP, & Tang SY (2015). Association Between Maternal Obesity and Autism Spectrum Disorder in Offspring: A Meta-analysis. Journal of autism and developmental disorders PMID: 26254893... Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 02:13 PM

Bacteria can colour our insides!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Included in the vast array of molecules put together by bacteria are pigments, with a blotch of colour often marking the presence of a large bacterial population in nature. In addition to green stains on damp concrete and vibrant rainbows of ooze in hot springs, pigment-making bacteria will very occasionally announce their presence by infecting us and subsequently changing the colour of our body parts and fluids. Weird eh?The king of turning people a different colour is Serratia marcescens. This bacterium, being opportunistic yet moisture-dependent, is found in soil, bathrooms, and people. It produces a reddish-pink pigment called prodigiosin, which has resulted in its growth being mistaken for blood many times throughout the centuries. It also led to piles of it being secretly wafted onto San Francisco, producing a mysterious outbreak of sometimes-deadly infections. Nothing like testing a biological weapon on an unsuspecting populace!An autopsy of a patient who died after S. marcescens got into their bloodstream and spread to their brain and heart revealed the presence of several pink abscesses in the wall separating the two ventricles of their heart. If it gets into the lungs, the bacterium can cause people to cough up red sputum (a mixture of saliva and respiratory tract gunk). Prodigiosin has further been observed in tooth abscesses and is apparently capable of staining teeth. Moving on to the urinary tract, infections with S. marcescens or its close relative S. rubidae can bring about a reddish discolouration of the urine.Pink abscesses caused by Serratia marcescens infecting a heart (Source)S. marcescens can also cause the front chamber of an eyeball to fill slightly with pink pus, if it manages to get inside there. It's sort of like watching a front loading washer slowly fill with water, only it's the iris of your eye and a delightful mixture of bacteria and white blood cells. The accumulated pus is known as hypopyon and is typically associated with inflammation of the inside lining of an eye (endophthalmitis). Cases of pink hypopyon due to S. marcescens in the scientific literature include a senior who left a contact lens in her eye and developed a large corneal ulcer, and an infant who was infected with the bacterium via an umbilical artery catheter.Try to ignore the intentionally green-stained pupil, for a pink hypopyon lies beneath (Source)I found a report from 1936 in which the author casually mentioned once seeing a patient with lung cancer who was coughing up thick sputum with yellow granules due to some sort of Actinobacteria growing inside them. Yellow sputum can also be caused by an infection with Staphylococcus aureus, some strains of which produce the golden pigment staphyloxanthin.Orange sputum is sometimes observed in people with pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila, the principal pathogen responsible for Legionnaires' disease. This bacterium can break down the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine into homogentisic acid, which can then be linked together to form a brown-orange pigment. The pigment and its progenitor are used by the bacterium to acquire iron, an essential yet sometimes scarce nutrient, from either insoluble iron minerals (e.g. present in a cooling tower) or iron-binding proteins found in mammals.Orange stuff horked up by someone with Legionella pneumophila in their lungs (Source)Green sputum can result from an infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, many strains of which produce the blue-green pigment pyocyanin. This tends to be seen in cystic fibrosis patients with chronic lung infections. In related news, P. aeruginosa can also cause urinary tract infections, occasionally pairing searing pain with green-coloured urine.Referencesal Hazzaa SA, Tabbara KF, Gammon JA. 1992. Pink hypopyon: a sign of Serratia marcescens endophthalmitis. British Journal of Ophthalmology 76(12):764-765. [Full text]Beregoff-Gillow P. 1936. Cryptomyces pleomorpha has no etiological relation to carcinoma. Canadian Medical Association Journal 34(6):634-636. [Full text]Foot CL, Fraser JF. 2006. Uroscopic rainbow: Modern matula medicine. Postgraduate Medical Journal 82(964):126-129. [Full text] Fujita J, Touyama M, Chibana K, Koide M, Haranaga S, Higa F, Tateyama M. 2007. Mechanism of formation of the orange-colored sputum in pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila. Internal Medicine 46(23):1931-1934. [Full text]Johnson JS, Croall J, Power JS, Armstrong GR. 1998. Fatal Serratia marcescens meningitis and myocarditis in a patient with an indwelling urinary catheter. Journal of Clinical Pathology 51(10):789-790. [Full text]Kinjo T, Nabeya D, Higa F, Fujita J. 2014. Orange sputum in a patient with Legionella pneumophila pneumonia. Internal Medicine 53(17):2029-2030. [Full text]Kumar S, Bandyopadhyay M, Chatterjee M, Mukhopadhyay P, Pal S, Poddar S, Banerjee P. 2013. Red discoloration of urine caused by Serratia rubidae: A rare case. Avicenna Journal of Medicine 3(1):20-22. [Full text] Liu GY, Nizet V. 2009. Color me bad: Microbial pigments as virulence factors. Trends in Microbiology 17(9):406-413. [Full text]Mahlen SD. 2011. Serratia infections: From military experiments to current practice. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 24(4):755-791. [Full text] ... Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 01:59 PM

Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a new study. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.... Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 01:28 PM

Swarming Squid Sperm: A Strategy in Sneakiness

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Sneaky swarming squid sperm. Yeah, let’s talk about that. ‘Cause you hear that and you gotta know, right? But before all the sperm and the swarming is the amorous squid. Let’s start there.As you may expect, squid have both a male and a female. Male squid produce spermatophores, packets of sperm that they can transfer to the females. Female squid carry around these sperm packets until they are ready to spawn. That can be quite some time in some species. When they are ready, they will use the stored sperm to fertilize and then release hundreds or thousands of eggs into the water as jelly-like strands. That’s about what we know about squid reproduction, the rest is relatively mysterious.A newish study in Current Biology sheds some light on the mysterious nature of squid sperm. The study organism is Loligo bleekeri, one of the more common of the pencil squids (Loliginidae) in Japan and southern Korea. It is moderately large (40 cm) with very short arms. It is a polyandrous species, meaning that males only mate with one female, but females mate with many males. It is a good mating system for researchers interested in mate choice and sperm competition (oh yeah, there’s a whole subdiscipline of the science of sperm competition – rethinking your job now aren’t you?). These have been shown to drive sperm evolution (yes, that’s a thing) and morphology to optimize fertilization success. Because in this game, it’s all about how many babies you have.One of the things that makes this squid species particularly interesting is the dimorphism among males. Large “consort” males do all the work. They compete with other males, court females with colorful body displays, and guard the female until she spawns his offspring. Smaller “sneaker” males are just that: sneaky. They rush in under the nose (or beak, as it were) of the consort male, attach their spermatophore and book it on outta there. The dimorphism in males is reflected in their mating as well as their size. Consort males place their spermatophores inside the female’s oviduct, while the sneaker males just stick it onto the external body surface near to the seminal receptacle near the mouth. It isn’t as close to the eggs, but it must be a successful otherwise why do it? What is it that makes this stick-and-ditch strategy so successful?To find out, the researchers dissected consort and sneaker males to recover their spermatophores. Then sperm were released into test tubes, diluted and tagged with fluorescent labels (each type with a different label). They observed that when the sperm suspension was drawn into a capillary tube the sneaker, but not the consort, sperm aggregated (or “swarmed”) to form a regularly striped pattern along the tube. And, when sneaker and consort sperm were mixed, still only the sneaker sperm swarmed. The sperm weren’t slowing down or sticking together, so what was causing the swarming? It’s not like the sperm are problem solving. So the next thought was: Maybe it’s a chemical response. So a filter assay was designed where two chambers were separated by a filter so fine that only small molecules could get though. A sperm suspension was put into the lower chamber and then each type of sperm added to the top to see where it swam. Again, only sneaker sperm migrated toward the filter. Okay, so it must be some kind of chemical attractant, but what and how?Again, labeled sperm suspensions were put into capillary tubes. Then bubbles of different gases were microinjected into the solution. This assay revealed that carbon dioxide (CO2) attracted sneaker, but not consort, sperm. This CO2 is likely generated by the sperm via the carbonate system. Not exactly a super-simple system. To tease apart the mechanism, they developed caged carbonate (you’re thinking Han Solo…me too, but not quite the same) to sculpture gradients of bicarbonate (a basic solution, pH-wise). This system allowed them to determine that swarming depends on acidic (CO2 and/or H+) gradients but not on a biocarbonate gradient. Next, they found that carbonic anhydrases (CAs) are involved in swarming as CO2 sensors in cells. But let’s go back to the acid thing (as both CO2 and H+ increase acidity). The researchers used a pH-sensitive dye to look at the acid gradient during swarming. They observed that the middle of the swarm acidified first, producing a H+ gradient outwards. When they added a buffer, the swarming disappeared. When they put a pipette of acid (H+) into the suspension, both sneaker and consort sperm moved toward it. But remember that only CO2 attracted the sneaker sperm. Additionally, the pH at which these types of sperm responded was different. They found that only sneaker sperm lowered their intracellular pH with environmental pH. This means that only sneaker sperm have a H+ transport system that allows for the CO2 attraction. And finally, they showed that calcium (Ca2+) influx controls cause the sperm to turn around when they reach the end (weak part) of the gradient.Whew! That’s a lot of compact information! So let’s put it together in a whole-organism, what-the-heck-is-going-on kind of way. Why does it matter that sneaker sperm like CO2? Remember back to the placement of the spermatophores by each of the males. When the female releases her eggs, the consort male’s sperm has first access because it is in the oviduct. They fertilize a lot of eggs but not all. Then the female holds her eggs in her arms while she swims to a good substrate to release them. Squid arms and mouth are not all that far away from each other. This is when the sneaker male sperm goes to work. The swarming allows the sperm to stay close to the site of egg deposition and may be sensing CO2 released from the eggs; both increase the chances of fertilization. And, in the end, that’s what it’s all about.Hirohashi, N., Alvarez, L., Shiba, K., Fujiwara, E., Iwata, Y., Mohri, T., Inaba, K., Chiba, K., Ochi, H., Supuran, C., Kotzur, N., Kakiuchi, Y., Kaupp, U., & Baba, S. (2013). Sperm from Sneaker Male Squids Exhibit Chemotactic Swarming to CO2 Current Biology, 23 (9), 775-781 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.040And for a little more info, here's an earlier study on the same topic:Iwata, Y., Shaw, P., Fujiwara, E., Shiba, K., Kakiuchi, Y., & Hirohashi, N. (2011). Why small males have big sperm: dimorphic squid sperm linked to alternative mating behaviours BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-11-236(image via -- Note that this species is Loligo vulgaris, the European squid. It is weirdly difficult to find images of L.... Read more »

Hirohashi, N., Alvarez, L., Shiba, K., Fujiwara, E., Iwata, Y., Mohri, T., Inaba, K., Chiba, K., Ochi, H., Supuran, C.... (2013) Sperm from Sneaker Male Squids Exhibit Chemotactic Swarming to CO2. Current Biology, 23(9), 775-781. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.040  

  • August 28, 2015
  • 12:03 PM

Chickens Help Scientists Study Dinosaur Death Pose

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

To address a long-standing mystery in paleontology, scientists went to the grocery store.

Many dinosaur fossils appear in the same pose, not so much "terrible lizard" as "terrible limbo accident." Their tails are stretched out and their necks thrown back grotesquely. But it's not clear why this is. Researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada got a fresh take on the puzzle—or, at least, a recently killed and frozen take—by using dead chickens.

"Chickens are living dinosaurs, as... Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 08:59 AM

This is what happened when psychologists tried to replicate 100 previously published findings

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

While 97 per cent of the original results showed a statistically significanteffect, this was reproduced in only 36 per cent of the replications After some high-profile and at times acrimonious failures to replicate past landmark findings, psychology as a discipline and scientific community has led the way in trying to find out more about why some scientific findings reproduce and others don't, including instituting reporting practices to improve the reliability of future results. Much of this endevour is thanks to the Center for Open Science, co-founded by the University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek.Today, the Center has published its latest large-scale project: an attempt by 270 psychologists to replicate findings from 100 psychology studies published in 2008 in three prestigious journals that cover cognitive and social psychology: Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.The Reproducibility Project is designed to estimate the "reproducibility" of psychological findings and complements the Many Labs Replication Project which published its initial results last year. The new effort aimed to replicate many different prior results to try to establish the distinguishing features of replicable versus unreliable findings: in this sense it was broad and shallow and looking for general rules that apply across the fields studied. By contrast, the Many Labs Project involved many different teams all attempting to replicate a smaller number of past findings – in that sense it was narrow and deep, providing more detailed insights into specific psychological phenomena.The headline result from the new Reproducibility Project report is that whereas 97 per cent of the original results showed a statistically significant effect, this was reproduced in only 36 per cent of the replication attempts. Some replications found the opposite effect to the one they were trying to recreate. This is despite the fact that the Project went to incredible lengths to make the replication attempts true to the original studies, including consulting with the original authors.Just because a finding doesn't replicate doesn't mean the original result was false – there are many possible reasons for a replication failure, including unknown or unavoidable deviations from the original methodology. Overall, however, the results of the Project are likely indicative of the biases that researchers and journals show towards producing and publishing positive findings. For example, a survey published a few years ago revealed the questionable practices many researchers use to achieve positive results, and it's well known that journals are less likely to publish negative results.The Project found that studies that initially reported weaker or more surprising results were less likely to replicate. In contrast, the expertise of the original research team or replication research team were not related to the chances of replication success. Meanwhile, social psychology replications were less than half as likely to achieve a significant finding compared with cognitive psychology replication attempts, but in terms of declines in size of effect, both fields showed the same average reduction from original study to replication attempt, to less than half (cognitive psychology studies started out with larger effects and this is why more of the replications in this area retained statistical significance).Among the studies that failed to replicate was research on loneliness increasing supernatural beliefs; conceptual fluency increasing a preference for concrete descriptions (e.g. if I prime you with the name of a city, that increases your conceptual fluency for the city, which supposedly makes you prefer concrete descriptions of that city); and research on links between people's racial prejudice and their response times to pictures showing people from different ethnic groups alongside guns. A full list of the findings that the researchers attempted to replicate can be found on the Reproducibility Project website (as can call the data and replication analyses).This may sound like a disappointing day for psychology, but in fact really the opposite is true. Through the Reproducibility Project, psychology and psychologists are blazing a trail, helping shed light on a problem that afflicts all of science, not just psychology. The Project, which was backed by the Association for Psychological Science (publisher of the journal Psychological Science), is a model of constructive collaboration showing how original authors and the authors of replication attempts can work together to further their field. In fact, some investigators on the Project were in the position of being both an original author and a replication researcher."The present results suggest there is room to improve reproducibility in psychology," the authors of the Reproducibility Project concluded. But they added: "Any temptation to interpret these results as a defeat for psychology, or science more generally, must contend with the fact that this project demonstrates science behaving as it should" – that is, being constantly sceptical of its own explanatory claims and striving for improvement. "This isn't a pessimistic story", added Brian Nosek in a press conference for the new results. "The project shows science demonstrating an essential quality, self-correction – a community of researchers volunteered their time to contribute to a large project for which they would receive little individual credit."_________________________________  Open Science Collaboration (2015). Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science Science --further reading--A replication tour de forceDo psychology findings replicate outside the lab?A recipe for (attempting to) replicate existing findings in psychology... Read more »

Open Science Collaboration. (2015) Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science . Science . info:/

  • August 28, 2015
  • 04:05 AM

Autoantibodies not implicated in cases of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Contrary results are a common feature of the autism peer-reviewed research landscape. No sooner does one group publish the next 'big thing' when it comes to the singular term 'autism' than seemingly opposite results follow suit.So it is with the paper under discussion today by Simran Kalra and colleagues [1] (open-access) who concluded that: "The idea that autoantibodies represent an underlying cause or are biomarkers for autism pathophysiology is not supported by this report."Autoantibodies by the way, are part of the process whereby the body's immune system fails to recognise self as 'self' and mounts a response against the body's own tissue. It's a topic that has been discussed quite extensively with the autism spectrum in mind (see here for example) as part of a wider scientific debate about a role for immune function in at least some autism (see here).The Kalra paper is open-access but a few details might be useful:"Serological analysis was performed on typically developing children (n = 55), developmentally delayed children without autism (n = 24) and children diagnosed with autism (n = 104)." I believe this cohort of children were part of a larger study titled: 'Clinical and Immunological Investigations of Subtypes of Autism'.Based on an interesting analytical method - Luciferase Immunoprecipitation Systems (LIPS) - used as an alternative to the more traditional ELISA methods, researchers initially set about looking for the presence of "autoantibodies against GAD65." GAD65 by the way, is part and parcel of the mechanism for synthesising GABA (see a previous post on this topic). They then extended the study focus to look for antibodies "against several other autoimmune-associated autoantigens, candidate neurological autoantigens, and viral proteins."Results: well, when comparing study samples against samples from three people with diagnosed type 1 diabetes where GAD65 autoantibodies were to be expected to be present (and indeed were): "testing of serum from the typically developed children..., developmentally delayed children... and children with ASD... demonstrated no seropositive autoantibodies to GAD65." Likewise when comparing autism samples with samples from "three positive control samples from subjects with systemic lupus erythematosus" for Ro52 - one of the anti-Ro antibodies found in cases of SLE - there was again nothing of note to see. Collectively the authors conclude that: "These findings rule out the possibility that GAD65 and Ro52 autoantibodies are biomarkers in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Among the other results reported is an interesting remark when it comes to a retrovirus called XMRV. For those in chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis circles, XMRV will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons (see here) albeit with not all questions completely answered (see here). Kalra et al found nothing in terms of seropositivity when it came to autism and XMRV (and another target, mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)). They do however caution that "additional studies are needed to determine if other infectious agents, or the body's response to such infections agents, might play a role" in some autism.These results are interesting. As per my opening comment on contrary results being part and parcel of autism research, the lack of GAD65 antibodies detailed is in direct contrast to previous findings such as those produced by Rout and colleagues [2] for example. Whilst there may be various reasons for the difference in findings including a role for the analytical method used, I was drawn to one comment made by Rout et al suggesting that there may be a subgroup of children with autism and/or ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) where further characterisation may be needed. That also reduced levels of GAD65 mRNA levels have been reported [3] in relation to autism (with appropriate caveats regarding tissue used for study) does not mean that GAD65 is off the research menu just yet.The lack of XMRV antibody findings reported by Kalra et al in relation to their autism group is not necessarily new news. Previous studies such as the one from Satterfield and colleagues [4] basically said as much.There are of course quite a few other types of autoantibodies and/or antibodies to infective agents that perhaps require more study using the technique utilised by Kalra and colleagues with autism in mind. The various contributions in this research area from the Saudi-Egyptian research tag-team that crop up on this blog every now and again (see here and see here) might be a next port of call. Anti-brain antibodies detailed by other teams might also receive the same treatment (see here). Who knows, researchers might also consider putting a little more flesh on the bones of all that folate receptor autoantibody research that is crying out for independent replication (see here) or even antimitochondrial antibodies (see here). Quite a few areas to consider.As for the infection side of things and realising the important contribution that at least one of the authors on the Kalra paper has made to another area of research (Swedo and PANDAS/PANS) I can think of quite a few research studies to be done. My growing interest in enterovirus and autism (see here) or even enterovirus and ADHD (see here) is again requiring some further investigation. Perhaps a little more 'out there' are the ways and means that the methods detailed by Kalra might also be transferable to more ancient retroviruses such as the HERVs that have been discussed before on this blog (see here) with autism and various other conditions in mind (see here).Music: John Newman - Come And Get It.----------[1] Kalra S. et al. No evidence of antibodies against GAD65 and other specific antigens in children with autism. BBA Clinical. 2015. August 8.[2] Rout UK. et al. Presence of GAD65 autoantibodies in the serum of children with autism or ADHD. Eur Child... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 07:25 PM

The Minimalist Index for running shoes

by Craig Payne in Running Research Junkie

The Minimalist Index for running shoes... Read more »

Esculier, J., Dubois, B., Dionne, C., Leblond, J., & Roy, J. (2015) A consensus definition and rating scale for minimalist shoes. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 8(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13047-015-0094-5  

  • August 27, 2015
  • 01:45 PM

HIV particles do not cause AIDS, our own immune cells do

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers have revealed that HIV does not cause AIDS by the virus’s direct effect on the host’s immune cells, but rather through the cells’ lethal influence on one another. HIV can either be spread through free-floating virus that directly infect the host immune cells or an infected cell can pass the virus to an uninfected cell.... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 12:00 PM

The brain’s ebb and flow cares not for distance

by Pierre Megevand in Neuroscience and Medicine

Over the past decade, functional neuroimaging has revealed that our brains go through ever-changing patterns of activity, whether we are active or at rest, healthy or sick, under legal medication or high on illegal drugs. Yet this dynamic activity takes place over the comparatively fixed anatomical grid of neuronal connections; the functional weights of those connections therefore must be changing over time. Bratislav Misic, Marc G. Berman and their colleagues, from the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and the University of Chicago, among others, show that the spatial distance between regions does not impact the stability of their functional connections.... Read more »

Mišić, B., Fatima, Z., Askren, M., Buschkuehl, M., Churchill, N., Cimprich, B., Deldin, P., Jaeggi, S., Jung, M., Korostil, M.... (2014) The Functional Connectivity Landscape of the Human Brain. PLoS ONE, 9(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111007  

  • August 27, 2015
  • 11:37 AM

The Man Who Saw His Double In The Mirror

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A creepy case report in the journal Neurocase describes a man who came to believe that his reflection was another person who lived behind the mirror.

The patient, Mr. B., a 78-year-old French man, was admitted to the neurology department in Tours:
During the previous 10 days, Mr. B. reported the presence of a stranger in his home who was located behind the mirror of the bathroom and strikingly shared his physical appearance. The stranger was a double of himself: he was the same size,... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 09:29 AM

Light From Electronic Screens Can Disrupt Teenage Sleep Patterns

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Stephanie J. Crowley, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory Department of Behavioral Sciences Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL 60612 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Crowley: Your readers may have seen … Continue reading →
The post Light From Electronic Screens Can Disrupt Teenage Sleep Patterns appeared first on Medical Research Interviews and News.
... Read more »

Stephanie J. Crowley, Ph.D., & Assistant Professo. (2015) Light From Electronic Screens Can Disrupt Teenage Sleep Patterns. info:/

  • August 27, 2015
  • 09:18 AM

Oncotype DX Assay Can Help Guide Adjuvant Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Michaela Ann Dinan Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Medicine Member of Duke Cancer Institute Duke University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dinan: For many years … Continue reading →
The post Oncotype DX Assay Can Help Guide Adjuvant Breast Cancer Chemotherapy appeared first on Medical Research Interviews and News.
... Read more »

Michaela Ann Dinan Ph.D. (2015) Oncotype DX Assay Can Help Guide Adjuvant Breast Cancer Chemotherapy. info:/

  • August 27, 2015
  • 09:10 AM

Patients In Greatest Need of Health Care Perceive Their Physicians As “Empty”

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Juliana Schroeder PhD, Assistant Professor Berkeley Haas Management of Organizations Group University of California at Berkeley Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schroeder: Whereas much research examines how … Continue reading →
The post Patients In Greatest Need of Health Care Perceive Their Physicians As “Empty” appeared first on Medical Research Interviews and News.
... Read more » Interview with:, & Juliana Schroeder PhD, Assistant Professor. (2015) Patients In Greatest Need of Health Care Perceive Their Physicians As "Empty". info:/

  • August 27, 2015
  • 08:10 AM

What Does Jimmy Carter Have Against Worms?

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

You may have heard last week that former President Jimmy Carter wants to wipe the guinea worm out. Read why and how he is achieving this goal.... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 07:55 AM

Fentanyl Buccal Tablet May Provide More Rapid Relief of Cancer Pain

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Dr. Sebastiano Mercadante MD Director, Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit La Maddalena Cancer Center, Palermo, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. … Continue reading →
The post Fentanyl Buccal Tablet May Provide More Rapid Relief of Cancer Pain appeared first on Medical Research Interviews and News.
... Read more »

Dr. Sebastiano Mercadante MD. (2015) Fentanyl Buccal Tablet May Provide More Rapid Relief of Cancer Pain. info:/

  • August 27, 2015
  • 07:45 AM

The Science Behind ‘A Good Cry’

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Asmir Gračanin, PhD Tilburg University Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology & Department of Communication and Information Sciences Tilburg The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gračanin: … Continue reading →
The post The Science Behind ‘A Good Cry’ appeared first on Medical Research Interviews and News.
... Read more » Interview with:, & Asmir Gračanin, PhD. (2015) The Science Behind 'A Good Cry'. info:/

  • August 27, 2015
  • 07:26 AM

Cardiovascular Events Decreased Most Among Adults At Highest Risk

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Jay R. Desai, PhD, MPH HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research Minneapolis, MN 55425 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Desai: SUPREME-DM is a consortium of 11 integrated … Continue reading →
The post Cardiovascular Events Decreased Most Among Adults At Highest Risk appeared first on Medical Research Interviews and News.
... Read more » Interview with:, & Jay R. Desai, PhD, MPH. (2015) Cardiovascular Events Decreased Most Among Adults At Highest Risk. info:/

  • August 27, 2015
  • 06:11 AM

Hiding negative emotions may take more of a toll on your relationship than faking positive ones, especially if you're extravert

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Handling your emotions in a close relationship is often a balancing act. You want to be true to yourself and open with your partner, but there are also times when it seems necessary to exert some emotional control – to hide your frustration, for example, or to feign happiness at their news (perhaps your partner is thrilled about a work trip, which in truth you'd rather they didn't take).A new study, published recently in the Journal of Psychology, is among the first the explore the toll of these two emotional strategies: hiding negative emotions and faking positive ones. Specifically, Tali Seger-Guttmann and Hana Medler-Liraz wanted to find out how the use of the two strategies in a relationship affects people's satisfaction with that relationship, and whether this varies depending on whether someone is introvert or extravert.The researchers surveyed hundreds of male and female Israeli participants (average age 32), all of whom were in a relationship of at least six months; half of them were married, the others were living with their partner or dating. The participants answered questions about their levels of extraversion; how often they hid negative emotions like nervousness, hate and anxiety in their relationship; how often they faked positive emotions like happiness, concern and love; and they answered several questions about their relationship satisfaction and also how often they experienced health problems such as fatigue and headaches.Overall, hiding negative negative emotions was more strongly associated with poorer relationship satisfaction than faking positive emotion. But importantly, this link was moderated by the participants' personality. Hiding negative emotions was linked much more closely to poor relationship satisfaction for extraverts than introverts. Faking positive emotion more often was also, but to a lesser extent than hiding negative emotion, linked with poorer relationship satisfaction, and this was equally true for both introverts and extraverts."The fact that both strategies [were] significantly related to less satisfaction with intimate relationships links our results to previous research on the importance and significance of authenticity in close relationships," the researchers said.Turning to the scores for health problems, there was evidence that hiding negative emotions was linked to more health symptoms for extraverts, but not for introverts, presumably because concealing emotions in this way comes somewhat naturally for introverts but not for extraverts. On the flip side, faking positive emotions was less strongly associated to health problems for extraverts than for introverts – again, perhaps because faking positive emotions is more consistent with an extraverted personality.Unfortunately, like any cross-sectional research that only surveys people at one point in time, this study requires us to make assumptions about the causal direction between the factors that were measured. The researchers believe that hiding and faking emotions are probably affecting relationship satisfaction and health, but of course it's likely the influence is at least partly in the other direction – when a relationship is going well, censoring our emotional displays is probably not so necessary.Despite this shortcoming, this is the first study to explore links between hiding and faking emotions and personality, and the researchers say it could "help therapists and counsellors develop a deeper understanding of the interplay between emotional regulation styles (hiding and faking emotions) and personality style, and hence contribute to improving the quality of couples' relationships."_________________________________ Seger-Guttmann, T., & Medler-Liraz, H. (2015). The Costs of Hiding and Faking Emotions: The Case of Extraverts and Introverts The Journal of Psychology, 1-20 DOI: 10.1080/00223980.2015.1052358 Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.Our free fortnightly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!

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  • August 27, 2015
  • 03:58 AM

Fish oils preventing psychosis: long-term effects?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This is the first study to show, to the best of our knowledge, that a 12-week intervention with omega-3 PUFAs [polyunsaturated fatty acids] prevented transition to full-threshold psychotic disorder and led to sustained symptomatic and functional improvements in young people with an at-risk mental state for 7 years (median)."So said the quite remarkable findings reported by Paul Amminger and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who followed up their previous research study [2] looking at the effects of a 12-week supplementation program consisting of either 1.2 grams per day of fish oil or placebo. On that previous occasion, said omega-3 PUFA supplement ("700 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n3), 480 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n3), and 7.6 mg of mixed tocopherol (vitamin E)") reduced the risk of progression to psychotic disorder in individuals at ultra-high risk of psychosis for up to a year post-intervention baseline.The latest results represent quite an impressive post-intervention follow-up to the original Amminger study. Looking at some of the original cohort of participants and drawing on several types of information including screening / questionnaire data and "rate of prescription of antipsychotic medication", the authors were able to quite confidently conclude that "omega-3 PUFAs may offer a viable longer-term prevention strategy with minimal associated risk in young people at ultrahigh risk of psychosis."Insofar as the precise hows and whys of omega-3 PUFAs potentially affecting psychosis risk, well, we are left in quite a typical position of speculating. "Omega-3 PUFAs provide a range of neurochemical activities via modulation of neurotransmitter (noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin) reuptake, degradation, synthesis and receptor binding, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects, and the enhancement of cell membrane fluidity and neurogenesis." Take yer pick, bearing in mind there may also be additive and interacting effects within this menu of potential modes of action.If one assumes however that the possible connection between omega-3 PUFAs and various behavioural and psychiatric labels might have some commonalities (see here and see here for example), one might see a few additional ways and means that 'mode of action' might become a little clearer in the future. One factor, cognitive decline linked to cases of psychosis onset, might not however be the prime factor extrapolating from other recent results [3]...Music: Felix Jaehn - Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better).----------[1] Amminger GP. et al. Longer-term outcome in the prevention of psychotic disorders by the Vienna omega-3 study. Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 11;6:7934.[2] Amminger GP. et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for indicated prevention of psychotic disorders: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;67(2):146-54.[3] Chew EY. et al. Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Lutein/Zeaxanthin, or Other Nutrient Supplementation on Cognitive Function. JAMA. 2015; 314: 791-801.----------Amminger GP, Schäfer MR, Schlögelhofer M, Klier CM, & McGorry PD (2015). Longer-term outcome in the prevention of psychotic disorders by the Vienna omega-3 study. Nature communications, 6 PMID: 26263244... Read more »

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