"I was at a conference, and a colleague was talking about the locomotion of great apes in the trees," says Lewis Halsey, a physiologist at the University of Roehampton in London. The colleague mentioned that it's tough to measure how these animals use energy. That's when Halsey had an epiphany. "I was working with parkour athletes on another project," he says, studying how much energy the athletes used while jumping and climbing around a city. Why not use these human athletes to stand in for... Read more »
Halsey LG, Coward SR, & Thorpe SK. (2016) Bridging the gap: parkour athletes provide new insights into locomotion energetics of arboreal apes. Biology letters, 12(11). PMID: 27881766
Matsutani et al. (2016) reported for the first time BHD syndrome accompanied by pulmonary arteriovenous malformation. The patient, a young male with no significant medical history, presented with chest pain. Chest X-ray and CT revealed emphysematous changes in both lungs and a tumour with pleural fluid. A thoracoscopy revealed dark red pleural fluid and multiple cysts in the lung. The tumour lesion was resected and identified as a non-malignant intrapulmonary hematoma caused by a significant haemorrhage in the pulmonary parenchyma, which was diagnosed as intrapulmonary hematoma. ... Read more »
Matsutani, N., Dejima, H., Takahashi, Y., Uehara, H., Iinuma, H., Tanaka, F., & Kawamura, M. (2016) Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome accompanied by pulmonary arteriovenous malformation. Journal of Thoracic Disease, 8(10). DOI: 10.21037/jtd.2016.09.68
Gunji-Niitsu, Y., Kumasaka, T., Kitamura, S., Hoshika, Y., Hayashi, T., Tokuda, H., Morita, R., Kobayashi, E., Mitani, K., Kikkawa, M.... (2016) Benign clear cell “sugar” tumor of the lung in a patient with Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome: a case report. BMC Medical Genetics, 17(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12881-016-0350-y
by Piter Kehoma Boll Today’s Friday Fellow may not seem to be such an astonishing plant, but it has its peculiarities, some of them quite interesting. Commonly known as Indian shot, African arrowroot, purple arrowroot, and many other names, it … Continue reading →... Read more »
Cui, L., Ouyang, Y., Lou, Q., Yang, F., Chen, Y., Zhu, W., & Luo, S. (2010) Removal of nutrients from wastewater with Canna indica L. under different vertical-flow constructed wetland conditions. Ecological Engineering, 36(8), 1083-1088. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2010.04.026
Woradulayapinij, W., Soonthornchareonnon, N., & Wiwat, C. (2005) In vitro HIV type 1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activities of Thai medicinal plants and Canna indica L. rhizomes. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 101(1-3), 84-89. DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2005.03.030
Yes, it is childish but...With all the continued chatter on a possible role for the collected gut microbiota - those wee beasties that inhabit our deepest, darkest recesses - in relation to some autism (see here for example), the paper by Roberta Grimaldi and colleagues  (open-access available here) provides yet more potentially important information.So, poo(p) samples were the starring material in the paper - "obtained from three non-autistic children and three autistic child donors"- and specifically what happened when something called B-GOS "a prebiotic galactooligosaccharide" was added to samples following their journey through a "Three stage continuous culture gut model system" otherwise known as an artificial gut. Said gut model based at Reading University has already been the topic of other news (see here).As well as looking at the initial bacterial profile of those stool samples, researchers plotted the changes to the stool's inhabitants (or what was left of the stool) over the course of B-GOS addition, as well as looking at things like the "production of SCFAs [short-chain fatty acids] in the fermentations" and other metabolites via the gold-standard chemical analytical technique called 1H-NMR (see here for more details).Results: "Consistent with previous studies, the microbiota of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] children contained a higher number of Clostridium spp. and a lower number of bifidobacteria compared to non-autistic children." With the addition of B-GOS to the 'mixture', researchers reported on a significant increase in bifidobacterial populations at the different stages of their gut model and in samples from both those with autism and those without autism. Such "bifidogenic properties of B-GOS" are not unheard of.As to the metabolites of those bacteria present in the poo(p) samples, there were some interesting knock-on effects noted in both raw and B-GOS supplemented samples. "Our data show a lower concentration of butyrate and propionate in autistic models, compared to non-autistic models, but nodifferences in acetate before adding B-GOS into the system." Propionic acid (propionate) has some research history with autism in mind (see here). Butyric acid (butyrate) is something of a rising star in quite a few domains, having also been mentioned in the context of autism too (see here). Indeed it's interesting to note that B-GOS administration "mediated significant production of... butyrate... simulating the transverse and distal colon respectively. There was no effect on propionate." The findings of lower starting levels of butyrate in samples from children with autism were also substantiated by the NMR analyses undertaken. Increases in butyrate and changes to various other metabolites ("increasing ethanol, lactate, acetate and butyrate and decreasing propionate and trimethylamine") were also noted via this analytical method for this group.A long quote coming up: "This in vitro study showed promising and positive results in that supplementing the microbiota of ASD children with 65%B-GOS may manipulate the gut bacterial population and alter metabolic activity towards a configuration that might represent a health benefit to the host. However, further work will be required to assess such changes in an in vivo human intervention study."Just before anyone makes a run on B-GOS or any similar product however, I do need to stress a few important points. First, this was a study of poo(p) samples from 3 autistic children compared with samples from 3 non-autistic children. Aside from the small participant numbers, we don't know anything about participants' various comorbidities (although we know they were "free of any metabolic and gastrointestinal diseases") and only limited information on their dietary habits and medication history. Second, poo(p) was the target material included for analysis and what happened when B-GOS was supplemented during the journey through the artificial gut model. This study said nothing about what happens when real people with autism take B-GOS orally for example, and how it might affect gut bacterial populations and metabolites as it progresses down a real gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This also includes a lack of information on any potential side-effects in a real-world situation. We are also assuming that any supplement survives the stomach. There is quite a bit more to do in this area.But for now, I stick to the idea that the Grimaldi paper provides some potentially important information and certainly, some new routes/methods for further study of the link between prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics in the context of the gut microbiota and autism...---------- Grimaldi R. et al. In vitro fermentation of B-GOS: Impact on faecal bacterial populations and metabolic activity in autistic and non-autistic children. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2016 Nov 16. pii: fiw233.----------Grimaldi R, Cela D, Swann JR, Vulevic J, Gibson GR, Tzortzis G, & Costabile A (2016). In vitro fermentation of B-GOS: Impact on faecal bacterial populations and metabolic activity in autistic and non-autistic children. FEMS microbiology ecology PMID: 27856622... Read more »
Grimaldi R, Cela D, Swann JR, Vulevic J, Gibson GR, Tzortzis G, & Costabile A. (2016) In vitro fermentation of B-GOS: Impact on faecal bacterial populations and metabolic activity in autistic and non-autistic children. FEMS microbiology ecology. PMID: 27856622
Foam rolling may lead to small improvements in dorsiflexion range of motion in the contralateral limb. ... Read more »
Kelly S, & Beardsley C. (2016) SPECIFIC AND CROSS-OVER EFFECTS OF FOAM ROLLING ON ANKLE DORSIFLEXION RANGE OF MOTION. International journal of sports physical therapy, 11(4), 544-51. PMID: 27525179
"Dietary fiber deprivation, together with a fiber-deprived, mucus-eroding microbiota, promotes greater epithelial access and lethal colitis by the mucosal pathogen, Citrobacter rodentium."So said the findings reported by Mahesh Desai and colleagues  meriting an editorial in the publishing journal  as the sentiments of 'eating your greens' applies to some rather interesting [mouse] findings.Fibre (UK spelling) comes in various different forms typically categorised as soluble and insoluble depending on their relationship with water. Using a "gnotobiotic mouse model" - where mice were "colonized with a synthetic human gut microbiota composed of fully sequenced commensal bacteria" - Desai et al reported on the effects of different diets with different fibre content. Their results make for important reading as a fibre-deprived gut was associated with the rise of some rather potent bacteria that seemed to enjoy dining out on the "colonic mucus barrier, which serves as a primary defense against enteric pathogens." Yes, mice gut barriers - or some of their components at least - were being eaten by the very bacteria they contain. Enjoy your lunch.I'm not dwelling too much on the Desai findings, bearing in mind their focus on mice not humans, but I do want to raise a couple of potentially relevant points. First is the focus on the intestinal barrier and how that so-called 'leaky gut' seems to show a connection to dietary fibre intake. Yet more research bringing this woo-like term in from the scientific cold (see here). Next is the idea that if the Desai results are transferable from mouse to humans, they could be relevant to quite a lot of people who perhaps don't enjoy as much dietary fibre as they should. Further, there may be particular groups of people who might be particularly prone to a poor diet  (see here too) where the already discussed term 'leaky gut' is also relevant (see here); also bringing in the idea of a role for those trillions of wee beasties (the gut microbiota) that call us home.I'll be watching for how this research area pans out...---------- Desai MS. et al. A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell. 2016 Nov 17;167(5):1339-1353.e21. Gazzaniga FS. & Kasper DL. Veggies and Intact Grains a Day Keep the Pathogens Away. Cell. 2016 Nov 17;167(5):1161-1162. Bandini LG. et al. Changes in Food Selectivity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Nov 19.----------Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, Kamada N, Hickey CA, Wolter M, Pudlo NA, Kitamoto S, Terrapon N, Muller A, Young VB, Henrissat B, Wilmes P, Stappenbeck TS, Núñez G, & Martens EC (2016). A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell, 167 (5), 1339-2147483647 PMID: 27863247... Read more »
Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, Kamada N, Hickey CA, Wolter M, Pudlo NA, Kitamoto S, Terrapon N, Muller A.... (2016) A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell, 167(5), 1339-2147483647. PMID: 27863247
Among the academic community, there a growing feeling that traditional peer review is failing at accomplishing its core objective: ensuring scientific quality.... Read more »
Hunter, J. (2012) Post-Publication Peer Review: Opening Up Scientific Conversation. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00063
Making time for play immediately after a dog training session improves the dog’s memory.New research by Nadja Affenzeller (University of Lincoln) et al investigates whether play following learning leads to better performance the next day. The scientists wanted to know whether this effect, previously found in humans, would also apply to dogs.In people, it is thought that the hormonal response during positive arousal acts on parts of the brain called the hippocampus and amygdala and leads to better memory. The effect applies to a type of memory called declarative memory, which is our memory for facts and events (for example, the President of the United States, or the capital of Denmark).Now we can’t expect dogs to tell us who is the President of the United States, but it is possible to get them to do a task very similar to one used in some of the human memory research: learning to tell the difference between two objects.The results show that the dogs who got to play immediately after learning needed fewer trials in the task the next day, compared to the dogs who had rested instead.First of all, each dog had a pre-training session, in which the dog was taught to approach an object. In the very early stages, food was placed on the object, and when the dog approached, s/he was allowed to eat it.For those interested in the food canine scientists use as rewards, it was either a piece of pork or chicken sausage, depending on the dog’s dietary preferences.In the training session, the dogs were taught to distinguish between two objects and choose the right one by putting their two front paws on a cardboard square on which the object was placed. If they went to the correct object, the researcher clicked and then gave them a reward. If they picked the wrong object, the researcher used a no-reward marker (“wrong” said in a neutral tone of voice).The objects were not things the dogs were used to. There was a blue basket with white dots which contained a layer of woodchips, and a green box with black stripes on that had a layer of cat litter at the bottom.The dogs were trained in sessions of 10 trials, until they had got 80% right in two sessions in a row.Immediately after doing this, dogs either had a play session or a rest session, depending which group they were in.The 8 dogs in the play session had a 10 minute walk to an enclosed area where they had a 10 minute play session, followed by the walk back. Dogs had a choice between fetching a ball or Frisbee, or playing tug.The 8 dogs in the rest session were given a bed to lie on while the owner and researcher engaged in a 30 minute conversation. The researcher kept an eye on the dog and said their name or distracted them to prevent them from going to sleep.The next day, the dogs came back to learn the same task again.Dogs that had taken part in the play session re-learned the object discrimination much more quickly, taking 26 trials on average (plus or minus 6), compared to 43 trials (plus or minus 19) for the dogs who had rested.The researchers took measures of heart rate, which differed between play/rest sessions as you would expect, but otherwise was the same for both groups of dogs. They also found that salivary cortisol was lower after the play sessions, which they found surprising (if you’re interested in salivary cortisol research, see this post by Julie Hecht).19 Labrador Retrievers, aged between 1 and 9 years old, took part. The study focussed only on purebred Labrador Retrievers so that breed could not affect the results. Their prior training levels were also taken into account and evenly distributed across the two groups.This turned out to be important, because the ‘experienced’ dogs who had previously taken part in cognitive tasks like this learned the task much more quickly. The gundogs need more trials, perhaps because they had previous experience of following human cues in the field, which didn’t happen in the lab. Some of the dogs were ‘naïve’ and had only basic obedience, did not work or participate in trials, and had never taken part in similar research before.This shows it is important to take prior training experience into account when designing canine research studies.Three of the dogs had to be excluded (two because of motivation issues, and one because of a preference for one of the objects), so only 16 took part in the full study.The study does not show the mechanism by which memory is improved, but it is thought to relate to the hormones produced during the play session. However, the play also included exercise, and further research is needed to confirm whether it is play per se or exercise that caused the effect.The scientists write,“The results show that engaging in playful activity for 30 min after successfully learning the task improved re-training performance, evidenced by fewer trials needed to meet task criteria 24 h after initial acquisition. This significant difference between the two groups not only suggests that the intervention is affecting long-term memory rather than an improved short-term memory, but also that pleasant arousal post-learning has similar effects on enhancing memory in dogs as it does in humans.” This study asked dogs to discriminate between two objects that looked and smelled different. A similar real-life training task is scent detection. Further research to investigate the best ways to improve performance in the training of scent dogs for drug or explosives detection, or in medical testing, could be very exciting.It’s nice to know another way in which dogs are like people. And next time someone says they’d like to end a dog training session on a positive note, perhaps a game of tug or fetch is in order.If you're interested in the research on dog training, check out my dog training research resources page or my post about why canine science is better than common sense.Reference: Affenzeller, N., Palme, R., & Zulch, H. (2017). Playful activity post-learning improves training performance in Labrador Retriever dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) Physiology & Behavior, 168, 62-73 DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.10.014Photos: dezi (top) and Dmussman (both Shutterstock.com)... Read more »
Affenzeller, N., Palme, R., & Zulch, H. (2017) Playful activity post-learning improves training performance in Labrador Retriever dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). Physiology , 62-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.10.014
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy. After epigenomic analysis of patient tumors, aberrant DNA methylation patterns are universally observed in the most abundant histological subtype of ovarian cancer, high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). These epigenetic modifications like DNA methylation are known to frequently affect gene regulation involved in cancer-related processes. Since epigenetic alterations are reversible in nature, these changes have emerged as attractive targets for epigenetic therapy for cancer. However, modelling this cancer type for epigenomic research is a great challenge for preclinical researcher.1 Recent genomic analyses showed that most commonly used HGSOC cell lines, like SKOV3 and A2780, are less representative models of HGSOC. Recently, patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDXs) i.e., patient tumor tissues transplanted directly into immune-deficient mice have appeared as better representative preclinical models than cell lines-based xenograft models. They recapitulate histological type, as well as maintain genomic features and the reminiscent heterogeneity of the corresponding patient’s primary tumor.2 Furthermore, treatment results of ovarian cancer PDXs have a good predictive value for standard platinum-based chemotherapy and novel therapeutic agents. Recently, a panel of about 50 ovarian cancer PDXs with different histological subtypes have been established and genomically characterized for future cancer research at University Medical Centre Groningen, The Netherlands.3 Although several comparative gene expression and mutational studies have been performed for HGSOC PDXs, comparable studies on the epigenome are not yet available.... Read more »
Tomar T, de Jong S, Alkema NG, Hoekman RL, Meersma GJ, Klip HG, van der Zee AG, & Wisman GB. (2016) Genome-wide methylation profiling of ovarian cancer patient-derived xenografts treated with the demethylating agent decitabine identifies novel epigenetically regulated genes and pathways. Genome medicine, 8(1), 107. PMID: 27765068
Alkema NG, Wisman GB, van der Zee AG, van Vugt MA, & de Jong S. (2016) Studying platinum sensitivity and resistance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer: Different models for different questions. Drug resistance updates : reviews and commentaries in antimicrobial and anticancer chemotherapy, 55-69. PMID: 26830315
Hidalgo M, Amant F, Biankin AV, Budinská E, Byrne AT, Caldas C, Clarke RB, de Jong S, Jonkers J, Mælandsmo GM.... (2014) Patient-derived xenograft models: an emerging platform for translational cancer research. Cancer discovery, 4(9), 998-1013. PMID: 25185190
Alkema NG, Tomar T, Duiker EW, Jan Meersma G, Klip H, van der Zee AG, Wisman GB, & de Jong S. (2015) Biobanking of patient and patient-derived xenograft ovarian tumour tissue: efficient preservation with low and high fetal calf serum based methods. Scientific reports, 14495. PMID: 26440065
The findings reported by Maureen Russell and colleagues  provide some blogging fodder today and the observation that: "Biological caregivers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] demonstrated a high prevalence of RLS [Restless Legs Syndrome] symptoms and poorer mental health."OK, I know some people might be asking 'just what is Restless Legs Syndrome'? It is a recognised condition complete with 'disease' title (Willis-Ekbom disease). Symptoms, as the name suggests, centre on 'an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs'. But things might not just stop at 'jittery legs' when it comes to this condition, as various other parts of the body can also be involved and indeed, affect important functions such as sleep.Russell et al surveyed 50 biological caregivers (parents) of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with regards to sleep habits "that included RLS as determined by four questions." They also "compared the sleep quality and daytime behaviors of children with ASD in caregivers with and without symptoms of RLS."They observed that just over a fifth of their caregiver cohort "fit the criteria for RLS symptomatology." They also reported that those 'biological caregivers' who reported RLS symptoms also reported "poorer mental health" based on responses to the "Medical Outcomes Survey (MOS) 12-Item Short Form (SF-12)." When it came to offspring parameters, authors reported that: "Caregivers with RLS described more night waking and greater internalized behavior problems in their children with ASD than the caregivers without RLS." They interpret this 'association' in the context that there is a degree of heritability attached to RLS and some of those sleeping issues noted in offspring could mean that the symptoms of RLS are also present in children diagnosed with ASD too.Noting the relatively small scale of the Russell study in participant number terms, the very preliminary method of reporting on mental health and the fact that there isn't a single test for RLS, these are interesting findings. I note the lead author has her PhD online (see here) showing how this research fits into a larger scheme of work on sleep and quality of life in caregivers of children with autism.Looking at the Russell findings in the context of 'hows and whys' there are some potentially important correlations that might be noteworthy. RLS has been linked with the presentation of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a not insignificant comorbidity noted in quite a bit of autism (see here). I don't want to make any connections where none might exist but it is reasonable to assume that an over-represented occurrence of ADHD in autism could be important. Insofar as the heritability of ADHD specifically across families, there is more to do in this area but it's not unheard of for ADHD symptoms to be present in other family members including parents. This could impact on the results reported by Russell et al.Although certain medicines have been associated with the symptoms of RLS, there is also a body of peer-reviewed science suggesting that a deficiency in iron might also be important . There is still a degree of debate specifically as to how iron deficiency might 'cause' RLS but one of the primary lines of thinking revolves around how iron is an important co-factor for the biological reactions that turn the amino acid tyrosine [eventually] into the neurotransmitter dopamine. Again, minus any 'I know all the answers' sentiments, iron levels in relation to autism have been a source of some investigation down the years (see here). Some researchers have also talked about maternal iron intake potentially affecting the 'risk' of offspring autism too (see here) (with appropriate caveats).Whatever the reason(s) to account for the Russell findings, there is a requirement for further research in this area, for a start to assess just how prevalent RLS might be in both people diagnosed on the autism spectrum and their significant others. Knowing how much comorbidity seems to follow a diagnosis of autism (see here) I wouldn't be surprised to see yet another connection; this one however, might provide some rather important clues as to overlapping genetics and biology...Music, and Gotye still has an amazing song...---------- Russell M. et al. Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in Biological Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016 Oct 28. pii: jc-00043-16. Li X. et al. Brain iron deficiency in idiopathic restless legs syndrome measured by quantitative magnetic susceptibility at 7 tesla. Sleep Med. 2016 Jun;22:75-82.----------Russell M, Baldwin C, McClain D, Matthews N, Smith C, & Quan SF (2016). Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in Biological Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine PMID: 27855729... Read more »
Russell M, Baldwin C, McClain D, Matthews N, Smith C, & Quan SF. (2016) Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in Biological Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. PMID: 27855729
From bacteria to vertebrates, life — as we know it today — relies on complex molecular interactions, the intricacies of which science has not fully untangled. But for all its complexity, life always requires two essential abilities. Organisms need to preserve their genetic information and reproduce. In our own cells, these tasks are assigned to […]... Read more »
Yeates JA, Hilbe C, Zwick M, Nowak MA, & Lehman N. (2016) Dynamics of prebiotic RNA reproduction illuminated by chemical game theory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(18), 5030-5. PMID: 27091972
The financial and ethical implications that emerge from open access publishing through article processing fees in India are analyzed in a study that proposes the creation of a national open access journal platform such as SciELO in order to reduce costs, increase efficiency and facilitate the sharing of metadata among repositories. … Read More →... Read more »
Morrison, H., Salhab, J., Calvé-Genest, A., & Horava, T. (2015) Open Access Article Processing Charges: DOAJ Survey May 2014. Publications, 3(1), 1-16. DOI: 10.3390/publications3010001
Wang, L., Liu, X., & Fang, H. (2015) Investigation of the degree to which articles supported by research grants are published in open access health and life sciences journals. Scientometrics, 104(2), 511-528. DOI: 10.1007/s11192-015-1624-4
William James authored a seminal book titled The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature that was published in 1902.In this work, James reviewed the nature of religious experiences and noted a lack of scientific inquiry into this human phenomenon.James would have been extremely interested in a recent scientific inquiry into the religious experience from brain researchers at the University of Utah and Harvard University.In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to study the brain during a religious experience cue in a group of 19 individuals who were devout Mormons.The key elements of this study design included:Subjects: 19 young adults (7 female, 12 male) reporting weekly church attendance and daily experience of spirtitual feelingsExperimental cues: Control cues: resting state and audiovisual control. Religious experience cues: quotations from religious authorities, a period of prayer and scripture readingBrain imaging/analysis: Standard fMRI imaging using a 3T MRI scanner with analysis of areas of activation with religious experience compared with control activationsThe research team was able to identify significant brain regional areas of activation with religious cue stimulation.The authors summarized their finding in the discussion section of the manuscript:"We demonstrated in a group of devout Mormons that religious experience, identified as "feeling the Spirit," was associated with consistent brain activation across individuals within bilateral nucleus accumbens, frontal attentional, and ventromedial prefrontal cortical loci."The figure above notes the location of the key nucleus accumbens region of the brain known to be important in the brain reward response network. This brain region has been identified as a key region activated by a variety of reward experiences including feeling love, music appreciation and the euphoria associated with euphoric states induced by stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine.The authors propose that the observed activation of the frontal and prefrontal cortex regions may indicate a network that includes individual perception of salience of religious experience and "representation of affective meaning for the religious stimuli".This is an important study of brain effects of the religious experience. The results show exposure to religious stimuli in devout individuals activates a non-specific powerful reward response. This reward response may contribute to the motivational mechanism for doctrinal beliefs and church attendance.It is likely this type of response is not limited to devout Mormons but similar in other Christian believers and non-Christian believers where a "spiritual experience" is part of the religious experience.Readers with more interest in this research can access the full free-text manuscript by clicking on the PMID link in the citation below.Figure is an iPad screenshot from the app 3D Brain.Follow me on Twitter @WRY999Ferguson MA, Nielsen JA, King JB, Dai L, Giangrasso DM, Holman R, Korenberg JR, & Anderson JS (2016). Reward, Salience, and Attentional Networks are Activated by Religious Experience in Devout Mormons. Social neuroscience PMID: 27834117... Read more »
Ferguson MA, Nielsen JA, King JB, Dai L, Giangrasso DM, Holman R, Korenberg JR, & Anderson JS. (2016) Reward, Salience, and Attentional Networks are Activated by Religious Experience in Devout Mormons. Social neuroscience. PMID: 27834117
Intermittency is a disruptive characteristic of a process, which can be associated, in many cases, with a sudden energy release. Intermittency is a key characteristic of flares that should become evident in the flux time evolution at many different wavelengths. We investigate the similarities and differences of the intermittency during [...]... Read more »
Giménez de Castro, G., Simões, P., Raulin, J., & Guimarães, O. (2016) Analysis of Intermittency in Submillimeter Radio and Hard X-Ray Data During the Impulsive Phase of a Solar Flare. Solar Physics, 291(7), 2003-2016. DOI: 10.1007/s11207-016-0949-3
The title of the paper by Konstantin Mechler and colleagues - "Defining the hidden evidence in autism research. Forty per cent of rigorously designed clinical trials remain unpublished - a cross-sectional analysis"  - provides some discussion today. Drawing on the ideas that publication bias and/or the so-called 'file-drawer problem' - terms that refer to the non-publication of study results potentially skewing the collected scientific opinion in a particular area - might also extend into autism research too, Mechler et al detail results according to their analysis of a particular trial registration database called: ClinicalTrials.gov.ClinicalTrials.gov is one of the premier 'tell everyone about your trial' databases designed to provide a bit of transparency to science. The idea is that you register (pre-register hopefully) your research study, register what you are going to do and how, and importantly, provide some details about what your are going to be assessing (outcomes). Some of the research that I've been involved with has a mention in this database (see here) with more to come in future times. Once your entry is in ClinicalTrials.gov it kinda stops you from making any major 'alterations' to your study potentially based on the results you get, whilst at the same time also getting quite a few prods to post things like your raw study results for everyone to see and analyse as they wish. And believe me, they are quite a persistent bunch over at ClinicalTrials.gov!So Mechler and colleagues "searched for all completed randomized controlled clinical trials investigating interventions in ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and their results made public." They looked at how many trials had been submitted and how many reported results. Where no results were available on ClinicalTrials.gov or on other 'scientific databases' or after "enquiries of the responsible parties or sponsors listed", the authors listed the trial as 'not published'.The good news: 60% of trials (n=30) were published in the peer-reviewed domain. The not-so-good news was that reported in the opening sentence of this post as some 40% of trials (n=20) fell into that not published category. Authors also mention that some 1600 participants were included in those not published trials, inferring that data on quite a few people diagnosed with an ASD and agreeing (themselves or by proxy) to participate in research remain 'missing' in a research sense."The results emphasize the serious issue of publication bias. The large proportion of unpublished results precludes valuable information and has the potential to distort evidence for treatment approaches in ASD." This an important point in any area of science but perhaps more so when you have a label like autism and a whole host of 'unknowns' about the aetiology, nature and course of presentation. I would like to think that there were some rational reasons why so many trials were missing results (studies having to be halted/stopped, collaborations breaking down, resources being exhausted, etc) but there is always going to suspicion around the non-publication of such results particularly the idea that 'researchers or funders did not get the results they hoped for'. Other discussions on this topic outside of autism (see here) point to the failure to publish being tantamount to an ethical breach. Strong words indeed.Although Mechler et al focused on data from the ClinicalTrials.gov initiative I'd perhaps suggest that the issues they discuss probably go a lot deeper as a function of there being quite a few other databases where such trial information is held and listed. Perhaps also just as concerning is the fact that many other pieces of research are not listed anywhere when it comes to trial registration and therefore have even less 'motivation' to publish results or are perhaps more likely to be subject to 'alteration' in terms of methodology or outcome(s). All of which contributes to the possible tarnishing of science and the reporting of said science and paves the way for criticism.Music, it's not Mother's Day or anything like that but do give her a call from time-to-time and treat your mother right...---------- Mechler K. et al. Defining the hidden evidence in autism research. Forty per cent of rigorously designed clinical trials remain unpublished - a cross-sectional analysis. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research. 2016. Nov 9.----------Mechler K, Hoffmann GF, Dittmann RW, & Ries M (2016). Defining the hidden evidence in autism research. Forty per cent of rigorously designed clinical trials remain unpublished - a cross-sectional analysis. International journal of methods in psychiatric research PMID: 27862603... Read more »
Mechler K, Hoffmann GF, Dittmann RW, & Ries M. (2016) Defining the hidden evidence in autism research. Forty per cent of rigorously designed clinical trials remain unpublished - a cross-sectional analysis. International journal of methods in psychiatric research. PMID: 27862603
Increased hip adduction during stance phase of Trendelenburg gait contributes to excessive knee joint loading.... Read more »
Dunphy, C., Casey, S., Lomond, A., & Rutherford, D. (2016) Contralateral pelvic drop during gait increases knee adduction moments of asymptomatic individuals. Human Movement Science, 27-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.humov.2016.05.008
Researchers recently announced the discovery of a frog whose groin flashes orange to scare away predators! The species was discovered in Australia.
When biologist Simon Clulow spotted a frog with an unusual marble pattern on its belly, he knew it could be a new species. If that turned to be true, it would be very surprising as the sighting took place on land close to an airport and not some ... Read more »
CLULOW, S., ANSTIS, M., KEOGH, J., & CATULLO, R. (2016) A new species of Australian frog (Myobatrachidae: Uperoleia) from the New South Wales mid-north coast sandplains. Zootaxa, 4184(2), 285. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4184.2.3
We’ve written about atheists here (and how unpopular they are in North America) a number of times. The first time was in 2010 when we wrote an article in The Jury Expert because we were so taken aback by the level of vitriol we’d seen in a blog post describing a new research article on […]
Everything you ever wanted to know about atheists (the 2016 update)
An update on disrupting suspicion of atheists
Everyone knows you just can’t trust an atheist!
... Read more »
Edgell, P., Hartmann, D., Stewart, E., & Gerteis, J. (2016) Atheists and Other Cultural Outsiders: Moral Boundaries and the Non-Religious in the United States. Social Forces, 95(2), 607-638. DOI: 10.1093/sf/sow063
Airline travel during the holidays is one big headache. But for some people, “airplane headache” is a truly painful experience. The headache occurs during take-off and landing, is unique to plane travel, and is not associated with other conditions. The pain is severe, with a jabbing or stabbing quality, and located on one side of the head (usually around the eye sockets or forehead).
... Read more »
Bui, S., Petersen, T., Poulsen, J., & Gazerani, P. (2016) Headaches attributed to airplane travel: a Danish survey. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 17(1). DOI: 10.1186/s10194-016-0628-7
Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS). (2013) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia, 33(9), 629-808. DOI: 10.1177/0333102413485658
Sit-to-stand workstations is an effective strategy to decrease sedentary time and increase light activity time during working hours; however, during non-working hours more time was still spent sitting. ... Read more »
Mansoubi M, Pearson N, Biddle SJ, & Clemes SA. (2016) Using Sit-to-Stand Workstations in Offices: Is There a Compensation Effect?. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 48(4), 720-5. PMID: 26496419
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