Post List

  • September 25, 2016
  • 09:29 PM
  • 6 views

Big news in iPS cell transplants

by adam phillips in It Ain't Magic

iPS cell-derived retinal cells have been successfully transplanted from one money to another without need of immunosuppressant drugs.... Read more »

  • September 25, 2016
  • 02:57 PM
  • 21 views

Linking perception to action

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action offer a new understanding of the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement.

... Read more »

  • September 24, 2016
  • 06:24 PM
  • 37 views

Impacts and injury and the transition to minimalist running shoes

by Craig Payne in Running Research Junkie

Impacts and injury and the transition to minimalist running shoes... Read more »

  • September 24, 2016
  • 03:26 AM
  • 51 views

Correcting ophthalmic problems in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Does Correction of Strabismus Improve Quality of Life in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?' went the title of the paper by Pinar Ozer and colleagues [1]. Yes, it may very well do was the answer (but with certain caveats and the requirement for a lot more research in this area).Strabismus, a condition where the eyes don't line up in the same direction, can sometime have some quite noticeable effects on a person's vision and indeed, has been linked to various other non-vision related symptoms and outcomes.Ozer et al looked to identify "the impact of optical or surgical correction of the strabismus on the child using a questionnaire for parents." The published research of this team has been previously discussed on this blog (see here) with ophthalmic findings in mind, and the requirement for quite a few more resources to be put into eye examinations when autism is diagnosed (see here). This time around they were discussing what happens when such eye issues are resolved.I'm not completely convinced that the Ozer findings this time around reporting 'significant improvements' in areas of "psychosocial interactions" is as it stands, a methodologically firm finding just pertinent to autism. Although no expert on strabismus, from what I gather, the 'cosmetic' side of the condition can have some far-reaching effects on 'psychosocial' functions. I daresay that such effects would be just as prevalent in autism as they are in the general population and hence, correction would likely have similar outcomes.I am more open to the idea that if strabismus is affecting vision, as in causing something like blurred or double vision, correction of the issue may in some cases have some important 'effects' in relation to autism. Accepting that structural issues with the eye are not necessarily the same as or causative of visual perceptual issues that seem to crop up quite often in the autism research arena, it is not outside the realms of possibility that something like strabismus could be part and parcel of visual effects for some people.I suppose to reiterate, screening for structural eye/vision issues when it comes to autism remains a pretty important area.To close, karate gradings for one of my brood today and this is what they will be attempting...----------[1] Ozer PA. et al. Does Correction of Strabismus Improve Quality of Life in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of a Parent Survey by Ophthalmologists. Semin Ophthalmol. 2016 Sep 6:1-6.----------Ozer PA, Kabatas EU, Bicer BK, Bodur S, & Kurtul BE (2016). Does Correction of Strabismus Improve Quality of Life in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of a Parent Survey by Ophthalmologists. Seminars in ophthalmology, 1-6 PMID: 27599387... Read more »

  • September 23, 2016
  • 04:14 PM
  • 49 views

PD-L1 expression associates with non-inactivated VHL ccRCC

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

The loss of the of the tumor suppressor gene VHL and the subsequent deregulation of VHL/HIF/VEGF signalling are known to play a role in development of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Renal tumours associated with BHD syndrome are histologically diverse and include a percentage of ccRCC (Pavlovich et al., 2002). Anti-angiogenic therapies targeting the VHL/HIF/VEGF pathway have emerged in past years (Rini et al., 2006) but the development of resistance to these therapeutic agents is leading to the development of a new approach based on targeted immunotherapy against immune checkpoint PD1/PDL1 to restore antitumor immune response. In a new study Kammerer-Jacquet et al. (2016) assessed a large series of 98 cases of ccRCC and correlated PDL1 expression with clinical data follow-up of up to 10 years, expression of VEGF, PAR-3, CAIX and PD-1 and complete VHL status. The authors found PD-L1 expression to be associated with non-inactivated VHL tumors and in particular wild-type VHL ccRCC. These tumors could benefit from therapies inhibiting PD-L1/PD-1.... Read more »

  • September 23, 2016
  • 07:00 AM
  • 54 views

Friday Fellow: Rosy Crust

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll If you are walking through a forest in Europe you may find the bark of some trees covered by a thin rosy or orange crust. Commonly known as rosy crust, its scientific name is Peniophora incarnata. As … Continue reading →... Read more »

Suay, I., Arenal, F,, Asensio, F. J., Basilio, A., Cabello, M. A., Díez, M. T., García, J. B., González del Val, A., Gorrochategui, J., Hernández, P.... (2000) Screening of basidiomycetes for antimicrobial activities. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, 78(2), 129-140. DOI: 10.1023/A:1026552024021  

  • September 23, 2016
  • 02:42 AM
  • 59 views

Epilepsy and systemic autoimmune diseases: birds of a feather?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A couple of years back on this blog I talked about some rather intriguing research suggesting that epilepsy and autoimmune disease might not be unstrange diagnostic bedfellows (see here) and that a "potential role of autoimmunity must be given due consideration in epilepsy." [1]Today, I'm continuing that research theme as the findings from Zhang Lin and colleagues [2] caught my eye concluding that: "There is an association between epilepsy and SAD [systemic autoimmune diseases], which was shown to be stronger at a young age."Relying on that rather important methodological tool called a meta-analysis, where various study findings are lumped together and conclusions (hopefully) derived from the whole, Lin et al included data from some 25 studies where epilepsy and SAD had been examined together "which included 10,972 patients with epilepsy (PWE) and 2,618,637 patients with SAD."Aside from those with epilepsy showing "more than a 2.5-fold increased risk of SAD" the authors also observed the opposite too: "patients with SAD were also shown to have a more than 2.5-fold increased risk of epilepsy." When it came to specifics, those diagnosed with epilepsy were observed to show "a 2.6-fold increased risk of celiac disease" and those "patients with systemic lupus erythematosus had a 4.5-fold increased risk of epilepsy."I remain intrigued about this topic. Appreciating that within the peer-reviewed literature there is such a thing as autoimmune epilepsy [3] and that even in cases of epilepsy seemingly without the autoimmune encephalitis element to it, there may be antibodies to neuronal tissue involved [4], there are perhaps some further important clinical studies to be done in this area. It is for example, not uncommon to see more than one autoimmune condition appearing at the same time (see here) as various autoimmune overlaps have been noted in the quite voluminous science literature on this topic. The implications perhaps being that if one could find some of the 'causes' behind such autoimmune issues (be that related to molecular mimicry or the presence of a superantigen for examples) one may potentially be able to treat/manage quite a few conditions.Wearing my autism research blogging hat and extending the possibility of an 'autism link' discussed on my previous post on this topic, I'd like to think there may be some scope for further inquiry with autism in mind too. Not only because epilepsy is one of the prime comorbidites attached to a diagnosis of autism (see here) but also that for some people on the autism spectrum, autoimmunity is also potentially something to contend with (see here). Should we therefore be so surprised at the possibility that autism, epilepsy and autoimmunity could form an important clinical triad for some?And with full caveats in action about not giving medical or clinical advice on this blog, there is a body of evidence out there supporting immunotherapy for certain types of epilepsy [5] where other interventions have failed. Mmm, I also wonder...----------[1] Ong MS. et al. Population-level evidence for an autoimmune etiology of epilepsy. JAMA Neurol. 2014 May;71(5):569-74.[2] Lin Z. et al. Association between epilepsy and systemic autoimmune diseases: A meta-analysis. Seizure. 2016 Aug 23;41:160-166.[3] Britton J. Autoimmune epilepsy. Handb Clin Neurol. 2016;133:219-45.[4] Wright S. et al. Neuronal antibodies in pediatric epilepsy: Clinical features and long-term outcomes of a historical cohort not treated with immunotherapy. Epilepsia. 2016 May;57(5):823-31.[5] Bello-Espinosa LE. et al. Efficacy of intravenous immunoglobulin in a cohort of children with drug-resistant epilepsy. Pediatr Neurol. 2015 May;52(5):509-16.----------Lin Z, Si Q, & Xiaoyi Z (2016). Association between epilepsy and systemic autoimmune diseases: A meta-analysis. Seizure, 41, 160-166 PMID: 27592469... Read more »

  • September 22, 2016
  • 03:14 PM
  • 75 views

Historical analysis examines sugar industry role in heart disease research

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Using archival documents, a new report examines the sugar industry's role in coronary heart disease research and suggests the industry sponsored research to influence the scientific debate to cast doubt on the hazards of sugar and to promote dietary fat as the culprit in heart disease.

... Read more »

  • September 22, 2016
  • 09:27 AM
  • 84 views

Will tardigrades get humanity into space?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

The mighty water bear Tardigrades, aka water bears, are tiny animals that can be found just about everywhere on earth, with a slight preference for the moisture in moss. They happily amble along on their four pairs of legs and slurp up plant cells, algae, and even smaller invertebrates that can’t get away fast enough […]... Read more »

Boothby TC, Tenlen JR, Smith FW, Wang JR, Patanella KA, Nishimura EO, Tintori SC, Li Q, Jones CD, Yandell M.... (2015) Evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer from the draft genome of a tardigrade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(52), 15976-81. PMID: 26598659  

Koutsovoulos G, Kumar S, Laetsch DR, Stevens L, Daub J, Conlon C, Maroon H, Thomas F, Aboobaker AA, & Blaxter M. (2016) No evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer in the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(18), 5053-8. PMID: 27035985  

Hashimoto T, Horikawa DD, Saito Y, Kuwahara H, Kozuka-Hata H, Shin-I T, Minakuchi Y, Ohishi K, Motoyama A, Aizu T.... (2016) Extremotolerant tardigrade genome and improved radiotolerance of human cultured cells by tardigrade-unique protein. Nature communications, 12808. PMID: 27649274  

  • September 22, 2016
  • 03:14 AM
  • 64 views

"Paediatricians are seeing more children with developmental-behavioural conditions"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Harriet Hiscock and colleagues [1] are brought to the blogging table today, specifically that suggestion that paediatricians, at least in Australia, might be encountering an increased number of "developmental/behavioural conditions" as part of their workload.Looking at the clinical experiences of some 180 paediatricians who took part in the study in late 2013 and comparing them with data from 2008, researchers probed a number of practices relating to "(i) conditions seen; (ii) consultation duration; (iii) imaging and pathology ordered; and (iv) prescribing." The details associated with seeing an increasing number of children "with developmental-behavioural conditions" included: "More paediatricians reported diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder... attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder... and intellectual disability... in first consultations."Whilst being slightly careful that 'seeing more children with developmental-behavioural conditions' is not necessarily equated with there 'being' more children with such issues, I'm inclined to suggest that such data is important. Quite a few times in the British media at least, stories have emerged about long waiting times for developmental assessments (see here for one example) and how an already stretched National Health Service (NHS) is seemingly struggling in some parts, to cope with the number of referrals coming through (see here).As part of a wider peer-reviewed and 'other' evidence base suggesting that (a) the estimated prevalence rates for autism have increased (see here) and (b) there may be a 'real' increase in 'rates of behaviour' associated with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (see here) I am becoming more and more convinced that old arguments about 'better awareness' or 'diagnostic switching' are becoming less relevant to the debate about the increasing numbers of cases of autism (see here for example).I don't doubt that as a society we are far more aware of autism than we ever were (we've even started 'screening for it' during early infancy here in Blighty) and where decades ago someone for example, might have been diagnosed with a learning disability even though they presented with autistic features so things are a little different nowadays. But the sorts of stresses and strains being placed on developmental screening and diagnostic services (particularly paediatric services) in comparison to times gone by are seemingly not comparable anymore. Even taking into account population increases and changes to the organisation of screening and diagnostic services, talk of a growing tide of children being diagnosed, or waiting to be assessed, as being on the autism spectrum is something that really should be prompting a lot more urgency and action. I might also add that arguments about better clinical awareness - did they really miss all those children? - really do a disservice to those who have been skillfully diagnosing autism for many years. Value our experts!And alongside the talk about children being diagnosed, adult services too are also under a lot more pressure these days...----------[1] Hiscock H. et al. Trends in paediatric practice in Australia: 2008 and 2013 national audits from the Australian Paediatric Research Network. J Paediatr Child Health. 2016 Sep 4.----------Hiscock H, Danchin MH, Efron D, Gulenc A, Hearps S, Freed GL, Perera P, & Wake M (2016). Trends in paediatric practice in Australia: 2008 and 2013 national audits from the Australian Paediatric Research Network. Journal of paediatrics and child health PMID: 27594610... Read more »

  • September 21, 2016
  • 12:35 PM
  • 71 views

Protect kids from toxic secondhand smoke, experts urge

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

It's advice most smokers with children probably take lightly, but they shouldn't. Parents and policy advocates should take a "zero tolerance" approach to exposing children to secondhand cigarette smoke, which can be responsible for lifelong cardiovascular consequences in addition to respiratory and other health issues.

... Read more »

  • September 21, 2016
  • 11:46 AM
  • 68 views

Brain Imaging: UK Biobank Epidemiology Study

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

I wanted to alert Brain Posts readers to a very important ongoing study out of the United Kingdom.The UK Biobank prospective epidemiological study is a study designed to identify imaging markers for a wide variety of diseases. Additionally, a goal of the study is to better understand disease mechanisms.Here is what is being collected on 100,000 healthy participants who will be tracked over decades:Brain structural and functional imaging (fMRI)Brain diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)Neuropsychological testing, i.e. cognitionBody and cardiac imagingGeneticsLifestyle informationBiomarker phenotypingHealth recordsThis ambitious study reminds me of the Framingham study in the U.S. that helped identify a group of risk factors for cardiac and vascular disease.Some early results from the UK Biobank study of early 5,000 subjects has been published in Nature Neuroscience.The manuscript shows that the UK Biobank will be a powerful resource in replicating other studies. They reported a initial attempt to replicate an Austrian Stroke Prevention study (ASPS) finding. The UK Biobank data analysis demonstrated changes in brain gray matter on T2* imaging linked to older age, smoking and increased BMI. This finding is felt to demonstrate increased brain iron accumulation with aging and degeneration.The UK Biobank data results were "highly concordant with the ASPS".I highly recommend reviewing this early manuscript in the UK Biobank Epidemiological Study.  Readers can access the free full-text manuscript by clicking on the PMID link in the citation below. It features a review of the methodology of the study. Numerous important research findings will emerge from this study in the years and decades to come.The Brits are to be congratulated on such an important and costly effort.Image of brain is an iPad screen shot from the iPad app 3D Brain.Follow me on Twitter WRY999Miller KL, Alfaro-Almagro F, Bangerter NK, Thomas DL, Yacoub E, Xu J, Bartsch AJ, Jbabdi S, Sotiropoulos SN, Andersson JL, Griffanti L, Douaud G, Okell TW, Weale P, Dragonu I, Garratt S, Hudson S, Collins R, Jenkinson M, Matthews PM, & Smith SM (2016). Multimodal population brain imaging in the UK Biobank prospective epidemiological study. Nature neuroscience PMID: 27643430... Read more »

Miller KL, Alfaro-Almagro F, Bangerter NK, Thomas DL, Yacoub E, Xu J, Bartsch AJ, Jbabdi S, Sotiropoulos SN, Andersson JL.... (2016) Multimodal population brain imaging in the UK Biobank prospective epidemiological study. Nature neuroscience. PMID: 27643430  

  • September 21, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 67 views

Interracial marriage is more accepted in 2016, except for those who find it “icky”

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We’ve written about American attitudes toward interracial marriage a fair amount here and (at least once) questioned poll results suggesting dramatic improvement in attitudes toward  interracial marriage among Americans (an 87% approval rating?!). While interracial relationships may be more acceptable to many more Americans, there is also the recent report of an attack on an […]

Related posts:

So we cannot talk about race but we overwhelmingly approve interracial marriage?

Same sex marriage is okay but please, no PDA!

Where are racism and sexism in 2016? They haven’t gone  anywhere….... Read more »

  • September 21, 2016
  • 04:30 AM
  • 70 views

Limb Symmetry Indices…It May Not Be as Accurate as We Thought

by Kyle Harris in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Take Home Message: Limb symmetry indices may not be sufficient to identify strength and performance deficits, particularly in patients who have a history of bilateral anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction.... Read more »

  • September 21, 2016
  • 02:41 AM
  • 78 views

Respite care and parent stress with autism in mind

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"While most studies found that respite care was associated with lower stress, several found that respite care was associated with higher stress."That sentence is perhaps the most important finding recorded in the 'integrative review' published by Kim Whitmore [1] looking at "the relationship between respite care and stress among caregivers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Covering a "final sample of 11 primary research reports" the author provides yet another example of how sweeping generalisations in relation to autism really do no-one no good and how "tailoring respite care services to the unique family needs" is most definitely the way forward.This is important stuff [2]. I've previously talked about how - again, minus any sweeping generalisations - parental stress in relation to raising a child with autism is one of the more pressing issues when it comes to the health and wellbeing of carers (see here). A steady flow of firsthand accounts also substantiate this finding even in some instances talking about "trauma-related symptomatology" [3]. Respite as one tool in the arsenal to care for the carers is something important; not least because of how such stress can sometimes severely impact on parental quality of life (see here) and potentially onward parent-child (and other) relationships. In amongst all the discussions about autism - how we view it and the implications for the person diagnosed - the effect of a diagnosis on parents/carers can sometimes get a little lost in all the noise.What's more to say on this topic? Well, I think it is perhaps important to bring in the paper by Southby [4] who brought up an interesting point about how: "Residential respite appears to be the default conceptualization of 'respite' for carers, service users and stakeholders." It's not, and as per the organisation that I'm linked to, something like domiciliary support (otherwise known as home care) can sometimes provide a viable alternative to residential respite/placement. The knowledge that a person does not have to leave the family home, for example, can in some instances have a more positive impact on carer stress, and indeed, most probably will be less cost- and resource-intensive too. I don't also doubt that when it comes to stress for the person diagnosed with autism (an important consideration), for some the familiarity of the home environment is something not to be tinkered with by thoughts of residential respite. But again as per the idea of 'tailoring' resources to individual needs, for some families [5], residential respite every now-and-again should not be discounted.Finally, it's all well and good talking about the benefits of respite and tailoring respite to meet individual needs, but the cold, hard reality of providing respite in these austere times should not also be forgotten. Indeed, as social purse strings are tightened alongside criteria for eligibility for such services, the factors associated with use and non-use of such services present some difficult choices [6] and are only likely to become even more narrow in future...----------[1] Whitmore KE. Respite Care and Stress Among Caregivers of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Integrative Review. J Pediatr Nurs. 2016 Aug 31. pii: S0882-5963(16)30150-6.[2] Dyches TT. et al. Respite Care for Single Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Mar;46(3):812-24.[3] Stewart M. et al. Through a trauma-based lens: A qualitative analysis of the experience of parenting a child with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability. 2016. Sep 16.[4] Southby K. Barriers to non-residential respite care for adults with moderate to complex needs: A UK perspective. J Intellect Disabil. 2016 Jul 20. pii: 1744629516658577.[5] Harper A. et al. Respite care, marital quality, and stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Nov;43(11):2604-16.[6] Preece D. & Jordan R. Short breaks services for children with autistic spectrum disorders: factors associated with service use and non-use. J Autism Dev Disord. 2007 Feb;37(2):374-85.----------Whitmore KE (2016). Respite Care and Stress Among Caregivers of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Integrative Review. Journal of pediatric nursing PMID: 27592275... Read more »

  • September 21, 2016
  • 12:46 AM
  • 93 views

Can ESL teachers play a role in helping maintain the home language?

by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move








ESL teachers play an important role in home language maintenance (Image Credit: Macquarie University)
Learning the host country’s language is important for migrants but we should not forget that maintaining the home language is just as essential for the next generation’s success in life. Unfortunately, in Australia there are no policies in place that support the home language maintenance of languages other than English. In the absence of top-down approaches, changing teacher beliefs can be a grassroots way to support bilingual education and combat migrant disadvantage.
I teach “Planning and programming in TESOL” for English language teachers as part of the Graduate Certificate of TESOL program at Macquarie University in Sydney. A great proportion of our students are in-service teachers who have decided to specialize in English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) teaching. EAL/D teaching is delivered in a variety of ways, which include providing support to students who need help with English alongside a class teacher or collecting EAL/D students into a separate group and providing full-time intensive support. In 2015, 251,336 students (32.3% of all students) enrolled in New South Wales government schools had a language background other than English. And over 145, 000 students (ca. 20%) were learning English as an additional language.
Home language maintenance
As one of the assessment tasks, our in-service teacher students analyse their teaching context and pinpoint salient features in the given context. Many of them identify the fact that EAL/D students in Australian schools do not speak English at home as problematic. This view constitutes a ‘deficit’ model of bilingualism, meaning it concentrates on what negative effects speaking a minority language might have for migrant children and speaking another language is simply seen as an obstacle on the way towards integration.
How can we turn this belief around so that bilingualism comes to be seen as an advantage? Highlighting the long-term educational and cognitive effects of bilingualism constitutes one strategy. These benefits have been covered widely in the media (e.g., here) and also here on Language on the Move (e.g., here). Economic benefits may be another long-term effect of home language maintenance. US research has found that bilingual children of migrants have higher earnings in adulthood than their English-dominant counterparts (Agirdag, 2016, see here for details) and that biliteracy is associated with better educational and occupational attainment (Lee & Hatteberg, 2016, see here for details).
In sum, research consistently points to the fact that bilingualism should have priority in education over fast assimilation into the dominant language group for the future benefit of the children.
Contesting monolingualism in language policy
To enable a positive bilingual strategy, it needs to be backed up by language policy. Australian language and language-in-education policies unfortunately consistently result in monolingualism, as Schalley, Guillemin & Eisenchlas (2015) found in an examination of literacy policies from the past 30 years. These researchers found that “the more multilingual Australian society has become, the more assimilationist the policies and the more monolingual the orientation of the society politicians envisage and pursue” (p. 170). Much of this assimilation to English monolingualism is achieved indirectly. This means that even if language policies appear to promote and value diversity and bilingual learning, they may result in monolingual outcomes: “standardized assessment, year-group performance targets and league tables undermine diversity and bilingual learning and can be highly damaging to the academic achievement of minority students” (Piller, 2016, p. 139).
What can be done to overcome the monolingual bias of our language policies that fly in the face of the research evidence to support the benefits of bilingualism? Schalley, Guillemin & Eisenchlas (2015) emphasise the importance of grassroots activism to enhance home language literacy. It is precisely here where our TESOL program aims to make a difference.
Teachers as grassroots language activists
All too frequently we hear stories of migrant families changing the home language to English in response to advice from their child’s ESL teachers. To parents, recommendations like these may appear to be based on professional authority but they are not backed up by research. The English language learning benefits of switching the home language may be minimal, particularly if the parents lack confidence in their own English. Against this small or non-existent short-term English gains, we must consider the long-term harm to the home language: changing the home language to English deprives EAL/D children of the long-term educational and economic benefits of bilingualism.
Research related to the benefits of bilingualism and to strategies to support bilingualism at home and in school need to be available to teachers. An ideal platform for this is through teacher education, as in our TESOL program. Changing teacher beliefs must be considered an important form of grassroots activism for a bilingual Australia while we work towards a national language policy for our times.
References
Agirdag, O. (2016). The Long-Term Effects of Bilingualism on Children of Immigration: Student Bilingualism and Future Earnings. In I. Piller (Ed.), Language and Migration (Vol. 4, pp. 341-358). London: Routledge.
Lee, J. C., & Hatteberg, S. J. (2016). Bilingualism and Status Attainment among Latinos. In I. Piller (Ed.), Language and Migration (Vol. 4, pp. 359-386). London: Routledge.
Piller, I. (2016). Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice : An Introduction to Applied Sociolinguistics Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Schalley, A., Guillemin, D., & Eisenchlas, S. (2015). Multilingualism and assimilationism in Australia’s literacy-related educational policies International Journal of Multilingualism, 12 (2), 162-177 DOI: 10.1080/14790718.2015.1009372







... Read more »

  • September 20, 2016
  • 04:31 PM
  • 91 views

Potentially harmful chemicals widespread in household dust

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals from everyday products, according to a new study. A multi-institutional team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples collected throughout the United States to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust.

... Read more »

  • September 20, 2016
  • 03:11 AM
  • 113 views

First trimester maternal vitamin D status and offspring autism risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin/hormone - is seemingly everywhere these days in research terms. At the time of writing this post we have news that vitamin D might cut the risk of severe asthma attacks if taken alongside prescribed asthma medication. The week before that it was the suggestion that vitamin D might be part of the explanation as to why childhood learning difficulties were more commonly found in children conceived during the winter months. Vitamin D is seemingly shouldering quite a bit of responsibility when it comes to health and wellbeing.Today I'm adding to that research responsibility by introducing the paper by Jianzhang Chen and colleagues [1] who suggested that: "Lower first trimester maternal serum levels of 25(OH) D were associated with increased risk of developing autism in offspring." 25(OH)D by the way, is calcifediol, and refers to the typical metabolite assayed for to provide a measure of ones vitamin D status.Chen and colleagues accessed archived maternal blood samples taken during the first trimester of pregnancy - "11–13 weeks gestational age" - for some "68 children diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and 68 sex and age matched typically-developing children." Not only was vitamin D status examined in those samples but various other potentially useful metabolites: "unmetabolized folic acid (FA), vitamin B12, homocysteine (HCY) and High Sensitivity C Reactive protein (CRP)" that may have some important autism-related links for some (see here and see here for example).Their report on this occasion focused on the vitamin D results and the finding that mums of children diagnosed with autism/ASD were as a group more likely to present with lower levels of 25(OH)D than control (not-autism) mums. Indeed, when it came to the percentages of who were and weren't vitamin D deficient, some 55% of mums with a child with autism fell into this category compared with less than 30% of control mums. I might add that vitamin D deficiency is typically only one 'banding' when it comes to looking at vitamin D status. With the caveats that this was a study of maternal vitamin D and autism offspring risk in China (so not necessarily translatable to other parts of the world; see discussions shortly) authors also observed a possible correlation between maternal vitamin D status and autism 'severity' in their cohort.Bearing in mind my recent discussions on the maternal body as 'an environment in autism science' (see here) and the potential pitfalls this presents, the data from Chen et al are interesting. Accepting also that I have a bit of a research 'thing' for vitamin D when it comes to autism on this blog (see here and see here for examples), this work seemingly fits in pretty well with the idea that nutritional factors at critical periods may indeed play a role in the development of at least some autism. Indeed, when one talks about season of conception as potentially being associated with offspring risk of behavioural or developmental issues [2], vitamin D levels look like an attractive research target. The next stage in this research process would be independent replication and perhaps, looking at other populations too.In fact, on the topic of other populations similarly studied with maternal vitamin D status and offspring autism or autistic traits in mind, the research path previously trodden might not be all one-way. Take for example research coming out of Australia [3] a few years back that observed little in the way of connection between maternal vitamin D levels and offspring development (see here). OK, they used the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) as their behavioural diagnoser (something that might not be cutting the appropriate mustard in recent times) but all-in-all they found little in the way of any relationship in contrast to the Chen findings. The fact that the Raine study data used in the Australian paper also included quite a few more participants also offers a significant advantage to the smaller Chen study.But I don't think we can just discount the Chen results as they stand, as more and more vitamin D is thrust onto the [autism] research stage. Combined with the recent guidance from the Government here in Blighty suggesting that vitamin D supplementation perhaps needs to be a lot more widespread than it is (see here and see here) throughout the population as a whole, research opportunities aplenty present themselves in this area of growing importance...Oh, and that includes with regards to the genetics of vitamin D metabolism too (see here).To close, if you are easily offended by bad language, please stay away from this advert for a cookbook (probably not the language you're likely to hear on Bake Off whatever channel it's on).----------[1] Chen J. et al. Lower maternal serum 25(OH) D in first trimester associated with higher autism risk in Chinese offspring. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2016; 89: 98-101.[2] Zerbo O. et al. Month of conception and risk of autism. Epidemiology. 2011 Jul;22(4):469-75.[3] Whitehouse AJ. et al. Maternal vitamin D levels and the autism phenotype among offspring. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Jul;43(7):1495-504.----------Chen, J., Xin, K., Wei, J., Zhang, K., & Xiao, H. (2016). Lower maternal serum 25(OH) D in first trimester associated with higher autism risk in Chinese offspring Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 89, 98-101 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2016.08.013... Read more »

  • September 19, 2016
  • 03:30 PM
  • 100 views

Harnesses are a Great Choice to Walk Your Dog

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new study compares a harness to a neck collar and finds both are good for canine welfare.Milo. Photo: Sabrina MignaccaHarnesses are often said to be better for your dog than walking on a collar, but no one had investigated it. Now, a team of scientists at Hartpury College (Grainger, Wills & Montrose 2016) has published a study of the effects of walking a dog on a harness and on a neck collar.The same dogs were walked on a neck collar and on a harness on separate occasions, and their behaviour was monitored for signs of stress. The results show that harnesses do not cause stress and are a great choice for walking your dog.Dr. Tamara Montrose, one of the authors of the study, told me in an email,“Whilst neck collars are widely used when walking dogs, concerns have been raised about their potential to damage the neck and trachea. Furthermore collars can be problematic in dogs with eye conditions such as glaucoma. Harnesses are often anecdotally proposed to be better for dog welfare.“In our study, we investigated whether dogs walked on a collar or harness displayed differences in behaviours associated with canine stress or related to restriction of movement.“We found that there were no differences in behaviour between dogs walked on either a neck collar or a harness. The frequency of the behavioral stress indicators also tended to be low in dogs walked on either restraint type. Whilst dogs with a history of collar walking showed increased levels of one potential stress indicator (low ear position) which may suggest that these dogs are more stressed, it’s important to note that this was not supported by the other stress measures and thus this explanation should be viewed with caution.“Our findings suggest that dog welfare is not compromised by either form of restraint, however we are interested in undertaking future study with a range of different brands of harness and collar, consideration of physiological stress indicators and assessment of gait and magnitude of pulling.”30 pet dogs took part in the study; 15 that were normally walked on a collar, and 15 that were normally walked on a harness. Each dog was taken for a 20 minute walk along a route through a field. The middle 10 minutes of the walk was video recorded for later analysis.Zoe. Photo by Zoe's mom, Joanna.Then the owner was given the alternate piece of equipment to use so the dog could get used to it. A week later, they returned for a second 20-minute walk in the field. It was again recorded for analysis.The harness used throughout the study was the Perfect Fit. The group of dogs that were initially walked on a collar used their regular collar; the dogs that were fitted with a collar for the second walk were given a fleece-lined neck collar. A 1m leash was used for all of the dogs for standardization, and because this length is commonly used for dog walking.The walks took place in the mornings in a field in Worcestershire (UK). Two routes were marked out in the field, so that dogs would walk a new route each time.The videos were analysed for behaviours that could be signs of stress, including low tail, low body posture, licking the lips, yawning and panting. They also looked for signs that could show the dog’s movement is restricted, such as stopping.The statistical analysis showed no significant differences between current or historical use of the collar or harness on any of the behavioural indicators, with the exception of low ears. This was higher in the dogs who were normally walked on a collar, but not linked to when they were walked on collar or harness in the study. Given the lack of other differences, this is hard to interpret.These results show that neither a harness nor a collar causes stress to dogs. This is in contrast to prong and choke collars which have been found to sometimes elicit an aggressive response from dogs.In other words, as commonly believed, harnesses are a good choice for walking your dog.This is a timely finding because today sees the launch of the Harness the Love campaign from the Academy for Dog Trainers. The campaign highlights the use of no-pull harnesses to make it easier for people to walk their dog. No-pull harnesses have a front clip attachment for the leash, and a list of available brands can be found on the campaign’s website. People can take part by sharing a photo of their dog in their harness using the hashtag #HarnessTheLove.Do you walk your dog on a harness?ReferenceGrainger, J., Wills, A., & Montrose, V. (2016). The behavioral effects of walking on a collar and harness in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 14, 60-64 DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2016.06.002... Read more »

  • September 19, 2016
  • 03:09 PM
  • 106 views

Physicists retrieve 'lost' information from quantum measurements

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Typically when scientists make a measurement, they know exactly what kind of measurement they're making, and their purpose is to obtain a measurement outcome. But in an "unrecorded measurement," both the type of measurement and the measurement outcome are unknown.

... Read more »

Revzen, M., & Mann, A. (2016) Measuring unrecorded measurement. EPL (Europhysics Letters), 115(3), 30005. DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/115/30005  

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