8 posts · 1,331 views
I write about the process of scientific discovery, peer review, funding for research and highlight selected new scientific articles in biomedical research and the social sciences.
When we observe an interaction between two other human beings (Person A and Person B), we sometimes draw conclusions about the personality traits or character of these two individuals. For example, if we see that Person A is being rude to Person B, we may be less likely to trust Person A, even though we are merely "third-party" evaluators. i.e. not directly involved in the interaction. Multiple studies with humans have already documented such third-party social evaluation, which can ev........ Read more »
Anderson, J., Kuroshima, H., Takimoto, A., & Fujita, K. (2013) Third-party social evaluation of humans by monkeys. Nature Communications, 1561. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2495
The concept “superiority illusion” refers to the fact that people tend to judge themselves as being superior to the average person when it comes to positive traits such as intelligence, desirability or other personality traits. This is mathematically not possible, because in a normally distributed population, most people cannot be above average. The “superiority illusion” belongs to a family of positive illusions, such as the “optimism bias”, which is characte........ Read more »
Yamada, M., Uddin, L., Takahashi, H., Kimura, Y., Takahata, K., Kousa, R., Ikoma, Y., Eguchi, Y., Takano, H., Ito, H.... (2013) Superiority illusion arises from resting-state brain networks modulated by dopamine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221681110
Whether we cruise the internet, turn on the TV or simply open up our email Inbox, we are bound to encounter advice regarding obesity and weight loss. The problem is that a lot of the circulated opinions about obesity and weight gain are only poorly supported by medical and scientific evidence. The recent paper “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity” published in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 31, 2013 by Krista Casazza and colleagues investigates popular notion........ Read more »
The researchers Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Andrew Oswald decided to study the link between happiness and income from a very different angle. Instead of asking whether more money leads to more happiness, they reversed the question and asked whether more happiness leads to more money. In the paper “Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, De Neve and Osw........ Read more »
De Neve JE, & Oswald AJ. (2012) Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(49), 19953-8. PMID: 23169627
Maintaining regular face-to-face contact with family members can be rather challenging because nowadays families are often geographically dispersed. It takes time, money and effort to travel and visit family members. The famous British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar at Oxford University and his colleagues investigated how far people were willing to travel to see their relatives. Their results were published in the open access journal PLOS One “Going That Extra Mi........ Read more »
Pollet, T., Roberts, S., & Dunbar, R. (2013) Going That Extra Mile: Individuals Travel Further to Maintain Face-to-Face Contact with Highly Related Kin than with Less Related Kin. PLoS ONE, 8(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053929
This study highlights the opportunities and pitfalls of using the internet to communicate medical information. The internet is providing an opportunity for patients and family members to obtain additional medical information that they did not receive from their physicians, as well as to address questions that may arise and do not warrant a visit to a physician. On the other hand, the study also demonstrates that the quality of medical information on the internet varies widely. Searches for certa........ Read more »
Chung M, Oden RP, Joyner BL, Sims A, & Moon RY. (2012) Safe infant sleep recommendations on the Internet: let's Google it. The Journal of pediatrics, 161(6), 1080-4. PMID: 22863258
In summary, the POSEIDON trial has shown that treating chronic heart disease patients with bone marrow derived stem cells is not yet ready for prime time. Bone marrow cells from strangers may be just as safe as one’s own cells, but if bone marrow stem cells are not very effective for treating chronic heart disease, than it may just be a moot point.... Read more »
Hare JM, Fishman JE, Gerstenblith G, Difede Velazquez DL, Zambrano JP, Suncion VY, Tracy M, Ghersin E, Johnston PV, Brinker JA.... (2012) Comparison of Allogeneic vs Autologous Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Delivered by Transendocardial Injection in Patients With Ischemic Cardiomyopathy: The POSEIDON Randomized Trial. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 1-11. PMID: 23117550
The psychiatrist held the door open for me and my first thought as I entered the room was “Where is the couch?”. Instead of the expected leather couch, I saw a patient lying down on a flat operation table surrounded by monitors, devices, electrodes, and a team of physicians and nurses. The psychiatrist had asked me if I wanted to join him during an “ECT” for a patient with severe depression. It was the first day of my psychiatry rotation at the VA (Veterans Affairs Medical Center) in San........ Read more »
Kyaga, S., Landén, M., Boman, M., Hultman, C., Långström, N., & Lichtenstein, P. (2013) Mental illness, suicide and creativity: 40-Year prospective total population study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(1), 83-90. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.09.010
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