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  • May 25, 2016
  • 07:45 AM
  • 2 views

Don't Be So Sensitive

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Just like some people have a tendency to go overboard, so do some immune systems. Here’s all the ways that your immune system can get it wrong and leave you with allergies – and how some allergies can save your life.... Read more »

Calboli FC, Cox DG, Buring JE, Gaziano JM, Ma J, Stampfer M, Willett WC, Tworoger SS, Hunter DJ, Camargo CA Jr, Michaud DS. (2011) Prediagnostic plasma IgE levels and risk of adult glioma in four prospective cohort studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. . DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djr361  

  • May 25, 2016
  • 04:43 AM
  • 11 views

Minimalist, anonymous rooms are probably not a good place to do teamwork

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

According to the philosophy of "lean space management", a minimalist workspace shorn of clutter is distraction-free and ideal for productivity. But this philosophy turns out to have slim empirical foundations, and as promoting a sense of identity at work, including personalising the work space, generally leads to better outcomes, there’s reason to expect richer, characterful workplaces to be more beneficial. A new article in the Journal of Personnel Psychology builds on this past work, showing that rich and meaningful workplace decor produces better team performance than lean spaces, even in surprising contexts.Katherine Greenaway and her colleagues asked 54 students (45 women) to form teams of three or four members. The researchers then explained to each team that there were Red teams and Blue teams and that theirs was a Red team. This was a ruse because in reality all teams were told that theirs was a Red team. To stoke a sense of competition,  the researchers added that the participants' team performance and that of other Red teams would be compared against the rival Blue teams. The participants then had a chance to get to know their team-mates and to personalise their own team room with a poster that they made together and with red decorations.But the teams couldn’t enjoy this for long, as a contrived double booking meant they were cast out from their room into a new work environment that they were told had recently housed another team. Some teams were rehoused in a lean, undecorated room; others in a room that had clearly been used by a Red team; and the remainder in a room that was dressed up as Blue territory.In this new environment, the teams had to complete a task: finding words in a grid, and then using them to construct sentences. The researchers found that teams moved to a friendly Red room or an unfriendly Blue room performed better than those placed in a lean room.Remember, the decorations were based on the arbitrary, colour-themed team allocation process, so their specifics couldn’t have been profoundly inspiring. Nor could they represent a shared and personal endeavour: in all cases, the teams’ own poster that they made and their decorative decisions were out of sight in another room.In the case of those teams rehoused in a different Red room, some insight into their better performance comes from an attitude survey the participants took after the word task. They tended to give higher ratings to items like “I identify with the group that was in this room before us”. It seems the room triggered or sustained a general feeling of “Reds together” and the data suggested this identification drove their better performance.What about the finding of superior team performance in a Blue-room? The researchers had predicted that being in enemy territory might spark competitive feelings that would boost performance, at least in the short-term. The teams placed in a Blue room did indeed feel more competitive but there was no sign in the data that this was linked with superior performance, so there’s still a question mark over this part of the study.All in all, the research suggests that workspaces with a rich character are more supportive of team performance than those built for anonymity. As the authors conclude: meaning beats leaning._________________________________ Greenaway, K., Thai, H., Haslam, S., & Murphy, S. (2016). Spaces That Signal Identity Improve Workplace Productivity Journal of Personnel Psychology, 15 (1), 35-43 DOI: 10.1027/1866-5888/a000148 --further reading--Why it's important that employers let staff personalise their workspacesPost written by Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) for the BPS Research Digest.Our free weekly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!

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Greenaway, K., Thai, H., Haslam, S., & Murphy, S. (2016) Spaces That Signal Identity Improve Workplace Productivity. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 15(1), 35-43. DOI: 10.1027/1866-5888/a000148  

  • May 25, 2016
  • 04:30 AM
  • 5 views

Position Someone to Guard Against Bad Laxity Measures

by Nicole Cattano in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Knee flexion to 90 degrees limits ankle laxity with the talar tilt test in comparison to a fully extended knee. However, knee position has no effect on anterior drawer laxity. Muscle guarding will limit our ability to accurately assess ankle laxity with a talar tilt or anterior drawer test. ... Read more »

Hanlon S, Caccese J, Knight CA, Swanik CB, & Kaminski TW. (2016) Examining Ankle-Joint Laxity Using 2 Knee Positions and With Simulated Muscle Guarding. Journal of Athletic Training, 51(2), 111-7. PMID: 26881870  

  • May 25, 2016
  • 02:52 AM
  • 14 views

The persistence of self-injury in relation to autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Some behaviours associated with a diagnosis of autism don't make for great dinner table discussion. Self-injurious behaviours (SIBs), as exemplified by head banging, hair pulling and eye gouging must rank as some of the more distressing facets of [some] autism insofar as their potential effect on the person and also the people around them.These and other types of behaviour commonly headed under the category of so-called 'challenging behaviours' have tended not to be too evident when it comes to the public depiction of autism it has to be said. I can appreciate why, but what this can mean is that such issues tend to get 'brushed under the carpet'. In recent times however, there does seem to be a greater willingness for research to delve into such behaviours [1].The paper by Caroline Richards and colleagues [2] (open-access) looking at the persistence of such behaviour(s) and the potential correlates associated with their persistence is a welcome piece of research added to the research interest. Highlighting how for a small research sample of 67 children/young adults with autism over three-quarters reported SIB persisting over a 3-year period, the data provide some interesting insights into the nature of this issue and, potentially how it should be screened for and managed.Based here in Blighty, researchers initially managed to recruit 190 participants, the data for some of whom were previously published [3]. As perhaps one might expect, the follow-up after on average 36.4 months had elapsed was not so well-populated. No mind, various findings are reported including that "the presence, topography and severity of self-injury were persistent and stable over three years" and that "individuals with self-injury were significantly more likely to be non-verbal than those who did not engage in self-injury." Further: "individuals with self-injury were significantly more likely to be less able and non-verbal and to show higher levels of stereotyped behaviour, compulsive behaviour, insistence on sameness, overactivity, impulsivity, repetitive behaviour and impairments in social interaction."There is quite a bit more to do on this topic including facing up to issues around the small (eventual) participant size and the reliance on 'a questionnaire pack' as the chosen method of assessment. The authors also talk quite a bit about how some of the behaviours observed in connection with self-injury - impaired behavioural inhibition - might overlap with other diagnoses such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but as far as I can see, they did not directly screen for ADHD outside of the use of something called The Activity Questionnaire (TAQ). I might also have liked to have seen a little more information about how parents/professionals had 'tackled' SIB in this cohort and what effect that might have had on results. Investigations remain.Having said all that, the insights provided by the Richards article are important and provide plenty of food for thought when it comes to SIB and autism. Without trying to generalise SIB to all autism nor to come across as portraying too negative an image of what autism can mean to someone, recognition and management (dare I say treatment) of such behaviours when present should really be a priority [4].-----------[1] Maddox BB. et al. Untended wounds: Non-suicidal self-injury in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism. 2016 May 12. pii: 1362361316644731.[2] Richards C. et al. Persistence of self-injurious behaviour in autism spectrum disorder over 3 years: a prospective cohort study of risk markers. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders 2016; 8: 21.[3] Richards C. et al. Self-injurious behaviour in individuals with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2012 May;56(5):476-89.[4] Lee Y-H. et al. Cataract secondary to self-inflicted blunt trauma in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 2016. May 17.----------Richards, C., Moss, J., Nelson, L., & Oliver, C. (2016). Persistence of self-injurious behaviour in autism spectrum disorder over 3 years: a prospective cohort study of risk markers Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s11689-016-9153-x... Read more »

  • May 24, 2016
  • 06:22 PM
  • 22 views

Does ecology affect human behavior? Book Review

by Farid Pazhoohi in Epistemophil

In their book The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality, Randy Thornhill, Distinguished Professor at The University of New Mexico, and Corey L. Fincher, Assistant Professor at University of Warwick, present a new interpretation of human values and cultural behaviors, on the basis of ecological variations in parasite-stress prevalence across and within nations. Before delineating […]... Read more »

Pazhoohi, F. (2016) The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality, Infectious Disease, History and Human Values Worldwide (Book Review). Canadian Studies in Population, 43(1-2), 155-157. info:/

  • May 24, 2016
  • 02:31 PM
  • 16 views

Hatching Sea Turtles Get a Hand from Their Siblings

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Smashing out of its egg is only the first step in a baby sea turtle's grueling early days. The turtle fights free of its eggshell only to find itself buried underground. It has to intuit which way is up, then dig out of the packed sand. As soon as it breaks onto the surface of the beach, it begins a mad sprint to the ocean. All around are its brothers and sisters, flailing toward the water as fast as their own flippers will carry them. In the sea they'll keep swimming frantically, trying to ... Read more »

  • May 24, 2016
  • 01:14 PM
  • 42 views

Raising The Standards Of Open Access Journals

by Nesru Koroso in United Academics

The Directory of Open Access Journals bans dubious journals from its index.... Read more »

  • May 24, 2016
  • 12:32 PM
  • 34 views

The James Earl Jones (or Barry White) Effect now applies to women too! 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Almost five years ago, we wrote about research saying men with deep voices were more persuasive. Science has moved forward though and now, women can also be more persuasive when using a deeper voice. Some call it a “sultry voice”. New work tells us your voice doesn’t have be a deep and resonant baritone to […]

Related posts:
Who has the deepest voice amongst the Republican  candidates for President?
Feel the power of that deep and resonant voice!
Here’s why that movie wasn’t called ’12 Angry Women’ 


... Read more »

  • May 24, 2016
  • 11:59 AM
  • 32 views

A critical comment on “Contextual sensitivity in scientific reproducibility”

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Psychological science is surprisingly difficult to replicate (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). Researchers are desperate to find out why. A new study in the prestigious journal PNAS (Van Bavel et al., 2016) claims unknown contextual factors of psychological phenomena (“hidden moderators”) are to blame. The more an effect is sensitive to unknown contextual factors, the less […]... Read more »

Dreber, A., Pfeiffer, T., Almenberg, J., Isaksson, S., Wilson, B., Chen, Y., Nosek, B., & Johannesson, M. (2015) Using prediction markets to estimate the reproducibility of scientific research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(50), 15343-15347. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516179112  

Van Bavel, J.J., Mende-Siedlecki, P., Brady, W.J., & Reinero, D.A. (2016) Contextual sensitivity in scientific reproducibility. PNAS. info:/

  • May 24, 2016
  • 11:27 AM
  • 30 views

ZIKV infection in mice: cell cycle defects as a cause for microcephaly?

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

Zika Virus (ZIKV) was first isolated in 1947 from a sentinel monkey in Uganda and despite sporadic local outbreaks only caused mild disease in humans. The emergence of ZIKV combined with severe pathogenicity in South America as early as 2014 however raised questions about the molecular evolution of ZIKV since ZIKV was previously only associated with arthralgia and a mild febrile illness but not neuropathological disorders including abnormal foetal brain development and Guillan-Barre Syndrome (GBS). Recently developed mouse models determined that ZIKV can cause microcephaly in offspring of ZIKV infected mice. Here the recent findings are discussed with a focus on mitotic defects caused by ZIKV infection of neural progenitor cells.
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Tang H, Hammack C, Ogden SC, Wen Z, Qian X, Li Y, Yao B, Shin J, Zhang F, Lee EM.... (2016) Zika Virus Infects Human Cortical Neural Progenitors and Attenuates Their Growth. Cell stem cell, 18(5), 587-90. PMID: 26952870  

Rodriguez-Morales AJ, Bandeira AC, & Franco-Paredes C. (2016) The expanding spectrum of modes of transmission of Zika virus: a global concern. Annals of clinical microbiology and antimicrobials, 13. PMID: 26939897  

Miner JJ, Cao B, Govero J, Smith AM, Fernandez E, Cabrera OH, Garber C, Noll M, Klein RS, Noguchi KK.... (2016) Zika Virus Infection during Pregnancy in Mice Causes Placental Damage and Fetal Demise. Cell, 165(5), 1081-91. PMID: 27180225  

Cugola, F., Fernandes, I., Russo, F., Freitas, B., Dias, J., Guimarães, K., Benazzato, C., Almeida, N., Pignatari, G., Romero, S.... (2016) The Brazilian Zika virus strain causes birth defects in experimental models. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature18296  

Deng YQ, Zhao H, Li XF, Zhang NN, Liu ZY, Jiang T, Gu DY, Shi L, He JA, Wang HJ.... (2016) Isolation, identification and genomic characterization of the Asian lineage Zika virus imported to China. Science China. Life sciences, 59(4), 428-30. PMID: 26993654  

Grant, A., Ponia, S., Tripathi, S., Balasubramaniam, V., Miorin, L., Sourisseau, M., Schwarz, M., Sánchez-Seco, M., Evans, M., Best, S.... (2016) Zika Virus Targets Human STAT2 to Inhibit Type I Interferon Signaling. Cell Host . DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2016.05.009  

Ashour J, Laurent-Rolle M, Shi PY, & García-Sastre A. (2009) NS5 of dengue virus mediates STAT2 binding and degradation. Journal of virology, 83(11), 5408-18. PMID: 19279106  

Gelman A, Rawet-Slobodkin M, & Elazar Z. (2015) Huntingtin facilitates selective autophagy. Nature cell biology, 17(3), 214-5. PMID: 25720962  

Amaral N, Vendrell A, Funaya C, Idrissi FZ, Maier M, Kumar A, Neurohr G, Colomina N, Torres-Rosell J, Geli MI.... (2016) The Aurora-B-dependent NoCut checkpoint prevents damage of anaphase bridges after DNA replication stress. Nature cell biology, 18(5), 516-26. PMID: 27111841  

Schröder-Heurich B, Wieland B, Lavin MF, Schindler D, & Dörk T. (2014) Protective role of RAD50 on chromatin bridges during abnormal cytokinesis. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 28(3), 1331-41. PMID: 24344331  

Uchil, P., Kumar, A., & Satchidanandam, V. (2006) Nuclear Localization of Flavivirus RNA Synthesis in Infected Cells. Journal of Virology, 80(11), 5451-5464. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01982-05  

  • May 24, 2016
  • 10:44 AM
  • 24 views

Does Flu Vaccination Reduce Dementia Risk?

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In my daily review of neuroscience news I ran across an article flu vaccination and dementia risk in heart failure.This study was reported at the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure by Dr. Ju-Chi Liu from Taipei Medical University.So how might influenza vaccination be related to dementia risk?  We do know acute influenza infection reaches the brain causing headache and increasing brain inflammation, at least temporarily. We also know brain inflammation may be involved in the mechanism of amyloid and tau protein deposition in the brain. So this link has some potential biological plausibility.In the Taiwanese study, 20,509 subjects with a diagnosis of heart failure were followed via centralized records. About half received flu vaccination during follow up. Subjects receiving at least one flu vaccination had a 35% lower rate of dementia diagnosis compared to those not receiving any vaccination. Subjects receiving three or more vaccinations had a 55% lower risk of recorded dementia diagnosis on follow up.I went to PubMed looking for more research for this association and a similar finding has been published by the same research group in a free full-text manuscript in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The key elements of this study were:Subjects: All 32,844 individuals with a chronic kidney disease diagnosis in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. From this set 11,843 subjects had sufficient data for the study.Case definition: Influenza vaccination during the study periodOutcome definition: Research database definition of dementia during follow up periodResults: After controlling for confounding variables, influenza vaccination case subjects had a 36% lower rate of dementia diagnosis compared to those not vaccinated (odds ratio=.64)Interestingly, there appeared to be a dose dependent effect with those receiving multiple influenza vaccinations showing even lower rates of dementia.Also, somewhat unexpectedly, vaccinations given outside of the typical influenza season showed a greater effect.The authors note in their discussion:"In clinical practice, we suggest that CKD patients with high dementia risk be vaccinated."The authors note dementia risk is increased in CKD with hypertension, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.The most important potential implication in these two studies, is whether influenza might reduce dementia risk in the general non-medically ill population. I think we will have more research on this issue soon.There are many reasons for regular influenza vaccination. Preserving brain health may be another important reason for expanded vaccination efforts.You can access the free full-text manuscript of the CKD and dementia paper by clicking on the PMID link in the citation below.Follow me on Twitter WRY999Figure in post is from Wikipedia Creative Commons file authored by: National Institutes of Health; originally uploaded to en.wikipedia by TimVickers (25 October 2006), transferred to Commons by Quadell using CommonsHelperLiu JC, Hsu YP, Kao PF, Hao WR, Liu SH, Lin CF, Sung LC, & Wu SY (2016). Influenza Vaccination Reduces Dementia Risk in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Medicine, 95 (9) PMID: 26945371... Read more »

  • May 24, 2016
  • 10:02 AM
  • 23 views

Should Biologists be Guided by Beauty?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

One key characteristic of a beautiful scientific theory is the simplicity of the underlying concepts. According to Weinberg, Einstein's theory of gravitation is described in fourteen equations whereas Newton's theory can be expressed in three. Despite the appearance of greater complexity in Einstein's theory, Weinberg finds it more beautiful than Newton's theory because the Einsteinian approach rests on one elegant central principle – the equivalence of gravitation and inertia. Weinberg's second characteristic for beautiful scientific theories is their inevitability. Every major aspect of the theory seems so perfect that it cannot be tweaked or improved on. Any attempt to significantly modify Einstein's theory of general relativity would lead to undermining its fundamental concepts, just like any attempts to move around parts of Raphael's Holy Family would weaken the whole painting.
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Dietrich, M., Ankeny, R., & Chen, P. (2014) Publication Trends in Model Organism Research. Genetics, 198(3), 787-794. DOI: 10.1534/genetics.114.169714  

Weinberg, Steven. (1992) Dreams of a Final Theory . Vintage Books. info:/

  • May 24, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 42 views

Around 1 in 5 with autism will experience seizure or seizure disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Jennifer Jaskiewicz and colleagues [1] recently offered a further important insight into the relationship between autism and seizure or seizure disorder (i.e. epilepsy).Based on the examination of records of nearly 50,000 children and young adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with approximately quarter of a million 'not-autism' participants, authors reported some interesting trends. Concluding that some 19% of participants with autism experienced "some kind of seizure or seizure disorder", the study in particular reaffirms something of an important relationship between [some] autism and [some] epilepsy or seizure disorder.Drawing on data derived from the US Military Health System database between 2000-2013, the records of children and young adults aged 0-18 years were the focus of analysis, where those with autism were age and sex-matched with asymptomatic (not autism) controls. Alongside the heightened risk of a general description of 'seizure or seizure disorder' in the autism group, authors also reported that specific issues such as status epilepticus and absence seizures were over-represented in the autism group. Febrile seizures - seizures that accompany fever - were also over-represented in the autism group although to a slightly lower extent than other seizure types. The authors conclude that: "Rates of epilepsy in children with autism are vastly increased in a wide variety of seizure types, known to have different etiologies, genetic and otherwise." Compare also the estimate of epilepsy or seizure disorder shown here with other population figures [2] and you get a flavour for how advanced the risk might be...----------[1] Jaskiewicz J. et al. Quantification of Risks of Seizure in Autism. Neurology. 2016; 86: suppl. S32.003.[2] Russ SA. et al. A national profile of childhood epilepsy and seizure disorder. Pediatrics. 2012 Feb;129(2):256-64----------Jennifer Jaskiewicz, Apryl Susi, Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman, David Dennison, Gregory Gorman, Cade Nylund, & Christine Erdie-Lalena (2016). Quantification of Risks of Seizure in Autism Neurology... Read more »

Jennifer Jaskiewicz, Apryl Susi, Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman, David Dennison, Gregory Gorman, Cade Nylund, & Christine Erdie-Lalena. (2016) Quantification of Risks of Seizure in Autism. Neurology. info:/

  • May 24, 2016
  • 02:38 AM
  • 10 views

Study of firefighters shows our flexible body schema doesn't always adjust as we need it to

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The results could help explain some of the many injuriesincurred by firefighters each yearYour brain has a representation of where your body extends in space. It's how you know whether you can fit through a doorway or not, among other things. This representation – the "body schema" as some scientists call it – is flexible. For example if you're using a grabbing tool or swinging a tennis raquet, your sense of how far you can reach is updated accordingly. But there are limits to the accuracy and speed with which the body schema can be adjusted, as shown by an intriguing new study in Ecological Psychology about the inability of firefighters to adapt to their protective clothing.Indeed, the researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Fire Service Institute believe their findings may help explain some of the many injuries sustained by firefighters (of which there were over 65,000 in 2013 alone), and that they could have implications for training.The participants were 24 firefighters (23 men) with an average age 29 and an average of 6 years experience in the job, all of whom were recruited through the University of Illinois Fire Service. The researchers led by Matthew Petrucci asked the participants to don the full protective kit, including bunker-style coat, helmet and breathing apparatus. As well as the weight and bulk of the gear affecting the participants'  ability to move freely, it also changed the participants' physical dimensions – for instance, the helmet added 21cm to their height, and the breathing apparatus added 21cm of depth to their body.The researchers created three main obstacles designed to simulate situations in a real-life fire: a horizontal bar that the firefighters had to go under, a bar that they had to go over, and a vertical gap between a mock door and wall that they had to squeeze through. All of these were adjustable, and the participants' first task was to estimate what height bar they could manoeuvre over, what height they could manoeuvre under, and what width gap they could squeeze through. To make these judgments, the researchers adjusted the obstacles' in height or width, and for each setting the firefighters said whether they thought they could safely pass the obstacle.For the next stage, the firefighters actually attempted to manoeuvre over, under or through the different obstacles, which were adjusted to make them progressively harder to complete. The idea was to find the lowest, highest and narrowest settings that the firefighters could pass through safely and quickly. To count as a safe passage, the firefighters had to avoid knocking off the delicately balanced horizontal bar for the over and under obstacles, and avoid touching their hands to the floor, or dumping their gear. Despite having many years experience wearing protective gear and breathing apparatus, the results showed that there was little correspondence between the firefighters' judgments about the dimensions of the obstacles they could safely pass under, over or through, and their actual physical performance. In psychological jargon, the firefighters made repeated "affordance judgment errors", misperceiving the movements "afforded" to them by different environments.The participants' judgments were most awry for passing under a horizontal bar – on average they thought they could pass under a bar that was 15cm lower than the height they could actually go under. Errors related to the over obstacle were a mix of over- and underestimations, and for the through obstacle 80 per cent of participants underestimated their ability by four to five cm – in other words, they thought they couldn't pass through, when actually they could. In a real life situation, this could lead to time wasting or unnecessary danger as they sought a more circuitous route.The results suggest that the firefighters struggled to adjust their body schemas to account for their gear, and it's easy to see how this problem could lead to accidents in a burning building. It seems strange that they hadn't learnt to take account of their gear through experience, but in fact the converse was true – the more experienced firefighters made more errors. The researchers propose several explanations for this, including that specific experiences may be needed to recalibrate the body schema to specific obstacles. Also, the firefighters training in manoeuvring in their gear mostly comes at the start of their career and the benefits may have faded. Refresher training may be helpful, especially to learn one's changing capabilities with ageing.The researchers said that their results were important because "affordance judgment errors made on a fireground could contribute to injuries attributed to contact with ceilings, doors, structural components of buildings, and other objects with slips, trips, and falls."_________________________________ Petrucci, M., Horn, G., Rosengren, K., & Hsiao-Wecksler, E. (2016). Inaccuracy of Affordance Judgments for Firefighters Wearing Personal Protective Equipment Ecological Psychology, 28 (2), 108-126 DOI: 10.1080/ Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.Our free weekly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!
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  • May 23, 2016
  • 04:13 PM
  • 63 views

Extreme beliefs often mistaken for insanity, new study finds

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In the aftermath of violent acts such as mass shootings, many people assume mental illness is the cause. After studying the 2011 case of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, researchers are suggesting a new forensic term to classify non-psychotic behavior that leads to criminal acts of violence.

... Read more »

Rahman T, Resnick PJ, & Harry B. (2016) Anders Breivik: Extreme Beliefs Mistaken for Psychosis. The journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 44(1), 28-35. PMID: 26944741  

  • May 23, 2016
  • 10:39 AM
  • 52 views

Emotional Processing: A Key to Depression Treatment?

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In my last post I reported on the use of machine learning to aid in predicting response to depression treatment.Another interesting depression prediction tool is being investigated in a trial in England funded by the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.This trial uses a visual facial recognition tool. The hypothesis is that early antidepressant action can be identified by changes in facial emotional recognition.This trial stems from work by Catherine Harmer Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. Her work in this area is highlighted in the free full-text manuscript citation at the end of this post.In this full-text manuscript the authors review research suggesting antidepressants drug action may be due to the direct effect on emotional processing. Clinicians know that clinical recognition of an antidepressant response may take six weeks for a single antidepressant drug. It may be even longer if dosage escalation is needed to test a specific drug.Facial emotional recognition is a potential earlier marker of antidepressant response. In the review cited below, facial recognition changes as early as two weeks have predicted a positive drug response.Antidepressant drugs appear to alter emotional processing in healthy non-depressed adults. This may allow for wider screening of new investigational antidepressant drugs.You can read more about the NHS trial at MedicalXpress HERE.Click on the PMID link in the citation below for a link to the free full-text review.Image of limbic system known to be involved in emotional processing is my screen shot from the iPad app 3D Brain.Follow me on Twitter HERE. Pringle A, & Harmer CJ (2015). The effects of drugs on human models of emotional processing: an account of antidepressant drug treatment. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 17 (4), 477-87 PMID: 26869848... Read more »

  • May 23, 2016
  • 07:55 AM
  • 55 views

Positive Stereotypes Are Pervasive and Powerful

by Jeremiah Stanghini in Jeremiah Stanghini

Pop quiz: hands up — how many of you think positive stereotypes are OK? I suspect that for many of you, your first reaction may have been, “well, yeah, they’re positive, right?” I can totally empathize with that shortcut, but … Continue reading →... Read more »

Czopp, A., Kay, A., & Cheryan, S. (2015) Positive Stereotypes Are Pervasive and Powerful. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(4), 451-463. DOI: 10.1177/1745691615588091  

  • May 23, 2016
  • 04:30 AM
  • 61 views

Females at Increased Risk of Protracted Concussion Symptoms

by Jane McDevitt in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Clinical factors that related with persistent postconcussion symptoms were sex, greater worsening symptoms from day of concussion to first concussion evaluation, continued activity participation, loss of consciousness, anterograde amnesia, and premorbid headaches, emotional symptoms on the day of concussion, and greater symptoms the day of the clinical examination. ... Read more »

  • May 23, 2016
  • 02:48 AM
  • 54 views

Sex-specific immune response to Candida albicans in schizophrenia and beyond

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I have quite a bit of time for the various members of the Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology at Johns Hopkins on this blog. Not least because of the interesting work of one researcher in particular - Emily Severance - as a name behind some potentially very important research on how food, infection and immune function might come together in complicated conditions such as [some] schizophrenia and [some] bipolar disorder (see here and see here).Continuing their 'gut-brain' theme (oh, yes) new research from Prof/Dr Severance and colleagues [1] has been published observing that "sex-specific C. albicans immune responses were evident in psychiatric disorder subsets." C. albicans refers to Candida albicans, a fungus that I'm sure most people will have heard of at one time or another if not only as a function of those TV adverts for preparations to combat C. albicans when tied into yeast infection.On this most recent occasion, researchers were testing the idea of "C. albicans as a new candidate infectious disease target for studies of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder" as a extension of other research talking about 'bacterial dysbioses' potentially contributing "to C. albicans overgrowth by failing to provide the competition needed to keep the fungus in check." If you're furrowing your brow about the thought that the trillions of wee beasties that call us home (the gut microbiome) might exert an effect on behavioural or psychiatric presentation, relax yourself slightly: interest is growing in this area [2] following on from other investigations in other areas (see here).So, researchers: "measured and compared IgG antibodies directed against this fungus in two psychiatric cohorts: one composed of 261 people with schizophrenia, 270 with bipolar disorder and 277 individuals without a history of psychiatric disorder; the other cohort was composed of 139 people with first-episode schizophrenia, 78 of whom were antipsychotic naive." They also examined cognitive symptoms and took into account various factors that might act as confounders onwards to the idea that IgG antibodies to C. albicans *might* be considered a risk factor for either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.Results: well it wasn't as straight-forward as blanket saying that the presence of IgG antibodies (seropositivity) or quantitative levels of these antibodies to C. albicans equals schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (or not-schizophrenia or not-bipolar disorder). There was nothing statistically significant between the various groupings in the cohorts included for study. But... when the groups were categorised according to sex (gender), researchers reported "significant elevations of C. albicans IgG in males with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder compared with male controls."Further analyses suggested that there may be some 'associations' with other variables examined across the sexes when it came to those IgG antibodies ("females with schizophrenia who were C. albicans IgG-seropositive performed more poorly on these [cognitive] tests than did females with schizophrenia who were C. albicans IgG-seronegative or than female controls") and it appeared that antipsychotic medication use did little to impact on the findings. The bottom line: "antibodies directed against the opportunistic fungal pathogen, C. albicans, were elevated in distinct subsets of individuals with psychiatric disorders" and minus any sweeping generalisations, a research agenda incorporating brain, immune function, gut and also contents of the gut could be indicated in future study. This of course set among the idea that schizophrenia might be better represented by the more plural 'schizophrenias'.Some of the media around this study and its findings are perhaps a little 'sensational' as per the headline asking: Is a sexually transmitted yeast infection making people mentally ill? I perhaps wouldn't go as far as that at the moment given that C. albicans is present in everyone(?) and overgrowth of such a yeast is not necessarily due to sex or related activities. Yes, certain sexual diseases can manifest as psychological symptoms but an important basis of the Severance study is that intrinsic factors such as gut dysbiosis might start a chain reaction whereby C. albicans is able to flourish and becomes rather more systemic and pathogenic linked to the presentation of behavioural symptoms. Or at least that is part of the hypothesis requiring further testing...----------[1] Severance EG. et al. Candida albicans exposures, sex specificity and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. npj Schizophrenia 2016; 2: 16018.[2] Dinan TG. et al. Genomics of schizophrenia: time to consider the gut microbiome? Mol Psychiatry. 2014 Dec;19(12):1252-7.----------Severance, E., Gressitt, K., Stallings, C., Katsafanas, E., Schweinfurth, L., Savage, C., Adamos, M., Sweeney, K., Origoni, A., Khushalani, S., Leweke, F., Dickerson, F., & Yolken, R. (2016). Candida albicans exposures, sex specificity and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder npj Schizophrenia, 2 DOI: 10.1038/npjschz.2016.18... Read more »

Severance, E., Gressitt, K., Stallings, C., Katsafanas, E., Schweinfurth, L., Savage, C., Adamos, M., Sweeney, K., Origoni, A., Khushalani, S.... (2016) Candida albicans exposures, sex specificity and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. npj Schizophrenia, 16018. DOI: 10.1038/npjschz.2016.18  

  • May 22, 2016
  • 08:17 PM
  • 56 views

Piggybacking Instead of Killing: New Insights Into Virus Community Dynamics

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

The human microbiome is an important component of human health and disease. It is an ecosystem of microbes that exists in and on humans, and can affect disease states through disturbances in composition, diversity, metabolism, etc. Understanding the human microbiome will not only allow us to better understand human health, but it will also allow us to treat medical conditions in new and effective ways (e.g. Fecal Microbiota Transplants).... Read more »

Knowles B, Silveira CB, Bailey BA, Barott K, Cantu VA, Cobián-Güemes AG, Coutinho FH, Dinsdale EA, Felts B, Furby KA.... (2016) Lytic to temperate switching of viral communities. Nature, 531(7595), 466-70. PMID: 26982729  

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