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  • May 3, 2015
  • 11:08 PM

Recent Advances: Phage Therapy for Antibiotic Resistant Staph Infections

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

Most of us have experienced, know someone who experienced, or have at least heard of Staph infections. As their name implies, these infections are caused by Staph (short for the bacterial genus Staphylococcus), occur on the skin, are often acquired in hospitals...... Read more »

  • May 3, 2015
  • 03:54 PM

Procrastinate much? Science offers a way to stop

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Procrastination is the thief of time that derails New Year’s resolutions and delays saving for college or retirement, but researchers have found a way to collar it.

The trick? Think of the future as now. ... Read more »

  • May 2, 2015
  • 03:48 PM

Walking an extra two minutes each hour may offset hazards of sitting too long

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Eat less, workout more, these are the messages we are being sent almost on a daily basis. But how do we quantify “more” and who really should listen to that advice? Well a new study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. On the bright side, adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine just might do the trick.... Read more »

  • May 2, 2015
  • 02:01 PM

Spontaneous Events Drive Brain Functional Connectivity?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new study claims that Functional Connectivity in MRI Is Driven by Spontaneous BOLD Events

The researchers, Thomas Allan and colleagues from the University of Nottingham (one of the birthplaces of MRI), say that their results challenge the assumption that correlations in neural activity between 'networks' of brain regions reflect slow, steady low frequency oscillations within those networks. Instead, they report that the network connectivity is the result of occasional 'spikes' of coordinate... Read more »

Allan TW, Francis ST, Caballero-Gaudes C, Morris PG, Liddle EB, Liddle PF, Brookes MJ, & Gowland PA. (2015) Functional Connectivity in MRI Is Driven by Spontaneous BOLD Events. PloS one, 10(4). PMID: 25922945  

  • May 2, 2015
  • 05:55 AM

Humans Navigate Naturally With Built-In GPS

by RAZ Rebecca A. Zarate in United Academics

Humans have a built-in neural map, and it’s shaped like a honeycomb.
... Read more »

Langston RF, Ainge JA, Couey JJ, Canto CB, Bjerknes TL, Witter MP, Moser EI, & Moser MB. (2010) Development of the spatial representation system in the rat. Science (New York, N.Y.), 328(5985), 1576-80. PMID: 20558721  

Solstad T, Boccara CN, Kropff E, Moser MB, & Moser EI. (2008) Representation of geometric borders in the entorhinal cortex. Science (New York, N.Y.), 322(5909), 1865-8. PMID: 19095945  

Tolman, E. (1948) Cognitive maps in rats and men. Psychological Review, 55(4), 189-208. DOI: 10.1037/h0061626  

  • May 2, 2015
  • 04:03 AM

Healthcare experiences and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In today's brief post I want to highlight the important findings reported by Christina Nicolaidis and colleagues [1] who suggested that quite a bit more could be done to improve the success of "healthcare interactions" when it comes to the autism spectrum.Based on the experiences of 39 adults with autism and "16 people who had experience supporting autistic adults in healthcare settings" researchers came up with a few "patient- and provider-level factors" that might impact on said healthcare interactions and thus the quality of service received by this group. Quite small changes such as improving healthcare provider's knowledge of autism - specifically adult autism - including a realisation that factors such as "verbal communication skills, sensory sensitivities, [and] challenges with body awareness" might impact on the quality of healthcare received are detailed. The idea that 'if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism' might also be a useful phrase for healthcare providers to keep in mind given the significant heterogeneity and heightened risk of comorbidity normally attached to the 'autisms' (plural) label.I've always been rather interested in the disparities in healthcare quality and provision attached to behavioural and/or psychiatric labels derived from books such as ICD and DSM. Having previously covered some of the extremes of "catastrophic illnesses [that] were misdiagnosed due, at least partially, to their autism" (see here) on this blog, I have a flavour for just how bad things can get when healthcare provider knowledge of autism is poor and phrases like 'it's just part of their autism' are used willy-nilly."Further efforts are needed to empower patients, adequately train providers, increase the accessibility of the healthcare system, and decrease discrimination." I don't think many people would disagree with the conclusions from Nicolaidis et al although the precise ways and means that such changes can be practically made still requires some flesh on the bones. As per another article from this research group [2] "the recognition of associated conditions" potentially comorbid to a diagnosis on the autism spectrum might also help healthcare providers plan for what they might expect, bearing in mind the considerable number of conditions/labels that might follow such a diagnosis (see here) and the idea that a label of autism is seemingly protective of nothing in healthcare and other terms [3]. But let's start with the simple things...Music: The White Stripes - Fell In Love With A Girl (video pre-Lego movie). And assuming you are 'falling in love with a girl [or boy]' you might want to see how she/he might see you with the new Microsoft 'How old do I look' tool. After analysing a few mugshots of mine I'm not afraid to say that I might be visiting Boots the Chemists quite soon...----------[1] Nicolaidis C. et al. “Respect the way I need to communicate with you”: Healthcare experiences of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism. 2015. 16 April.[2] Nicolaidis C. et al. Primary care for adults on the autism spectrum. Med Clin North Am. 2014 Sep;98(5):1169-91.[3] Croen LA. et al. The health status of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism. 2015 Apr 24. pii: 1362361315577517.----------Nicolaidis, C., Raymaker, D., Ashkenazy, E., McDonald, K., Dern, S., Baggs, A., Kapp, S., Weiner, M., & Boisclair, W. (2015). "Respect the way I need to communicate with you": Healthcare experiences of adults on the autism spectrum Autism DOI: 10.1177/1362361315576221... Read more »

  • May 1, 2015
  • 03:05 PM

US clinics avoiding government oversight of ‘stem cell’ treatments

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Clinics across the United States are advertising stem cell treatments that attempt to take advantage of what they perceive as exceptions in FDA regulations.The therapies in question are adipose-derived autologous stem cell treatments, in which fat cells are removed from a patient, broken down to separate components that purportedly contain stem cells, and are then reinjected into the same patient.... Read more »

  • May 1, 2015
  • 10:56 AM

Lizards in Long-Term Relationships Can Skip the Foreplay

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Why would two stubby-legged, blue-tongued Australian reptiles want to stay together not just for a mating season, but for decades? A 31-year study of the reptiles has suggested an answer. While newly formed couples are still getting to know each other, lizards in long-term relationships can start mating earlier in the season. And dispensing with the foreplay might give them a reproductive advantage over their casually dating neighbors.

Tiliqua rugosa is a species of blue-tongued skink tha... Read more »

  • May 1, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

“Exploding head syndrome”: Yes, it’s really a thing 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

I do not recall ever having heard of this sleep disorder before but apparently it is much more common than previously thought. At least by me, since to me it sounded like a”Jackass” stunt. This is an actual sleep disorder in which you are suddenly awakened by a loud sound akin to an explosion but […]

Related posts:
Columbo, Catfish, and Courthouse News: Be careful out there!
Trial Skills: A new issue of The Jury Expert is up!

... Read more »

  • May 1, 2015
  • 05:00 AM

Severe mental illness and victims of crime

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, victimisation among people with SMI [severe mental illness] is more prevalent and associated with greater psychosocial morbidity than victimisation among the general population."That was the finding reported by Hind Khalifeh and colleagues [1] (open-access here) following their analysis of "the prevalence and impact of crime among people with SMI compared with the general population." SMI, by the way, covered various labels including: "people with psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder), as well as those with other diagnoses (for example depression or personality disorder) of a severity requiring intensive service contact."Eventually examining the experiences of nearly 350 community-dwelling adults diagnosed with a SMI "under the care of community mental health teams" compared with data from over 2000 asymptomatic controls - "participants in the 2011/2012 CSEW [Crime Survey for England and Wales]" - researchers interviewed participants about their experiences of crime in the past year. Various definitions of 'crime' were used covering 'personal crime' (assaults, personal acquisitive crimes such as theft) and 'household crime' including burglary.Quite a few results were reported in line with the finding that: "40% of the [SMI] patient group compared with 14% of the control group were victims of a crime in the preceding year." Accepting that: "People with SMI had greater levels of social deprivation than the comparison group", the experience of personal crime such as being the victim of an assault was significantly more frequently reported for the SMI group than controls for example. Worryingly: "Women with SMI were at particularly high risk of violence, both community and domestic" even when "sociodemographics, substance misuse and violence perpetration" variables were taken into account. Researchers also reported that being a victim of crime also lead to some pretty significant "adverse psychological effects (depression, anxiety or panic attacks)" for the SMI group when compared to controls.Such findings do not make for great reading but are consistent with other research in this area. This research group have for example, previously published other work focussing on the experiences of violence against people with disability [2] and how having a 'mental illness' seemed to particularly elevate the risk of being a victim of crime. Once again, crime had its after-effects: "Disabled victims were more likely to suffer mental ill health as a result of violence than non-disabled victims." The gender gap has also previously been highlighted in work from this group too [3].Accepting the often difficult relationship between mental illness and crime, particularly when it comes to the issue of violent crime [4] complicated by factors such as substance abuse (as per yet more and more results), the Khalifeh and other data suggest that strategies to support those diagnosed with a SMI potentially at higher risk of being a victim of crime might be something to consider. Set against a backdrop of the most saddest of events where mental health issues are once again thrust into the media spotlight, the sweeping generalisations made about severe mental illness and the concept of 'dangerousness' might perhaps also entertain the notion that various psychiatric diagnoses may themselves also put someone at a very real risk of becoming a victim of crime. Sometimes with the most serious of outcomes [5].----------[1] Khalifeh H. et al. Violent and non-violent crime against adults with severe mental illness. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2015. April 1.[2] Khalifeh H. et al. Violence against people with disability in England and Wales: findings from a national cross-sectional survey. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55952.[3] Khalifeh H. & Dean K. Gender and violence against people with severe mental illness. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2010;22(5):535-46.[4] Fleischman A. et al. Schizophrenia and violent crime: a population-based study. Psychol Med. 2014 Oct;44(14):3051-7.[5] Rodway C. et al. Patients with mental illness as victims of homicide: a national consecutive case series. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014; 1: 129-134.----------Khalifeh H, Johnson S, Howard LM, Borschmann R, Osborn D, Dean K, Hart C, Hogg J, & Moran P (2015). Violent and non-violent crime against adults with severe mental illness. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science PMID: 25698767... Read more »

Khalifeh H, Johnson S, Howard LM, Borschmann R, Osborn D, Dean K, Hart C, Hogg J, & Moran P. (2015) Violent and non-violent crime against adults with severe mental illness. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 25698767  

  • May 1, 2015
  • 12:08 AM

Eyes on Environment: the search for artificial photosynthesis

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

How can we mimic plant photosynthesis to move to a fossil-free economy? Read here to find out!... Read more »

Sun, K., Saadi, F., Lichterman, M., Hale, W., Wang, H., Zhou, X., Plymale, N., Omelchenko, S., He, J., Papadantonakis, K.... (2015) Stable solar-driven oxidation of water by semiconducting photoanodes protected by transparent catalytic nickel oxide films. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201423034. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1423034112  

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