Post List

  • June 1, 2017
  • 04:43 AM
  • 1,476 views

Differentiating between autism and ADHD the machine learning way (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "These results support the potential of creating a quick, accurate and widely accessible method for differentiating risks between ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."That was a conclusion reached in the paper by Marlena Duda and colleagues [1] (open-access) building on their previous foray into this important research area (see here). Last time around [2] this research group - the Duda/Wall et al research combination - set the scene for boiling down the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) from 65 items to something considerably smaller when it came to distinguishing autism from ADHD. This based on the idea that autism and ADHD are not unstrange diagnostic bedfellows (see here).This time around, researchers set out to "expand upon our prior work by including a novel crowdsourced data set of responses to our predefined top 15 SRS-derived questions from parents of children with ASD (n=248) or ADHD (n=174) to improve our model’s capability to generalize to new, ‘real-world’ data." Mention of the term 'crowdsourced' means that authors utilised various online social media platforms to "to inform the community of the study" and gather responses. Importantly, they note that "diagnoses of ASD or ADHD were provided as parent report."Results: once again applying various machine learning algorithms to their recently captured data and "mixing these novel survey data with our initial archival sample (n=3417)" authors reported some interesting findings. Taking the two samples - the archival samples and the recent crowdsourced data  - together they reported on the creation of "a classification algorithm that can generalize well to unseen data (AUC=0.89±0.01), even when those data have more natural variablity like the kind seen in our survey sample." This was based on the use of 15 items from the SRS.But... things were not all smooth sailing in this latest research effort. Bearing in mind the use of those 'parent reported' autism and ADHD participants in this latest study, authors noted that 'real-world' data is not necessarily the same as the very clinical data relied upon on the last research occasion. So: "In the archival sample, the responses for ADHD subjects were more uniform and on average less severe than the ADHD responses in the survey sample."Still, these are important results albeit requiring 'continued evaluation' as further crowdsourced and other data filter through. Indeed 'adaption' to new data seems to be something that the authors are particularly keen on to "further improve the generalizability of the classifier." I continue to applaud their research in this area as a function of their efforts (see here) to make autism and/or ADHD screening quicker, easier and more cost-effective.And on that last point. it is timely that such research continues given what is being proposed in certain parts of England when it comes to autism diagnoses (see here). Indeed, the suggestion of "restricting an autism diagnosis to only the most severe cases" as a function of some quite spectacular increasing demand - "The team is supposed to carry out 750 assessments a year. But it is getting almost double that level of demand, with about 25 referrals a week" - reiterates a need to streamline diagnostic services to make screening/diagnosis quicker, easier and more cost-effective.For those also who have said 'so what' to the increase in cases of autism (yes, someone actually did albeit with caveats), such proposals to potentially restrict autism diagnoses, I would say, are a direct result of such a mindset to 're-think' autism. Although well meaning, if enough people talk about difference over disability for example, purse string holders in the NHS (National Health Service) were eventually bound to ask 'why diagnose?' and 'why offer services?' (services that can cost quite a lot and even for those with 'severe autism' are often not there). As other authors have eloquently argued (see here) and indeed, foretold, mixed in with the current economic situation being put forward all in the name of austerity, low-hanging NHS services fruit like autism screening/assessment were certain to be eventually targeted and the 'difference over disability' framing unfortunately provides ample ammunition for such proposals...----------[1] Duda M. et al. Crowdsourced validation of a machine-learning classification system for autism and ADHD. Transl Psychiatry. 2017 May 16;7(5):e1133.[2] Duda M. et al. Use of machine learning for behavioral distinction of autism and ADHD. Transl Psychiatry. 2016 Feb 9;6:e732.----------Duda M, Haber N, Daniels J, & Wall DP (2017). Crowdsourced validation of a machine-learning classification system for autism and ADHD. Translational psychiatry, 7 (5) PMID: 28509905... Read more »

  • June 1, 2017
  • 12:59 AM
  • 1,063 views

D10 in the Treatment of Prehospital Hypoglycemia: A 24 Month Observational Cohort Study

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

Why treat hypoglycemia with 10% dextrose (D10), rather than the more expensive, potentially more harmful, and less available traditional treatment of 50% dextrose (D50)? Why not? The only benefit of 50% dextrose appears to be that it is what people are used to using, but aren't we used to starting IVs (IntraVenous lines) and running fluids through the IVs? ... Read more »

  • May 31, 2017
  • 10:34 PM
  • 1,047 views

Cities Are Bad for Bumblebees—Except Detroit

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



For bumblebees, big cities are a bummer. Layers of asphalt, concrete, brick and metal add up to fewer places for the insects to nest. But one big city—Detroit—reverses that trend. That means shrinking cities might be a growing opportunity for at-risk pollinators.

Bumblebees (species with the genus name Bombus) are, like other bees, in trouble. Their numbers and diversity are decreasing across North America. Other native wild bees—the insects that have been living here and pollinating our ... Read more »

  • May 31, 2017
  • 08:02 AM
  • 1,017 views

Your best bet for an expert witness is a friendly  nerd rather than an attractive scientist

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

And it doesn’t really matter if the expert is male or female, if they are young or old, and they can be any ethnicity! In other words, said the researchers—the variables we have read so much about (i.e., gender, age, ethnicity) are not as notable as whether someone “looks like” our stereotype of a “good […]... Read more »

Gheorghiu, A., Callan, M., & Skylark, W. (2017) Facial appearance affects science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)., 201620542. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1620542114  

  • May 31, 2017
  • 05:44 AM
  • 998 views

On migration status and offspring autism severity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Black women from East Africa had more than 3.5 times the odds of autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability in their children than Caucasian nonimmigrant women."So said the study results reported by Jenny Fairthorn and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) providing yet more evidence for the need for much greater scrutiny as to why children of immigrant parents from East Africa are seemingly at higher risk of 'more severe' autism than other groups (see here and see here).Based on data from "Western Australian state registries" (yet again), researchers set about comparing autism prevalence with and without intellectual (learning) disability as a function of various variables: race (ethnicity), immigrant status and region of birth of mothers of children. The authors really drilled down into the details on immigrants according to their birth region in this study.Results: from a study sample of over 130,000 mothers, some 1000 had a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) together with intellectual disability (ID) and nearly 350 with a child with autism without ID. The figures equated to something like 0.7% of the total cohort with a child with autism and ID and 0.2% of the cohort with a child diagnosed with autism but not with ID. Authors also indicated that: "mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability were more likely to be 40 years or more."Then to some important data: "After adjustment for demographic factors and compared to nonimmigrant women, immigrant women were less likely to have a child diagnosed with either autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability." This finding covered various geographic locations from which migrant mums came together with their race/ethnicity. That is however, aside from mothers from East Africa, and that "three-fold higher odds of having a child identified with autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability." Authors added that "all autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in the children of Black mothers were of autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability" and that all cases "were from mothers born in East Africa, with four born in Ethiopia and one each from Eritrea, Kenya, and Somalia."The authors acknowledge that their categorisations based on race/ethnicity and migration status led to some quite small group numbers being analysed (including not including any participants from other parts of Africa outside of East Africa). They also drew attention to the fact that their participant group of children with autism but without ID was quite a bit smaller than would be typically expected in comparison to the group with autism and ID (see here).But the results do paint an interesting picture and particularly with regards to those from East Africa, where they are in line with what has been previously discussed in the peer-reviewed and lay literature. The question of 'why' is probably going to be a complicated one as the authors suggested that "at least some of this difference could be the result of various factors leading to higher ascertainment of autism spectrum disorder in this group of children." They also qualify that statement by saying that they "cannot rule out the possibility of some biological risk factor, such as nutrition or stress" being involved which opens up a role for variables such as vitamin D exposure for example (see here).Personally, I think there are a few additional research directions that might need to be considered, primary among them is to have a little more detail on what autism prevalence might specifically look like in various areas of East Africa and Africa in general. I know this is a bit of a difficult ask in places where resources are really quite scarce, cultures are different (see here) and practical efforts for population screening are hindered by politics and the like. Until however we have such data, alongside some other important social and biological information, science doesn't have any 'baseline' measures on which to compare and contrast when it comes to families emigrating from such places and the possible reasons/changes that could be involved in this process and pertinent to offspring autism risk.----------[1] Fairthorne J. et al. Maternal Race-Ethnicity, Immigrant Status, Country of Birth, and the Odds of a Child With Autism. Child Neurol Open. 2017 Jan 12;4:2329048X16688125.----------Fairthorne J, de Klerk N, Leonard HM, Schieve LA, & Yeargin-Allsopp M (2017). Maternal Race-Ethnicity, Immigrant Status, Country of Birth, and the Odds of a Child With Autism. Child neurology open, 4 PMID: 28503625... Read more »

  • May 31, 2017
  • 05:30 AM
  • 953 views

Self-Reported Concussion Details Takes a Hit with High School Athletes

by Catherine E Lewis in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

More targeted concussion education for high school athletes with a history of concussion is needed. Athletes with more prior concussions, especially negative experiences, are less likely to disclose symptoms, more likely to play with symptoms, and have poorer attitudes regarding concussion reporting.... Read more »

  • May 30, 2017
  • 08:29 PM
  • 1,001 views

International students and language: opportunity or threat?

by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move

With recent news on the number of international students in Australia reaching a new high and the 19.4 billion-dollar revenue...... Read more »

  • May 30, 2017
  • 08:22 PM
  • 977 views

Kinematic and Kinetic Risk Factors for Running Injury

by Craig Payne in Running Research Junkie

Kinematic and Kinetic Risk Factors for Running Injury... Read more »

  • May 30, 2017
  • 04:57 AM
  • 1,022 views

Healthcare use before, during and after a diagnosis of CFS/ME

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Adults and children with CFS/ME [chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis] have greater health care needs than the rest of the population for at least ten years before their diagnosis, and these higher levels of health care resource use continue for at least ten years after diagnosis."So concluded the study published by Simon Collin and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who once again (see here) relied on data derived from the "Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) GP practices in the UK" to further explore aspects of the debilitating condition(s) headed under the banner of CFS/ME.Using a case-control design, researchers set out to "investigate long-term patterns in health care resource use before and after a diagnosis of CFS/ME." They had a hypothesis in mind before any study results were produced in that "health care resource use would increase from around the time of patient-reported onset of illness... until diagnosis" but "did not have a prior hypothesis about post-diagnosis health care resource use, although this might be expected to fall if diagnosis led to referral and effective treatment."Their results based on "916 child (age <18 years) and 6710 adult patients" suggested a few things: (i) "a steep drop in resource use immediately after diagnosis was followed by sustained higher levels of health care resource use for at least ten years after diagnosis", (ii) adults and children with CFS/ME tended to have greater healthcare resource use "for at least ten years before the diagnosis", and (iii) allied to that last point: "there were steep increases in use of health care resources 2–4 years before diagnosis in adults and 1–2 years before diagnosis in children." Healthcare resource use, by the way, was defined as including several things including: "GP [general practitioner] consultations, tests, prescriptions, and referrals" (with certain caveats).Although carrying an important message that elevated healthcare resource use is associated with a diagnosis of CFS/ME (bearing in mind the limitations of the CPRD when it comes to CFS/ME), one has to be quite careful with how facets of the Collin data are handled. I say this specifically on the basis that healthcare use 'at least ten years before diagnosis' was found to be elevated for those with CFS/ME and how authors talk about this conflicting with "patients reporting that they were fit and well prior to the onset of their illness." You can perhaps see how this data *could* be used by some to 'challenge' patients with reference to their reliability in reporting their illness onset for example and/or the idea that "behaviour traits such as disease conviction and somatic concern could not be discounted as aetiological factors." This in the context that the biopsychosocial model of CFS/ME is still prevalent in some quarters (see here) particularly those linked to healthcare interactions.Thankfully the authors offer a couple of other potentially important reasons to account for their results based on (a) "people may simply have had CFS/ME for a very long time" and/or (b) "it is possible that people who develop CFS/ME have pre-existing risk factors which lead to higher rates of health care resource use." Indeed, on that second point, one might even argue that specific pre-existing medical complaints could/would/might predispose someone to developing CFS/ME (see here) particularly with all the talk about immune function potentially being a facet of some CFS/ME for example (see here). In this context, we perhaps need to know a little more about the genetics potentially important to CFS/ME, bearing in mind the emerging theme that condition-specific genes are not just genes specific to any one condition (see here for example).Accepting also that authors were "unable to determine from our data whether the type of health care resource use by patients changes following diagnosis" the finding that healthcare use continues to be fairly high after diagnosis is a worrying sign. It suggests that modern medicine might not be particularly good at treating/managing those with CFS/ME (and their associated conditions) in the longer term based on current best practice. I could be a little bit cynical on this point in relation to how current 'best practice' for managing/treating CFS/ME involves some rather controversial techniques which could be construed as 'failing' in the context of these results. Indeed, I will refer you to a quote by Jonathan Edwards [2] talking about the on-going controversy in CFS/ME circles in relation to how current best practice might not be as successful as many might think: "If they are still ill, presumably these approaches have failed and the priority is to find something more effective." Indeed.----------[1] Collin SM. et al. Health care resource use by patients before and after a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME): a clinical practice research datalink study. BMC Fam Pract. 2017 May 5;18(1):60.[2] Edwards J. PACE team response shows a disregard for the principles of science. 2017. J Health Psychology. March 28.----------Collin, S., Bakken, I., Nazareth, I., Crawley, E., & White, P. (2017). Health care resource use by patients before and after a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME): a clinical practice research datalink study BMC Family Practice, 18 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12875-017-0635-z... Read more »

  • May 29, 2017
  • 11:34 AM
  • 941 views

Study suggests computational model to predict air pollution after a rocket launching

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective | Press Releases

The study suggests a new approach to predict major atmospheric pollutants emissions after a Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) launching, using a weather/air quality computational model. Propellant combustion may release a huge amount of hydrogen chloride (HCl), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and particulate matter, posing risk to the environment. … Read More →... Read more »

  • May 29, 2017
  • 08:02 AM
  • 920 views

Witness preparation: To vocal fry or not to vocal  fry?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

If you are young(er) you likely know precisely what vocal fry means and if you are old(er)—probably not so much. It is a cultural phenomenon seen primarily (but not only) in young(er) women as described at the Mental Floss website: “Vocal fry describes a specific sound quality caused by the movement of the vocal folds. […]... Read more »

  • May 29, 2017
  • 05:08 AM
  • 919 views

Assisted reproductive technology and risk of offspring autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our study indicated that the use of ART [assisted reproductive technology] may [be] associated with higher risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in the offspring. However, further prospective, large, and high-quality studies are still required."So said the results of the meta-analysis published by Liang Lui and colleagues [1] (open-access) surveying the peer-reviewed research literature - "11 records (3 cohort studies and 8 case-control studies)" - between 2006 and 2015. ART covers a variety of techniques "to achieve pregnancy and live birth" most notably including IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and artificial insemination. Some, but not all, of the studies included for review suggested an *association* between ART use and enhanced risk of offspring autism particularly in "European and Asian populations." The authors were however unable to tease apart which specific ART(s) might be associated with a higher risk than others.This is not the first time that this topic has been covered on this blog (see here). On that previous occasion I intimated that the source of any risk from ART on offspring autism was not yet identified and, in some cases, other birth factors might exert some effect. In short, it's more complicated than paper titles can transmit.Does my opinion change as a result of these meta-analysed findings? Well, not really. I appreciate the findings reported by Lui and colleagues but I still think other birth factors might come into play outside of just ART exerting a primary effect. Not least is the possibility that issues affecting fertility in the first place might be particularly relevant among other confounders. I echo the sentiments of the authors that more research might be required in this area but with the various stresses and strains being placed on autism research resources these days, I'm not inclined to suggest that this area should necessarily be top of this list of priorities. Sorry.----------[1] Liu L. et al. Association between assisted reproductive technology and the risk of autism spectrum disorders in the offspring: a meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 7;7:46207.----------Liu L, Gao J, He X, Cai Y, Wang L, & Fan X (2017). Association between assisted reproductive technology and the risk of autism spectrum disorders in the offspring: a meta-analysis. Scientific reports, 7 PMID: 28387368... Read more »

  • May 28, 2017
  • 10:36 AM
  • 1,045 views

Unattractive People Are Seen As Better Scientists

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Good looking, sociable people don't make good scientists, according to popular stereotypes.

This is one of the findings of an interesting new study of how scientists are perceived, from British researchers Ana I. Gheorghiu and colleagues.


Gheorghiu et al. took 616 pictures of scientists, which they downloaded from the faculty pages at various universities. They gave the portraits to two sets of raters. The first group were asked to rate the attractiveness of the portraits and to say whet... Read more »

Gheorghiu AI, Callan MJ, & Skylark WJ. (2017) Facial appearance affects science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 28533389  

  • May 28, 2017
  • 08:39 AM
  • 1,022 views

How Men Age, a book review

by Farid Pazhoohi in Epistemophil

Nothing would be more interesting than reading a book on men aging by the author who is an expert on comparative male life histories. Richard G. Bribiescas is a Professor of Anthropology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and has conducted research in evolutionary biology and endocrinology of human, as well as comparative studies […]... Read more »

Pazhoohi, F. (2017) Book Review: How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals about Male Health and Mortality. Frontiers in Psychology. info:/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00894

  • May 27, 2017
  • 04:59 AM
  • 987 views

Low dose suramin and autism: a small RCT with potentially big results

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Low dose' has been a feature of my autism research reading this week; first starting with the results from Dan Quintana and colleagues [1] talking about some important effects following intranasal delivery of low dose oxytocin and then moving on to the primary reason for this entry with results from Robert Naviaux and colleagues [2] (open-access) continuing a research theme looking at suramin and autism (see here for some background).For those interested in the oxytocin-autism research base, I can recommend following Dr Quintana on Twitter (find him here).In relation to the Naviaux findings  - the "Suramin Autism Treatment-1 (SAT-1) trial" - well, they are open-access but I want to provide some overview and then a little bit of discussion. I might add that this research team are making research waves in several areas of medical science as per their research foray into chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) recently (see here). Such 'metabolomic' research is pertinent to their autism research too.This time around as on previous research occasions, the focus was on suramin - the "century-old sleeping sickness drug" - and, as far as I can see, the first time said drug has been tested experimentally with children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The accompanying ClinicalTrials.gov trial entry is here.As per the title to this blog entry, this was a small trial including only 10 participants, all male, aged between 5-14 years old. This was a randomised-controlled trial (RCT) with a placebo element to it too, so half of the participants got suramin - "a single, intravenous infusion of suramin (20 mg/kg)" - and half got saline as a control. Alongside looking at behaviour and functioning, researchers also took blood and urine samples "for safety and toxicity monitoring at 5 times throughout the study." This was accompanied by quite a bit of effort to look at the possibility of adverse events related to suramin or placebo administration.Results: "A single intravenous dose of suramin was associated with improved scores for language, social interaction, and decreased restricted or repetitive behaviors measured by ADOS, ABC, ATEC, and CGI scores. None of these improvements occurred in the five children who received placebo." The authors also do the right thing by stating: "The generalizability of these findings is unknown." I'm particularly impressed that the ATEC gets a showing given the rise and rise of this autism research tool (see here) in various placebo-controlled contexts (see here).In relation to the safety aspect to suramin, well, it seemed to do alright. We are told that: "Extensive monitoring revealed no serious toxicities" so one can assume that the 'first, do no harm' tenet was upheld in this trial. But there was one important side-effect noted: "Five children who received suramin developed a self-limited, evanescent, asymptomatic, fine macular, patchy, morbilliform rash over 1–20% of their body." The rash was short-lived and did not require specific attention/intervention but it's worthwhile noting it especially when nothing similar was reported in the placebo group.Going back to the mention of this research group delving into CFS with metabolomics in mind, so similar results are reported on the basis of examination of plasma samples from participants. Various biological pathways seemed to be affected by the infusion of suramin, not least "the importance of the cell danger response (CDR) [3]... and purinergic signaling." Interestingly, authors also noted effects in relation to "1-carbon, folate, methionine, and cysteine metabolism" too, potentially linked to other findings independently reported in relation to autism (see here for example).Reiterating again that this was a small study (albeit using the gold-standard in scientific methodologies) these results are rather interesting and potentially quite important. They most definitely point to the requirement for further large-scale studies to look at any effects in a larger participant group and to 'zoom in' on potential best-responders to this type of intervention. I end with an important conclusion from the authors who again, have not over-stated their findings:"Suramin is not approved for the treatment of autism. Like many intravenous drugs, when administered improperly by untrained personnel, at the wrong dose and schedule, without careful measurement of drug levels and monitoring for toxicity, suramin can cause harm. Careful clinical trials will be needed over several years at several sites to learn how to use low-dose suramin safely in autism, and to identify drug–drug interactions and rare side effects that cannot currently be predicted. We strongly caution against the unauthorized use of suramin."----------[1] Quintana DS. et al. Dose-dependent social-cognitive effects of intranasal oxytocin delivered with novel Breath Powered device in adults with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind crossover trial. Transl Psychiatry. 2017 May 23;7(5):e1136.[2] Naviaux RK. et al. Low-dose suramin in autism spectrum disorder: a small, phase I/II, randomized clinical trial. Annals of Clinical & Translational Neurology. 2017. 26 May.[3] Naviaux RK. Metabolic features of the cell danger response. Mitochondrion. 2014; 16: 7-17.----------Naviaux, R., Curtis, B., Li, K., Naviaux, J., Bright, A., Reiner, G., Westerfield, M., Goh, S., Alaynick, W., Wang, L., Capparelli, E., Adams, C., Sun, J., Jain, S., He, F., Arellano, D., Mash, L., Chukoskie, L., Lincoln, A., & Townsend, J. (2017). Low-dose suramin in autism spectrum disorder: a small, phase I/II, randomized clinical trial Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology DOI: 10.1002/acn3.424... Read more »

Naviaux, R., Curtis, B., Li, K., Naviaux, J., Bright, A., Reiner, G., Westerfield, M., Goh, S., Alaynick, W., Wang, L.... (2017) Low-dose suramin in autism spectrum disorder: a small, phase I/II, randomized clinical trial. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. DOI: 10.1002/acn3.424  

  • May 26, 2017
  • 01:14 PM
  • 977 views

How to find articles in open access – tips from my favorite nerd

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

Scholarly communication available online, whether in journals or repositories, adds up to millions, and this figure grows every year. What browser efficient tools are available to researchers, librarians, students, and the like to find the open-access versions of the articles that interest them? … Read More →... Read more »

  • May 26, 2017
  • 12:42 PM
  • 1,016 views

Adolescent Brain Development

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Functional magnetic resonance imaging yields improvement in our understanding of brain development.A recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania is a good example. This study examined the relationship between brain connectivity and the development of cognitive executive function.The researchers imaged a group of 882 subjects between the ages of 8 and 22.Brain connectivity patterns were compared with a neurocognitive assessment of executive function. Executive function increases with age throughout adolescence and early adulthood.The key findings from the study included the following items:Brain network modules become increasingly segregated with adolescent brain developmentThis segregation increases brain network efficiencyThis process of development mediates the improvement in brain executive functionThe authors note in their discussion that"These findings may be relevant for understanding how individual differences in brain development associate with risk-taking behaviors, which are linked to failures of executive function, and are a major source of morbidity and mortality in adolescence."This is an important study the advances our understanding of brain changes during adolescence. Interested readers can access the free full manuscript by clicking on the PMID link in the citation below.Follow me by clicking:TwitterInstagramFacebookImage of brain corpus callosum is a screen shot from my iPad of the app 3D Brain.Graham L. Baum, Rastko Ciric, David R. Roalf, Richard F. Betzel, Tyler M. Moore, Russel T. Shinohara, Ari E. Kahn, Megan Quarmley, Philip A. Cook, Mark A. Elliot, Kosha Ruparel, Raquel E. Gur, Ruben C. Gur, Danielle S. Bassett, & Theodore D. Satterthwaite (2016). Modular Segregation of Structural Brain Networks Supports the Development of Executive Function in Youth Current Biology arXiv: 1608.03619v1... Read more »

Graham L. Baum, Rastko Ciric, David R. Roalf, Richard F. Betzel, Tyler M. Moore, Russel T. Shinohara, Ari E. Kahn, Megan Quarmley, Philip A. Cook, Mark A. Elliot.... (2016) Modular Segregation of Structural Brain Networks Supports the Development of Executive Function in Youth. Current Biology. arXiv: 1608.03619v1

  • May 26, 2017
  • 12:34 PM
  • 1,042 views

The Ugliness Penalty: Does It Literally Pay to Be Pretty?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

There are economic studies that show that attractive people earn more money and, conversely, unattractive earn less money. I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard something along those lines before, but I had no idea they were called the “beauty premium” and the “ugliness penalty.” How wonderful and sad at the same time. But while these seem like pretty commonplace ideas, there is no real evidence as to why they exist. A new paper published in the Journal of Business and Psychology tested three of the leading explanations of the existence or the beauty premium and ugliness penalty: discrimination, self-election, and individual differences. To do this, the researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. This is a nationally representative sample that includes measurements of physical attractiveness (5-point scale) at four time points to the age of 29. People were placed into 5 categories based on physical attractiveness, from very attractive to very unattractive. They statistically compared every combination they could think of and came up with many tables full of tiny numbers, as well as some interesting results.DiscriminationIt is what it sounds like: ugly people are discriminated against and paid less. And it isn’t just from employers, it can also be from co-workers, customers, or clients that prefer to work with or do business with pretty people. Or it could be a combination, like an employer that hires someone pretty because they know that others will respond to them better. Because there is a monotonically positive association between attractiveness and earnings (an overly academic way of saying that one is linked to the other), it can be tested.The results painted a somewhat different picture than you might expect. There was some evidence of a beauty premium in that pretty people earned more than average looking people. However, the researchers found that attractiveness and earnings were not at all monotonic. In fact, ugly people earned more than both average and attractive people, with “very unattractive” people winning out in most cases. So no ugliness penalty and no discrimination there. Good, we don’t like discrimination. Rather, the underlying productivity of workers as measured by their intelligence and education accounted for the associations observed. Basically, ugly people were smarter (and yes, IQ was a variable).Self-ElectionThis occurs in the absence of discrimination. A person self-sorts themselves into an attractiveness group based on how attractive they perceive themselves to be and may choose their occupation accordingly. If a pretty person chooses an occupation that has higher earnings (or vice versa), then there is a positive association between attractiveness and earnings both across and within occupations.Once again, the results were unexpected. The self-selection hypothesis was refuted. Ugly people earned more than pretty people. In fact, very unattractive people earned more than both regular unattractive and average looking people. This is where the researchers start calling this effect “the ugliness premium.” Good term. Individual DifferencesThis one posits that a pretty and ugly people are genuinely different. Try looking at it in the context of evolutionary biology. Physical attractiveness is based on facial symmetry, averageness, and secondary sexual characteristics, which all signal genetic and developmental health. Many traits can be quantified very accurately with today’s computers. There are standards of beauty both within a single culture and across all cultures. Studies have also shown that attractive children receive more positive feedback from interpersonal interactions, making them more likely to develop an extraverted personality. If health, intelligence, and personality, along with other measures of productivity, are statistically controlled then attractiveness should be able to be compared to earnings.Again, there was absolutely no evidence for either the beauty premium or the ugliness penalty. Rather, there was some support for the ugliness premium. Now keep in mind, this was not as much a this-higher-than-that, but more of a this-different-from-that type of hypothesis. So there actually is strong support that there are differences. There was a significantly positive effect of health and intelligence on earnings. Also, the “Big Five” personality factors – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (or OCEAN…cute) – were significantly correlated with physical attractiveness. Pretty people were more OCEA and less N. This may be why looks appear to have an effect on earnings.Overall, not what you thought it would be, huh? Me either. The importance of intelligence and education as it correlates with attractiveness would be an interesting next step. I wonder if it reflects the time at which these data were taken. We are seeing the Rise of the Nerds, where intelligence is outpacing beauty in terms of success. Had they analyzed data from another decade, would the ugliness penalty find support?Kanazawa, S., & Still, M. (2017). Is There Really a Beauty Premium or an Ugliness Penalty on Earnings? Journal of Business and Psychology DOI: 10.1007/s10869-017-9489-6image via Linked4Success... Read more »

  • May 26, 2017
  • 08:02 AM
  • 978 views

Cassandra’s Regret: The Psychology of Not Wanting to  Know

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Do you want to know the future? You may want to say it all depends on which aspects of your future. Typically, while we seek information routinely to make decisions in our day-to-day lives, we don’t always want to know for sure what will happen in our futures. These researchers remind us about the story […]... Read more »

Gigerenzer G, & Garcia-Retamero R. (2017) Cassandra's regret: The psychology of not wanting to know. Psychological Review, 124(2), 179-196. PMID: 28221086  

  • May 26, 2017
  • 06:08 AM
  • 930 views

The PI3K/mTOR inhibitor GSK2126458 is effective for treating TSC solid renal tumours

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

Tuberous sclerosis (TSC) is an inherited tumour syndrome that shares clinical similarities with Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome. It is caused by mutations in TSC1 or TSC2 that lead to aberrant activation of mTOR, affecting multiple organs, including the kidney and lung. In the kidney, lesions such as multiple renal cysts and renal cell carcinoma (RCC) can occur. Tumour reduction in TSC patients after treatment with rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR, is partial and reversible probably due to feedback activation of Akt. In their new study, Narov et al. (2017) test the efficacy of GSK2126458, an inhibitor of PI3K/mTOR, in comparison to rapamycin, for treatment of renal tumours in genetically engineered Tsc2 /- mice, that spontaneously develop various lesions in the kidneys. Both GSK2126458 and rapamycin caused significant reduction in number and size of solid renal tumours. GSK2126458 inhibited both PI3K and mTOR while rapamycin exerted stronger inhibitory effect on mTORC1 in renal tumours. Both GSK2126458 and rapamycin suppressed proliferation of tumour cells. However, GSK2126458 increased apoptosis of solid tumours but rapamycin did not. Further investigations are needed to test whether rapamycin in combination with GSK2126458 can improve anti-tumour therapy.... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit http://selfregulationinstitute.org/.