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  • December 2, 2016
  • 03:18 AM
  • 40 views

The prebiotic galactooligosaccharide (B-GOS) and autism: just add to poo(p)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yes, it is childish but...With all the continued chatter on a possible role for the collected gut microbiota - those wee beasties that inhabit our deepest, darkest recesses - in relation to some autism (see here for example), the paper by Roberta Grimaldi and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) provides yet more potentially important information.So, poo(p) samples were the starring material in the paper - "obtained from three non-autistic children and three autistic child donors"- and sp........ Read more »

  • December 1, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 54 views

Dietary fibre deficiency and gut barrier integrity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Dietary fiber deprivation, together with a fiber-deprived, mucus-eroding microbiota, promotes greater epithelial access and lethal colitis by the mucosal pathogen, Citrobacter rodentium."So said the findings reported by Mahesh Desai and colleagues [1] meriting an editorial in the publishing journal [2] as the sentiments of 'eating your greens' applies to some rather interesting [mouse] findings.Fibre (UK spelling) comes in various different forms typically categorised as soluble and insoluble d........ Read more »

Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, Kamada N, Hickey CA, Wolter M, Pudlo NA, Kitamoto S, Terrapon N, Muller A.... (2016) A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell, 167(5), 1339-2147483647. PMID: 27863247  

  • November 30, 2016
  • 10:30 AM
  • 68 views

Playtime After Training Improves a Dog's Memory

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Making time for play immediately after a dog training session improves the dog’s memory.New research by Nadja Affenzeller (University of Lincoln) et al investigates whether play following learning leads to better performance the next day. The scientists wanted to know whether this effect, previously found in humans, would also apply to dogs.In people, it is thought that the hormonal response during positive arousal acts on parts of the brain called the hippocampus and amygdala and leads to........ Read more »

  • November 30, 2016
  • 03:10 AM
  • 63 views

Restless leg syndrome in parents of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Maureen Russell and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today and the observation that: "Biological caregivers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] demonstrated a high prevalence of RLS [Restless Legs Syndrome] symptoms and poorer mental health."OK, I know some people might be asking 'just what is Restless Legs Syndrome'? It is a recognised condition complete with 'disease' title (Willis-Ekbom disease). Symptoms, as the name suggests, centre ........ Read more »

Russell M, Baldwin C, McClain D, Matthews N, Smith C, & Quan SF. (2016) Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in Biological Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. PMID: 27855729  

  • November 29, 2016
  • 05:24 AM
  • 80 views

Publication bias and autism research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of the paper by Konstantin Mechler and colleagues - "Defining the hidden evidence in autism research. Forty per cent of rigorously designed clinical trials remain unpublished - a cross-sectional analysis" [1] - provides some discussion today. Drawing on the ideas that publication bias and/or the so-called 'file-drawer problem' - terms that refer to the non-publication of study results potentially skewing the collected scientific opinion in a particular area - might also exten........ Read more »

  • November 28, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 37 views

It’s late in 2016 and we still neither like nor trust atheists

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We’ve written about atheists here (and how unpopular they are in North America) a number of times. The first time was in 2010 when we wrote an article in The Jury Expert because we were so taken aback by the level of vitriol we’d seen in a blog post describing a new research article on […]

Related posts:
Everything you ever wanted to know about atheists  (the 2016 update)
An update on disrupting suspicion of atheists
Everyone knows you just can’t trust an atheist!


... Read more »

  • November 28, 2016
  • 03:23 AM
  • 102 views

On moving off the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Nahit Motavalli Mukaddes and colleagues [1] provides some important, if small-scale, information when it comes to that still controversial term - optimal outcome - with the diagnosis of autism in mind. Optimal outcome basically refers to a particular 'type' of autism whereby following a definite diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a later re-evaluation of signs and symptoms reveals that diagnostic thresholds are subsequently not reached and/or exceeded a........ Read more »

  • November 26, 2016
  • 04:33 AM
  • 113 views

Acetylation focus over methylation in autism epigenetics?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Wenjie Sun and colleagues [1] (open-access) provides the blogging fodder for today's post and although based on the science of epigenetics, the usual suspect - DNA methylation - gives way to another concept: histone acetylation with autism in mind. Before heading into the paper myself, I'll draw your attention to some other write-ups of the study including a hat-tip to Jeff Craig and his piece on the topic (see here).So histone acetylation... I've covered the subject ........ Read more »

Sun, W., Poschmann, J., Cruz-Herrera del Rosario, R., Parikshak, N., Hajan, H., Kumar, V., Ramasamy, R., Belgard, T., Elanggovan, B., Wong, C.... (2016) Histone Acetylome-wide Association Study of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cell, 167(5), 1385-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.031  

  • November 25, 2016
  • 02:49 AM
  • 134 views

Screening for coeliac disease in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The overall CD [coeliac disease or celiac disease depending on where you live] prevalence was 2.62%, which is statistically significant higher to that reported in the Italian paediatric population... If replicated, these data suggest the importance of regular screening for CD in young patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Those were some of the findings/conclusions reported in the paper by Sara Calderoni and colleagues [1] (open-access) and with them, some ........ Read more »

Calderoni, S., Santocchi, E., Del Bianco, T., Brunori, E., Caponi, L., Paolicchi, A., Fulceri, F., Prosperi, M., Narzisi, A., Cosenza, A.... (2016) Serological screening for Celiac Disease in 382 pre-schoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 42(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13052-016-0308-x  

  • November 24, 2016
  • 04:48 AM
  • 142 views

Breastfeeding and autism (or autistic traits) continued?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"After adjustment for several confounders, longer duration of breastfeeding was independently associated with better cognitive development and with fewer autistic traits."So said the paper by Olivier Boucher and colleagues [1] communicating findings based on the examination of data from "the INMA Project, a Spanish multicenter birth-cohort study" (an initiative that has cropped up on this blog before).Including over 1300 children who were subject to a battery of psychometric and behavioural asse........ Read more »

Boucher O, Julvez J, Guxens M, Arranz E, Ibarluzea J, Sánchez de Miguel M, Fernández-Somoano A, Tardon A, Rebagliato M, Garcia-Esteban R.... (2016) Association between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development, autistic traits and ADHD symptoms: a multicenter study in Spain. Pediatric research. PMID: 27846197  

  • November 23, 2016
  • 10:30 AM
  • 143 views

Pets May Help Children Learn About Animal Welfare

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Children’s beliefs about animal welfare and sentience are linked to their own experiences with animals.Surprisingly little is known about children’s beliefs and knowledge about animals. Yet this information could help to improve humane education programs for children. Two recent studies begin to fill this gap, with recommendations for how humane education is taught.We know from previous research that even very young children like animals, and that children with pets are more likely to attrib........ Read more »

  • November 23, 2016
  • 04:29 AM
  • 149 views

ADHD symptoms not methylphenidate treatment might prime for psychotic events

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study does not support the hypothesis that MPH [methylphenidate] increases risk of incident psychotic events. It does indicate an increased risk of psychotic events before the first prescription of MPH, which may be because of an association between psychotic events and the behavioural and attentional symptoms that led to psychiatric assessment and initiation of MPH treatment."The results published by Man and colleagues [1] (open-access) sit right with me. I say that on the basis........ Read more »

Man, K., Coghill, D., Chan, E., Lau, W., Hollis, C., Liddle, E., Banaschewski, T., McCarthy, S., Neubert, A., Sayal, K.... (2016) Methylphenidate and the risk of psychotic disorders and hallucinations in children and adolescents in a large health system. Translational Psychiatry, 6(11). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.216  

  • November 22, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 173 views

Probiotics and 'subclincial' psychological symptoms: meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm gonna be fairly brief today and draw your attention to yet another systematic review and meta-analysis this time looking at how "probiotic supplementation can have a positive effect on mood and psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety." [1] Probiotics by the way, include a variety of bacteria and related lifeforms that are thought to confer some health advantage.The review/re-analysis by Jennifer McKean and colleagues found 7 studies on this topic in the peer-reviewed resea........ Read more »

  • November 21, 2016
  • 11:55 AM
  • 162 views

How did Gall Identify his 27 Faculties?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic





Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a founding father of phrenology


Phrenology was the pseudoscience of identifying a person's character and mental abilities on the basis of skull morphology (“bumps on the head”). The enterprise was based on four assumptions (Gross, 2009):

intellectual abilities and personality traits are differentially developed in each individual
these abilities and traits

... Read more »

  • November 21, 2016
  • 04:48 AM
  • 179 views

On C-reactive protein and bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"CRP [C-reactive protein] concentrations are increased in bipolar disorder regardless of mood state, but are higher during mania than in depression and euthymia, suggesting an increased inflammatory burden in mania."So said the systematic review and meta-analysis published by Brisa Fernandes and colleagues [1] who surveyed the peer-reviewed literature on the topic of "measured serum and plasma CRP concentrations in adult patients with bipolar disorder (as defined by DSM-IV-TR) and........ Read more »

Fernandes BS, Steiner J, Molendijk ML, Dodd S, Nardin P, Gonçalves CA, Jacka F, Köhler CA, Karmakar C, Carvalho AF.... (2016) C-reactive protein concentrations across the mood spectrum in bipolar disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The lancet. Psychiatry. PMID: 27838212  

  • November 19, 2016
  • 04:13 AM
  • 206 views

Low gestational age is associated with risk for autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The results published by Robert Joseph and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today, observing that as part of the ELGAN (Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborns) Research Study, gestational age might matter when it comes to offspring risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Gestational age is a measure of how far along a pregnancy is but in the context of the Joseph study refers to premature birth or those "born at least 3 months early." Researchers included data for nearly 1000........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2016
  • 11:00 AM
  • 253 views

Imagine: Listening to Songs Which Make Us More Generous

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

It does not come as a surprise that background music in a café helps create the ambience and affects how much customers enjoy sipping their cappuccinos. But recent research suggests that the choice of lyrics can even impact the social behavior of customers. The researcher Nicolas Ruth and his colleagues from the University of Würzburg (Bavaria, Germany) assembled a playlist of 18 songs with pro-social lyrics which they had curated by surveying 74 participants in an online questionnaire as to w........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2016
  • 04:40 AM
  • 175 views

Acute psychosis and urinary tract infection (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Consider this short blog post an extension of some previous discussions (see here and see here) on a rather peculiar 'association' between urinary tract infections (UTIs) and psychosis. UTIs basically refer to an infection in any part of the urinary system (kidneys, bladder, etc) typically treated with antibiotics. Psychosis is a state that causes a person to perceive or interpret things around them in an atypical way, usually accompanied by delusions or hallucinations. For a while now........ Read more »

  • November 17, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 169 views

Caring for the carer: what the science suggests

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Papers such as the one published by Nikko Da Paz & Jan Wallander [1] I think represent one of the most important areas of autism research and practice when it comes to the practical translation of science to real-life. Tackling a very important topic - caring for the carers - the authors provide a "narrative review" of the peer-reviewed science literature looking at how "treatments that directly target parents' psychological well-being" in the context of autism are doing so far.Personally, I........ Read more »

  • November 16, 2016
  • 01:30 PM
  • 210 views

If You Want to Be Happy, Quit Facebook?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A remarkable paper claims that staying off Facebook for a week could make you happier: The Facebook Experiment, by Morten Tromholt of Denmark.





What makes this study so interesting is that it was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and so was able, at least in theory, to determine whether quitting Facebook actually causes changes in well-being. Previously, there has been lots of research reporting correlations between social network use and happiness, but correlation isn't causation.
... Read more »

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