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  • January 24, 2015
  • 01:39 PM
  • 37 views

Lucid dreaming: The similarities between dreaming and wakefulness

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

To control one’s dreams and to live out there what is impossible in real life — a truly tempting idea. Some people — so-called lucid dreamers — can do this. Researchers have discovered that the brain area which enables self-reflection is larger in lucid dreamers. Thus, lucid dreamers are possibly also more self-reflecting when they are awake.... Read more »

Filevich E, Dresler M, Brick TR, & Kühn S. (2015) Metacognitive mechanisms underlying lucid dreaming. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 35(3), 1082-8. PMID: 25609624  

  • January 24, 2015
  • 05:34 AM
  • 34 views

Hartnup disease in coeliac disease: lessons for 'some' autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Thomas Ciecierega and colleagues [1] (open-access) talking about 'refractory' coeliac disease (CD) - a lack of, or diminished response to a gluten-free diet (the primary management option for CD) - and the subsequent diagnosis of Hartnup disease in a young girl is fodder for today's brief post.I already had a big bowl of curly-toed weirdo for breakfast.Describing how authors first diagnosed her with CD but witnessed "only mild clinical and laboratory improvement"........ Read more »

  • January 23, 2015
  • 07:16 PM
  • 55 views

Mothers don’t speak clearly to their babies

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

People have a distinctive way of talking to babies and small children: We speak more slowly, using a sing-song voice, and tend to use cutesy words like "tummy". While we might be inclined to think that we talk this way because it is easier for children to understand, new research suggests that, surprisingly, mothers may actually speak less clearly to their infants than they do to adults.... Read more »

Andrew Martin, Thomas Schatz, Maarten Versteegh, Kouki Miyazawa, Reiko Mazuka, Emmanuel Dupoux, and Alejandrina Cristia. (2015) Kouki Miyazawa, Reiko Mazuka, Emmanuel Dupoux, and Alejandrina Cristia. Mothers Speak Less Clearly to Infants Than to Adults: A Comprehensive Test of the Hyperarticulation Hypothesis. Psychological Science. info:/10.1177/0956797614562453

  • January 23, 2015
  • 06:30 AM
  • 49 views

NAC risperidone = decreased irritability in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It's been a while since I talked about NAC - N-acetylcysteine - on this blog with either autism or schizophrenia in mind (see here and see here respectively). Today I'm going to remedy that situation by bringing the paper by Nikoo and colleagues [1] to your attention, and their observation: "N-acetylcysteine can be considered as an adjuvant therapy for ADs [autistic disorders] with beneficial therapeutic outcomes." Adjuvant therapy by the way, refers to a sort of add-on therapy.We have........ Read more »

  • January 22, 2015
  • 05:50 PM
  • 119 views

Belief’s effect on biochemistry in cases of addiction

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Ever wonder what makes people susceptible to addiction? Think about it, some people can stop addictive painkillers without a problem and others, well others are not so lucky. So the big question is are there more than biophysical factors at play in addiction? A new study shows that cognitive beliefs play a significant role in a person’s neurological response to an addictive substance and that belief can diminish the neurological effects of an addictive drug.... Read more »

Gu, X., Lohrenz, T., Salas, R., Baldwin, P., Soltani, A., Kirk, U., Cinciripini, P., & Montague, P. (2015) Belief about nicotine selectively modulates value and reward prediction error signals in smokers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201416639. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1416639112  

  • January 22, 2015
  • 06:29 AM
  • 65 views

A Tribute to Neuroscience Luminary Dr. Allison Doupe

by Sick Papes in Sick Papes

We were devastated by the news that Dr. Allison Doupe, a much-loved neuroscientist at UCSF, passed away late last year, following a long battle with cancer, a struggle that she refused to let mitigate the exuberance and overflowing passion with which she carried out her research. A symposium in Allison’s honor is being held tomorrow as an opportunity to reflect upon her intellectual and personal life.... Read more »

  • January 22, 2015
  • 06:22 AM
  • 63 views

At-risk kids avoiding an autism diagnosis?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from Jonathan Green and colleagues [1] (open-access) discussing results based on a "two-site, two-arm assessor-blinded randomised controlled trial of families with an infant at familial high risk of autism aged 7–10 months, testing the adapted Video Interaction to Promote Positive Parenting (iBASIS-VIPP) versus no intervention" caught quite a few eyes recently. With accompanying media headlines such as 'Parents May Be Able to Lower Kids’ Autism Risk' you can imagine the interest cr........ Read more »

Jonathan Green, Tony Charman, Andrew Pickles, Ming W Wan, Mayada Elsabbagh, Vicky Slonims, Carol Taylor, Janet McNally, Rhonda Booth, Teodora Gliga.... (2015) Parent-mediated intervention versus no intervention for infants at high risk of autism: a parallel, single-blind, randomised trial. The Lancet Psychiatry. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00091-1

  • January 22, 2015
  • 04:45 AM
  • 59 views

Experts and autism screening triage

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whilst hopefully using the word 'triage' in the right way in the title of this post, I want to briefly talk today about the paper by Terisa Gabrielsen and colleagues [1] (full-text version here) and their observation that when it came to "brief but highly focused observations", a group of psychologists (well, two of them) "with toddler and autism expertise" missed over a third of cases of children who required additional examination/screening for autism or autistic traits.I am Meredith........ Read more »

Terisa P. Gabrielsen, Megan Farley, Leslie Speer, Michele Villalobos, Courtney N. Baker, & Judith Miller. (2015) Identifying Autism in a Brief Observation. Pediatrics. info:/10.1542/peds.2014-1428

  • January 21, 2015
  • 09:36 AM
  • 75 views

Then and now: Beepers versus iPhones  [and separation anxiety]

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Back in the early ‘90s, I had a job that required me to carry a beeper. The constant awareness that I was “on call” was a source of strain and led me to complain I was never really “off duty”. Flash forward to this century and I cannot imagine being without my smart phone. In […]

Related posts:
Head versus heart: Why it makes a difference
Does wondering about co-worker sexual preference impair concentration?
Be careful what you text!


... Read more »

  • January 21, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 81 views

Do Dogs Prefer Petting or Praise?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new study asks dogs to make the choice. Photo: Felix Rohan / Shutterstock Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE ... Read more »

Fukuzawa, M., & Hayashi, N. (2013) Comparison of 3 different reinforcements of learning in dogs (Canis familiaris). Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8(4), 221-224. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.04.067  

OKAMOTO, Y., OHTANI, N., UCHIYAMA, H., & OHTA, M. (2009) The Feeding Behavior of Dogs Correlates with their Responses to Commands. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 71(12), 1617-1621. DOI: 10.1292/jvms.001617  

  • January 21, 2015
  • 05:34 AM
  • 53 views

Features of autism in childhood epilepsy

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, features of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were common in children with epilepsy regardless of cognitive ability."Whoa, whoa, whoa! Sorry, Blondie. I don't do backstorySo said Colin Reily and colleagues [1] in their paper examining facets of autism in cases of childhood epilepsy. Suggesting also that the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) might be "a useful screening instrument in this population, and combining parent and teacher forms was opt........ Read more »

Reilly C, Atkinson P, Das KB, Chin RF, Aylett SE, Burch V, Gillberg C, Scott RC, & Neville BG. (2014) Features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in childhood epilepsy: A population-based study. Epilepsy , 86-92. PMID: 25529303  

  • January 20, 2015
  • 11:55 PM
  • 62 views

Truthiness of irrelevant detail in explanations from neuroscience to mathematical models

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Truthiness is the truth that comes from the gut, not books. Truthiness is preferring propositions that one wishes to be true over those known to be true. Truthiness is a wonderful commentary on the state of politics and media by a fictional character determined to be the best at feeling the news at us. Truthiness […]... Read more »

Weisberg, D.S., Keil, F.C., Goodstein, J., Rawson, E., & Gray, J.R. (2008) The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(3), 470-7. PMID: 18004955  

  • January 20, 2015
  • 09:45 AM
  • 58 views

Misconceptions Never Die. They Just Fade Away.

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

In a post on my precision principle, I made a fairly humdrum observation about a typical elementary-level geometry question:

Why can we so easily figure out the logics that lead to the incorrect answers? It seems like a silly question, but I mean it to be a serious one. At some level, this should be a bizarre ability, shouldn't it? . . . . The answer is that we can easily switch back and forth between different "versions" of the truth.... Read more »

  • January 20, 2015
  • 04:56 AM
  • 59 views

Autism and low vitamin D at birth

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Discussions about vitamin D (the 'sunshine' vitamin/hormone) and autism are not unfamiliar to this blog. Just last year (2014) I covered research talking about the possibility of a connection between vitamin D and [some] autism at least three times (see here and see here and see here), possibly more...but in my game, I'm the bad guy, and I live in the garbage.I wouldn't say that I'm an advocate for everything implied by the correlations being made between vitamin D levels and autism given that v........ Read more »

Elisabeth Fernell, Susanne Bejerot, Joakim Westerlund, Carmela Miniscalco, Henry Simila, Darryl Eyles, Christopher Gillberg, & Mats B Humble. (2015) Autism spectrum disorder and low vitamin D at birth: a sibling control study. Molecular Autism. info:/10.1186/2040-2392-6-3

  • January 19, 2015
  • 03:05 PM
  • 80 views

Fear, PTSD, and newly found neural circuits in the brain

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

People with anxiety disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often experience prolonged and exaggerated fearfulness. Now, an animal study suggests that this might involve disruption of a gradual shifting of brain circuitry for retrieving fear memories. Researchers have discovered in rats that an old fear memory is recalled by a separate brain pathway from the one originally used to recall it when it was fresh.... Read more »

Penzo MA, Robert V, Tucciarone J, De Bundel D, Wang M, Van Aeist L, Varvas M, Parada LF, Palmiter R, He M, Huang ZJ, Li B. . (2015) The paraventricular thalamus controls a central amygdala fear circuit. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature13978  

  • January 19, 2015
  • 09:00 AM
  • 22 views

Positive emotions may reduce racist perception

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

As tempting as it can be to dismiss the fanciful sounding ideas of “the power of a positive attitude”, every now and then a scientific study will show that positive emotions reach into unexpected corners of our brains to tweak our thoughts and actions in small yet significant ways. As one example, simply being joyful or amused may chip away at a cornerstone of racism.... Read more »

Johnson, K. J., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2005) "We all look the same to me": Positive emotions eliminate the own-race bias. Psychological Science, 16(11), 875-881. info:/

  • January 19, 2015
  • 05:32 AM
  • 71 views

Interfering With Traumatic Memories of the Boston Marathon Bombings

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013 killed three people and injured hundreds of others near the finish line of the iconic footrace. The oldest and most prominent marathon in the world, Boston attracts over 20,000 runners and 500,000 spectators. The terrorist act shocked and traumatized and unified the city.What should the survivors do with their traumatic memories of the event? Many with disabling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) receive therapy to lessen the impact of the trauma........ Read more »

  • January 19, 2015
  • 04:28 AM
  • 61 views

Taking care of mum following receipt of an offspring autism diagnosis

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The commentary by Elizabeth Karp & Alice Kuo [1] recently published in JAMA brought my attention back to the 2014 findings from Emily Feinberg and colleagues [2] (open-access) reporting on: "positive effects of PSE [problem-solving education] in reducing parenting stress and depressive symptoms during the critical postdiagnosis period" - that is, moves to taking care of maternal mental health after a child receives a diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).This i........ Read more »

  • January 19, 2015
  • 12:25 AM
  • 80 views

Magic Mushroom Users who get High without Drugs

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

A study comparing peak experiences - what a person considers their most wonderful life experience - in psilocybin users with non-users, found that some users said their most intense peak experience had occurred when they were not under the influence of drugs, even though it involved a profound alteration of consciousness similar to that produced by psilocybin. One possible implication of this study is that psilocybin could have lasting effects on a person’s ability to enter altered states of c........ Read more »

Cummins C, & Lyke J. (2013) Peak experiences of psilocybin users and non-users. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 45(2), 189-94. PMID: 23909006  

  • January 17, 2015
  • 05:25 AM
  • 71 views

What can physical activity do for ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In answer to the question posed in the title of this post, I might refer you to the paper by Susanne Ziereis & Petra Jansen [1] who concluded that results of their research study looking at the impact of two 12-week training programs "support the hypothesis that long-term PA [physical activity] has a positive effect on executive functions of children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."That's the funny thing about birthdays, they're kind of an annual thi........ Read more »

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