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  • April 17, 2014
  • 09:14 AM
  • 26 views

What Do You Want to Hear First: Good News or Bad News?

by Jeremiah Stanghini in Jeremiah Stanghini

As it turns out, our answer to this question is different depending on whether we’re the one delivering the news or we’re the one receiving the news. If we’re delivering the news, we’re more likely to want to lead with … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • April 17, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 16 views

A poor excuse for removing a peer-reviewed publication

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

I became disenchanted with the idea of e-books when Amazon reached into scores of Kindles and removed copies of (of all possible books) 1984 and Animal Farm. The notion that a major company had the power to deny access to any content they deemed problematic simply presented too many visions of reactive, totalitarian control.

I never considered that those very concerns might apply to the publishers of scientific research, who – in this age of online-only publications – have the pow........ Read more »

  • April 17, 2014
  • 07:49 AM
  • 22 views

Cannabis use and structural changes in the brain

by Robb Hollis in Antisense Science

“One or two spliffs a week could mess up your brain” – Metro, 16 April 2014

Spark your interest? This headline caught the eyes of the Antisense team, so we chased down the original article in the Journal of Neuroscience and took a closer look!

Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in the US, and the ‘casual use’ culture surrounding marijuana is a subject of great debate and controversy, with arguments for drug legalisation making their way into our ........ Read more »

  • April 17, 2014
  • 04:31 AM
  • 11 views

Mitochondrial dysfunction as a neurobiological subtype of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Suzanne Goh and colleagues [1] reporting on "a possible neurobiological subtype of mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" is a worthy addition to the research roll call which has graced this blog down the years. Based on the analysis of brain lactate levels - a potential marker of mitochondrial dysfunction - via the analysis of lactate doublets on brain magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI), authors picked up a significantly higher rate of l........ Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:29 PM
  • 25 views

What makes music groovy?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Today PLOS ONE publishes a study that uses an often criticized research method: questionnaire and web-based research (cf. Honing & Ladinig, 2008). This study, however, is a good example of how an unspectacular method (i.e. compared to, e.g., controlled experiments, brain imaging techniques or computational modelling) can still be quite informative.... Read more »

Witek, M., Clarke, E., Wallentin, M., Kringelbach, M., & Vuust, P. (2014) Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094446  

Honing, H., & Reips, U.-D. (2008) Web-based versus lab-based studies: a response to Kendall (2008). Empirical Musicology Review, 3(2), 73-77. info:/

  • April 16, 2014
  • 05:04 PM
  • 26 views

What Do Preschoolers Learn from Fantastical Picture Books?

by Rebecca Schwarzlose in Garden of the Mind

One of the new picture books making the bedtime rounds at our house is How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, which describes and depicts dinosaurs doing such un-dinosaurly things as tucking themselves into bed or kissing their human mothers good night. The book is whimsical, gorgeously illustrated, and includes a scientific angle, as the genus names of the dinosaurs are included in the pictures. I’m always careful to read these genus names aloud as we look at each picture. But is this book actu........ Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 30 views

Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Help At-Risk Boys?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

If existing behavioural programs aren’t working, can therapeutic sessions with a dog help boys who have problems at school?Photo: criben / ShutterstockA new paper by Abbey Schneider et al (2014) investigates the success of a program designed to help boys who are considered ‘at-risk’ – by matching them up with a specially trained dog and handler.In Colorado, a group of elementary schools take part in a program called the Human Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC). It is designed to help ........ Read more »

Schneider, A.A.,, Rosenberg, J., Baker, M., Melia, N., Granger, B., & Biringen, Z. (2014) Becoming relationally effective: High-risk boys in animal-assisted therapy. Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 2(1), 1-18. info:/

  • April 16, 2014
  • 01:54 AM
  • 28 views

Joined by HDAC (inhibitors)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm treading quite carefully with this post which came about following my [non-expert] reading of the paper abstract from Anand Venkatraman and colleagues [1] on a potential downside to the use of HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitors for treating spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), a progressive disease affecting movement and other knock-on functions. This follows other work suggesting that certain HDAC inhibitors might offer some important new lines of investigation when it co........ Read more »

  • April 14, 2014
  • 10:51 PM
  • 56 views

Disordered Eating and Athletic Performance: Where’s the Line?

by Emma in Science of Eating Disorders


If a person severely restricts his diet and exercises for hours each day, he has an eating disorder. If another does exactly the same but it is because she wants to make the lightweight rowing team (which has an upper weight limit), she’s a committed athlete. When the two overlap, and an athlete presents with eating disorder symptoms, how do we distinguish between the demands of the sport and the illness?
I’ve been interested in the distinctions we make between disordered and n........ Read more »

  • April 14, 2014
  • 10:24 AM
  • 63 views

Some exploratory evidence that wait-list conditions may act as a nocebo in psychotherapy trials

by Kristoffer Magnusson in R Psychologist

The hypothesis that wait-lists could be nocebo conditions was investigated by Furukawa et al (2014). The authors performed a network meta-analysis of 49 RCT that involved cognitive-behaviour therapy for depression. ... Read more »

Furukawa TA, Noma H, Caldwell DM, Honyashiki M, Shinohara K, Imai H, Chen P, Hunot V, & Churchill R. (2014) Waiting list may be a nocebo condition in psychotherapy trials: a contribution from network meta-analysis. Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica. PMID: 24697518  

  • April 14, 2014
  • 09:12 AM
  • 65 views

Why Humanistic Psychology is Still Relevant

by Jeremiah Stanghini in Jeremiah Stanghini

The development of humanistic psychology began in the late 1950s and was ‘born‘ in the early 1960s. Given the time that humanistic psychology grew, there’s no doubt that it informed the civil rights movement. However, some say that humanistic psychology peaked in the 1970s. An … Continue reading →... Read more »

DeRobertis, E. M. (2013) Humanistic Psychology: Alive in the 21st Century?. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 53(4), 419-437. DOI: 10.1177/0022167812473369  

  • April 14, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 57 views

How practicing compassion alters the brain

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

As tempting as it is to hope that one meditation practice could be a panacea within the mind – meditate, and become more mindful! improve your attention! cure your depression! notice when those around you need help! – I have to admit that I know the brain doesn’t work this way. The skills you practice are the skills you strengthen, and compassion in particular is a skill that requires more than just a general awareness of your environment.... Read more »

Weng HY, Fox AS, Shackman AJ, Stodola DE, Caldwell JZ, Olson MC, Rogers GM, & Davidson RJ. (2013) Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. Psychological science, 24(7), 1171-1180. PMID: 23696200  

  • April 14, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 54 views

A new neurolaw caveat to minimize punishment

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Just say his brain made him do it! That is the conclusion of new research on the relationship between gruesomeness of the crime and the harshness of the sentence. In case you can’t intuit this one, the more gruesome (and disturbing) the crime, the harsher the sentence tends to be. But if the assault was […]

Related posts:
Neurolaw Update: Who’s in charge here—me or my brain?
When identifying punishment—will jurors focus on intent or outcome?
Simple Jury Persuasion: Anger + Disgust........ Read more »

  • April 14, 2014
  • 03:58 AM
  • 57 views

Neurology of inflammatory bowel diseases

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Ben-Or and colleagues [1] talking about a neurologic profile present in a small participant cohort of children and adolescents diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) caught my eye recently. Their findings reporting that over two-thirds of their paediatric participant group diagnosed with IBD also "exhibited neurologic manifestations" provides some compelling preliminary evidence for further investigation in this area.Outside of reports of headache and dizziness, the pres........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2014
  • 11:54 PM
  • 67 views

Early brain development and heat shock proteins

by in Neuroscientifically Challenged

The brain development of a fetus is really an amazing thing. The first sign of an incipient nervous system emerges during the third week of development; it is simply a thickened layer of tissue called the neural plate. After about 5 more days, the neural plate has formed an indentation called the neural groove, and the sides of the neural groove have curled up and begun to fuse together (see pic to the right). This will form the neural tube, which will eventually become the brain and spinal cord........ Read more »

  • April 11, 2014
  • 06:25 PM
  • 71 views

Dad's obesity and risk of offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In this post I'm talking about the paper by Pål Surén and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that "paternal obesity is an independent risk factor for ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] in children". I do so not with the intent of stigmatising parents and specifically parents with weight issues, which tend to be present for many more reasons than just food and exercise (see here), but merely to highlight how parental physical health may show some relationship to offspring cog........ Read more »

Suren, P., Gunnes, N., Roth, C., Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Lipkin, W., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T.... (2014) Parental Obesity and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder. PEDIATRICS. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-3664  

  • April 11, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 64 views

Smiling and credibility: Is it different for male and female witnesses at trial?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Women smile more than men. Men are typically seen as more credible than women. So these researchers decided to see if there was a relationship between smiling and assessments of credibility on actual witnesses in the courtroom.  The researchers used the Witness Credibility Scale to assess actual witnesses overall credibility. They thought that if smiling […]

Related posts:
Women as Expert Witnesses: The good, the sad, and the ugly
Which is the more moral negotiator? The male or the femal........ Read more »

  • April 11, 2014
  • 03:48 AM
  • 129 views

Brain Scans: Don’t Throw Out The Baby With The Dead Salmon

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Is neuro-skepticism in danger of going too far? Is it time to take a critical look at critiques of neuroscience? Martha Farah of the University of Pennsylvania says yes, in a Hastings Center Report just published: Brain Images, Babies, and Bathwater: Critiquing Critiques of Functional Neuroimaging Farah covers a broad spectrum of criticisms, ranging from […]The post Brain Scans: Don’t Throw Out The Baby With The Dead Salmon appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • April 10, 2014
  • 03:56 AM
  • 82 views

Gluten exposure and "feelings of depression"?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Could exposure to dietary gluten affect a person's moods or emotional state?Well, if the paper by Simone Peters and colleagues [1] (open-access here) is to be believed the answer may very well be yes, at least in some cases, as they report a link between gluten consumption and feelings of depression under [short-term] experimental conditions. If replicated, such a finding may have profound consequences for how we view our relationship between food and mental health and wellbeing.Bread Ma'am?&nbs........ Read more »

  • April 10, 2014
  • 12:29 AM
  • 89 views

Atheists and Their Capacity for Awe at Life

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

Many people think of awe as a particularly religious emotion and therefore seem to assume that people with no religious beliefs at all, e.g. atheists are closed to the experience of awe. This assumption is quite false and reflects a wider prejudice against atheists. Research has shown that people who reject supernatural beliefs actually are capable of experiencing a sense of awe. In fact, the experience of awe may be particularly beneficial for those who do not believe in an afterlife.... Read more »

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