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  • December 22, 2014
  • 12:38 PM
  • 9 views

Autism presentation and genetic variance

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

People with autism have a wide range of symptoms, with no two people sharing the exact type and severity of behaviors. This has made finding a cause (or causes) difficult, leaving pseudoscientists to claim vaccines are the cause as if it were that simple (hint: vaccines do not cause autism). Now a large-scale analysis of hundreds of patients and nearly 1000 genes has started to uncover how diversity among traits can be traced to differences in patients’ genetic mutations.... Read more »

Chang, J., Gilman, S., Chiang, A., Sanders, S., & Vitkup, D. (2014) Genotype to phenotype relationships in autism spectrum disorders. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3907  

  • December 22, 2014
  • 12:35 PM
  • 18 views

Mind-Controlled Prosthetics

by Viputheshwar Sitaraman in Draw Science

Researchers at JHU have demonstrated a prosthetic arm that is controlled completely by the user's thoughts.... Read more »

Collinger, J., Wodlinger, B., Downey, J., Wang, W., Tyler-Kabara, E., Weber, D., McMorland, A., Velliste, M., Boninger, M., & Schwartz, A. (2013) High-performance neuroprosthetic control by an individual with tetraplegia. The Lancet, 381(9866), 557-564. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61816-9  

  • December 22, 2014
  • 05:48 AM
  • 16 views

Cytokines activating the kynurenine pathway in schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm a bit of a fan of tryptophan biochemistry on this blog. This quite remarkable aromatic amino acid and it's off-shoot metabolites, which appear to have no end of biological uses, have taken quite a bit of my blogging time down the years. Most recently was the suggestion that a metabolite slotting in between serotonin (5-HT) and melatonin might require quite a bit more investigation when it comes to at least some cases of autism (see here).See ya later, President Fartfeathers.The findings repo........ Read more »

  • December 22, 2014
  • 12:32 AM
  • 28 views

Go to Bed Early and Cure Your Negative Ruminations!

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Source: Alyssa L. Miller, Flickr.For nearly 9 years, this blog has been harping on the blight of overblown press releases, with posts like:Irresponsible Press Release Gives False Hope to People With Tourette's, OCD, and SchizophreniaPress Release: Press Releases Are PrestidigitationNew research provides fresh evidence that bogus press releases may depend largely on our biological make-upSave Us From Misleading Press Releasesetc.So it was heartening to see a team of UK researchers formally evalua........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2014
  • 03:21 PM
  • 36 views

Vaccine against prion disease, not for humans… yet

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Prions, misfolded proteins that wreak havoc on the brain, may have finally met their match. Best known for things like mad cow disease and possibly alzheimer’s disease scientists have had no luck stopping prions, until now. Researchers say that a vaccination they have developed to fight a brain-based, wasting syndrome among deer and other animals may hold promise on two additional fronts: Protecting U.S. livestock from contracting the disease, and preventing similar brain infections in humans......... Read more »

  • December 21, 2014
  • 03:51 AM
  • 42 views

Vitamin D for autism... a double-take?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yes, I know. Another post on the 'day of rest' but I promise you that this will not become a habit. The reason: the paper by Feiyong Jia and colleagues [1] published in the premier journal Pediatrics. The authors describe a case report of a young child with autism who is observed to have shown improvement in some of the core symptoms of autism following supplementation with the [sunshine] vitamin/hormone of the hour: vitamin D. Further reporting on the paper can be seen here.Altho........ Read more »

Feiyong Jia, Bing Wang, Ling Shan, Zhida Xu, Wouter G. Staal, & Lin Du. (2014) Core Symptoms of Autism Improved After Vitamin D Supplementation. Pediatrics. info:/doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-2121

  • December 20, 2014
  • 01:46 PM
  • 58 views

Antidepressants and the effects on your unborn child

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Think you know what causes depression? Well unfortunately scientists don’t have the exact answer, surprised? That’s not the only problem, there is an ever growing concern that we live in an over medicated society and a newly released study doesn’t paint a better picture. About 15 percent of women in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders and depression during their pregnancies, and many are prescribed antidepressants. However little is known about how early exposure to these medic........ Read more »

Altieri SC, Yang H, O'Brien HJ, Redwine HM, Senturk D, Hensler JG, & Andrews AM. (2014) Perinatal vs. Genetic Programming of Serotonin States Associated with Anxiety. Neuropsychopharmacology. PMID: 25523893  

  • December 20, 2014
  • 04:00 AM
  • 61 views

Joint hypermobility and links to psychiatry

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The relationship between JH/HDCT [joint hypermobility / heritable disorders of connective tissue] and mental disorders merits further attention in order to improve current knowledge and clarify a possible common etiology."There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing.That was the conclusion reached in the paper by Carolina Baeza-Velasco and colleagues [1] looking at the possibility of some interesting connections, outside of just physical presentation, when it come........ Read more »

  • December 19, 2014
  • 02:06 PM
  • 56 views

Why “fat shaming” makes the problem worse

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Thanks to the internet age we have lost touch with the fact that there is a human out there reading these words. Because of this, the golden rule –treat others the way you want to be treated — went out the window. Making fun of “fat” people now seems to be a internet hobby and that insensitivity can (and does) bleed over into “normal” non-internet life. Now a new study shows that women whose loved ones are critical of their weight tend to put on even more pounds, which is probably no........ Read more »

  • December 19, 2014
  • 04:44 AM
  • 88 views

Uric acid and bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Bipolar disorder appearing again on this blog this week? It's just the way that the papers fall...With a title like: 'Increased uric acid levels in bipolar disorder subjects during different phases of illness' I was hardly likely to pass up the opportunity to discuss the paper by Umberto Albert and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that there may be a lot more to see when it comes to "a purinergic dysfunction associated with BD [bipolar disorder]".I lost the defuser gun when I mispla........ Read more »

Albert U, De Cori D, Aguglia A, Barbaro F, Bogetto F, & Maina G. (2014) Increased uric acid levels in bipolar disorder subjects during different phases of illness. Journal of affective disorders, 170-175. PMID: 25462413  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 11:22 PM
  • 89 views

Top 4 of 2014: Your Favourite Canine Science Posts

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

As December rolls into its second half, and the days warm up - or cool down - depending on where you are situated on the globe, we wanted to say thank you for joining us in 2014 - we are continually blown away with the popular and supportive community we have around us at Do You Believe in Dog? here on the blog, on Facebook and also on Twitter. Taking our lead from Companion Animal Psychology, we decided to jump into some statistics (because hey, we are scientists!) to see wh........ Read more »

Wong-Parodi Gabrielle, & Strauss Benjamin H. (2014) Team science for science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25225381  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 02:35 PM
  • 70 views

Gene fragments linked to brain development and autism

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

While the anti-vaccine movement enjoys the simple (and very wrong) answer to the cause of autism, there are people who want the actual truth. This drive had lead to a slew of causes (and risk factors) for autism in recent times. Now scientists have found that very small segments of genes called “microexons” influence how proteins interact with each other in the nervous system. In turn, this opens up a new line of research into the cause of autism.... Read more »

Irimia, M., Weatheritt, R., Ellis, J., Parikshak, N., Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis, T., Babor, M., Quesnel-Vallières, M., Tapial, J., Raj, B., O’Hanlon, D.... (2014) A Highly Conserved Program of Neuronal Microexons Is Misregulated in Autistic Brains. Cell, 159(7), 1511-1523. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.11.035  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 05:08 AM
  • 55 views

Autistic traits in adults with epilepsy

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Increased autistic characteristics found in adults with epilepsy without an ASD [autism spectrum disorder] diagnosis suggest that epilepsy syndromes may incorporate behavioral aspects of autism in the absence of some of its core cognitive features."Contrariwise, if you think we're alive you ought to speak to us.That was the intriguing finding reported by Sally Ann Wakeford and colleagues [1] who examined test performance on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and "systemizing ........ Read more »

Wakeford S, Hinvest N, Ring H, & Brosnan M. (2014) Autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy. Epilepsy , 203-207. PMID: 25461216  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 02:44 AM
  • 49 views

Correcting Metabolic Abnormalities May Help Lessen Urinary Problems

by Wiley Asia Blog in Wiley Asia Blog - Health Sciences

Metabolic syndrome is linked with an increased frequency and severity of lower urinary tract symptoms, but weight loss surgery may lessen these symptoms. The findings, which come from two studies published in BJU International, indicate that urinary problems may be added to the list of issues that can improve with efforts that address altered metabolism.

Lower urinary tract symptoms related to urinary frequency and urgency, bladder leakage, the need to urinate at night, and incomplete bladder........ Read more »

  • December 17, 2014
  • 02:54 PM
  • 60 views

Epigenetic changes and autism

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Despite what you may think, the supposed “explosion” of children diagnosed with autism can directly attributed to better diagnosing techniques and — more importantly — the change of definition to make Autism spectrum disorders more broad. Thankfully more causes of autism have been found, none of them remotely related to vaccines and now scientists have found that chemical modifications to DNA’s packaging—known as epigenetic changes—can activate or repress genes involved in autism s........ Read more »

Gao, Z., Lee, P., Stafford, J., von Schimmelmann, M., Schaefer, A., & Reinberg, D. (2014) An AUTS2–Polycomb complex activates gene expression in the CNS. Nature, 516(7531), 349-354. DOI: 10.1038/nature13921  

Ntziachristos, P., Tsirigos, A., Welstead, G., Trimarchi, T., Bakogianni, S., Xu, L., Loizou, E., Holmfeldt, L., Strikoudis, A., King, B.... (2014) Contrasting roles of histone 3 lysine 27 demethylases in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Nature, 514(7523), 513-517. DOI: 10.1038/nature13605  

  • December 17, 2014
  • 04:29 AM
  • 46 views

Folate receptor autoantibodies and (some) schizophrenia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I am the league's director, Silas Ramsbottom.Upon reading the paper published by Ramaekers and colleagues [1] talking about the use of folinic acid in cases of schizophrenia as a function of the presence of "Auto-antibodies against folate receptor alpha (FRα)", I raised a little smile. Not only because the authors suggested that there may be quite a lot more to see in this area on top of some already interesting discussions about the folate cycle and schizophrenia, but also because of the ........ Read more »

Ramaekers VT, Thöny B, Sequeira JM, Ansseau M, Philippe P, Boemer F, Bours V, & Quadros EV. (2014) Folinic acid treatment for schizophrenia associated with folate receptor autoantibodies. Molecular genetics and metabolism. PMID: 25456743  

  • December 16, 2014
  • 02:37 PM
  • 63 views

Methamphetamine use and the onset of parkinson’s

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

We’ve all seen the PSA’s trying to show the effects of meth use and in particular, what it does to your teeth. Typically, when it comes to drug use, people will not look at the long term side effects from their addiction instead thinking in the short term. This is unfortunate because as it turns out, methamphetamine users are three times more at risk for getting Parkinson’s disease than non-illicit drug users with even worse news for women, new research shows.... Read more »

  • December 16, 2014
  • 11:38 AM
  • 24 views

Spying on Animals' Movements to Learn How They're Feeling

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Rory Wilson recalls some nervous waterbirds.

"I've seen pelicans in Galapagos, in the port," the Swansea University biologist says. One set of birds was standing by the fish-gutting area and waiting for scraps, while another group stood out of the fray in some nearby bushes. Although both sets of pelicans acted the same, a closer look at the birds waiting for fish scraps revealed that they were quaking slightly. The tips of their wings trembled.

Wilson thinks the tremor in the pelicans... Read more »

Wilson, R., Grundy, E., Massy, R., Soltis, J., Tysse, B., Holton, M., Cai, Y., Parrott, A., Downey, L., Qasem, L.... (2014) Wild state secrets: ultra-sensitive measurement of micro-movement can reveal internal processes in animals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12(10), 582-587. DOI: 10.1890/140068  

  • December 16, 2014
  • 04:41 AM
  • 76 views

Thioredoxin... a new 'diagnosis indicator' for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

My name's Buttercup. You've met Baron von Shush."Our study demonstrated that serum TRX [thioredoxin] levels were associated with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], and elevated levels could be considered as a novel, independent diagnosis indicator of ASD." So was the conclusion reported by Qing-biao Zhang and colleagues [1] looking at serum levels of TRX in 80 children diagnosed with an ASD compared against "100 sex and age matched typically developing children".I'll freely admi........ Read more »

Zhang QB, Gao SJ, & Zhao HX. (2014) Thioredoxin: A novel, independent diagnosis marker in children with autism. International journal of developmental neuroscience : the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience. PMID: 25433158  

  • December 15, 2014
  • 03:07 PM
  • 91 views

Finding the neurons that deal with distraction

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

What’s that over there!? The next time you are around people, count how many people are on their phone? Distractions invade every aspect of our lives. Status updates, text messages, email notifications all threaten to steal our attention away from the moment. While we fight the urge to check the phone, our brains are making constant judgment calls about where to focus attention. The brain must continually filter important information from irrelevant interference.... Read more »

Ahrens, S., Jaramillo, S., Yu, K., Ghosh, S., Hwang, G., Paik, R., Lai, C., He, M., Huang, Z., & Li, B. (2014) ErbB4 regulation of a thalamic reticular nucleus circuit for sensory selection. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3897  

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