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  • November 12, 2016
  • 04:17 AM
  • 375 views

Bifidobacterium longum 1714 attenuates stress?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It's been quite a week hasn't it? Indeed for quite a few people it's been a stressful few days so perhaps timely that I'm talking about the 'attenuation of stress' in today's post.Despite the relatively small sample size included in the paper by by AP Allen and colleagues [1] there is something rather tantalising about their results suggesting that in healthy volunteers "consumption of B. longum [Bifidobacterium longum 1714] 1714 is associated with reduced stress and improved memo........ Read more »

  • November 11, 2016
  • 03:04 AM
  • 373 views

"While you're here, I just want to talk about your weight"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The important Doctor-Patient relationshipIn a slight departure from the typical material discussed on this blog, I want to briefly direct readers to the paper by (Prof) Paul Aveyard and colleagues [1] and results suggesting that: "A behaviourally-informed, very brief, physician-delivered opportunistic intervention is acceptable to patients and an effective way to reduce population mean weight."The title of this post comes from some of the media coverage of the Aveyard study summarising how ........ Read more »

Aveyard, P., Lewis, A., Tearne, S., Hood, K., Christian-Brown, A., Adab, P., Begh, R., Jolly, K., Daley, A., Farley, A.... (2016) Screening and brief intervention for obesity in primary care: a parallel, two-arm, randomised trial. The Lancet. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31893-1  

  • November 10, 2016
  • 06:14 AM
  • 420 views

This Month in Blatstocystis Research (OCT 2016)

by Christen Rune Stensvold in Blastocystis Parasite Blog

Highlights of the month include a Special Issue on Blastocystis appearing in Parasitology International, a study of mitochondrial genomes, relationships between gut parasites and gut bacteria, and a announcement of an EMBO anaerobic protist conference next year in the UK.... Read more »

Dogruman-Al F, Stensvold CR, & Yoshikawa H. (2016) Editorial - PAR INT - special issue on Blastocystis. Parasitology international, 65(6 Pt B), 749. PMID: 27742000  

Iebba V, Santangelo F, Totino V, Pantanella F, Monsia A, Di Cristanziano V, Di Cave D, Schippa S, Berrilli F, & D'Alfonso R. (2016) Gut microbiota related to Giardia duodenalis, Entamoeba spp. and Blastocystis hominis infections in humans from Côte d'Ivoire. Journal of infection in developing countries, 10(9), 1035-1041. PMID: 27694739  

  • November 10, 2016
  • 03:09 AM
  • 318 views

Atopy increases vulnerability to affective and anxiety issues?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In a year of impossible things...I was rather interested to read the recent paper by Renee Goodwin and colleagues [1] observing that: "Atopy appears to be associated with increased vulnerability to affective and anxiety problems, compared to youth without atopy."Atopy, referring to a predisposition to developing allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma and/or hayfever, is something on the 'up' in research terms when it comes to aspects of psychiatry and/or developmental outcomes (see here f........ Read more »

  • November 9, 2016
  • 06:09 PM
  • 358 views

Lower Social Status Causes Less Social Contact and More Depression in Uni Students

by Mark Rubin in Mark Rubin's Social Psychology Research Blog

A person’s subjective social status reflects how they rank themselves relative to others in their community. Social status can be considered to be a psychological dimension of social class and socioeconomic status, and it has been shown to be positively related to mental health: The higher one’s perceived social status, the better one’s mental health. However, the process underlying this relation is unclear. In some recent research, my colleagues and I considered social contact........ Read more »

  • November 9, 2016
  • 04:16 AM
  • 362 views

A 'frank' presentation of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Many individuals with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] have a distinctive behavioral presentation that is recognizable within moments, a phenomenon we call "frank" ASD." So said the paper by Ashley de Marchena & Judith Miller [1] who carried out an "empirical study of frank ASD" and by the looks of my Twitter feed when I initially posted about this study, there are quite a few varied opinions about the concept of 'frank' autism.Although 'frank autism' makes up a significant portion ........ Read more »

  • November 8, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 332 views

"A Putative Blood-Based Biomarker for Autism Spectrum Disorder-Associated Ileocolitis"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Contrary to Murphy's Law - 'never repeat a successful experiment' - replication or reproducibility is a cornerstone of good science. Today, I'm blogging about a piece of research that aimed to do just that as per the findings reported by Stephen Walker and colleagues [1] (open-access).The title of this post has been borrowed from the title of the Walker paper to illustrate how moving on from the quite widely known 'fact' that functional gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are over-represented wh........ Read more »

  • November 7, 2016
  • 03:13 AM
  • 374 views

8.6% of children with autism have epilepsy?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Epilepsy was reported to co-occur in 8.6 % of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] cases."That was the headline conclusion reported by Shiny Thomas and colleagues [1] as they drew on data from "the most recent U.S. National Survey of Children's Health, 2011-2012" to add to the extensive literature looking at how common epilepsy is when it comes to autism.Including some 1600 children/young adults diagnosed with autism - equivalent to a prevalence of 1.8% of the entire 85,000-strong co........ Read more »

  • November 7, 2016
  • 12:30 AM
  • 415 views

What The Future Will Hold

by Aurametrix team in Aurametrix Blog

Elections are bad for your health. More than half of Americans, independently of their party preference, are stressed about upcoming elections, especially the oldest and the youngest voters. Social media is one of the major factors making this stress even worse. ​... Read more »

Waismel-Manor I, Ifergane G, & Cohen H. (2011) When endocrinology and democracy collide: emotions, cortisol and voting at national elections. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 21(11), 789-95. PMID: 21482457  

Neiman J, Giuseffi K, Smith K, French J, Waismel-Manor I, & Hibbing J. (2015) Voting at Home Is Associated with Lower Cortisol than Voting at the Polls. PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26335591  

  • November 5, 2016
  • 04:20 AM
  • 389 views

Sensory subtypes and anxiety and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This is the first study to identify the existence of sensory subtypes among older children and adolescents with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and explore their association with anxiety levels."Far be it from me to question the above quote provided in the paper by Mirko Uljarević and colleagues [1] but I'm inclined to suggest that there has already been some research published on the link between sensory issues and anxiety in the context of the autism spectrum before (see here and se........ Read more »

Uljarević M, Lane A, Kelly A, & Leekam S. (2016) Sensory subtypes and anxiety in older children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research, 9(10), 1073-1078. PMID: 26765165  

  • November 4, 2016
  • 05:00 AM
  • 378 views

Friday Fellow: Silvergreen Moss

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Found throughout most of the world, you probably have encountered this fellow many times in your life, but did not pay any attention. After all, it is just a moss! Scientifically known as Bryum argenteum and popularly … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • November 4, 2016
  • 04:03 AM
  • 363 views

Hyperhomocysteinemia as a significant risk factor for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Naushad Shaik Mohammad and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today and the suggestion of a link between some of the genetics of the folate pathway and the finding of elevated levels of homocysteine with [some] autism in mind.OK, from the start, the genetics of folate metabolism mentioned in the context of autism typically means reference to the quite well replicated finding of issues with the gene methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) (see ........ Read more »

Shaik Mohammad N, Sai Shruti P, Bharathi V, Krishna Prasad C, Hussain T, Alrokayan SA, Naik U, & Radha Rama Devi A. (2016) Clinical utility of folate pathway genetic polymorphisms in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Psychiatric genetics. PMID: 27755291  

  • November 3, 2016
  • 04:10 AM
  • 414 views

Antibiotic brain part 3

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study demonstrates an association between antibiotic use in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes in childhood."So said the findings reported by Slykerman and colleagues [1] who relied on data from the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative Study (an initiative set up to determine whether "internationally recognized risk factors for small-for-gestational-age (SGA) term babies were applicable in New Zealand") to examine the suggestion that early life antib........ Read more »

Slykerman RF, Thompson J, Waldie KE, Murphy R, Wall C, & Mitchell EA. (2016) Antibiotics in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992). PMID: 27701771  

  • November 2, 2016
  • 11:09 AM
  • 380 views

Weight Training Boosts Brain Size and Performance

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Aerobic exercise increases brain blood flow and has demonstrated beneficial effects on cognition.The effects of weight training exercise on the brain is less frequently studied. Hence, we know little about the effect and mechanism of weight training on brain function and performance.A recent study provides some needed insight on this topic.A study by C Suo and colleagues from Australia examined the effects of resistance training and cognitive skills training on brain structure and function.The k........ Read more »

Suo C, Singh MF, Gates N, Wen W, Sachdev P, Brodaty H, Saigal N, Wilson GC, Meiklejohn J, Singh N.... (2016) Therapeutically relevant structural and functional mechanisms triggered by physical and cognitive exercise. Molecular psychiatry, 21(11), 1645. PMID: 27090304  

  • November 2, 2016
  • 03:55 AM
  • 403 views

ADHD (symptoms) and pain

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

If a primary goal of medicine is to relieve pain and suffering then the paper by Andrew Stickley and colleagues [1] might provide an important insight into how medicine might be missing some important groups when it comes to the experience of pain "assessed by the degree to which it interfered with work activity in the previous month."Drawing on data from the English 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) (a resource that has cropped up on this blog before), auth........ Read more »

Stickley A, Koyanagi A, Takahashi H, & Kamio Y. (2016) ADHD symptoms and pain among adults in England. Psychiatry research, 326-331. PMID: 27750114  

  • November 1, 2016
  • 04:09 AM
  • 397 views

On the "increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The quote titling this brief post - "increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression" - comes from the review by Parker and colleagues [1] who seem to be no strangers to reviewing evidence on a possible link between the sunshine vitamin/hormone and depression [2].Affiliated to the Black Dog Institute in Oz ('black dog' being used as a metaphor for depression for quite a few years), the authors surveyed the quite voluminous peer-reviewed research literat........ Read more »

Parker GB, Brotchie H, & Graham RK. (2016) Vitamin D and depression. Journal of affective disorders, 56-61. PMID: 27750060  

  • October 31, 2016
  • 07:36 PM
  • 391 views

The Morning After: What We Learn from Halloween

by Aurametrix team in Aurametrix Blog

What can we learn from Halloween? A lot, judging by numerous scientific studies and less scientific surveys. Halloween could help to collect a wide range of extreme facial expressions, including highly negative situations when children discover their parents ate up all their Halloween candy. This is what was done in the recent study and an ongoing youtube challenge.  Smile! You are being watched [...] ... Read more »

  • October 31, 2016
  • 05:36 AM
  • 392 views

HBOT and autism systematically reviewed again (and the same results?)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"To date, there is no evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves core symptoms and associated symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the results of the review by Xiong and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) completed under the auspices of the Cochrane Collaboration, leaders in the science and publication of systematic reviews (see here for another example).Looking at the collected peer-reviewed science on the topic of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for aut........ Read more »

  • October 30, 2016
  • 04:00 PM
  • 464 views

The science behind real life zombies

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In the spirit of Halloween we bring you the science fact and fiction behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little guys, (and girls) are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic zombie, but did you know that we aren't the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn't a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction, so let's dive in.

... Read more »

Lafferty KD. (2006) Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 273(1602), 2749-55. PMID: 17015323  

Vyas A, Kim SK, Giacomini N, Boothroyd JC, & Sapolsky RM. (2007) Behavioral changes induced by Toxoplasma infection of rodents are highly specific to aversion of cat odors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(15), 6442-7. PMID: 17404235  

Thomas, F., Schmidt-Rhaesa, A., Martin, G., Manu, C., Durand, P., & Renaud, F. (2002) Do hairworms (Nematomorpha) manipulate the water seeking behaviour of their terrestrial hosts?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15(3), 356-361. DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00410.x  

W. Wesołowska T. Wesołowski. (2014) Do Leucochloridium sporocysts manipulate the behaviour of their snail hosts?. Journal of Zoology , 292(3), 151-155. info:/10.1111/jzo.12094

  • October 29, 2016
  • 04:08 AM
  • 341 views

Living with severe autism: families share their experiences

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Appreciating that the autism spectrum is truly a wide and heterogeneous one (or even several?), I'd like to direct your attention today to the findings reported by Jocelyn Bessette Gorlin and colleagues [1] on the topic of "the experiences of families living with a child with severe autism."In particular, I'd like to highlight the six areas that emerged from the "29 interviews with 22 participants from 11 families" related to family experiences and how, minus any sweeping generalisations, m........ Read more »

Bessette Gorlin J, McAlpine CP, Garwick A, & Wieling E. (2016) Severe Childhood Autism: The Family Lived Experience. Journal of pediatric nursing. PMID: 27720503  

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