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."  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 »
McKean J, Naug H, Nikbakht E, Amiet B, & Colson N. (2016) Probiotics and Subclinical Psychological Symptoms in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 27841940
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 »
Eling, P., Finger, S., & Whitaker, H. (2016) On the Origins of Organology: Franz Joseph Gall and a Girl Named Bianchi. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.11.010
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegerative disorder estimated to affect 7 to 10 million individual worldwide.The primary mechanism for Parkinson's disease is a reduction in the neurotransmitter dopamine in the midbrain region of the substantia nigra highlighted in red in the figure.PD impairs motor and cognitive functions and leads to significant decline in psychosocial functioning.Drugs for PD can be effective in reversing and slowing the progression of the illness. However, resp........ Read more »
Lauzé M, Daneault JF, & Duval C. (2016) The Effects of Physical Activity in Parkinson's Disease: A Review. Journal of Parkinson's disease, 6(4), 685-698. PMID: 27567884
"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  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
Are the eyes the windows to intelligence? In an interesting paper, Georgia psychologists Jason S. Tsukahara and colleagues report that there's a positive correlation between pupil size and cognitive ability.
It's well known that our pupil size varies over time due to changes in both emotional state and cognitive 'effort'. As Tsukahara et al. put it
Starting in the 1960s it became apparent to psychologists that the size of the pupil is related to more than just the amount of light enterin... Read more »
Tsukahara JS, Harrison TL, & Engle RW. (2016) The relationship between baseline pupil size and intelligence. Cognitive psychology, 109-123. PMID: 27821254
The results published by Robert Joseph and colleagues  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 »
Joseph, R., Korzeniewski, S., Allred, E., O’Shea, T., Heeren, T., Frazier, J., Ware, J., Hirtz, D., Leviton, A., & Kuban, K. (2016) Extremely low gestational age and very low birth weight for gestational age are risk factors for ASD in a large cohort study of 10-year-old children born at 23-27 weeks gestation. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.11.1009
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 »
Ruth, N. (2016) "Heal the World": A field experiment on the effects of music with prosocial lyrics on prosocial behavior. Psychology of Music. DOI: 10.1177/0305735616652226
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve got irritable bowel syndrome, says a character of a sitcom.
Irritable bowel syndrome used to be a rare condition, but became a problem of epidemic proportions, until the disease "came out of the closet". Then Internet searches and doctor visits started to dwindle down and less than halved compared to earlier decades.
Is IBS no longer a problem? [...]... Read more »
Camilleri M, Oduyebo I, & Halawi H. (2016) Chemical and molecular factors in irritable bowel syndrome: current knowledge, challenges, and unanswered questions. American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology, 311(5). PMID: 27609770
Lacy BE, Patel H, Guérin A, Dea K, Scopel JL, Alaghband R, Wu EQ, & Mody R. (2016) Variation in Care for Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the United States. PloS one, 11(4). PMID: 27116612
Dorn, S., & Meek, P. (2013) Su1024 Ambulatory Care for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the United States, 1993-2010. Gastroenterology, 144(5). DOI: 10.1016/S0016-5085(13)61392-X
Lackner, J., Brasel, A., Quigley, B., Keefer, L., Krasner, S., Powell, C., Katz, L., & Sitrin, M. (2010) The ties that bind: perceived social support, stress, and IBS in severely affected patients. Neurogastroenterology , 22(8), 893-900. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01516.x
The Zoo Hypothesis Hello? Anybody out there in the starry skies? If there are extra-terrestrial civilizations, why haven’t we heard from them yet? The sheer magnitude of the universe with its billions upon billions of stars has led many to suggest that life must have arisen more than once in the cosmos. Some have gone […]... Read more »
de Magalhães, J. (2016) A direct communication proposal to test the Zoo Hypothesis. Space Policy. DOI: 10.1016/j.spacepol.2016.06.001
Follicular lymphoma is a B-cell lymphoma that remains incurable with conventional therapies. Ying et al. (2016) present a new study exploring the biological and genetic features of follicular lymphoma and identifying potential new therapeutic targets. The authors identified recurrent mutations in the mTOR regulator RRAGC, a small G-protein, in approximately 10% of follicular lymphoma cases. Mutations in RRAGC localized to one protein surface area surrounding the GTP/GDP–binding sites. In s........ Read more »
Ying ZX, Jin M, Peterson LF, Bernard D, Saiya-Cork K, Yildiz M, Wang S, Kaminski MS, Chang AE, Klionsky DJ.... (2016) Recurrent Mutations in the MTOR Regulator RRAGC in Follicular Lymphoma. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 22(21), 5383-5393. PMID: 27267853
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 »
Carson, C., Phillip, N., & Miller, B. (2016) Urinary tract infections in children and adolescents with acute psychosis. Schizophrenia Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.11.004
Is your dog a natural athlete or a couch pup-tato? The answer might depend on how far removed it is from its wild ancestors. Dogs that are more similar to wolves have kept more of their natural athleticism, while breeding has rendered other types of dogs a little...less impressive.
Caleb Bryce, a PhD candidate at UC Santa Cruz, says his study of canine athletes came about serendipitously. "We were just hoping to calibrate a new wildlife collar we’ve developed," he says; he planned to te........ Read more »
Bryce CM, & Williams TM. (2016) Comparative locomotor costs of domestic dogs reveal energetic economy of wolf-like breeds. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 27811300
Rates of myocardial infarction and stroke have been declining over the last decade in the U.S. and Europe. However, a recent manuscript suggests there are still significant missed opportunities to prevent stroke.This manuscript presents results of review of electronic primary care records in the United Kingdom.The authors examines a group of over 29,000 subjects with a diagnosis of stroke or transient ischemic attack over a 10 year period.Records were reviewed to assess for compliance with guide........ Read more »
Turner GM, Calvert M, Feltham MG, Ryan R, Fitzmaurice D, Cheng KK, & Marshall T. (2016) Under-prescribing of Prevention Drugs and Primary Prevention of Stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attack in UK General Practice: A Retrospective Analysis. PLoS medicine, 13(11). PMID: 27846215
DNA methylation is a biological clock that ticks with age, and numerous studies have been able to construct age-prediction models based on methylation status. However in somatic cells, DNA methylation is highly polymorphic – though this is not always appreciated in genome wide studies because coverage is often limited and variants below 10% usually escape detection. In an effort to clarify the origin of somatic DNA methylation heterogeneity and the impact it has on chromatin domains and ge........ Read more »
Russo, G., Landi, R., Pezone, A., Morano, A., Zuchegna, C., Romano, A., Muller, M., Gottesman, M., Porcellini, A., & Avvedimento, E. (2016) DNA damage and Repair Modify DNA methylation and Chromatin Domain of the Targeted Locus: Mechanism of allele methylation polymorphism. Scientific Reports, 33222. DOI: 10.1038/srep33222
Cuozzo, C., Porcellini, A., Angrisano, T., Morano, A., Lee, B., Pardo, A., Messina, S., Iuliano, R., Fusco, A., Santillo, M.... (2007) DNA Damage, Homology-Directed Repair, and DNA Methylation. PLoS Genetics, 3(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0030110
Morano, A., Angrisano, T., Russo, G., Landi, R., Pezone, A., Bartollino, S., Zuchegna, C., Babbio, F., Bonapace, I., Allen, B.... (2013) Targeted DNA methylation by homology-directed repair in mammalian cells. Transcription reshapes methylation on the repaired gene. Nucleic Acids Research, 42(2), 804-821. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt920
Landan, G., Cohen, N., Mukamel, Z., Bar, A., Molchadsky, A., Brosh, R., Horn-Saban, S., Zalcenstein, D., Goldfinger, N., Zundelevich, A.... (2012) Epigenetic polymorphism and the stochastic formation of differentially methylated regions in normal and cancerous tissues. Nature Genetics, 44(11), 1207-1214. DOI: 10.1038/ng.2442
Papers such as the one published by Nikko Da Paz & Jan Wallander  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 »
Da Paz NS, & Wallander JL. (2016) Interventions that target improvements in mental health for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders: A narrative review. Clinical psychology review, 1-14. PMID: 27816800
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 »
Tromholt M. (2016) The Facebook Experiment: Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 19(11), 661-666. PMID: 27831756
You are not seeing double. Over the last month we’ve kept reading and reading and reading but many of the articles we read for the blog were fun but just not substantive enough for a full blog post. So. Think of this as the director’s cut version of the blog—full of things you wish we’d […]
Science knowledge, objectifying women, earning power, and social media colors
Spiders, dogs, assassins, beards and the demons of sleep paralysis (things you want to know........ Read more »
Lanaj K, Johnson RE, & Wang M. (2016) When lending a hand depletes the will: The daily costs and benefits of helping. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(8), 1097-110. PMID: 27149605
Dixson BJ, Sulikowski D, Gouda-Vossos A, Rantala MJ, & Brooks RC. (2016) The masculinity paradox: facial masculinity and beardedness interact to determine women's ratings of men's facial attractiveness. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29(11), 2311-2320. PMID: 27488414
Video feedback was a more effective tool to correct landing patterns in males to compared to females, which may be helpful in reducing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury risk. ... Read more »
Dallinga J, Benjaminse A, Gokeler A, Cortes N, Otten E, & Lemmink K. (2016) Innovative Video Feedback on Jump Landing Improves Landing Technique in Males. International Journal of Sports Medicine. PMID: 27428644
With all rights reserved for Keith Geraghty and his publication in the Journal of Health Psychology  (open-access) I want to reproduce his abstract relevant to the PACE trial commenting on the ups-and-downs of this study looking at the use of CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and GET (graded exercise therapy) for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME):"Science is not always plain sailing and sometimes the voyage is across an angry sea. A recent ........ Read more »
Geraghty KJ. (2016) 'PACE-Gate': When clinical trial evidence meets open data access. Journal of health psychology. PMID: 27807258
I ran into an interesting article at ScienceDaily providing data on a small sample size study of the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (Celebrex) in depression.Access the ScienceDaily report on this study by clicking HERE.This study focused on subjects with bipolar depression. All subjects were in a depressed phase and received the antidepressant drug escitalopram (Lexapro).Although only 55 subjects participated in this study, the results were significant and large. Adding Celebrex to escitalopra........ Read more »
Savitz, J., Preskorn, S., Teague, T., Drevets, D., Yates, W., & Drevets, W. (2012) Minocycline and aspirin in the treatment of bipolar depression: a protocol for a proof-of-concept, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2×2 clinical trial. BMJ Open, 2(1). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000643
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