Post List

  • August 25, 2016
  • 03:48 PM
  • 18 views

Polar Bears Stubbornly Stick to Habitats, Even as Ice Melts

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



"I don't know what you're talking about," said the polar bear. "Everything seems normal to me! Watch out for that puddle."

Up in the Arctic, things are getting slushy. But some polar bears are refusing to change their ways. Instead of compromising on where they spend their time, they're clinging to the icy habitats they've always loved. As those habitats keep shrinking, though, the bears will eventually find things too crowded and uncomfortable to ignore. 

Researchers divide polar bear... Read more »

Wilson RR, Regehr EV, Rode KD, & St Martin M. (2016) Invariant polar bear habitat selection during a period of sea ice loss. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 283(1836). PMID: 27534959  

  • August 25, 2016
  • 02:50 PM
  • 24 views

The relationship between low physical activity and psychotic symptoms

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Physical activity can help reduce cardiovascular disease and premature mortality in people with psychological problems. However, there is limited data on exercise in people with serious mental disorders, especially from low- and middle-income countries. This study explored whether complying with the World Health Organization recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week is related to psychotic symptoms or the diagnosis of a psychosis.

... Read more »

Brendon Stubbs, Ai Koyanagi, Felipe Schuch, Joseph Firth, Simon Rosenbaum, Fiona Gaughran, James Mugisha, & Davy Vancampfort. (2016) Physical Activity Levels and Psychosis: A Mediation Analysis of Factors Influencing Physical Activity Target Achievement Among 204 186 People Across 46 Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Schizophrenia bulletin . info:/10.1093/schbul/sbw111

  • August 25, 2016
  • 09:40 AM
  • 44 views

How to rebuild a brain

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

After the stroke The human brain is complicated. Very complicated. And like any piece of complex machinery that relies on the smooth functioning of many components, it’s not immune to malfunction. When a part of the brain doesn’t get proper nutrition through a nice and smooth blood flow, things go awry and a stroke occurs. […]... Read more »

  • August 25, 2016
  • 03:45 AM
  • 29 views

Hospitalisation for infection and risk of death by suicide

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"An increased risk of death by suicide was found among individuals hospitalized with infection in prospective and dose-response relationships. These findings indicate that infections may have a relevant role in the pathophysiological mechanisms of suicidal behavior."Some intriguing data has been recently reported by Helene Lund-Sørensen and colleagues [1] (open-access) examining the possibility that certain types of infection (or perhaps the biological response to infection) might increase the risk of suicidal behaviour. Some good media coverage about the study can be read here.If your sticking with my interpretation of the results, Denmark was the the source of the data, as yet again one of those quite amazing Scandinavian population registries provides a starting cohort of around 7 million people "observed for a total of 149 061 786 person-years" from which subsequent results are derived.Sadly, some 32,000 suicides (completed) were recorded during the study period; around a quarter of such reports were among people who had "previously been diagnosed as having an infection during a hospitalization." Such data was reported in terms of incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and equated to those hospitalised for infection being 42% more likely to die by suicide than those not hospitalised for infection. The 'dose-response' relationship eluded to in that opening sentence refers to the finding that the more serious the infection and/or the longer the hospital stay (treatment), the more likely the risk of death by suicide. Such an association also held when adjustment was made for potential confounding variables such as sex, age and socio-economic status.Accepting that suicide - whether contemplated, attempted or completed - is a very complicated and often very individual process these are interesting results. Of course one has to be slightly careful in drawing too many conclusions from such data given both the large number of 'infections' included as part of the analyses and the possible "psychological effect of being hospitalized with a severe infection." The Lund-Sørensen data is still data built on association not necessarily 'cause and effect'.Still, adding to the increasingly popular idea that infections or the biological response to infection at critical periods of development and life can seemingly affect behaviour (see here and see here for a few more potential examples) as well as physiology, the current study makes an important case for further study in this area. Not least because even if only playing a role in a small proportion of suicides, there may be important screening and possible intervention avenues to explore. I'm also wondering what such a possible association might mean with regards to the 'transmission' of certain infections and potential suicide risk? Y'know added to the speculation that some types of depression could perhaps be relabelled as an infectious disease [2] and in light of the strong connection between depression and suicidal behaviours...----------[1] Lund-Sørensen H. et al. A Nationwide Cohort Study of the Association Between Hospitalization With Infection and Risk of Death by Suicide. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016. Aug 10.[2] Canli T. Reconceptualizing major depressive disorder as an infectious disease. Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders. 2014; 4:10----------Lund-Sørensen H, Benros ME, Madsen T, Sørensen HJ, Eaton WW, Postolache TT, Nordentoft M, & Erlangsen A (2016). A Nationwide Cohort Study of the Association Between Hospitalization With Infection and Risk of Death by Suicide. JAMA psychiatry PMID: 27532502... Read more »

  • August 24, 2016
  • 05:05 PM
  • 45 views

Theses and dissertations: pros and cons of the traditional and alternative formats

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

In order to expedite the writing and assessment of theses, institutions and graduate programs in several countries, including Brazil, are choosing to allow candidates who have published papers on their masters or doctorate research topics to replace the thesis chapters by these articles, headed by an introduction, conclusion and review of scientific literature. Is this format ideal and applicable to all? … Read More →... Read more »

  • August 24, 2016
  • 02:51 PM
  • 54 views

How long do you want to live? Your expectations for old age matter

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why do some people want to live a very long time, while others would prefer to die relatively young? In a latest study, a team of researchers investigated how long young and middle-aged adults in the United States say they want to live in relation to a number of personal characteristics. The results showed that more than one out of six people would prefer to die younger than age 80, before reaching average life expectancy.

... Read more »

  • August 24, 2016
  • 07:30 AM
  • 44 views

Epigenetics of Early Pregnancy Loss: Hypomethylation and Genetic Instability May Contribute to Decreased Implantation Potential of Monosomy Blastocysts

by Blair McCallie in EpiBeat

Aneuploidy is the leading cause of miscarriage, stillbirth, and congenital birth defects and occurs as a result of errors during meiotic or mitotic cell division.1 As a woman ages, the probability of an aneuploid conception significantly rises, to roughly 50% by the age of 40.2 Only a fraction of full aneuploidies, primarily trisomies, will develop past the first trimester. This is in contrast to monosomies that almost never implant or result in an ongoing pregnancy. DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism involved in chromatin structure, and is responsible for proper chromosome segregation during cell division.3 Appropriate levels of DNA methylation are essential for normal cell differentiation as well as embryonic gene expression patterns required for uterine implantation and fetal development.4

Given the importance of DNA methylation and chromosome constitution to healthy fetal/embryonic development, our laboratory investigated the association between DNA methylation and chromosomal aneuploidies, focusing primarily on the DNA methylome, the molecular processes involved in establishing methylation, and downstream gene expression.
Blastocysts donated to research had specific aneuploidies representing differing implantation potentials (7, 11, 15, 21, and 22). Trisomies 7 and 11 are most likely to result in implantation failure; trisomies 15 and 22 are able to implant however will always result in miscarriage; and trisomy 21 embryos will implant but result in either miscarriage, still birth, or live birth. Conversely, all monosomies for 7, 11, 15, 21, and 22 fail to implant.... Read more »

  • August 24, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 40 views

Psychopathy Personality Inventory—Revised (PPI-R) Scale 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We wrote about this scale in our last post when researchers (trying to convince the reader there is such a thing as a good psychopath for you to hire) used it in a study of German adults. The PPI-R is apparently a measure of psychopathy that is able to “detect relatively mild levels of psychopathy […]

Related posts:
The Trust in Science and Scientists Inventory Scale 
Measuring beliefs in the paranormal: The Australian Sheep Goat Scale
The Dirty Dozen Scale 


... Read more »

Lilienfeld, S. O., & Widows, M. R. (2005) Psychological Assessment Inventory–Revised (PPI-R). Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources. info:/

  • August 24, 2016
  • 04:30 AM
  • 54 views

Has There Been Any Change in ACL Injury Rates?

by Kyle Harris in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury affect a small number of athletes. While overall ACL injury rates are decreasing, ACL injuries still affect a disproportionally higher number of women than ... Read more »

  • August 24, 2016
  • 04:13 AM
  • 57 views

ALSPAC says maybe to link between prenatal paracetamol exposure and childhood behavioural difficulties

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

ALSPAC - the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children - continues to give in research terms as today I approach the findings reported by Evie Stergiakouli and colleagues [1]. They observed that: "Children exposed to acetaminophen [paracetamol] prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties, and the associations do not appear to be explained by unmeasured behavioral or social factors linked to acetaminophen use insofar as they are not observed for postnatal or partner’s acetaminophen use." Some media attention for the study can be found here.Continuing the research journey on a topic not unfamiliar to this blog (see here and see here for example) that exposure to paracetamol during the nine months that made us might not be a totally benign affair, Stergiakouli et al analysed data for some 7,700 mothers included in the initiative between 1991 and 1992. Questions about paracetamol use at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy were asked of mothers and maternal reports of child behaviour problems at 7 years using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were thrown into the research mix.Results: those behavioural difficulties potentially associated with maternal paracetamol use at both 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy included both conduct problems and hyperactivity symptoms. Researchers were also able to record no (significant) connection between post-natal paracetamol use nor partner paracetamol use and childhood behavioural problems. They concluded that "the timing of acetaminophen use might be important" and that "the association between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and childhood behavioral problems is not explained by unmeasured familial factors linked to both acetaminophen use and childhood behavioral problems and that the findings are consistent with an intrauterine effect."Combined with the various other studies suggesting an association between prenatal exposure to paracetamol and offspring behavioural 'issues' the case for a possible link is growing. ALSPAC has a number of methodological strengths to its design, not least "the availability of prospective information on acetaminophen use during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and postnatally by the mother and by her partner." The fact that numerous potentially confounding variables were also controlled for is another bonus for the study results: "maternal age at birth, parity, socioeconomic status, smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy, prepregnancy body mass index (BMI), maternal self-reported psychiatric illness, and possible indications for acetaminophen use." This is pretty strong data (or at least as strong as the other data published on this topic).Mechanism(s) of effect? Still something that needs a little more work I'm afraid, before any precise information is revealed. The authors go with some ideas based on the "endocrine-disrupting properties of acetaminophen" for example, but let's wait and see before anyone makes too many sweeping generalisations. I might however suggest that the possibility of a link between paracetamol exposure and asthma (see here) could be important in light of what asthma might mean for the risk of presentation of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) for example (see here). Just a thought and bearing in mind the evidence linking paracetamol use and asthma is not always all on-way.Further studies are required on this increasingly important topic. Please also bear in mind no medical or clinical advice is given or intended on this blog. Speak to your physician if you need more information about pain relief during pregnancy.----------[1] Stergiakouli E. et al. Association of Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy With Behavioral Problems in Childhood. JAMA Pediatrics. 2016. Aug 15.----------Stergiakouli, E., Thapar, A., & Davey Smith, G. (2016). Association of Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy With Behavioral Problems in Childhood JAMA Pediatrics DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1775... Read more »

  • August 24, 2016
  • 03:05 AM
  • 48 views

Keeping Your “Ion” The Ball – Salts and Life

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Lost at sea is no way to go to your everlasting reward. Sit in the sunshine too long and you lose your salts and all your functions go bonkers. Drink seawater and you end up with too much sodium and potassium and go nuts. Either way your dead, and it all has to do with your body’s tipping point and the kidney’s function in maintaining an osmotic potential. What is weirder - licorice can cause just about the same problem. ... Read more »

Räikkönen, K., Seckl, J., Heinonen, K., Pyhälä, R., Feldt, K., Jones, A., Pesonen, A., Phillips, D., Lahti, J., Järvenpää, A.... (2010) Maternal prenatal licorice consumption alters hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical axis function in children. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 35(10), 1587-1593. DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.04.010  

  • August 23, 2016
  • 03:58 PM
  • 48 views

Making Music From Brainwaves: A History

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper in Brain tells the story of attempts to turn brain waves into music. The authors are Bart Lutters and Peter J. Koehler: Brainwaves in concert: the 20th century sonification of the electroencephalogram


Electroencephalography (EEG), a technique for measuring brain electrical activity, was invented by German psychiatrist Hans Berger in 1929. Berger's EEG displayed the recorded activity in the form of graphs, using a mobile pen and a rotating drum of graph paper, but within 5 years,... Read more »

  • August 23, 2016
  • 02:31 PM
  • 73 views

Too much activity in certain areas of the brain is bad for memory and attention

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Neurons in the brain interact by sending each other chemical messages, so-called neurotransmitters. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter, which is important to restrain neural activity, preventing neurons from getting too trigger-happy and from firing too much or responding to irrelevant stimuli.

... Read more »

  • August 23, 2016
  • 11:30 AM
  • 66 views

Otulipenia – A New Inflammatory Disease

by Rita dos Santos Silva in United Academics

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, working in collaboration with Turkish and British teams, discovered a new inflammatory disease.... Read more »

Zhou, Q., Wang, H., Schwartz, D., Stoffels, M., Park, Y., Zhang, Y., Yang, D., Demirkaya, E., Takeuchi, M., Tsai, W.... (2015) Loss-of-function mutations in TNFAIP3 leading to A20 haploinsufficiency cause an early-onset autoinflammatory disease. Nature Genetics, 48(1), 67-73. DOI: 10.1038/ng.3459  

Elliott, P., Nielsen, S., Marco-Casanova, P., Fiil, B., Keusekotten, K., Mailand, N., Freund, S., Gyrd-Hansen, M., & Komander, D. (2014) Molecular Basis and Regulation of OTULIN-LUBAC Interaction. Molecular Cell, 54(3), 335-348. DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.03.018  

  • August 23, 2016
  • 11:29 AM
  • 58 views

Otulipenia – A New Inflammatory Disease

by Rita dos Santos Silva in United Academics

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, working in collaboration with Turkish and British teams, discovered a new inflammatory disease.... Read more »

Zhou, Q., Wang, H., Schwartz, D., Stoffels, M., Park, Y., Zhang, Y., Yang, D., Demirkaya, E., Takeuchi, M., Tsai, W.... (2015) Loss-of-function mutations in TNFAIP3 leading to A20 haploinsufficiency cause an early-onset autoinflammatory disease. Nature Genetics, 48(1), 67-73. DOI: 10.1038/ng.3459  

Elliott, P., Nielsen, S., Marco-Casanova, P., Fiil, B., Keusekotten, K., Mailand, N., Freund, S., Gyrd-Hansen, M., & Komander, D. (2014) Molecular Basis and Regulation of OTULIN-LUBAC Interaction. Molecular Cell, 54(3), 335-348. DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.03.018  

  • August 23, 2016
  • 10:36 AM
  • 72 views

The Brain: Red Meat and Mediterranean Diet

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Entorhinal Cortex Highlighted in BluePrevious posts in this blog have highlighted some the research related to links between brain health and elements of the Mediterranean diet.I want to inform readers of a new important research study from the Mayo Clinic.In this study, researchers completed brain cortical thickness analyses on 672 cognitively normal adults. It is generally accepted that greater cortical thickness relates to improved cognitive performance.The participants completed an extensive dietary history and brain cortical thickness measures were correlated to total and component Mediterranean diet intake. Here are the key findings from the study:Higher Mediterranean diet total scores were linked to greater cortical thickness measures in frontal, parietal, occipital and total brainHigher legume and fish component intake had the highest links to greater cortical thicknessLegume intake correlated with greater cortical thickness in parietal, precuneus, occipital and lingual regionsFish intake correlated with greater precuneus, parietal and posterior cingulate cortical thicknessCarbohydrate intake was linked to lower entorhinal cortical thicknessRed meat intake correlated with greater entorhinal cortical thicknessThis study in important for several reasons. First, it highlights specific components (legume and fish) of the Mediterranean diet with thicker brain cortices.But what I found most interesting was the red meat finding.  Red meat intake was associated with slightly smaller cortices in two parietal regions. However, this association did not reach statistical significance. The association of red meat intake with greater entorhinal cortex thickne... Read more »

Staubo SC, Aakre JA, Vemuri P, Syrjanen JA, Mielke MM, Geda YE, Kremers WK, Machulda MM, Knopman DS, Petersen RC.... (2016) Mediterranean diet, micronutrients and macronutrients, and MRI measures of cortical thickness. Alzheimer's . PMID: 27461490  

  • August 23, 2016
  • 03:47 AM
  • 77 views

Autism and/or ADHD in Down's syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"High rates of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] were found: 17 (42%) and 14 (34%) of the 41 children met DSM criteria for ASD and ADHD respectively."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Ulrika Oxelgren and colleagues [1] looking at the "prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a population-based group of children and adolescents with Down syndrome." The population in this case comprised 60 children and young adults diagnosed with Down's syndrome (Down syndrome if you prefer) and the gold-standards that are the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) were the instruments of choice when arriving at decisions of whether autism might be present or not.New news? No it's not new news that autism (whether in diagnosis or in traits) may be over-represented when it comes to Down's syndrome (see here and see here for other research-based examples). There has even been a suggestion that regression - a key part of at least some autism - may be part and parcel of some cases of Down's syndrome (see here) too.Oxelgren et al suggest that the combination of Down's syndrome and the "intellectual disability and medical disorders" that can accompany Down's syndrome added to a possible higher rate of autism potentially make for "a severely disabled group" worthy of far greater attention when it comes to screening and intervention. I don't think anyone would disagree with such sentiments and in particular, how preferential autism screening should once again be added to a growing list of diagnoses and labels. Indeed, such data in particular directs further attention to the link between intellectual (learning) disability and autism (see here and see here).----------[1] Oxelgren UW. et al. Prevalence of autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder in Down syndrome: a population-based study. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2016 Aug 9.----------Oxelgren UW, Myrelid Å, Annerén G, Ekstam B, Göransson C, Holmbom A, Isaksson A, Åberg M, Gustafsson J, & Fernell E (2016). Prevalence of autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder in Down syndrome: a population-based study. Developmental medicine and child neurology PMID: 27503703... Read more »

Oxelgren UW, Myrelid Å, Annerén G, Ekstam B, Göransson C, Holmbom A, Isaksson A, Åberg M, Gustafsson J, & Fernell E. (2016) Prevalence of autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder in Down syndrome: a population-based study. Developmental medicine and child neurology. PMID: 27503703  

  • August 22, 2016
  • 11:11 PM
  • 74 views

Measuring altitude — with clocks?

by Jens Wilkinson in It Ain't Magic

Measuring altitude using atomic clocks seems like a crazy idea, but it’s already being done at RIKEN in Japan.... Read more »

Takano, T., Takamoto, M., Ushijima, I., Ohmae, N., Akatsuka, T., Yamaguchi, A., Kuroishi, Y., Munekane, H., Miyahara, B., & Katori, H. (2016) Geopotential measurements with synchronously linked optical lattice clocks. Nature Photonics. DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2016.159  

  • August 22, 2016
  • 03:00 PM
  • 65 views

Stroke-like brain damage is reduced in mice injected with omega-3s

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A stroke can happen at any age, and as with anything that involves the brain, a few seconds can be life altering. Usually the rule is time lost is brain lost, but there might be some good news regarding that, researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced brain damage in a neonatal mouse model of stroke.

... Read more »

  • August 22, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 93 views

Listen up, HR folks! There are ‘good’ psychopaths for you to hire!

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

How to hire the "good psychopath"? ... Read more »

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