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  • April 26, 2015
  • 03:14 PM
  • 4 views

Fatal attraction: the intuitive appeal of GMO opposition

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions GM crops have made to sustainable agriculture. They argue that the human mind is highly susceptible to the negative and often emotional representations put out by certain environmental groups and other opponents of GMOs. The researchers urge the general public to form opinions on GMOs........ Read more »

Blancke, S., Van Breusegem, F., De Jaeger, G., Braeckman, J., & Van Montagu, M. (2015) Fatal attraction: the intuitive appeal of GMO opposition. Trends in Plant Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2015.03.011  

  • April 25, 2015
  • 01:59 PM
  • 34 views

Mental disorders do not predict violence, so please stop

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

When Sandy Hook happened, it was so shocking that to this day, some don’t actually believe it happened. Shortly after, something frustrating happened, the shooter was labeled with aspergers. This helped drive the mental health and violence connection to the point that Time came out with an article dispelling that myth. Even now according to new longitudinal study of delinquent youth, most psychiatric disorders – including depression — do not predict future violent behavior. The only except........ Read more »

Elkington, K., Teplin, L., Abram, K., Jakubowski, J., Dulcan, M., & Welty, L. (2015) Psychiatric Disorders and Violence: A Study of Delinquent Youth After Detention. Journal of the American Academy of Child , 54(4), 302-31200000. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.01.002  

  • April 25, 2015
  • 06:40 AM
  • 37 views

Puppy-Dog Eyes Release Love Hormone

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

Gazing between pets and owners releases oxytocin, neurologically strengthening their bond. ... Read more »

Nagasawa, M., Mitsui, S., En, S., Ohtani, N., Ohta, M., Sakuma, Y., Onaka, T., Mogi, K., & Kikusui, T. (2015) Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds. Science, 348(6232), 333-336. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261022  

  • April 25, 2015
  • 03:27 AM
  • 34 views

Kids with autism: a highly [psychotropic] medicated group?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In keeping with international studies this sample of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] was a highly medicated group."So said the results of the study reported by Kerry-Ann Louw and colleagues [1] back in 2013 who noted that approximately one quarter of their cohort were currently in receipt of "psychotropic medications". I don't want to linger too much on this topic given that such findings tally with other peer-reviewed reports including those with much larger partici........ Read more »

  • April 24, 2015
  • 09:51 AM
  • 47 views

Marmoset Parents Teach Their Kids Not to Interrupt

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



No one expects a human infant to slide into the world with a good grasp of grammar. Marmosets, another kind of chatty primate, are also poor conversationalists when they're young. But their parents seem to teach them how it's done. Young marmosets learn the cardinal rule of having a conversation: don't interrupt. And if they mess up, their parents give them the silent treatment.

Common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) live in large family groups in the forests of Brazil. "Because marmosets ... Read more »

Chow, C., Mitchell, J., & Miller, C. (2015) Vocal turn-taking in a non-human primate is learned during ontogeny. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1807), 20150069-20150069. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0069  

  • April 24, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 49 views

“I know I shouldn’t text from the toilet,  but….”

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

People take selfies at funerals and text during sex. Others text while in the shower or while using the toilet (which apparently is not just for newspapers and books any longer). And wherever there are social faux pas’ you can bet academic researchers are not far behind. In fact, today we have research on just […]

Related posts:
Be careful what you text!
Let’s see if you can text him from jail…
When the defendant texts the juror…


... Read more »

  • April 24, 2015
  • 04:44 AM
  • 54 views

DSM-5 impacting on autism numbers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Consistent with previous reviews, the majority of included studies indicated between 50 and 75 % of individuals will maintain diagnoses."That was one of the conclusions reached by Isaac Smith and colleagues [1] following their systematic review of studies comparing DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and what the changes mean for eligibility for the label.Authors further reported that: "the greatest decreases [were] among high-functioning populations with IQs over ........ Read more »

  • April 23, 2015
  • 06:25 PM
  • 62 views

Scientists create worlds first genetically modified human embryos

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher. In a world first, China has successfully created genetically modified human embryos. It was certainly an amazing piece of science, but the paper was rejected by both Nature and Science. Not because the study was flawed, or because the data was falsified, the paper was rejected for ethical reasons.... Read more »

Liang, P., Xu, Y., Zhang, X., Ding, C., Huang, R., Zhang, Z., Lv, J., Xie, X., Chen, Y., Li, Y.... (2015) CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes. Protein . DOI: 10.1007/s13238-015-0153-5  

  • April 23, 2015
  • 12:45 PM
  • 77 views

In the face of discrimination, non-believers commit more strongly to their atheism

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

It’s widely recognised that atheists are one of the most marginalised groups in the USA. As you might imagine, this can cause all sorts of problems for non-believers. But might it also help explain why the public face of atheism in the USA is so stridently vocal? Many American atheists are passionate about their identity as [Read More...]... Read more »

  • April 23, 2015
  • 08:40 AM
  • 68 views

And I Keep Hitting Re-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat

by Sarah Deffit in The 'Scope

Why do we do the things we do? Knowing the science behind bad habits may help you to break them. ... Read more »

Graybiel AM. (2008) Habits, rituals, and the evaluative brain. Annual review of neuroscience, 359-87. PMID: 18558860  

Quinn JM, Pascoe A, Wood W, & Neal DT. (2010) Can't control yourself? Monitor those bad habits. Personality , 36(4), 499-511. PMID: 20363904  

Yin HH, & Knowlton BJ. (2006) The role of the basal ganglia in habit formation. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 7(6), 464-76. PMID: 16715055  

  • April 23, 2015
  • 07:28 AM
  • 54 views

Men and boys with older sisters are less competitive

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

One of the longest-debated and most studied issues in psychology is whether and how our personalities are affected by our birth order and the sex of our siblings. A problem with much previous research is that it's depended on people self-reporting their own personality, or on siblings or parents providing the personality ratings. These ratings are prone to subjectivity and skewed by people's expectations about how, say, a younger sibling ought to behave.A new study focused on one particular find........ Read more »

Okudaira, H., Kinari, Y., Mizutani, N., Ohtake, F., & Kawaguchi, A. (2015) Older sisters and younger brothers: The impact of siblings on preference for competition. Personality and Individual Differences, 81-89. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2015.02.037  

  • April 23, 2015
  • 01:46 AM
  • 58 views

Does maternal asthma 'prime' for offspring neurodevelopmental disorder?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from Jared Schwartzer and colleagues [1] (open-access) including a couple of familiar names on the authorship list (Charity Onore and Paul Ashwood) caught my attention recently. Based on mouse studies and the artificial induction of maternal allergy/asthma in pregnant mice, researchers reported that: "Activation of the maternal immune system with an allergy/asthma insult significantly perturbed developmental growth and species-typical behaviors in offspring." Further that the........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2015
  • 09:54 AM
  • 31 views

Psychologists study burglars' expertise

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Their actions are criminal and they cause untold misery, but repeat burglars are skilled at what they do and in that sense they are experts. By studying this expertise we can learn to better secure our properties against the threat of theft, and detectives can learn to spot the signature trail of an experienced robber.Most previous research in this area has relied on interviews with burglars about their strategies: a limited approach. A new study is more compelling. Claire Nee and her team recru........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 47 views

Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Help Adolescents with Psychiatric Problems?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new study finds that a dog might be just what the doctor ordered.Can animal-assisted therapy can help adolescents who are in hospital because of an acute psychiatric crisis? A new randomized controlled trial investigates. The study, conducted by M.C. Stefanini et al (University of Florence) randomly allocated patients to either an animal-assisted therapy intervention or no intervention. Both groups continued to receive psychiatric treatment as usual, and those treating them did not know w........ Read more »

Kamioka, H., Okada, S., Tsutani, K., Park, H., Okuizumi, H., Handa, S., Oshio, T., Park, S., Kitayuguchi, J., Abe, T.... (2014) Effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 22(2), 371-390. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.12.016  

  • April 22, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 24 views

Lumbersexuals with tattoos: Are they new and improved? 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Recently we blogged about an emerging demographic subgroup: the lumbersexual. After reading the flurry of mainstream media articles about this group, here is how we described them: “As far as we can tell, the lumbersexual is an urban male (typically White and heterosexual) who dresses like a lumberjack even though he is far from a […]

Related posts:
Wait! Could that be a  lumbersexual in your venire panel?
The Millennials (aka ‘Gen Y’): On tattoos, TMI, tolerance and technology
T........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2015
  • 04:39 AM
  • 47 views

MMR vaccine was not associated with increased risk of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In this large sample of privately insured children with older siblings, receipt of the MMR [measles-mumps-rubella] vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder], regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Anjali Jain and colleagues [1] (open-access) based on........ Read more »

  • April 21, 2015
  • 06:08 PM
  • 41 views

Is Synesthesia A Brain Disorder?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a provocative review paper just published, French neuroscientists Jean-Michel Hupé and Michel Dojat question the assumption that synesthesia is a neurological disorder.



In synesthesia, certain sensory stimuli involuntarily trigger other sensations. For example, in one common form of synesthesia, known as 'grapheme-color', certain letters are perceived as allied with, certain colors. In other cases, musical notes are associated with colors, or smells.

The cause of synesthesia is obsc... Read more »

  • April 21, 2015
  • 05:12 AM
  • 20 views

Optimism and pessimism are separate systems influenced by different genes

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

"... the optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose,” Kahlil Gibran.Optimists enjoy better health, more success, more happiness, and longer lives, than pessimists. No surprise, then, that psychologists are taking an increasing interest in our outlook on life. An unresolved issue is whether optimism and pessimism are two ends of the same spectrum, or if they're separate. If the traits are separate, then in principle, some people cou........ Read more »

  • April 21, 2015
  • 04:31 AM
  • 60 views

Jessica Biesiekierski on non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It's not often that I dedicate a blog post to a specific individual and their views and opinions on a particular topic. Today however, I'm doing just that to provide you with a link to the paper from Jessica Biesiekierski on the topic of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) [1] (open-access).The reason? Well, aside from being one of the primary protagonists in the research topic of gluten-related ills outside of the autoimmune condition known as coeliac (celiac) disease (itself the to........ Read more »

Biesiekierski, J., & Iven, J. (2015) Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity: piecing the puzzle together. United European Gastroenterology Journal, 3(2), 160-165. DOI: 10.1177/2050640615578388  

  • April 20, 2015
  • 09:45 AM
  • 58 views

Aphasia factors vs. subtypes

by Dan Mirman in Minding the Brain

One of the interesting things (to me anyway) that came out of our recent factor analysis project (Mirman et al., 2015, in press; see Part 1 and Part 2) is a way of reconsidering aphasia types in terms of psycholinguistic factors rather than the traditional clinical aphasia subtypes. The traditional aphasia subtyping approach is to use a diagnostic test like the Western Aphasia Battery or the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination to assign an individual with aphasia to one of several subtype cate........ Read more »

Mirman, D., Chen, Q., Zhang, Y., Wang, Z., Faseyitan, O.K., Coslett, H.B., & Schwartz, M.F. (2015) Neural Organization of Spoken Language Revealed by Lesion-Symptom Mapping. Nature Communications, 6(6762), 1-9. info:/

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