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  • October 10, 2015
  • 07:34 AM

Can Google Books Really Tell Us About Cultural Evolution?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In 2009, Google made available Google Books (also known as the Ngram corpus), a database that now includes over 8 million books from libraries around the world. The books comprise a collection of words (over 500 billion English words) and phrases and this dataset is freely available for research use. The Books corpus allows researchers to examine changes in the frequency of word use in books over time, dating back to 1800.

This has led a lot of striking findings. So for instance, it has b... Read more »

  • October 9, 2015
  • 05:31 AM

The Poor, Unhappy, Chain-smoking Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A thought-provoking new paper from Oxford neuroscientists Stephen Smith and colleagues reports a correlation between a certain pattern of brain activity and, well, a great many things.

The researchers took 461 resting state fMRI scans from the open Human Connectome Project (HCP) database. Associated with each scan is a set of 'meta-data' about the volunteer who had the scan. These 158 variables (listed here) cover everything from age and gender, to mental health status, income, and 'times use... Read more »

Smith SM, Nichols TE, Vidaurre D, Winkler AM, Behrens TE, Glasser MF, Ugurbil K, Barch DM, Van Essen DC, & Miller KL. (2015) A positive-negative mode of population covariation links brain connectivity, demographics and behavior. Nature Neuroscience. PMID: 26414616  

  • October 8, 2015
  • 01:21 PM

Sex change hormonal treatments alter brain chemistry

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Hormonal treatments administered as part of the procedures for sex reassignment have well-known and well-documented effects on the secondary sexual characteristics of the adult body, shifting a recipient’s physical appearance to that of the opposite sex. New research indicates that these hormonal treatments also alter brain chemistry.... Read more »

Kranz, G., Wadsak, W., Kaufmann, U., Savli, M., Baldinger, P., Gryglewski, G., Haeusler, D., Spies, M., Mitterhauser, M., Kasper, S.... (2015) High-Dose Testosterone Treatment Increases Serotonin Transporter Binding in Transgender People. Biological Psychiatry, 78(8), 525-533. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.09.010  

  • October 7, 2015
  • 11:30 PM

Social Class Differences in Mental Health: Do Parenting Style and Friendship Play a Role?

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

It is now well-established that social class is positively related to mental health. However, researchers remain unclear about the specific processes that underlie the relation between social class and depression. In some recent research, we investigated the potential roles of parenting style and friendship in explaining the relationship between social class and mental health.... Read more »

  • October 7, 2015
  • 06:19 PM

Parents influence children’s play of violent video games

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Parents who are more anxious and emotional can impact the amount of violent video games their children play, according to new consumer research from Iowa State University. Russell Laczniak, a professor of marketing and the John and Connie Stafford Professor in Business, says given the harmful effects of violent video games, he and his colleagues wanted to better understand how parents influence children’s behavior.... Read more »

  • October 7, 2015
  • 12:50 PM

In a just world, how you act depends on who you think delivers justice

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Many years ago I worked a couple of seasons as a porter on the now-defunct hovercraft service across the English Channel. One of the old hands used to tell me regularly that “what you lose on the swings, you make up on the roundabouts” – a phrase that’s stuck with me ever since. What he [Read More...]... Read more »

  • October 7, 2015
  • 12:28 AM

Children as language brokers

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Some of the most striking images from the refugees who have been trekking across Europe are of families and children. Beyond the immediate perils of their journeys, migration inevitably changes families. As children are usually much quicker to learn new … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 01:51 PM

American placebo – An increase in the placebo response, but only in America?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study finds that rising placebo responses may play a part in the increasingly high failure rate for clinical trials of drugs designed to control chronic pain caused by nerve damage. Surprisingly, however, the analysis of clinical trials conducted since 1990 found that the increase in placebo responses occurred only in trials conducted wholly in the U.S.; trials conducted in Europe or Asia showed no changes in placebo responses over that period.... Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 06:48 PM

Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.... Read more »

Kleiman, S., Watson, H., Bulik-Sullivan, E., Huh, E., Tarantino, L., Bulik, C., & Carroll, I. (2015) The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000247  

  • October 3, 2015
  • 02:21 PM

Can exercise be replaced with a pill?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, brain, and liver. With this knowledge in hand, scientists may be better equipped to develop “exercise pills” that could mimic at least some of the beneficial effects of physical exercise on the body. But a review of current development efforts ponders whether such pills will........ Read more »

Laher, & et al. (2015) Exercise Pills: At the Starting Line?. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. info:/

  • October 2, 2015
  • 07:47 PM

High-fructose diet slows recovery from brain injury

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Well bad news for those of us who have a sweet tooth, a diet high in processed fructose sabotages rat brains’ ability to heal after head trauma, UCLA neuroscientists report. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to humans quite yet, it should still raise a few eyebrows given the results from the study.... Read more »

Rahul Agrawal, Emily Noble1, Laurent Vergnes, Zhe Ying1, Karen Reue, & Fernando Gomez-Pinilla. (2015) Dietary fructose aggravates the pathobiology of traumatic brain injury by influencing energy homeostasis and plasticity. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow . info:/10.1177/0271678X15606719

  • October 1, 2015
  • 02:41 PM

Coincidence or conspiracy? Studies investigate conspiracist thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking ........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 01:39 AM

Discriminant Validity – An Update

by Andreas Wieland in Supply Chain Management Research

The AVE–SV comparison (Fornell & Larcker, 1981) is certainly the most common technique for detecting discriminant validity violations on the construct level. An alternative technique, proposed by Henseler et al. (2015), is the heterotrait–monotrait (HTMT) ratio of correlations (see the video below). Based on simulation data, these authors show for variance-based structural equation modeling (SEM), […]... Read more »

  • September 30, 2015
  • 10:09 PM

Scientists identify key receptor as potential target for treatment of autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have uncovered a significant–and potentially treatable–relationship between a chemical that helps transmit signals in the brain and genetic mutations present in a subset of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The new research findings focus on the role that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays in the development of social behavior.... Read more »

  • September 30, 2015
  • 09:40 PM

Does more education mean more, or less, religion? It depends whether you take intelligence into account.

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

It’s pretty well established now that there is a statistical connection between intelligence and non-belief. The effect is small, but it’s consistent and has been shown many times. Education, however, is a different matter. Some studies show that educated people are more religious, while others find they are less religious. Now there’s an obvious problem [Read More...]... Read more »

  • September 29, 2015
  • 02:37 PM

Scientists to bypass brain damage by re-encoding memories

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at USC and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a brain prosthesis that is designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss. The prosthesis, which includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain, has performed well in laboratory testing in animals and is currently being evaluated in human patients.... Read more »

  • September 28, 2015
  • 07:22 PM

Connecting Alzheimer’s disease and the immune system

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease is a hot topic, but exactly how the two are connected and what interventions could help lower risk remain a mystery. In a new study, researchers in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) investigate how genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease may influence a key type of immune cell. Their results lay the groundwork for designing better therapeutic strategies and better prediction tools fo........ Read more »

Chan, G., White, C., Winn, P., Cimpean, M., Replogle, J., Glick, L., Cuerdon, N., Ryan, K., Johnson, K., Schneider, J.... (2015) CD33 modulates TREM2: convergence of Alzheimer loci. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.4126  

  • September 28, 2015
  • 12:48 PM

What Animals Contageously Yawn?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Does this sight make you want to yawn? A yawning Japanese macaque by Daisuke Tashiro at Wikimedia Commons.Do you think it would make other animals want to yawn? Many animals yawn spontaneously, but yawning in response to sensing or thinking about someone else doing it may be a completely different thing. Contagious yawning requires a sense of social connection and emotional empathy that not all species share. So far, scientists have found experimental evidence of contagious yawning in humans, ch........ Read more »

  • September 28, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

Mass Grave Found in California Reveals Prehistoric Violence Against ‘Outsiders’

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

An ancient mass grave, uncovered during the construction of a shopping mall outside San Francisco, contains the bodies of seven men who appear to have been victims of “mass homicide” some 1,150 years ago, scientists say.
... Read more »

Eerkens JW, Carlson T, Malhi RS, Blake J, Bartelink EJ, Barfod GH, Estes A, Garibay R, Glessner J, Greenwald AM.... (2015) Isotopic and genetic analyses of a mass grave in central California: Implications for precontact hunter-gatherer warfare. American journal of physical anthropology. PMID: 26331533  

  • September 27, 2015
  • 02:45 PM

Breaking the anxiety cycle

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A woman who won’t drive long distances because she has panic attacks in the car. A man who has contamination fears so intense he cannot bring himself to use public bathrooms. A woman who can’t go to church because she fears enclosed spaces. All of these people have two things in common: they have an anxiety disorder. They’re also parents.... Read more »

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