Posts

August 28, 2014

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8:29 AM | Minocycline for schizophrenia?
"Minocycline may improve the psychopathology of schizophrenia, especially the negative symptoms, and seems to be well tolerated".A Bachelors Drawer (apparently) @ Wikipedia That was the finding from the systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken by Oya and colleagues [1] looking at the collected literature on the use of "minocycline augmentation therapy in patients with schizophrenia receiving antipsychotic agents". Augmentation therapy by the way, refers to the addition of minocycline […]

Oya K, Kishi T & Iwata N (2014). Efficacy and tolerability of minocycline augmentation therapy in schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials., Human psychopharmacology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25087702

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August 27, 2014

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7:56 AM | Prenatal SSRI exposure and autistic traits
A quote to start today's post: "Our results suggest an association between prenatal SSRI exposure and autistic traits in children". That was a primary finding reported by Hanan El Marroun and colleagues [1] who looked at whether maternal depressive symptoms or a class of quite commonly used pharmaceutics - the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - used to manage depressive symptoms, during pregnancy might impact on offspring development."Everything the light touches is our […]

Marroun, H., White, T., van der Knaap, N., Homberg, J., Fernandez, G., Schoemaker, N., Jaddoe, V., Hofman, A., Verhulst, F., Hudziak, J. & Stricker, B. (2014). Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and social responsiveness symptoms of autism: population-based study of young children, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 205 (2) 95-102. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.113.127746

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6:41 AM | A rough guide to science advice
As scientists and policymakers gather in Auckland for a global summit on scientific advice, what lessons can we identify that apply across diverse national systems? Scientific advice has never been in greater demand; nor has it been more contested. From climate change to cyber-security, poverty to pandemics, food technologies to fracking, the questions being asked of scientists, engineers and other experts by policymakers, the media and the wider public continue to multiply. At the same time, […]
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1:00 AM | Laureate Fellowship
I received the exciting news last week that I have been awarded a Laureate Research Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. I flew to Adelaide on Friday for the Awards Ceremony, which was held at St Peter's College in Adelaide. This was an impressive venue, looking like it had been teleported through time from the 19th century.  I also learnt that St Peter's has more Nobel Prize winning graduates (3) than any secondary school outside of New York.I'm now the proud owner of an […]

August 26, 2014

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3:46 PM | Climate change from an investor’s perspective
Useful angle to think about climate change from an investor’s perspective. Investors are always balancing risk and maybe this is a great way to think about climate change. http://www.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/10/climate-market-fluctuations As this article demonstrates, when you look at global temperature means … Continue reading →
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7:55 AM | 76% of youths with autism meet ADHD diagnostic criteria?
Autism is not normally a stand-alone diagnosis. I've mentioned that point a few times on this blog, stressing how a clinical diagnosis of autism appears to increase the risk of various other behavioural, psychiatric and somatic diagnoses also [variably] being present over a lifetime. Part of that comorbidity has been talked about in discussions about ESSENCE (see here) and the excellent document produced by Treating Autism on medical comorbidities occurring alongside autism (see here) for […]

Joshi G, Faraone SV, Wozniak J, Tarko L, Fried R, Galdo M, Furtak SL & Biederman J (2014). Symptom Profile of ADHD in Youth With High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparative Study in Psychiatrically Referred Populations., Journal of attention disorders, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25085653

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August 25, 2014

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8:40 AM | mTOR-regulated autophagy and autism mouse models
I was intrigued to read the paper by Guomei Tang and colleagues [1] (open-access) and their assertion that: "mTOR [mammalian target of rapamycin]-regulated autophagy is required for developmental spine pruning, and activation of neuronal autophagy corrects synaptic pathology and social behavior deficits in ASD [autism spectrum disorder] models with hyperactivated mTOR"."Re-verify our range to target... one ping only".If that opening paragraph sounds like scientific […]

August 23, 2014

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5:47 PM | You heard me right... autism prevalence and meat consumption
"The paper presents some exploratory analyses demonstrating the correlation between particular aspects of meat consumption and autism prevalence". The paper by Wojciech & Ewa Pisula [1] (open-access) does indeed suggest that there may "a correlation between increasing meat consumption and autism prevalence"."Goonies never say die!"Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions on such a correlation. Personally, I'm not yet convinced that meat consumption is the primary driving force […]

Wojciech Pisula & Ewa Pisula (2014). Autism prevalence and meat consumption - a hypothesis that needs to be tested, Medical Hypotheses, Other:

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August 22, 2014

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7:47 AM | Serum microRNA profiles and autism
I cannot pretend to be an expert on microRNA (miRNA). Indeed, it was only after reading the paper by Mahesh Mundalil Vasu and colleagues [1] (open-access) talking about serum microRNA profiles in children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), that I started my learning journey about these small non-coding RNAs. So please, go easy with me on this one...Hamlet @ Wikipedia Quite a good [short] introduction to microRNAs can be found here. If you want something a […]

Mundalil Vasu, M., Anitha, A., Thanseem, I., Suzuki, K., Yamada, K., Takahashi, T., Wakuda, T., Iwata, K., Tsujii, M., Sugiyama, T. & Mori, N. (2014). Serum microRNA profiles in children with autism, Molecular Autism, 5 (1) 40. DOI: 10.1186/2040-2392-5-40

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August 21, 2014

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7:56 AM | Autism, ADHD and allergy: Taiwan and big data (again)
"Children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] or ASD [autism spectrum disorder] had an increased risk of allergic comorbidities, and those with both ADHD and ASD had the highest"."You built a time machine.. out of a DeLorean"That was the conclusion arrived at in the paper by Ting-Yang Lin and colleagues [1]. For regular readers of this blog, this was yet another example of how Taiwan leads the way when it comes to the concept of 'big data' specifically […]

Lin, T., Lin, P., Su, T., Chen, Y., Hsu, J., Huang, K., Chang, W., Chen, T., Pan, T., Chen, M. & Bai, Y. (2014). Autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and allergy: Is there a link? A nationwide study, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8 (10) 1333-1338. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.07.009

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August 20, 2014

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8:35 AM | ADHD in DSM-5: what did you think would happen?
"Our results, combined with previous findings, suggest a 27% increase in the expected prevalence of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] among young adults, comparing DSM-IV to DSM-5 criteria". So said the paper by Matte and colleagues [1] who as part of their study looked at "the prevalence of ADHD according to DSM-5 criteria".Europa @ Wikipedia The changes to the diagnosis of ADHD in DSM-5 can be seen here. The main difference between DSM-IV and DSM-5 diagnosis […]
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8:03 AM | Too proud to stop – Why Regret matters
Regret and its anticipation are powerful forces in people’s decision-making and should be given greater attention by economists, says #LindauEcon14 participant Paul Viefers. The feeling of having missed out on a better opportunity affects a wide range of experiences in life – jobseekers who reject a good offer, investors who hold onto badly-performing stocks and […]

August 19, 2014

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8:23 AM | Family processes and trajectory in autism
The paper by Woodman and colleagues [1] looking at trajectory and autism in adolescents and adults is the source material for today's post (another micropost). Concluding that: "Overall, autism symptoms and maladaptive behaviors were observed to improve over the study period" of about 8 years, the authors also reported that "greater improvements were associated with higher levels of maternal praise (based on maternal speech samples) and higher quality mother-child relationships". If I remember […]

Woodman AC, Smith LE, Greenberg JS & Mailick MR (2014). Change in Autism Symptoms and Maladaptive Behaviors in Adolescence and Adulthood: The Role of Positive Family Processes., Journal of autism and developmental disorders, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25070471

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8:06 AM | Multimorbidity – NICE guidance scoping consultation
Get involved in the NICE scoping consultation on multimorbidities. Today’s post is a little different in nature – rather than bringing you the evidence, we are asking you to get involved in helping to shape it. NICE are in the process of defining the scope of their guidelines on multimorbidity (a combination of two or [read the full story...] The post Multimorbidity – NICE guidance scoping consultation appeared first on The Learning Disabilities Elf.

August 18, 2014

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9:35 PM | Answering Children’s Questions about Foster Care
Recently, a colleague came to me for advice on addressing a very tough question from a child: Why don’t I live with mommy anymore? With roughly 400,000 children in out-of-home placements in the United States, this is a question that gets asked by hundreds of thousands of children every year. If you’re a foster parent, […]
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8:10 AM | ADHD in the prison population: a micropost
"Compared with published general population prevalence, there is a fivefold increase in prevalence of ADHD in youth prison populations (30.1%) and a 10-fold increase in adult prison populations (26.2%)"."Mianly dry" apparently @ Paul WhiteleyThat was the primary conclusion reached in the meta-analysis by Young and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-reviewed literature on "the variable prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in incarcerated populations".There […]

Young S, Moss D, Sedgwick O, Fridman M & Hodgkins P (2014). A meta-analysis of the prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in incarcerated populations., Psychological medicine, 1-12. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25066071

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4:45 AM | Socrates, evolution, and the word "theory"
by Paul Braterman What's wrong with this argument? More than you think! All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal. It's perfectly valid, meaning that if the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true....

August 16, 2014

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7:21 AM | The epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders
A very short post for readers to ponder based on the paper by Amanda Baxter and colleagues [1] who talked about the global epidemiology of the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)."In 2010 there were an estimated 52 million cases of ASDs, equating to a prevalence of 7.6 per 1000 or one in 132 persons".Aside from emphasising the word 'estimated' (I highlighted that), be prepared to see the Baxter paper and that quote cited quite a bit in the peer-reviewed literature in times to […]

A. J. Baxter, T. S. Brugha, H. E. Erskine, R. W. Scheurer, T. Vos & J. G. Scott (2014). The epidemiology and global burden of autism spectrum disorders, Psychological Medicine, Other:

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August 15, 2014

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8:07 AM | Psychotic experience following childhood neurodevelopmental diagnosis
The paper by Golam Khandaker and colleagues [1] suggesting a higher risk of psychotic episodes (PEs) in early adolescence among those with a diagnosed childhood neurodevelopmental disorder (ND) makes for some interesting reading. Detailing several diagnoses as falling under the banner of neurodevelopmental disorder (autism spectrum, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, dysorthographia, dyscalculia), researchers concluded that: "The risk of PEs was higher in those with, compared with those […]

Khandaker GM, Stochl J, Zammit S, Lewis G & Jones PB (2014). A population-based longitudinal study of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, IQ and subsequent risk of psychotic experiences in adolescence., Psychological medicine, 1-10. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25066026

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August 14, 2014

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8:15 PM | Meet Harley Davidson's First Electric Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Project Livewire Courtesy Harley-Davidson For 111 years, the Harley Davidson has been known for many things—freedom, leather, and, most of all, its rumbling V-twin engine. This summer, Harley took a step in a new, quieter direction when it introduced Project Livewire, its first battery-powered bike. The Livewire has a lightweight aluminum frame rather than the classic tubular-steel version, and a 74-horsepower electric motor. With nearly 100 percent of its 52 […]
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8:29 AM | Bringing researchers and the public together for science
This an an article I wrote for SciBraai about The Science Awareness Day at UCT on Wednesday 6 August. Bringing researchers and the public together for science    
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8:09 AM | Learning disability in autism: how prevalent is it?
"Results showed that 36.8 % of the children met the criteria for ID [intellectual disability], with 60.2 % of these in the mild range (IQ 50-69) and 39.8 % in the moderate range (IQ 35-49)".That was the finding reported by Mélina Rivard and colleagues [1] looking at the co-occurrence of intellectual disability (also called learning disability here in Blighty) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) "in young children". Based on an analysis of over 200 children diagnosed with an ASD, […]

Rivard M, Terroux A, Mercier C & Parent-Boursier C (2014). Indicators of Intellectual Disabilities in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders., Journal of autism and developmental disorders, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25070470

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5:44 AM | My Kardashian Index is 0
Earlier this year, I blogged about metrics for measuring scientific output such as a H-index, AltMetric, etc. I just came across an entertaining little paper in Genome Biology by Neil Hall about a new metric- The Kardashian Index. Neil was wondering whether there are scientists who are like Kim Kardashian- famous for being famous. Or more specifically, whether there were scientists who are famous for their twitter feeds or blogs, but have not produced much in terms of published research papers […]

August 13, 2014

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8:11 AM | Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) survivors and greater risk of autism?
"In term NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] survivors, ASD [autism spectrum disorder] occurs with a greater frequency than in the general population and often develops alongside comorbid conditions". That was the conclusion from the study by Alexander Winkler-Schwartz and colleagues [1] looking at term at-risk infants who survived NICU."You were only meant to blow the bloody doors off"'Surviving' their earliest days spent in NICU brings a bit of lump to my throat. As a […]

August 12, 2014

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8:04 AM | Neonatal jaundice and increased risk of ADHD
The findings from Chang-Ching Wei and colleagues [1] suggesting an over-representation of the diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) following a history of neonatal jaundice provides fodder for today's brief post. Based in Taiwan, one of the most impressive countries when it comes to the use and analysis of 'big data' (see here), researchers were able to identify some 25,000 participants diagnosed with neonatal jaundice and compare them with almost 70,000 […]

August 11, 2014

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7:43 AM | Risk of neurodevelopmental disorder in cases of hypospadias
"This is the first study to identify an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders in patients with hypospadias, as well as an increased risk for ASD [autism spectrum disorders] in their brothers, suggesting a common familial (genetic and/or environmental) liability".Rainy days and Mondays... @ Wikipedia That was the conclusion reached in the study by Agnieszka Butwicka and colleagues [1] looking at various neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with a diagnosis of […]
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3:06 AM | Minions in Action!
Some of you may recall we received MinION sequencing devices from Oxford Nanopore as beta testers. It's taken a while, but Mike Gillings now has them up and running. Whether they can actually generate useful data is still something we're working out, but in the meantime here are some action photos.The MinION is the USB device plugged into the laptopEach dot on the screen represents a protein nanopore through which a DNA molecule is moving and being sequenced. The different colour of the dots […]
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2:18 AM | Best Wishes Daniel
The Paulsen lab went on an outing Friday night to the University bar to farewell Daniel Farrugia. Daniel has just submitted his PhD thesis on genomic analyses of the opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii, where he was investigating what is different between strains from hospital-acquired infections, community-acquired infections, and environmental isolates. Daniel has published papers in PLoS One and The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy; another paper about to be submitted to […]

August 10, 2014

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9:41 AM | Vitamin D deficiency and dementia risk: a micropost
I'm a little late in getting to the paper by Thomas Littlejohns and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting that: "vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease". The media have been all over this study as per the BBC commentary (see here) and some rather more critical discussion by the NHS Choices website (see here).I don't need to add anything further to discussions aside from saying that correlation might not necessarily be […]

August 08, 2014

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11:29 PM | How Warren Buffett Found the Key to Happiness
Money will not change how healthy you are or how many people love you. — Warren Buffett So let’s start off with a tough reality: it’s unlikely that any of us will be as rich as Warren Buffett. In fact, he’s so rich that one-thousandth of a percent of his wealth is still about $6.5 […]
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