April 23, 2014

8:25 AM | Phenylalanine and schizophrenia: new directions for intervention?
As regular readers might already have noticed, amino acids are a bit of a obsession of mine on this blog. Out of all of them - and there are quite a few - I'm particularly interested in the aromatic amino acids and the their various connections to health and wellbeing. I've talked at length about some of the proposed connections made between amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine to all manner of conditions but specifically with the autism spectrum in mind (see here).The […]

Olaoluwa Okusaga, Olesja Muravitskaja, Dietmar Fuchs, Ayesha Ashraf, Sarah Hinman, Ina Giegling, Annette M. Hartmann, Bettina Konte, Marion Friedl, Jason Schiffman & Elliot Hong (2014). Elevated Levels of Plasma Phenylalanine in Schizophrenia: A Guanosine Triphosphate Cyclohydrolase-1 Metabolic Pathway Abnormality?, PLoS ONE, 9 DOI:


April 22, 2014

6:56 PM | Polar Opposites? The Social Construction of Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa
Some might argue that bulimia nervosa is more “hidden” than anorexia nervosa — it is not always obvious that someone is suffering from bulimia (though, I would argue, it is not always obvious that someone is suffering from any eating disorder). Even when it is “discovered,” BN is often placed in opposition with AN — as if the two were polar opposites. Indeed, attempts to define a phenotype (a set of observable traits or characteristics) for AN and BN tend to […]

Burns, M. (2004). Eating Like an Ox: Femininity and Dualistic Constructions of Bulimia and Anorexia, Feminism & Psychology, 14 (2) 269-295. DOI:


April 21, 2014

9:15 AM | Lathosterolosis, cholesterol and autism?
Although intrigued by the findings reported by Pier Luigi Calvo and colleagues [1] describing a "unique case" potentially linking liver functions and cognitive functions with a hat-tip to the presentation of autistic behaviours, I'll readily admit that I am way out of my comfort and competence zones when discussing this paper so please be ready with that pinch of salt.How do you like your eggs in the morning? @ Wikipedia As per what the paper and accompanying press release (see […]

Calvo, P., Brunati, A., Spada, M., Romagnoli, R., Corso, G., Parenti, G., Rossi, M., Baldi, M., Carbonaro, G., David, E. & Pucci, A. (2014). Liver Transplantation in Defects of Cholesterol Biosynthesis: The Case of Lathosterolosis, American Journal of Transplantation, DOI:


April 19, 2014

4:46 AM | Energy Expenditure (Calories Burned) in Anorexia Nervosa Patients
How many calories do patients with anorexia nervosa need to eat to gain a kilo (2.2 lbs)? It seems like a simple question and one that we should have figured out a long time ago, given the importance (err, necessity) of refeeding and weight restoration in recovery from anorexia nervosa. Unfortunately, research in this area has often led to contradictory results (see Salisbury et al., 1995 and de Zwaan et al., 2002 for reviews). Fortunately, a paper by Stephan Zipfel and colleagues […]

Zipfel S, Mack I, Baur LA, Hebebrand J, Touyz S, Herzog W, Abraham S, Davies PS & Russell J (2013). Impact of exercise on energy metabolism in anorexia nervosa., Journal of Eating Disorders, 1 (1) 37. PMID:


April 18, 2014

1:00 PM | When Evidence Backfires
Don't read this blog post. Definitely don't read it to the end. Didn't I tell you not to read this blog post? You're still doing it... We can laugh at our inherent ability to be contrary, but unfortunately something similar can happen when we give a human being scientific evidence that debunks ...Read More
Editor's Pick

April 17, 2014

8:31 AM | Mitochondrial dysfunction as a neurobiological subtype of autism
The paper by Suzanne Goh and colleagues [1] reporting on "a possible neurobiological subtype of mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" is a worthy addition to the research roll call which has graced this blog down the years. Based on the analysis of brain lactate levels - a potential marker of mitochondrial dysfunction - via the analysis of lactate doublets on brain magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI), authors picked up a significantly higher rate of […]

Goh, S., Dong, Z., Zhang, Y., DiMauro, S. & Peterson, B. (2014). Mitochondrial Dysfunction as a Neurobiological Subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder, JAMA Psychiatry, DOI:


April 16, 2014

5:54 AM | Joined by HDAC (inhibitors)
I'm treading quite carefully with this post which came about following my [non-expert] reading of the paper abstract from Anand Venkatraman and colleagues [1] on a potential downside to the use of HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitors for treating spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), a progressive disease affecting movement and other knock-on functions. This follows other work suggesting that certain HDAC inhibitors might offer some important new lines of investigation when it […]

Venkatraman A, Hu YS, Didonna A, Cvetanovic M, Krbanjevic A, Bilesimo P & Opal P (2014). The histone deacetylase HDAC3 is essential for Purkinje cell function, potentially complicating the use of HDAC inhibitors in SCA1., Human molecular genetics, PMID:


April 15, 2014

2:51 AM | Disordered Eating and Athletic Performance: Where’s the Line?
If a person severely restricts his diet and exercises for hours each day, he has an eating disorder. If another does exactly the same but it is because she wants to make the lightweight rowing team (which has an upper weight limit), she’s a committed athlete. When the two overlap, and an athlete presents with eating disorder symptoms, how do we distinguish between the demands of the sport and the illness? I’ve been interested in the distinctions we make between disordered and […]

Werner, A., Thiel, A., Schneider, S., Mayer, J., Giel, K. & Zipfel, S. (2013). Weight-control behaviour and weight-concerns in young elite athletes – a systematic review, Journal of Eating Disorders, 1 (1) 18. DOI:

Martinsen, M., Bratland-Sanda, S., Eriksson, A. & Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2009). Dieting to win or to be thin? A study of dieting and disordered eating among adolescent elite athletes and non-athlete controls, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44 (1) 70-76. DOI:

Rouveix M, Bouget M, Pannafieux C, Champely S & Filaire E (2007). Eating attitudes, body esteem, perfectionism and anxiety of judo athletes and nonathletes., International journal of sports medicine, 28 (4) 340-5. PMID:

Ferrand C, Magnan C & Philippe RA (2005). Body-esteem, body mass index, and risk for disordered eating among adolescents in synchronized swimming., Perceptual and motor skills, 101 (3) 877-84. PMID:


April 14, 2014

8:00 PM | The Power of Dad
In the 1994 film Junior, a male scientist becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl. It’s a rather ridiculous tale, but if any man could be given the superpower of giving birth, my dad should... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
7:58 AM | Neurology of inflammatory bowel diseases
The paper by Ben-Or and colleagues [1] talking about a neurologic profile present in a small participant cohort of children and adolescents diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) caught my eye recently. Their findings reporting that over two-thirds of their paediatric participant group diagnosed with IBD also "exhibited neurologic manifestations" provides some compelling preliminary evidence for further investigation in this area.Outside of reports of headache and dizziness, the […]

Ben-Or O, Zelnik N, Shaoul R, Pacht A & Lerner A (2014). The Neurologic Profile of Children and Adolescents With Inflammatory Bowel Disease., Journal of child neurology, PMID:


April 11, 2014

10:25 PM | Dad's obesity and risk of offspring autism
In this post I'm talking about the paper by Pål Surén and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that "paternal obesity is an independent risk factor for ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] in children". I do so not with the intent of stigmatising parents and specifically parents with weight issues, which tend to be present for many more reasons than just food and exercise (see here), but merely to highlight how parental physical health may show some relationship to […]

Suren, P., Gunnes, N., Roth, C., Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Lipkin, W., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T. & Schjolberg, S. (2014). Parental Obesity and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder, PEDIATRICS, DOI:


April 10, 2014

7:56 AM | Gluten exposure and "feelings of depression"?
Could exposure to dietary gluten affect a person's moods or emotional state?Well, if the paper by Simone Peters and colleagues [1] (open-access here) is to be believed the answer may very well be yes, at least in some cases, as they report a link between gluten consumption and feelings of depression under [short-term] experimental conditions. If replicated, such a finding may have profound consequences for how we view our relationship between food and mental health and wellbeing.Bread […]

Peters SL, Biesiekierski JR, Yelland GW, Muir JG & Gibson PR (2014). Randomised clinical trial: gluten may cause depression in subjects with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity - an exploratory randomised clinical study., Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, PMID:


April 08, 2014

7:35 AM | Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and various factors
The paper by Kate Lievesley and colleagues [1] documenting various "predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in children and adolescents" caught my eye recently. Based on a review of the research literature around the topic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) [in childhood], the authors set about detailing some of the important factors linked to the condition and in doing so, highlighted how physiology and psychology might combine when […]

Lievesley, K., Rimes, K. & Chalder, T. (2014). A review of the predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in children and adolescents, Clinical Psychology Review, DOI:


April 07, 2014

4:03 AM | Reflecting on the 2014 International Conference on Eating Disorders
Tetyana’s Note: Instead of writing two separate posts, I’ve decided to interject and add my own thoughts/opinions to Andrea’s post. For one, I think this will reduce repetition and I think it will be better to have any differing opinions in one place (I think this will facilitate discussion, I hope).  I will clearly mark my own comments so that they are not for conflated with Andrea’s. If I don’t comment it is because I wasn’t there, have nothing to […]

April 06, 2014

6:47 AM | Vitamin D deficiency and more and risk of ADHD
"Vitamin D – could it stop 'modern’ diseases?" was one of the headlines I read quite recently as more pressure is being applied on the sunshine vitamin to perform when it comes to our health and welbeing. Indeed, not so long ago I posted an entry updating where we're at when it comes to the 'sunshine' vitamin D and the autism spectrum conditions. The conclusion buried in that post was that whilst there is some interesting work potentially linking vitamin D and autism, there is still […]

Bener A & Kamal M (2013). Predict attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Evidence -based medicine., Global journal of health science, 6 (2) 47-57. PMID:


April 05, 2014

3:21 PM | The psychology of the no-makeup selfie: why we should think twice before discouraging public displays of altruism
Imagine if I were to ask you to donate blood tomorrow. Now imagine that I were to offer you $7 to do the very same thing. Would this incentive make you more or less likely to give blood? Stop and think before reading on. In 1970, Richard Titmus proposed that offering money for blood donations would ...Read More

April 03, 2014

8:20 AM | New life for naltrexone and autism?
During the very earliest days of the life of this blog I posted about the opiate antagonist naltrexone (ReVia®) and some research on its history with autism in mind; in particular, the various emerging speculations on low dose naltrexone (LDN) (see here). Today I'm following up that entry based on the results of a systematic review by Ashok Roy and colleagues [1] on the value (or not) of naltrexone for "attenuating the core symptoms of autism spectrum conditions in […]

Roy A, Roy M, Deb S, Unwin G & Roy A (2014). Are opioid antagonists effective in attenuating the core symptoms of autism spectrum conditions in children: a systematic review., Journal of intellectual disability research : JIDR, PMID:


April 02, 2014

5:31 PM | A Transformation of Light: How We See [Video]
    Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the second video... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
8:21 AM | World Autism Awareness Day and the CDC estimates
As designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 (see here), today, Wednesday 2nd April 2014, is World Autism Awareness Day (#WAAD).If you haven't already clicked the link to the UN statement above, I'd encourage you to do so and read over the articles included in the resolution.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offers some wise words about the meaning of today in his annual address: "World Autism Awareness Day is about more than generating understanding; it is a call to action. I urge […]

March 31, 2014

8:32 AM | ALV003 glutenase and more
Today's post is a bit of mash-up but hopefully containing some common threads. If you're also reading the title of this post and wondering what it might have to do with autism research, stay with me...For mash get smash... @ Wikpedia The chopping up duties of ALV003To start, we have the paper by Lähdeaho and colleagues [1] who reported results based on the "ability of ALV003, a mixture of 2 recombinant gluten-specific proteases given orally, to protect patients […]

Lähdeaho ML, Kaukinen K, Laurila K, Vuotikka P, Koivurova OP, Kärjä-Lahdensuu T, Marcantonio A, Adelman DC & Mäki M (2014). The Glutenase ALV003 Attenuates Gluten-Induced Mucosal Injury in Patients with Celiac Disease., Gastroenterology, PMID:

Ludvigsson JF, Neovius M & Hammarström L (2014). Association Between IgA Deficiency & Other Autoimmune Conditions: A Population-Based Matched Cohort Study., Journal of clinical immunology, PMID:


March 30, 2014

8:46 AM | Mental health consequences of childhood cancer
Worldwide, more than 175,000 new cases of childhood cancer are diagnosed each year. Georgie Johnstone, a recent vacation scholar at the Trauma Recovery Lab talks you through some thought-provoking new research on cancer and PTSD. Overall, in children under 15 … Continue reading →

Phipps, Klosky, Long, Hudson, Huang, Zhang & Noll, R. (2014). Posttraumatic Stress and Psychological Growth in Children With Cancer: Has the Traumatic Impact of Cancer Been Overestimated?, Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32 641-646. DOI:

Lund, Winther, Dalton, Cederkvist, Jeppesen, Deltour, Hargreave, M., Kjær, S., Jensen, A., Rechnitzer, C. & Andersen, K. (2013). Hospital contact for mental disorders in survivors of childhood cancer and their siblings in Denmark: a population-based cohort study, The Lancet Oncology, 14 971-980. DOI:


March 29, 2014

12:06 AM | Inflaming inflammation and psychiatry
The systematic review published by Mitchell & Goldstein [1] kinda says it all when it comes to our current view of the topic of inflammation and psychiatry, and in particular inflammation and neuropsychiatric conditions such as autism, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): "There is preliminary evidence for elevated markers of inflammation in this population".All at sea (JMW Turner) @ Wikipedia I've talked quite a bit on this blog about how, […]

Mitchell RH & Goldstein BI (2014). Inflammation in Children and Adolescents With Neuropsychiatric Disorders: A Systematic Review., Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 53 (3) 274-296. PMID:

Onore CE, Schwartzer JJ, Careaga M, Berman RF & Ashwood P (2014). Maternal Immune Activation Leads to Activated Inflammatory Macrophages in Offspring., Brain, behavior, and immunity, PMID:


March 28, 2014

3:16 PM | Quick! What Is The Word for A Pair of Opposites? [Video]
  // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the first video in the... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

March 27, 2014

4:21 PM | The new CDC autism prevalence rate
Whilst quite a lot of media space is currently being devoted to talking about the study by Rich Stoner and colleagues [1] and sweeping generalisations like the BBC headline: Autism 'begins long before birth' with seemingly only little appreciation of the small-scale nature of the study and little details linked to samples being post-mortem tissues, other important autism-related news is also out there.CDC US autism prevalence estimates @ Autism Speaks I'm […]

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2010 Principal Investigators (2014). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010, Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 63 Other: Link

2:52 PM | Why TED's move to enable speakers to provide annotated citations is such a good thing
A while back I wrote a post about the problem of pseudoscience in TED talks and how this problem was made so much worse by the failure across the board of TED talks to include references. This month TED completely redesigned their website and have now provided a space for speakers to provide minute ...Read More

March 26, 2014

8:54 AM | Vision impairment and ADHD?
Science often has the ability to surprise.So it was when I first read the paper by Dawn Decarlo and colleagues* (open-access here) which suggested that: "children with vision impairment may be more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] than children in the general population". I should point out that this observation should not be totally unexpected given some media for other studies by the authors (see here).Lady in a green jacket @ […]

Decarlo DK, Bowman E, Monroe C, Kline R, McGwin G Jr & Owsley C (2014). Prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among children with vision impairment., Journal of AAPOS : the official publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 18 (1) 10-4. PMID:


March 24, 2014

9:30 AM | A specific female ASD phenotype is emerging...
The title of this brief post is a quote taken from the abstract of the paper by Frazier and colleagues [1] who, following an analysis of participants included in the Simons Simplex Collection, concluded that autism research and practice might well consider looking at differences in the presentation of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) between the sexes.The Lady of Shalott @ Wikipedia Including nearly 2500 people with autism including over 2100 males and 304 females, examining […]

Frazier TW, Georgiades S, Bishop SL & Hardan AY (2014). Behavioral and cognitive characteristics of females and males with autism in the simons simplex collection., Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 53 (3) 329-340000. PMID:

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