Stories I've Been Following

Just providing some links to more stories that I've been following lately:

Can the apparent inability of psychopaths to make moral judgments about causing fear in others be linked to malfunctions in the amygdala?   Neurological Correlates has some details about the latest research study and what it means for dealing with psychopaths in daily life.

Do girls really throw like girls?  According to Dr. Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the answer appears to be "yes".   A meta-analysis of the gender gap on a wide variety of physical skills has found that gender differences only exist on two skills:  throwing ability and throwing distance.   Isegoria has the details.  

More than half of all returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have at least one diagnosed mental health condition.  Unfortunately, only half of them actually receive the help that they need.   Can something as simple as a telephone call motivate these veterans to get proper treatment?   A recent preliminary study published in General Hospital Psychiatry suggests that motivational interviews and "check-in" telephone calls can motivate veterans to get treatment.   Jennifer Gibson at Brain Blogger has the details. 

 Children with severe allergies face tremendous barriers to get something as basic as an education.  Adrienne Crezo of Neatorama provides this story of a severely allergic second-grader who uses a telepresence robot to attend classes.  

How often do you deal with Internet trolls?   After a three-year ordeal in which both he had his wife were subjected to vicious anti-Semitic attacks including horrifying threats, Leo Traynor managed to track down his tormentor and turn the tables.    What he found when he confronted the troll in person makes for gripping reading.   (h/t to Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing).

What is the "obesity paradox"?   Harriet Hall of Science-Based Medicine has a comprehensive post describing the complex relationship between obesity and disease.   Although there are exceptions to the general rule, losing weight is a good idea but the oft-cited BMI range of 20-25 isn't as realistic as you might think.

While it's a given that exposure to disasters can leave lasting trauma on survivors, how long can such trauma last?  An abstract from BMC Psychiatry presents the findings of a longitudinal study which followed survivors over a ten-year period.   Even after four years or more, the posttraumatic symptoms can still be strong enough to cause problems. 

And what about combat stress?   Deric Bownd's MindBlog presents the results of a sobering new study examing the neurological effects of combat stress in veterans returning from Afghanistan.   The results suggest that combat stress can lead to significant alterations in brain connectivity between the midbrain and prefrontal cortex.  And these changes may not be reversible. 

Is there really a "lipstick effect"?   Why are cosmetics sales unaffected by economic downturns?   Amy Wong of Brain Blogger presents the results of several studies that suggest that evolutionary psychology can help explain cosmetic-buying decisions and what it may mean for ideas about attractiveness.

David Colquhoun of D.C.'s Improbable Science gives a review of Ben Goldacre's important new book, Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients.   How are pharmaceutical companies distorting the medical safeguards that protect patients from poorly tested new drugs?   Dr. Goldacre's book provides a graphic account as well as a call to action.

Just in time for Alan Turing's centenary, a new artificial intelligence gamebot designed by computer researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has won a competition by convincing a team of judges that it was more human-like than half the humans it competed against.   .  Science Daily has the details. 

Also from Science Daily, a recent article in Lancet describes the burden that epilepsy sufferers face in developing nations.  Despite being one of the most cost-effective disorders to treat, there are twice as many people living with epilepsy in low- and lower-middle-income countries than higher income nations and more than 60% of those affected in these regions are not accessing any appropriate treatment. Will improved access to treatment make epilepsy more manageable for the millions of people affected? 

Does nurse burnout lead to more hospital infections for patients?   A recent study by researchers at Rutgers College of Nursing concludes that emotional exhaustion resulting from excessive nurse caseloads can be a major factor in likelihood of patients contracting serious hospital-based infections. 

That's all for this week.  More to come in future installments.





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