Thursday, October 12, 2017

The psychology of neurofeedback: Clinical intervention even if applied placebo

Thibault, R. T., & Raz, A. (2017). The psychology of neurofeedback: Clinical intervention even if applied placebo. American Psychologist, 72(7), 679-688.

Abstract: Advocates of neurofeedback make bold claims concerning brain regulation, treatment of disorders, and mental health. Decades of research and thousands of peer-reviewed publications support neurofeedback using electroencephalography (EEG-nf); yet, few experiments isolate the act of receiving feedback from a specific brain signal as a necessary precursor to obtain the purported benefits. Moreover, while psychosocial parameters including participant motivation and expectation, rather than neurobiological substrates, seem to fuel clinical improvement across a wide range of disorders, for-profit clinics continue to sprout across North America and Europe. Here, we highlight the tenuous evidence supporting EEG-nf and sketch out the weaknesses of this approach. We challenge classic arguments often articulated by proponents of EEG-nf and underscore how psychologists and mental health professionals stand to benefit from studying the ubiquitous placebo influences that likely drive these treatment outcomes.

Individual ant workers show self-control

Individual ant workers show self-control. Stephanie Wendt, Tomer J. Czaczkes. Royal Society Biology Letters, October 2017, Volume 13, issue 10.

Abstract: Often, the first option is not the best. Self-control can allow humans and animals to improve resource intake under such conditions. Self-control in animals is often investigated using intertemporal choice tasks—choosing a smaller reward immediately or a larger reward after a delay. However, intertemporal choice tasks may underestimate self-control, as test subjects may not fully understand the task. Vertebrates show much greater apparent self-control in more natural foraging contexts and spatial discounting tasks than in intertemporal choice tasks. However, little is still known about self-control in invertebrates. Here, we investigate self-control in the black garden ant Lasius niger. We confront individual workers with a spatial discounting task, offering a high-quality reward far from the nest and a poor-quality reward closer to the nest. Most ants (69%) successfully ignored the closer, poorer reward in favour of the further, better one. However, when both the far and the close rewards were of the same quality, most ants (83%) chose the closer feeder, indicating that the ants were indeed exercising self-control, as opposed to a fixation on an already known food source.

Are Youth Psychopathic Traits Related to Bullying? Meta-analyses on Callous-Unemotional Traits, Narcissism, and Impulsivity

Are Youth Psychopathic Traits Related to Bullying? Meta-analyses on Callous-Unemotional Traits, Narcissism, and Impulsivity. Mitch van Geel et al. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, October 2017, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 768–777.

Abstract: In the current manuscript meta-analyses are performed to analyze the relations between three aspects of psychopathy in youth, Callous-Unemotional (CU) traits, Narcissism, and Impulsivity, and bullying behaviors. The databases PsycINFO, MEDLINE, ERIC, Web of Science and Proquest were searched for relevant articles on bullying and CU traits, Narcissism, or Impulsivity in youth under 20 years of age. Two authors each independently screened 842 studies that were found in the literature search. Two authors independently coded ten studies on bullying and CU (N = 4115) traits, six studies on bullying and Narcissism (N = 3376) and 14 studies on bullying and Impulsivity (N = 33,574) that met the inclusion criteria. Significant correlations were found between bullying and CU traits, Narcissism, and Impulsivity. These results were not affected by publication bias. Anti-bullying interventions could potentially benefit from including elements that have been found effective in the treatment of youth psychopathy.

Female mice remember and are more interested in males that appear attractive to other females

Social Cognition and the Neurobiology of Rodent Mate Choice. Martin Kavaliers Elena Choleris Author Notes. Integrative and Comparative Biology, Volume 57, Issue 4, October 1 2017, Pages 846–856,

Synopsis: Various aspects of sociality, including mate choice, are dependent on social information. Mate choice is a social cognitive process that encompasses mechanisms for acquiring, processing, retaining and acting on social information. Social cognition includes the acquisition of social information about others (i.e., social recognition) and social information from others (i.e., social learning). Social cognition involves both assessing other individuals and their condition (e.g., health, infection status) and deciding about when and how to interact with them, thus, providing a frame-work for examining mate choice and its associated neurobiological mechanisms. In vertebrates, and in particular rodents, odors are an essential source of direct and indirect social information not only from others but also for others. Here, we briefly consider the relations between social cognition and olfactory-mediated mate choice in rodents. We briefly discuss aspects of: (1) social recognition of potential mates and the impact of infection threat on mate choice; (2) social learning and the utilization of the mate choices of others (“mate-choice copying”) including in the context of infection; and (3) the neurobiological mechanisms, with particular focus on particular the roles of the nonapeptide, oxytocin and the steroid hormones, estrogens, associated with social cognition and mate choice.


Developmental Predictors of Violent Extremist Attitudes: A Test of General Strain Theory

Developmental Predictors of Violent Extremist Attitudes: A Test of General Strain Theory. Amy Nivette, Manuel Eisner, Denis Ribeaud. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol 54, Issue 6, 2017.


Objectives: This study examines the influence of collective strain on support for violent extremism among an ethnically diverse sample of Swiss adolescents. This study explores two claims derived from general strain theory: (1) Exposure to collective strain is associated with higher support for violent extremism and (2) the effect of collective strain is conditional on perceptions of moral and legal constraints.

Methods: This study uses data from two waves of the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children and Youth. We use ordinary least squares procedures to regress violent extremist attitudes at age 17 on strain, moral and legal constraints, and control variables measured at ages 15 to 17. Conditional effects were examined using an interaction term for collective strain and moral neutralization and legal cynicism, respectively.

Results: The results show that collective strain does not have a direct effect on violent extremist attitudes once other variables are controlled. However, the degree to which individuals neutralize moral and legal constraints amplifies the impact of collective strain on violent extremist attitudes.
Conclusions: This study shows that those who already espouse justifications for violence and rule breaking are more vulnerable to extremist violent pathways, particularly when exposed to collective social strife, conflict, and repression.