Three things we take with us from 2014

Three things we take with us from 2014

Tuesday, 23 December, 2014

As the year comes to a close, the results are crystal clear. We have rounded up the top three most viewed blog posts of 2014 in psychology, neuromarketing, and autism research. Interested? Read on!

1) Two examples of parent-child interaction research

Omri Weisman and colleagues from the Bar-Ilan University, Israel observed father-infant interaction in a laboratory to explore the influence of the hormones oxytocin and testosterone in the context of fathering. In other words, when the fathers interacted with their children researchers measured the hormone levels. Thirty-five fathers and their infants participated in this study. They were asked to visit the lab twice with one week in between the visits. Father and infant were observed during an 8 minute well-structured behavioral paradigm (Weisman, 2012).

Kristel Thomassin and Cynthia Suveg from the University of Georgia and Harvard University observed mother, father, and child interactions in order to investigate exchanges in affect between mother and child and father and child. Thomassin and Suveg aimed to shed light on children’s affective behaviors, children’s emotional development, and reciprocative behavior of parents.

2) Automated Facial Coding in the Field of Neuromarketing

By Peter Lewinski

Many would agree that speaking in front of 250 senior-level industry and academia leaders from +30 countries can be a breakthrough for any career in the young field of neuromarketing. However, I think it is even cooler when you get a chance to mingle with the board members, professors, start-up founders and all the people that do the cutting-edge work with the instant visibility of the award-recipient.

At the Neuromarketing World Forum (NMWF) - the annual conference of the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA) - I got a chance to do both, and much more.

3) Are there objective tests for predicting autism severity?

Some disorders cannot simply be diagnosed with a blood test or tissue-culture. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a good example; its diagnosis relies upon behavioral tests and questionnaires. Both are inherently subjective – you can imagine that research, diagnosis, and treatment of autism would benefit from a more efficient and objective way to measure behavior and quantify the severity of autism.

In his paper, Ira Cohen describes their study of 36 children, of which 27 were diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. These children were studied during a free play session, video tracking their movement with EthoVision XT software. Researchers were specifically interested in how much time the child spent near the parent or in the periphery of the room, and they indicated these areas as zones of interest in EthoVision XT to measure time spent in and latency to approach these areas. They also studied the relative angular velocity of the child’s movements. These data were compared with the results of several ASD rating scales.

Tracking data correlated with the severity of autism, as well as with problems with arousal regulation and irritability, indicating that this way of objective behavioral testing may serve as a useful and relatively culture-free tool for the assessment of ASD severity.