Volunteers sought for large Irish OCD study

OCD is often associated with repeated hand-washing, hoarding and checking of locks and lights, but it also involves repeated intrusive, distressing or frightening thoughts [Pic source: http://cdn-img.health.com/%5D

One thousand volunteers who suffer from obsessions or compulsions due to OCD are being sought by the School of Psychology at UCD to take part in an online survey.

The disorder known as OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can drive people to repeating behaviours over and over again, such as washing or checking locks. It can also cause people to struggle to remove disturbing, intrusive and unwanted thoughts.

The disorder can severely impact on a person’s life, with some people actively engaged in thought rumination or performing rituals to reduce anxiety. It is estimated that between 2 and 3 per cent of people in Ireland suffer from OCD – or between 48,000 and 96,000 people.

The online study will be conducted by Patrick McHugh, a psychologist in clinical training at the School of Psychology NUIG, along with Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programme.

“Obsessions can feel overwhelming and difficult to control,” said Mr McHugh. “We aim to investigate whether strong emotions like guilt and disgust contribute to such symptoms.”

Dr Egan added: “When people do not reach out to others in order to normalise their thoughts, they may then start to experience distress,”

“Obsessions are often associated with thoughts which feel intrusive and out of your control and if left untended to, can become a worrying pre-occupation and affected a person’s day-to-day life, and may result in the need for a Chartered Clinical Psychologist’s intervention,” said Dr Egan.

To participate in the survey, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NUIGOCDStudy

Participants can enter for a draw for a €100 One4All voucher on completion of the survey and request access to a summary of the results

Sexist toys putting girls off science; 9am school start too early for teenagers; 30,000 old virus brought back to life; mental health ‘apps’ review

Click above to listen to discussion on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan.

This was first broadcast on East Coast FM on 10th September 2015

Sexist Toys

Are sexist toys turning girls off science? Many scientists believe they are (Source: Independent, UK)

A quick visit to a toy store confirms that many toys are heavily marketed towards either boys or girls, not both.

Sexist toys, critics say,  encourage nurturing and a pretty appearance, while boys focus on building things, and competing with other boys.

This is sending an early message to girls that activities which involve building, creating and problem solving are not meant for them.

This, according to  Professor Dame Athena Donald, the new President of the British Science Association, explains why girls are often turned off by science, and particularly hard science subjects like physics.

Sleep research is finding that teenagers starting school at 9am are sleep deprived, and suggest 10am as a time more in keeping with youngster’s natural body clocks.

Scientists have brought a 30,000 year old virus back to life. It was frozen in Siberian ice, melted due to global warming. There is a concern that the virus may be dangerous to humans, and safety testing is underway.

Up to 60% of people that have a mental health problem do not access health professionals, for a variety of reasons. Mental health ‘apps’ – against this background – are proving popular with many first time therapy users.

Black Holes a door to another Universe; Cancer cells re-programmed back to normal; Violent video games ARE a factor in criminal aggression; BMI not the best measure of health

Listen to the discussion The Morning Show with Declan Meehan on East Coast FM (broadcast on 26th August 2015)

Black Hole

An artist’s impression of a Black Hole, sucking up matter in its vicinity The question is, is the matter destroyed, or if it is not, then where does it go? (Credit: NASA)

Black Holes could be a cosmic door to another Universe, Stephen Hawking told a scientific conference in Toronto this week.

A Black Hole, just in case you didn’t know, is a deformation of the fabric of spacetime caused by a star collapsing under the weight of its own gravity.

Scientists have assumed that everything that went into a Black Hole was destroyed, but Hawking postulates that matter can survive and pass into an parallel Universe.

Meanwhile, Cancer cells have been re-programmed back to normal cells, according to researchers at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in the US.

The scientists have found instructor molecules, called microRNAs, which tell cells when to stop dividing, are absent, or not working properly in human cancer cells.

The plan now is to find ways to inject microRNAs directly into tumours to halt, or even reverse cancer, the researchers say.

Whether Violent Video Games trigger criminal aggression has been up for debate for decades, and many scientific studies have tried to find an answer.

This week, the American Psychological Association, said they had reviewed 300 separate studies on this topic between 2005 and 2013.

Their conclusion was that violent video games ARE one of the factors that can lead to criminal aggression, particularly in those with depression and antisocial tendencies.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a standard way for health professionals to try to measure whether someone is at risk of health problems due to their weight.

However, BMI’s true effectiveness as a way to measure individual health has been questioned by many, who say more accurate strategies are required.

This is an issue of great importance to many Irish people, as, half of all Irish adults, as measured by BMI are either overweight or obese.

The ‘beauty bias’; aging is relative; new CF drug; anxiety is hereditary

Brad and Angelina

We are hard-wired to behave more positively towards good looking people, science suggests (Source: priceonomics.com)

Many of us have long suspected that good-looking people get away with more, now scientists in China have confirmed that in a study of several hundred men using brain scanning techniques.

Why is it that some people seem ‘old’ at 50, while others look relatively youthful into retirement? The answer might lie in how well our body protects our DNA, according to a New Zealand study.

Cystic Fibrosis is a deadly genetic disease which affects lung functioning, and is more common in Ireland per head of population than anywhere in the world. A new drug, called Orkambi, is showing ‘great improvements’ in lung function, and quality of life in recent trials according to Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

Got an anxious parent, or two? Then you are more likely to be anxious or depressed yourself, compared to the rest of the population, according to new research which says 35% of anxiety is hereditary.

Click below to hear a discussion about the above topics on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan

This was first broadcast on East Coast FM on 9th July 2015

Antibiotics & childhood obesity; video games & violence; ‘friends first’ relationships; olfactory fingerprints

Olfactory Fingerprint

First we had the fingerprint, then the DNA fingerprint, and now science has developed an Olfactory fingerprint (Credit: Weizmann Institute for Science)

First we had the fingerprint, then came the DNA fingerprint. Now scientists have developed the olfactory fingerprint, which identifies the unique way a person perceives smell, as unique from all the other 7 billion inhabitants of the Earth.

A child can become predisposed to obesity due to changes in the balance of bacteria in their gut, following repeated courses of antibiotics, according to a study from New York University.

There is no evidence to suggest that violent video games trigger actual violence in the young, except among vulnerable youth that may already have an inclination towards violence, according to scientific research.

Love at first sight relationships, where physical attractiveness is crucial, are no more likely to succeed over the long term than relationships where physical attraction is not central, according to new research. .

Click below to hear a discussion of these topics on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan

This item was first broadcast on East Coast FM on 2nd July 2015

Why gossip is good; creative people more prone to mental illness; world’s first bio limb; and how eyes betray thoughts


Gossiping evolved in humans as a way to know who to trust [Credit; mindtechnology.com]

Gossip is a way for people to know who to trust, and whom not to trust, when living in large social groups, scientists say.

Studies have found that the single biggest factor in determining how long we’ll live is how big our social network is. That network is maintained by gossip.

A study of 86,000 Icelanders has found that creative people such as dancers, painters and writers have a 25 per cent higher chance of carrying genes associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disease.

The world’s first bio limb has been grown by scientists. The limb, a forearm was grown on a rat. The limb is ‘seeded’ with cells from the recipient that mean it is not regarded as ‘foreign’ by the body, and it looks more natural that bionic limbs that have been developed.

The way our eyes dilate, or move around, can determine what we are thinking, scientists have found. This can help predict when a person is unsure, and vulnerable to being sold on ideas or products. It can even be used to determine whether a person is going to chose a big or small number in a list of numbers, and influence their moral choices. To listen to a discussion on the above, on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan, click below.

This item was first broadcast on East Coast FM on the 11th June 2015

Creative thoughts linked to movement; Cynics earn less; Large Hadron fires up again; A wrist band that tells wearer they have had enough Sun

Many people get creative ideas while out walking, and science may have found an answer why (Credit: Rackett Hall Country House)

It is hard to force creativity, just ask any writer that suffered ‘writers block’ or a songwriter looking for a catchy line.

Scientists studying the brain may have found an answer why so many people report that they get their best, most creative, ideas, while out walking or running.

A cynical attitude to life and work is costly, according to new research, which found that cynics earn about $300 less than people who had a better view of their fellow man and were more willing to co-operate and collaborate.

A wrist band that changes colour when its wearer has had enough Sun, has been invented by scientists at Queen’s University in Belfast. It is important that people get some sun, as this helps our skin to produce Vitamin D, which is needed for bone health.

The band was developed by scientists Dr David Hazafy and Professor Andrew Mills and they have set up SunCatalyst Laboratories to commercialise it.

In other news, the Large Hadron Collider has powered up again, after a two year absence. It power levels have been increased, and the hope is that particles will be found that can shed more light on the nature of the Universe.

Listen to a discussion on these topics below, on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan

This item was first broadcast on East Coast FM on 4th June 2015.

Science & the ‘benevolent sexist’; how a chameleon changes; why maths is not natural; near total eclipse


Are men that open doors for women displaying sexism? One scientific study indicates yes [Picture: http://www.gentlemensavenue.com%5D

It’s something that many men do without thinking; open a door for a women. It’s just common politeness, or is it?

A study by scientists at Northeastern University in Boston, led by Professor Judith Hall, indicates that men who open doors for women may be secret sexists, of a more damaging kind for women’s equality than the more obviously misogynistic male.

A male chameleon is usually green, and well camouflaged, but it can change colour in minutes in response to another male, or a receptive female. It does this, scientists believe, by altering the spaces between crystals in its skin cells, which produces different wavelengths of light.

A almost total solar eclipse will occur on the 20th March in Ireland at 9:35 am. For a few minutes, the Moon will almost completely block out the Sun from viewers here.

Our brains are not set up for mathematics. A lot of people would agree, but it is a surprise to hear a leading French mathematician, Cedric Villani, winner of the prestigious Fields Medal, which is akin to the Nobel Prize for mathematicians, also agree. We consider why.

Listen below for discussion on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan on East Coast FM


First broadcast on East Coast FM on 12th March, 2015.

Is my dog listening? Why are female bosses unhappy? A breath test for lung cancer, and why Guinness doesn’t spill easily


Scientists believe there is a simple way to determine whether your dog is listening to you. [Credit: http://www.fanpop.com/%5D

Ever wonder if your dog is listening to you? Scientists believe the answer lies in whether the dog looks to the left or right after you have finished speaking.

Women are increasingly making their way up the ladder in many professions, but evidence shows many women bosses are not happy. We ask why?

Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, yet it is often diagnosed far too late for doctors to be able to effectively treat it. This is why a new breath test for lung cancer could prove a life saver for many people.

Guinness is less likely to spill than Heineken and coffee, due to its concentration of bubbles, and foam layer, scientists in the USA have found.

Click below to hear the interview broadcast on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan on East Coast FM on 27th November 2014.



Science thinks dating online is a bad idea; Britain goes nuclear again, should Ireland follow?; move over T-Rex, a bigger, badder predator has been found


Discussion of why science thinks it’s a bad idea to date online; and whether Ireland should be considering nuclear power?

Also, is it time to say move over T. Rex, it’s time to make way for the bigger, badder Spinosaurus – portrayed here on the right [Credit: Walking With Wikis]

Click below to hear a discussion of these topics on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan –  broadcast on East Coast FM on 9th October 2014