Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Gollum!

So I only carved one jack-o'-lantern this year --- it's a measure of how excited/worried I am about this election that Halloween has almost completely slipped my mind this year --- but I'm really pleased with the way it turned out, and I did remember to take lots of pictures at different stages of the process.

I decided I wanted to carve it in the likeness of Gollum from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as he appears in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

This is the picture I worked from:
This is my negative-space interpretation* of that picture, after I had finished transferring it to the pumpkin by taping my drawing to it and poking zillions of little holes all along every line. 
Here, I have recreated the negative-space drawing on the pumpkin by tracing over the pin-holes with a Sharpie:

And here is the finished project:

Finally, here it is all lit up:

Happy Halloween!!

*Drawing from the movie still, I actually produced a line drawing first, and then turned that into a negative-space drawing so that my lines would actually show up on a jack-o'-lantern. It occurs to me now that I ought to have scanned the original line drawing, but whatever.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cognitive Sex Differences within Autism - Part I

One hypothesis about why there are so many more boys and men on the autism spectrum than there are girls and women is that boys and men, for whatever reason, are more likely to get diagnoses of autism spectrum conditions.

One of the reasons commonly put forward by people (including me) making this argument is that the diagnostic criteria reflect a picture of autism derived disproportionately from autistic boys and men, and autistic girls and women differ sufficiently from their male counterparts in their abilities, behavior, developmental histories etc. to ensure that they will often fail to meet those criteria.

While browsing PLOS ONE I found a couple of recent-ish articles looking into what those differences might be.

The more recent study, just published this week, involved giving four largish groups of participants (one autistic and one neurotypical group within each sex, with each group having thirty-two people in it) a battery of tests designed to measure five different skills: theory of mind, emotion recognition, executive functioning, perceptual attention to detail, and manual dexterity.

What are all those things and how would you go about measuring them? Well, the first of those skills, theory of mind --- also called cognitive empathy or mind-reading --- is one I've written a lot about on this blog. I've also written a lot (usually in the same posts) about the tool psychologists seem to use most of the time to assess this skill in adults: the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test. I don't think I need to say anything more about either the skill or the test; the test is relatively straightforward, a series of black-and-white photographs of faces, cropped to show only the eyes, paired with a choice of four emotion words. You are supposed to guess which of the words best describes what the person whose eyes are in the photograph is feeling.  

I listed theory of mind and emotion recognition separately, even though the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test obviously involves both. There's another test the researchers used, one that they describe as a test of emotion recognition, that reads to me like it's almost the same thing as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, only it uses pictures of entire faces instead of just eyes. It's called the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces Test.

To test the participants' executive-functioning abilities, the researchers used something called the Go/No Go Task. This involves pressing buttons on a computer keyboard in response to certain cues appearing on the computer screen; in this study the cues were arrows pointing either to the right or to the left. (Right and left were each associated with a different target key: P for right and Q for left. So the people taking the test were literally minding their P's and Q's!) The test also includes extraneous cues that test takers are not supposed to respond to. So what's being tested is not just one's ability to hit a key when a light goes on; it's also one's ability to restrain one's key-hitting impulse when something close to, but not exactly like, the target stimulus appears.

There were some other things the researchers included under the umbrella of executive functioning: working memory (tested by having the participants repeat nonsense syllables), word generativity (ability to come up with lots of words beginning with the same letter in a short amount of time) and motor planning, which they tested using the Assembly subtest of the Purdue Pegboard Test. (This involves putting simple objects together in a set order using whatever hand they tell you to use.) This obviously assesses manual dexterity as well as the ability to figure out what you need to do in what order (i.e., motor planning), although they also had the participants complete the other parts of the Purdue Pegboard Test to test manual dexterity alone.

Finally, the test they used to measure attention to detail was the Embedded Figures Test, which I've also blogged about before, noting that autistic people have shown a particular aptitude for this task.

The results are mostly unsurprising: the autistic study participants did worse at both of the facial-expression-interpreting tasks, and also at pressing the right key in the Go/No Go task. On the two language-related memory tasks, they performed no differently than the control group. (This is not surprising given that all of the participants are described as "high-functioning," having average-to-above-average IQs (about 115, plus or minus about 15 points) with verbal IQ greater than or equal to performance IQ).

The emotion-recognition data get more interesting when you look more closely at them, though; apparently the autistic study participants had more trouble identifying some emotions than others. Fear was the one it took them longest to recognize; it was also the hardest one for the non-autistic people to identify, too, but the gap between the two groups' average reaction times is the biggest in this category. It took the autistic study participants, on average, somewhere between four and five seconds (closer to five) to identify the fearful faces. For the non-autistic participants, it took maybe three and a half seconds. Happy faces were the easiest for both groups to identify, and the difference between groups was only half a second compared to the 1-1.5 second gap in their response times to fearful faces. All the other reaction times are clustered within a relatively narrow range for both groups: between 2.5 and 3 seconds for the autistic group, and between 2 and 2.5 for the control group. So, even though fear was tricky for everyone, it proved especially challenging for the autistic people. The study authors guess that maybe this is because autistic people studiously avoid looking at other people's eyes, and the eyes are apparently the most important cue that someone looks frightened.

There were also a couple of novel findings, too, though. For instance, on the Assembly component of the Purdue Pegboard Test, it was only the autistic men who had any problems relative to their same-sex control group. The autistic women were, you might say, indistinguishable from their peers

But the most surprising thing, for me, was their results on the Embedded Figures Test. This is a pretty solidly defined Thing Autistic People Are Really Good At, yet in this study, where there was a difference between autistic and non-autistic groups, it was the non-autistic people who found the hidden shape faster. (That was also true for the men and not for the women).

In general, the authors describe a pattern of male and female autistics having more or less the same degree of impairment in what they call the "hallmark" of autism spectrum conditions, which is inability to pick up on another person's nonverbal cues to their mental or emotional states*, but with the autistic men, and not women, also having additional impairments in other domains.

The authors point out that this contradicts what had been conventional wisdom about cognitive sex differences within autism, which held that autistic women were usually more severely disabled than autistic men**.

I haven't forgotten about the other, earlier study; I'm just going to give it its own post so as not to make this one overlong.

Lai, M., Lombardo, M., Ruigrok, A., Chakrabarti, B., Wheelwright, S., Auyeung, B., Allison, C., , ., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2012). Cognition in Males and Females with Autism: Similarities and Differences PLoS ONE, 7 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047198

*This elusive quality can be called theory of mind, mentalizing, "mind-reading" or empathizing. It may also involve more than one cognitive, emotional or perceptual ability, but this study doesn't really go into that.

**To be REALLY picky, this study doesn't address the issue of intellectual disability, as no one who participated in it would meet the criteria for having ID. This shows that autistic men of slightly above average IQ are more likely to have problems with motor planning and figure disembedding.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Favorite Thing!

(Spoiler alert: the subject of this post is not actually my favorite thing.)

I just discovered a blogger I find interesting; her name is Gretchen Koch* and she has a Ph. D.  in the cognitive science of religion. She mostly writes about that.

One of the things she writes about when she's not writing about the psychological underpinnings of religion and ethics, though, is feminism. A while back she wrote a pretty decent, thoughtful, well-argued post on objectification (a much-discussed topic, on which she managed the not-inconsiderable feat of adding something new).

That post drew the predictable ire from the knuckle-dragging community, but it took a really bizarre form:
After noticing a number of hits here that came from [sexist douchebag]'s blog, I returned to see that he had written a follow-up post which talked about my post. Want to guess what it said? I'll make it a multiple-choice question:
A. You know what? I am actually reading too much into this, and should go with the simplest explanation rather than making other men's attraction all about my particular ideological agenda.
B. You know what? I don't think I was given a fair shake -- there are actually differences in the appearance of feminists vs. non- or anti-feminists, and while I didn't go to much trouble to articulate these or why they should exist, that's a factor that should be taken into account here.
C. You know what? It's really weird that I didn't make a distinction between "attractive" and "attractive to me," since I can only speak for myself and since (as with everybody, whether they admit it or not) my own perception of what I consider attractive is shaped by my ideological convictions.
D. You know what? Gretchen's ugly. And probably autistic.
I'll give you a moment to think before answering. 
Done? Yeah, I didn't think it would take long. The answer is ... D!
Yes, it's my favorite rhetorical tactic in the world, Disagreeing by Diagnosing!

The argument assertion in the post she links (which I don't recommend reading, unless you've got a few dozen extra brain cells you won't miss) is that all feminists, and all male anti-feminists calling themselves "men's rights activists" (read this blog if you are unfamiliar with the genus), are autistic.

Here is normally where I would spell out what the writer is arguing, how he or she is using autism as a metaphor, and what the implications of that metaphor are, but it's not being used as a metaphor in this instance. He's just saying "all feminists are autistic," and that the only reason they are feminists is because they are so bad at social interaction that they have become completely alienated from men, and from society in general.

I was actually really conflicted about posting this, because it's a really stupid instance of Disagreeing by Diagnosing, and there isn't actually much to pick apart and criticize in it, but I've developed a collector's mentality about this fallacy, so I feel compelled to post about every instance of it that I hear about. 

The quality of the blog may suffer as a result of this compulsion, but gosh darn it, at least you'll know just how widespread this fallacy is!  

*Presumably not related to Charles and David Koch, though if she were I probably wouldn't hold it against her.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another "Extreme Female Brain" Sighting

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Simon Baron-Cohen's E-S theory of autism, sex differences and whatever else he's applied it to lately states that people have one of three basic cognitive styles: Type E, the empathizer, who understands people and relationships; Type S, the systemizer, who understands abstract ; and Type B, who can do both. Prof. Baron-Cohen has identified autism as exemplifying the Type S cognitive style taken to extremes, but hasn't written much about its opposite, the extreme Type E, or Extreme Female Brain. He allows that it must exist, but he doesn't think it would be as disabling in modern society as an Extreme Male Brain --- autism --- is. Other people (Crespi and Badcock) have suggested paranoid psychosis as the condition typical of the Extreme Female Brain, as it involves being morbidly obsessed with other people. In the paper I discuss here, a pair of evolutionary psychologists make the case that the psychopathology characteristic of the Extreme Female Brain is disordered eating.

The paper I discuss in this blog post describes a series of four different "experiments" in which groups of college students, of varying size (as large as n = 160, as small as n = 37), are given multiple psychometric exams. They are tested for the following things: disordered eating, sensitivity to other people's judgments, Empathizing Quotient (EQ), Systemizing Quotient (SQ), performance on various tasks considered representative of either empathizing or systemizing (e.g. guessing what emotion people in photographs are feeling, or mentally rotating three-dimensional objects), and schizotypal personality disorder. Some of the data are compatible with the idea of a high-empathizing, low-systemizing Extreme Female Brain that is particularly susceptible to disordered eating, and some are not.
Still image from a short film made in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin, showing what appears to be a person in a gorilla suit walking in some woods
Thought to exist, but seldom glimpsed in the wild
Today on the fascinating psychology blog BPS Research Digest, I saw that some other researchers think they've found a candidate for an Extreme Female Brain, which according to Simon Baron-Cohen's E-S theory ought to exist, probably in about the same numbers as the Extreme Male Brain (which he identifies as autism) does, but which hasn't been described in the psychological literature.

The new article, by evolutionary psychologist Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. and assistant professor of psychology Jennifer Bremser --- both affiliated with the State University of New York --- and published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, tries to make the case that eating disorders stem from the heightened sensitivity to others' judgments that is characteristic of the Extreme Female Brain.

What they did was to give a group of undergraduate psychology students at SUNY a battery of tests: the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT), which looks for disordered attitudes about eating (sample questions: "I feel extremely guilty after eating"; "I feel that food controls my life"); the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale, which measures how anxious you are about what other people think of you (sample questions: "I often worry that I will say or do the wrong thing"; "I feel very upset when I commit some social error"; "When I am talking to someone, I worry about what they may be thinking about me"); Simon Baron-Cohen's Empathizing and Systemizing Quotients (which I have critiqued here and here); the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (PDF), which tests for nine traits associated with schizotypal personality disorder: ideas of reference (which means thinking that other people, or the media, are talking specifically to or about you when they aren't really), excessive social anxiety, odd beliefs or magical thinking, unusual perceptual experiences, odd or eccentric behavior, a lack of close interpersonal relationships, odd speech, constricted affect (i.e., not being very good at showing one's feelings), and general suspiciousness; and several tests that measure skills that would be associated with either an empathizing or systemizing cognitive style: the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, the Intuitive Physics Test and the Redrawn Vandenburg and Kuse Mental Rotations Test (Version A). Then they looked for relationships between all of these different test scores, and between any given score and the test taker's sex.

Their hypothesis --- that an empathizing cognitive style is more characteristic of women than of men, and tends in its extreme form towards disordered eating and social anxiety --- would predict the following: women scoring higher, on average, on the EQ and Mind in the Eyes tests, and lower on the SQ, Intuitive Physics, and Mental Rotation tests; women scoring higher than men on the measures of disordered eating and fear of negative evaluation, and high scores on those measures being correlated with high scores on the EQ and Mind in the Eyes tests for both sexes. 

They found significant differences between the sexes on the measures of disordered eating and fear of negative evaluation (both were higher for women), and also on the EQ, but not on the SQ. Women were also likelier to display something called "empathizing bias", which they defined numerically as each study participant's z-score on the EQ minus their z-score on the SQ. (Z-scores are a measure of how far an individual's score on a given statistical measure is above or below the average score. A negative number means the person, or sub-group, scored below average, while a positive number means they scored above average). Thus, the empathizing bias score is supposed to represent how much better a person does at empathizing than systemizing (or not, if it's zero or a negative number).

There was also a disparity between how participants scored on the EQ and SQ versus how they did on the more "objective" measures of systemizing or empathizing skill, the Intuitive Physics, Reading the Mind in the Eyes and mental rotation tests. The sexes differed strongly on their (self-reported) EQ scores, but performed almost identically on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. Obviously guessing what emotion a black-and-white photograph of a stranger's eyes is meant to convey is very different from accurately gauging the emotional states of one's relatives and friends, so that still leaves open the possibility that women perform better at this task when it involves real people who are known to them, but it's just as likely that women tend to overrate, and men to underrate, their interpersonal sensitivity on self-reported measures, and that real differences between the sexes on this ability are minimal. 

The opposite pattern occurred between the SQ and one of the "objective" measures of systemizing ability: men and women scored equally on the SQ, but men outperformed women on the Intuitive Physics test. (I can't find any results on the mental-rotation test broken down by sex).

There was also a very inconsistent pattern of correlations between disordered eating, fear of negative evaluation and the various systemizing and empathizing variables. High scores on the disordered-eating measure correlated with high scores on the fear-of-negative-evaluation (FNE) measure, and also with high scores on the EQ. There was no relationship between SQ scores and either disordered eating or fear of negative evaluation, and EQ and SQ scores were positively correlated with each other. Most strangely, SQ scores were correlated positively with empathizing bias: the number that reflects the imbalance between one's empathizing and systemizing abilities!

Also, within each sex the overall pattern of disordered eating patterns correlating with greater empathic ability (whether self-reported or "objectively" measured) seems to fall apart. 

Two graphs, Figure 1 and Figure 2, show bars for average male and female performance on both the EQ and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, at low and high ends of the disordered-eating spectrum. According to these graphs, women score about the same on these tests regardless of whether they show disordered eating patterns or not, and for men the results are all over the place. On one test (the Mind in the Eyes), men who score low on the Eating Attitudes Test do equally well with all women, while men who score higher do more poorly on average, but their range of results is very, very broad. The error bar is wider than the bar on the graph is tall. 

On the EQ, the men show more or less the pattern the researchers expected: men at the high end of the disordered-eating spectrum scored higher than men at the low end on average, but for the former group especially there was a lot of within-group variation.

They also found correlations between disordered eating, fear of negative evaluation and several of the traits that make up schizotypal personality disorder: disordered eating correlates positively with ideas of reference (i.e., thinking everything refers to you, specifically), magical thinking and suspicion. Fear of negative evaluation correlates positively with ideas of reference, suspicion, social anxiety and constricted affect. (This latter makes sense --- if you are afraid people are judging you, of course you are going to try and minimize the extent to which those people are able to tell what you're thinking or feeling! It's called a "poker face".)

They also wanted to see if any of these psychological problems --- disordered eating, fear of negative evaluation, schizotypal personality disorder or any of its component traits --- interfered with one's ability to rotate three-dimensional objects in one's head. (Their reasoning for doing this wasn't just for giggles --- let's take a bunch of emotionally stressed people and ask them to do something both pointless and difficult! Hilarious! --- it can be hard to shake the idea that a lot of psychological experiments are done with precisely that objective --- but because they wanted to see if people who were unusually and morbidly concerned with what other people thought of them, and were thus "hyper-mentalizers" who would be reckoned extreme empathizers in Simon Baron-Cohen's typology would also show the expected impairment in systemizing tasks. 

Annoyingly, they did not compare people's scores on the mental-rotation task with their scores on other direct measures of systemizing or empathizing ability: they assumed, given earlier findings, that high scorers on the measures of disordered eating and fear of negative evaluation are also high empathizers. As I have said above, the data are less than clear in their support of this assumption. 

They found that people (they do not break it down by sex, probably because at this stage in the study they were dealing with a lot fewer participants) who scored high on their measure of disordered eating tended to do worse at mental rotations, consistent with their prediction. However, they also found a small (too small to be significant) positive correlation between mental-rotation scores and fear of negative evaluation. Of those two things, I'd consider the FNE score to be the more pure indicator of a "hypermentalizing" excess of concern for what other people think; there's a lot that's still unknown about the psychology of eating disorders, to the point that calling disordered eating a behavior born out of a fear of negative evaluation by others would be speculative.

The correlations they found between the various schizotypal personality traits and mental rotation ability surprised me, too. You'd think, if greater skill at mental rotation of three-dimensional objects indicated a logical, "systemizing" type of mind, that there would be a strong negative correlation between mental-rotation scores and those schizotypal traits that bespeak irrationality, like magical thinking or ideas of reference. (Especially magical thinking). But no, there's no correlation between either of those things and how well one does at mental-rotation tasks. The only components of schizotypal personality disorder that showed any significant relationship to mental rotation were social anxiety and constricted affect, both of which were negatively correlated. 

A negative correlation between skill at mental rotation and one's score on the social anxiety subscale of the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire does fit with the researchers' idea of "hyper-mentalizing" at the expense of systemizing. But the lack of such a correlation with fear of negative evaluation does not fit, and instead makes one wonder if what's going on is, instead, anxious people's anxiety interfering with their ability to perform the rotations. 

In their Discussion section, the researchers do not comment on most of these discrepancies, but the one they do address --- worse performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test* by people with more severely disordered eating --- they attribute to those people's having greater, not less, emotional sensitivity**. Why, they're so sensitive they see things that aren't even there, so they do poorly on certain tests of emotional sensitivity and interpersonal acuity like the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test.

I'm being silly, but that really is their explanation:
Comparable to the heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli (auditory, visual and tactile) common among people with autism, individuals with the EFB [Extreme Female Brain] may be hypersensitive to social stimuli. Disordered eating may ameliorate the experience of negative evaluation anxiety that results from heightened sensitivity to social stimulation. 
Consistent with this idea, emotional processing deficits have been linked with eating disorders including the inability to recognize, label and describe emotions in detail and to link feelings with bodily correlates (Bourke, Taylor, Parker and Bagby, 1992 [link]; Eizaguirre, de Cabezon, de Alda, Olariaga and Juaniz, 2004 [PDF]; Garner, Olmsted and Polivy, 1983 [link]) Also, compared to healthy controls, women with anorexia had difficulty recognizing emotions from facial expressions and vocal tones (Jansch, Harmer and Cooper, 2009 [link]; Kucharska-Pietura, Masiak and Treasure, 2003 [link]).
Jones, Harmer, Cowen and Cooper (2008) [link] investigated emotional face processing in female undergraduates with high and low levels of disordered eating. Participants completed the Eating Attitudes Test-26 and the Facial Expression Recognition Task, a computer task in which participants view faces depicting 7 different expressions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, and neutral) at different intensities. The participants with higher levels of disordered eating were less accurate in identifying happy and neutral faces. Among participants with high levels of disordered eating, there was a tendency to classify more happy faces as neutral, and more neutral faces as either angry or sad. In addition, there was evidence that reaction times to recognize disgust were longer, while reaction times to recognize fear were faster than participants with low levels of disordered eating. When disordered eating reaches clinical levels, the effects of hyper-mentalizing may manifest as mental state misattributions. This may be because they are using their own experience to model the experience of others, and their bias to classify emotions with a negative bias may influence their attributions. For instance, when shown pictures of women who are said to have overeaten, females with high levels of disordered eating ascribed more negative emotional states to these women than control participants do. Thus, women with higher levels of disordered eating appeared to use their own experience of overeating to describe how the other women would feel (Beebe, Holmbeck, Schober, Lane, Rosa, 1996 [link]).
It is also possible that the physiological and cognitive effects of starvation produce deficits in performance. In a study looking at performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, individuals with anorexia performed worse compared to healthy controls (Russell, Schmidt, Doherty, Young and Tchanturia, 2009 [link]. 
An alternative explanation is that low scores on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task does not represent a deficit of theory of mind ability, but rather an excess that reflects hypermentalizing. Abu-Akel (2003) [PDF] suggests that theory of mind dysfunctions range from the complete absence of the ability to represent other people's mental states (as shown in severe autism) to having the representational understanding of mental states, but a deficit in the ability to apply this understanding (as in Asperger's syndrome) to the abnormal or excessive attribution of mental states (as in schizotypy). It may be that this third class of dysfunction is misconstrued as a deficit, rather than an excess. Consistent with this interpretation, the RME is one of the most widely used instruments to investigate theory of mind performance in adults; however, scores on the RME depend only on accuracy. The test does not identify the nature of the errors that impede performance. For example, there can be errors of absence (failing to detect a mental state when it is present) and errors of excess (wrongly inferring a mental state in its absence). We suspect the second class of errors (errors of excess) account for most of the lower scores on this test among individuals with anorexia.
(They also seem to be arguing that people cursed with an excessive degree of awareness of other people's judgment of them might be self-medicating by starving themselves: if they are women, they will produce much less estrogen, which the authors believe "may also produce changes in empathizing and theory of mind performance." So that's a novel proposal --- people with eating disorders starve themselves to dull their razor-keen interpersonal sensitivity, in the interests of making their lives bearable. Obviously there's no evidence for this, and I've never seen anyone who has an eating disorder describe it like that, but at least it does people with eating disorders the courtesy of treating them as rational beings, which not all of the accepted explanations do.)

I do not doubt at all that people who have this kind of hypersensitvity exist --- I know a few! What I doubt is that 1) these people are all the same, and all have this skill for the same reason; 2) these people are any likelier to develop eating disorders than the general population; and 3) these people are necessarily bad at "systemizing," which seems to include such things as logical reasoning, pattern recognition, organization and spatial cognition. Indeed, the data from this same study suggest that people who are good at one half of the empathizing/systemizing duality seem to be good at the other half, too.

You can also count me as agnostic, still, on the question of whether women are, overall, better empathizers and men better systemizers. I don't rule it out, as at least some cognitive differences between the sexes do seem to exist, and show up consistently in studies, but as yet I don't see strong empirical support for it. 

Also, they dance around this in their Discussion section, but never directly address it: disordered eating is quite common in autistic girls and women, and even non-autistic people with eating disorders, particularly anorexia, perform similarly to autistic people on tests of mentalizing ability (the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test again), mirror self-recognition, emotion recognition, body awareness, executive function and central coherence (the Embedded Figures Test).

If autism is supposed to be the Extreme Male Brain, and the Extreme Female Brain is supposed to be its opposite, doesn't that complicate things a lot? 

Bremser JA, and Gallup GG Jr (2012). From one extreme to the other: Negative evaluation anxiety and disordered eating as candidates for the extreme female brain. Evolutionary psychology : an international journal of evolutionary approaches to psychology and behavior, 10 (3), 457-86 PMID: 22947672

*In the present study, it was only the male participants who showed this pattern, but the researchers cite lots of other studies of people with eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, who show the same impairment. Some of the other researchers hypothesized that insufficient nutrition made those patients less able to perform complex cognitive operations of any sort, which sounds convincing to me.

**I am having UNBELIEVABLE trouble spelling "sensitivity" today. I always seem to leave out one of the "I's".