Is anybody out there? Where are all the alien civilizations? Even if (intelligent) life is very unlikely, the sheer size and age of the universe means that even long odds might have produced space faring civilizations. Yet, so far, nada. When people are considering the (im)probability of non-human space travellers, one thing always comes up: […]... Read more »
Frank A, & Sullivan WT 3rd. (2016) A New Empirical Constraint on the Prevalence of Technological Species in the Universe. Astrobiology. PMID: 27105054
We usually think of laughter as a sound of joy and mirth, but in certain contexts, such as when it accompanies an insult, it takes on a negative meaning, signaling contempt and derision, especially in a group situation. Most of us probably know from experience that this makes insults sting more, now a study in Social Neuroscience has shown the neural correlates of this effect. Within a fraction of a second, the presence of a laughing crowd changes the way that the brain processes an insult.Marte........ Read more »
Otten, M., Mann, L., van Berkum, J., & Jonas, K. (2016) No laughing matter: How the presence of laughing witnesses changes the perception of insults. Social Neuroscience, 1-12. DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2016.1162194
Machine learning, when machines, er.. learn, is of growing interest to the autism research field. The names Wall and Duda have filled quite a few posts on this blog (see here and see here for example) on this topic and their suggesting that applying machine learning algorithms to something like autism screening and detection could cut down on time taken and resources used.As per the publication of the paper by Daniel Bone and colleagues  it appears that others working in autism research are a........ Read more »
Bone D, Bishop S, Black MP, Goodwin MS, Lord C, & Narayanan SS. (2016) Use of machine learning to improve autism screening and diagnostic instruments: effectiveness, efficiency, and multi-instrument fusion. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27090613
Vaccines don't cause autism, but because the brain is so complex, we still don't know how much of it works so figuring out the real causes (as in more than one) of autism has been slow going. Well, researchers have identified a brain receptor that appears to initiate adolescent synaptic pruning, a process believed necessary for learning, but in this case it is one that appears to go awry in both autism and schizophrenia.... Read more »
Sonia Afroz, Julie Parato, Hui Shen Sheryl, & Sue Smith. (2016) Synaptic pruning in the female hippocampus is triggered at puberty by extrasynaptic GABAA receptors on dendritic spines . eLife. info:/
Psychiatric drugs come in many kinds: there are antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, and more. But what all of these categories have in common is that they're anti- something. This is how we classify these drugs - by what they treat.
Except there's a problem - very few psychiatric drugs are only used to treat one thing. Take "antipsychotics". They're used in psychosis, but they're also a key tool in the treatment of mania, a different disorder entirely. Many of these dru... Read more »
Zohar J, Stahl S, Moller HJ, Blier P, Kupfer D, Yamawaki S, Uchida H, Spedding M, Goodwin GM, & Nutt D. (2015) A review of the current nomenclature for psychotropic agents and an introduction to the Neuroscience-based Nomenclature. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(12), 2318-25. PMID: 26527055
An athlete with a poorly fit helmet that sustains a concussion may have an increased risk of more severe symptoms and prolonged recovery.... Read more »
Greenhill, D., Navo, P., Zhao, H., Torg, J., Comstock, R., & Boden, B. (2016) Inadequate Helmet Fit Increases Concussion Severity in American High School Football Players. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach. DOI: 10.1177/1941738116639027
It is notoriously difficult to estimate mortality rates for zooplankton populations in the open ocean. In a new paper, Kvile and colleagues demonstrate that mortality estimation can be improved using a statistical regression approach (SRA) that takes into account advection and spatiotemporal trends in recruitment. Using this method on
Calanus finmarchicus survey data from the Norwegian Sea–Barents Sea, they find indications of increased mortality for the old........ Read more »
AKSNES, D., & OHMAN, M. (1996) A vertical life table approach to zooplankton mortality estimation. Limnology and Oceanography, 41(7), 1461-1469. DOI: 10.4319/lo.19220.127.116.111
Kvile, K., Stige, L., Prokopchuk, I., & Langangen, �. (2016) A statistical regression approach to estimate zooplankton mortality from spatiotemporal survey data. Journal of Plankton Research. DOI: 10.1093/plankt/fbw028
Most people who know a little bit about chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) will probably understand the potential importance of the findings reported by Leonard Jason and colleagues  (open-access available here). Suggesting that there may be "four groupings of patients" when it comes to how we "name and define the illnesses", this research group who surveyed over 500 people "in the United States, Great Britain, and Norway" report on one of the biggest challenge........ Read more »
Jason LA, McManimen S, Sunnquist M, Brown A, Furst J, Newton JL, & Strand EB. (2016) Case definitions integrating empiric and consensus perspectives. Fatigue : biomedicine, health , 4(1), 1-23. PMID: 27088059
Generally seen as antithetical to one another, evolution and religion can hardly fit in a scientific discourse simultaneously. However, in a new article, a biology researcher delves into observations on the influences a few major religions have had on evolutionists and their scientific thinking over the centuries.
... Read more »
Romero Jr., A. (2016) The influence of religion on science: the case of the idea of predestination in biospeleology. Research Ideas and Outcomes. DOI: 10.3897/rio.2.e9015
Working to orient oneself to the symmetries available in mathematical situations seems like one appropriate remedy to what I've called "left-to-rightism," or "cinemathematics"—a syndrome that makes us teach concepts like the equals sign (unwittingly) in a left-to-right way, such that students take away (unwittingly) the misconception that the equals sign indicates that some answer is to follow, rather than that two expressions are equal. Some recent research points........ Read more »
Tsang, J., Blair, K., Bofferding, L., & Schwartz, D. (2015) Learning to “See” Less Than Nothing: Putting Perceptual Skills to Work for Learning Numerical Structure. Cognition and Instruction, 33(2), 154-197. DOI: 10.1080/07370008.2015.1038539
NINETY-TWO percent of retired National Football League players have decreased cognitive function, according to a new study:“In the NFL group, baseline neuropsychological assessments showed 92% of players had decreased general cognitive proficiency, 86% had decreased information processing speed, 83% had memory loss, 83% had attentional deficits, and 85% had executive function impairment.”The Truth?The study reported on a self-selected sample of 161 current and retired NFL players recruite........ Read more »
Daniel G. Amen, Kristen Willeumier, Bennet Omalu, Andrew Newberg, Cauligi Raghavendra, & Cyrus A. Raji. (2016) Perfusion Neuroimaging Abnormalities Alone Distinguish National Football League Players from a Healthy Population. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. info:/10.3233/JAD-160207
Insomnia, fun fact those of us who have served or are serving in the military have a much higher incidence of sleep problems. So if you are like me and have ever been prescribed something to help you sleep, you know that there are some unwanted side effects. For instance the time I lost memory of a whole day of interacting with people to the ambien I had taken the night before, not fun. Thankfully Danish researchers found that the level of salts in the brain plays a critical role in whether we a........ Read more »
Ding, F., ODonnell, J., Xu, Q., Kang, N., Goldman, N., & Nedergaard, M. (2016) Changes in the composition of brain interstitial ions control the sleep-wake cycle. Science, 352(6285), 550-555. DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4821
In a new Nature paper, Berkely neuroscientists Alexander G. Huth and colleagues present a 'semantic atlas' of the human brain. Huth et al. have mapped which brain areas respond to words, according to the semantics (meanings) of each word. It turns out that these maps are highly similar across individuals - which could have implications for 'mind reading' technology.
Huth et al. recorded brain activity with fMRI while seven volunteers listened to over two hours of audio narrative (taken fr... Read more »
Huth AG, de Heer WA, Griffiths TL, Theunissen FE, & Gallant JL. (2016) Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex. Nature, 532(7600), 453-8. PMID: 27121839
Whilst the package inserts of the various drugs that modern medicine has at its disposal provides important information on potential mode of action, there is a growing realisation that drugs generally have quite a few more molecular targets than are perhaps listed. Take for example the quite commonly used (in some parts of the world anyway) compound called melatonin that in some instances can provide almost miraculous relief when it comes to sleeping issues under certain circumstances. A d........ Read more »
Yuan L, Liu S, Bai X, Gao Y, Liu G, Wang X, Liu D, Li T, Hao A, & Wang Z. (2016) Oxytocin inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in microglial cells and attenuates microglial activation in lipopolysaccharide-treated mice. Journal of neuroinflammation, 13(1), 77. PMID: 27075756
The whole of human intelligence, right at your fingertips. Sure it might not make the layman an engineer or physicist, but if we want to learn about a particular topic the internet can give us that information. But you better hold on tight before you lose it. New research finds retweeting or otherwise sharing information creates a “cognitive overload” that interferes with learning and retaining what you’ve just seen.
... Read more »
Jiang, T., Hou, Y., & Wang, Q. (2016) Does micro-blogging make us “shallow”? Sharing information online interferes with information comprehension. Computers in Human Behavior, 210-214. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.008
Human behavioral scientists argue that extra-pair copulation is adaptive in human females, as through extra-pair copulation, women can acquire good genes from other potential mates. This is suggested because it is found that women experience greater sexual attraction to particular extra-pair men, but not their own partners, during their highest peak of fertility (Gangestad & […]... Read more »
Greeff, J., & Erasmus, J. (2015) Three hundred years of low non-paternity in a human population. Heredity, 115(5), 396-404. DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2015.36
Treating immune disorders might have gotten easier with a new mouse model.... Read more »
Beura, L., Hamilton, S., Bi, K., Schenkel, J., Odumade, O., Casey, K., Thompson, E., Fraser, K., Rosato, P., Filali-Mouhim, A.... (2016) Normalizing the environment recapitulates adult human immune traits in laboratory mice. Nature, 532(7600), 512-516. DOI: 10.1038/nature17655
Mestas, J., & Hughes, C. (2004) Of Mice and Not Men: Differences between Mouse and Human Immunology. The Journal of Immunology, 172(5), 2731-2738. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.172.5.2731
Signatures of Mutational Processes Extracted from the Mutational Catalogs of 21 Breast Cancer Genomes. Credit:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2012.12.008Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths each year (Source: WHO). A family history of cancer typically increases a person's risk of developing the disease, yet most cancer cases have no family history at all. This suggests that a combination of both ge........ Read more »
Alexandrov LB, Nik-Zainal S, Wedge DC, Aparicio SA, Behjati S, Biankin AV, Bignell GR, Bolli N, Borg A, Børresen-Dale AL.... (2013) Signatures of mutational processes in human cancer. Nature, 500(7463), 415-21. PMID: 23945592
Alexandrov LB, Nik-Zainal S, Siu HC, Leung SY, & Stratton MR. (2015) A mutational signature in gastric cancer suggests therapeutic strategies. Nature communications, 8683. PMID: 26511885
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
It’s time to run down some articles that are curious, but not substantial enough to justify a full blog post. Once again, we have kept a few pearls in our virtual filing cabinet, and have combined them here for your curiosity and possibly entertainment. This is one of those combination posts that will offer you […]
The Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) Scale
Red, redux: Men won’t pay attention to Tammy in red
Does this mean we need to pay no attention to 1 in 10 research f........ Read more »
Roberts, J., & David, M. (2016) My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone: Partner phubbing and relationship satisfaction among romantic partners. Computers in Human Behavior, 134-141. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.058
Drug Discovery, Part III
How is a an Initial Hit optimised and turned into a Lead Compound?... Read more »
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