Post List

  • April 12, 2010
  • 05:13 PM

Mirror mirror in my brain, are you the answer to every-thaing

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

Jeisea alerted us to what I think is a superb blog post by Greg Hickok Center for Cognitive Neuroscience University of California, Irvine on mirror neurons, inspired by a study out of UCL in London and published in the excellent journal Current Biology.
The paper shows that mirror neurons undergo sensorimotor learning. This doesn’t seem very profound, [...]... Read more »

Catmur C, Walsh V, & Heyes C. (2007) Sensorimotor learning configures the human mirror system. Current biology : CB, 17(17), 1527-31. PMID: 17716898  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 04:55 PM

Blood donations: religious and non-religious are equally generous

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

According to a new analysis of data from the US National Survey of Family Growth, there is no relationship between giving blood any any facet of religiosity. Neither the religion in which the person was raised (versus none), nor religious service attendance, nor the importance of religion in daily life, were related to whether the person had given blood in the past.In terms of raw numbers, women raised as mainline protestants were slightly more likely to have given blood than people from other r........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 04:44 PM

Excess Weight Predicts Younger Age at Hip and Knee Replacement

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Given that I have put myself out of commission due to a musculoskeletal injury I acquired over the weekend, I thought a discussion of joint injuries and such would be most appropriate in my Robaxocet induced state.Just last week Travis discussed the issue of injuries associated with exercise among obese individuals. In that post, based on recent evidence, Travis concluded:" overweight and obese individuals, exercise (in the form of walking) has little or no association with injury or illn........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 04:35 PM

Fossil dog may be ancestor of Africa's "painted" canids

by Laelaps in Laelaps

An African wild dog (Lycaon pictus, left) compared to a spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta, right). Both photographed at the Bronx Zoo.

It never fails. Whenever I visit a zoo's African wild dog exhibit someone inevitably asks "Are those hyenas?", and when I visit spotted hyena enclosures I often hear the question "Are those dogs?" These carnivores, known to scientists as Lycaon pictus and Crocuta crocuta (respectively), are only distant cousins, but the vague similarities shared between them o........ Read more »


  • April 12, 2010
  • 04:12 PM

Land use hydrology paradox in Central Texas

by Daniel Collins in Crikey Creek

When it comes to conversion of grassland to shrubs or trees, the typical story goes like this. More rainfall is caught be the foliage and evaporated straight back into the air. Higher rates of transpiration deplete soil moisture faster, and deeper roots inhibit drainage of water from soil to aquifer. This story is typical [...]... Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 03:31 PM

Just doing it: Behavioural Activation

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

This post is sparked by a pre-print paper I read yesterday, but follows a long time cogitating about the use and value of “just doing it”.
Behavioural reactivation is a set of techniques often used for mood management.  It usually incorporates activity monitoring, assessment of life goals and values, activity scheduling, skills training and problem solving, [...]... Read more »

Dimidjian, S., Hollon, S., Dobson, K., Schmaling, K., Kohlenberg, R., Addis, M., Gallop, R., McGlinchey, J., Markley, D., Gollan, J.... (2006) Randomized Trial of Behavioral Activation, Cognitive Therapy, and Antidepressant Medication in the Acute Treatment of Adults With Major Depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(4), 658-670. DOI: 10.1037/0022-006X.74.4.658  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 02:40 PM

Does Money Lessen Pain?

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

While reading through the science news headlines today, I came across a very interesting one from the Telegraph: "Handling cash 'better at killing pain than aspirin', study claims."

Intrigued, I sought out the paper mentioned in the article. It turns out it wasn't published recently at all - it was published last year in June. Of course, they were probably fooled by the fact that the University of Minnesota just published a press release on it. Regardless, the real question is whether money was........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:45 PM

History of land use determines threat and rarity in mangrove tree species

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

A new study from PLoS ONE was published last week assessing the threat to mangrove tree species around the world based on IUCN Red List data. At first glance the paper might seem to be just another bleak walk through the anthropogenic dismantling of a fragile biome, but there are some excellent issues presented regarding our relationship between the land and its inhabitants and the interconnectedness of rarity and threat level.... Read more »

Polidoro, B., Carpenter, K., Collins, L., Duke, N., Ellison, A., Ellison, J., Farnsworth, E., Fernando, E., Kathiresan, K., Koedam, N.... (2010) The Loss of Species: Mangrove Extinction Risk and Geographic Areas of Global Concern. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010095  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:41 PM

Monday Pets: Biological Evidence That Dog is Man's Best Friend

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

The party isn't over yet! Here's another helping of Monday Pets. Enjoy!

Wild Dog crawled into the Cave and laid his head on the Woman's lap... And the Woman said, "His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend."
--Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling.

Archaeological evidence indicates that dogs were already a part of human society around the end of the Ice Age. Small dog skeletons have been unearthed in human communities as far back as 6- to 12-thousand years ago in Europe, the Middle Ea........ Read more »

NAGASAWA, M., MOGI, K., & KIKUSUI, T. (2009) Attachment between humans and dogs. Japanese Psychological Research, 51(3), 209-221. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5884.2009.00402.x  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:40 PM

Topical Vaccination: No More Needles

by Michael Long in Phased

Victor Yang (University of Michigan Ann Arbor, United States) and coworkers have reported a needle-free vaccination protocol that overcomes technical hurdles encountered with many other approaches, and shows great potential for widespread use in resource-limited nations. This news feature was written on April 12, 2010.... Read more »

Huang, Y., Park, Y. S., Moon, C., David, A. E., Chung, H. S., & Yang, V. C. (2010) Synthetic Skin-Permeable Proteins Enabling Needleless Immunization. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200906153  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:14 PM


by Welkin Johnsonr in Small Things Considered

by Welkin Johnson How does one even begin to investigate the natural history of viruses? The dinosaurs bequeathed a motley assortment of bones, teeth, footprints striding 'cross ancient riverbeds, fossilized eggs, the occasional coprolite. The tiny trilobite left lasting and ubiquitous impressions, finding its way...... Read more »

Horie M, Honda T, Suzuki Y, Kobayashi Y, Daito T, Oshida T, Ikuta K, Jern P, Gojobori T, Coffin JM.... (2010) Endogenous non-retroviral RNA virus elements in mammalian genomes. Nature, 463(7277), 84-7. PMID: 20054395  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 12:51 PM

Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

NARSAD, a leading private funding organization for brain disorders is sponsoring educational symposiums across the United States. One such symposium in the Healthy Minds Across America 2010 series was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 10, 2010. Three internationally recognized researchers presented at the Tulsa symposium: Helen Mayberg, Wayne Drevets and Robert Kowatch. I will present some of my notes for these presentations over the next week. This post will summarize the key points for Dr......... Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 12:00 PM

In defense of constructive neutral evolution - Part II

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

Continued from Part I herePart I -Adaptationism vs. Neutralism -"Population genetics ignores reality!" -Existence of neutrality and near-neutralityPart II-Neutral evolution is relevant-Evolution lacks foresight; it can neither anticipate nor respond-Clarifying some terminology: two types of function, positive vs. negative selection-Rise of complexity through non-adaptive means-An example of constructive neutral evolution at work: loss of group I intron self-splicingPart III-Further examples of c........ Read more »

Pinker S, & Bloom P. (1990) Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and brain sciences, 13(4), 707-784. info:/

Stoltzfus, A. (1999) On the Possibility of Constructive Neutral Evolution. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 49(2), 169-181. DOI: 10.1007/PL00006540  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 10:24 AM


by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve talked a bit about Jane Hill’s theory that agriculture was introduced to the Southwest by a migration of speakers of Uto-Aztecan languages from Mesoamerica, which she supports mostly through somewhat unconvincing linguistic evidence.  A recent paper in, yes, PNAS offers a strong set of counterarguments to Hill’s theory, and offers an alternative theory in [...]... Read more »

Merrill, W., Hard, R., Mabry, J., Fritz, G., Adams, K., Roney, J., & MacWilliams, A. (2009) The diffusion of maize to the southwestern United States and its impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(50), 21019-21026. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906075106  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 10:16 AM

The maggot of the plant world – mangroves

by CJA Bradshaw in ConservationBytes

I don’t know how many of my readers have waded through a mangrove swamp before – if you have, you’ll know it’s no ‘walk in the park’. They are generally mosquito-infested with waist-deep mud, have more creepy-crawlies than you can poke a stick at, and in some places (such as my former stomping ground, the [...]... Read more »

Polidoro, B., Carpenter, K., Collins, L., Duke, N., Ellison, A., Ellison, J., Farnsworth, E., Fernando, E., Kathiresan, K., Koedam, N.... (2010) The Loss of Species: Mangrove Extinction Risk and Geographic Areas of Global Concern. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010095  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 09:17 AM

why, Why, WHY? Three-year-olds hold the key to science literacy

by Promega Corporation in Promega Connections

I opened up a recent Nature Alert to find an editorial entitled “Learning in the Wild (1).” In this piece the authors discuss the current cries to improve science and math education in the United States. As the piece states, much of current educational policy focus is on classroom learning, revamping the “No [...]... Read more »

Nature editors. (2010) Learning in the wild. Nature, 464(7290), 813-814. DOI: 10.1038/464813b  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 09:15 AM

When a trait isn’t a trait isn’t a trait

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

One of the great things about evolutionary theory is that it is a formal abstraction of specific concrete aspects of reality and dynamics. It allows us to squeeze inferential juice from incomplete prior knowledge of the state of nature. In other words, you can make predictions and models instead of having to observe every last [...]... Read more »

Liao BY, Weng MP, & Zhang J. (2010) Contrasting genetic paths to morphological and physiological evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20368429  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

SAC's revisited

by Alistair Dove in Deep Type Flow

A little while back I wrote about how we can use Species Accumulation Curves to learn stuff about the ecology of animal, as well as to decide when we can stop sampling and have a frosty beverage. There’s a timely paper in this month’s Journal of Parasitology by Gerardo Pérez-Ponce de Leon and Anindo Choudhury about these curves (let’s call them SACs) and the discovery of new parasite species in ... Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 08:09 AM

The potential for PI3K pathway inhibitors in Lung Cancer

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

Life is about stories, events and even coming back full circle sometimes. I experienced that moment of déjà vu this morning on opening a link to an article that a colleague kindly sent from Avrum Spira's lab that was published...... Read more »

Gustafson, A., Soldi, R., Anderlind, C., Scholand, M., Qian, J., Zhang, X., Cooper, K., Walker, D., McWilliams, A., Liu, G.... (2010) Airway PI3K Pathway Activation Is an Early and Reversible Event in Lung Cancer Development. Science Translational Medicine, 2(26), 26-26. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3000251  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 08:05 AM

Sunday Protist -- Notodendrodes: giant tree forams

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

Foraminifera are wonderful organisms. For a glimpse of their phylogeny, see this diagram, but keep in mind that the majority of forams are actually allogromiids, forams which build their walls of protein as opposed to scavenged material or depositing mineral substances. From the allogromiids there have been several independent origins of non-proteinaceous forams, many building their tests out of sand grains, remnants of prey or their own waste. Test-building is a complicated and highly regulated........ Read more »

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