Post List

  • March 31, 2010
  • 08:40 PM

When less is more (memory limits and correlations)

by Daniel Simons in The Invisible Gorilla

A series of articles by Yaakov Kareev from the mid-late 1990s showing something remarkable: People with less working memory capacity are better able to detect moderately strong correlations (Kareev, 1995; Kareev et al, 1997; Kareev, 2000). Understanding why requires a bit of a digression into statistics. ... Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 08:01 PM

Is music mere play?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Not too long ago I was called by the Dutch radio for a daily question on science, and was confronted with the question: Why do we like music? Since why-questions are generally almost impossible to answer, I was happy —just in time— to think of the idea of ‘music as play’. But because all of this went almost too quickly, I thought I would eloborate on this in a slightly more slower pace in this blog...The idea is that music, as a human phenomenon, can be seen as something that plays with ........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 05:13 PM

Dyslexic vs. Nonimpaired Readers: Differences in Brain Development

by Livia in Reading and Word Recognition Research


Studies comparing normal reading and dyslexic children often take a snapshot approach, comparing brain function at specific ages. However, these studies don’t tell us how these differences fit into the developmental picture. Are dyslexics following the same developmental course as normal readers, just at a different rate? Or do dyslexic brains develop in a

... Read more »

Shaywitz BA, Skudlarski P, Holahan JM, Marchione KE, Constable RT, Fulbright RK, Zelterman D, Lacadie C, & Shaywitz SE. (2007) Age-related changes in reading systems of dyslexic children. Annals of neurology, 61(4), 363-70. PMID: 17444510  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 05:04 PM

God prompts can scare us into trying to do the impossible

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

According to new research from Tina Toburen and Brian Meier at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, giving subliminal messages about religion can make people work longer trying to complete a task that's actually impossible, and make us more anxious about it to boot.What they did was to ask a group of college students to unscramble ten anagrams. Unfortunately for the students only four could actually be solved - the other six were a meaningless jumble of letters!They were told they could take as lon........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 05:01 PM

On grandmother cells and parallel distributed models

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

Jeff Bowers has published a paper or two arguing for the viability of grandmother cells -- cells that represent whole "objects" such as a specific face (or your grandmother's face). At issue, of course, is whether the brain represents information in a localist or distributed fashion and Jeff has used his case for grandmother cells as evidence against a basic assumption of parallel distributed processing (PDP) models. But the PDP folks don't seem to think "distributed" is a necessary property of........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 04:58 PM

Preventing Plagiarism.

by Janet D. Stemwedel in Adventures in Ethics and Science (Sb)

Especially in student papers, plagiarism is an issue that it seems just won't go away. However, instructors cannot just give up and permit plagiarism without giving up most of their pedagogical goals and ideals. As tempting a behavior as this may be (at least to some students, if not to all), it is our duty to smack it down.

Is there any effective way to deliver a preemptive smackdown to student plagiarists? That's the question posed by a piece of research, "Is There an Effective Approach t........ Read more »

Bilic-Zulle, L., Azman, J., Frkovic, V., & Petrovecki, M. (2007) Is There an Effective Approach to Deterring Students from Plagiarizing?. Science and Engineering Ethics, 14(1), 139-147. DOI: 10.1007/s11948-007-9037-2  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 04:49 PM

Glowing phagocytosis

by Anastasia Bodnar in Biofortified

Usually, when we think about biotechnology, it’s in the context of agriculture, and occasionally in the context of medicine, but biotechnology is useful for a lot more. It can be used to study complex cellular and developmental processes with results that can be stunningly beautiful, and sometimes silly.
Margaret Clarke researches the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum using [...]... Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 04:49 PM

Like I Needed Another Reason To Lose Weight

by Darcy Cowan in Skepticon

Now it turns out that in addition to all of the other health risks of being overweight we have to worry about, we are also in greater danger in car crashes. At least for us men.
Men tend to carry a larger proportion of their mass in the upper body than do women. The purpose [...]... Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 02:24 PM

stress and neurogenesis: the orchid -dandelion effect

by sandygautam in The Mouse Trap

Image by santoshnc via Flickr

Chronic stress in mice leads to the ‘learned helplessness‘ model of depression in mice. Also, from studies in humans as well as other animals we know that chronic stress is a risk factor and cause for depression and this is mediated by the interactive effects of two stress related systems: More >Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Related posts:Chronic stress, neurogenesis and depression Image via Wikipedia Chronically stressful life events hav........ Read more »

Lagace, D., Donovan, M., DeCarolis, N., Farnbauch, L., Malhotra, S., Berton, O., Nestler, E., Krishnan, V., & Eisch, A. (2010) Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is functionally important for stress-induced social avoidance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(9), 4436-4441. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0910072107  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 12:53 PM

Estimating how many people are breaking the rules in a protected area

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Successful conservation work is largely about getting people to follow the rules. A new study tests an innovative survey methodology to help resource managers figure out how many people are breaking the rules. This is actually a much tougher question to figure out than one might think...... Read more »

St. John, F., Edwards-Jones, G., Gibbons, J., & Jones, J. (2010) Testing novel methods for assessing rule breaking in conservation. Biological Conservation, 143(4), 1025-1030. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.01.018  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 11:15 AM

One lemur, two lemur, three lemur, four: Genetic study reveals the hidden diversity of Madagascar's mouse lemurs

by Laelaps in Laelaps

A grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). Image from Wikipedia.

Charles Darwin's visit to the Galapagos Archipelago has been celebrated time and again for its influence on his evolutionary thoughts, but I have to wonder what would have happened if the Beagle skipped the Galapagos and visited Madagascar instead. What would Darwin have made of the animals which had been evolving in splendid isolation on the African island? Would "Darwin's lemurs", rather than Darwin's finches, be among the mo........ Read more »

Weisrock, D., Rasoloarison, R., Fiorentino, I., Ralison, J., Goodman, S., Kappeler, P., & Yoder, A. (2010) Delimiting Species without Nuclear Monophyly in Madagascar's Mouse Lemurs. PLoS ONE, 5(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009883  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 10:55 AM

Our Future: Hot n’ Tasty?

by jebyrnes in I'm a chordata, urochordata!

Climate change. It’s going to wreak no small amount of havoc on mother nature (and if you’re reading this but think all of this climate change stuff is poppycock, please visit Skeptical Science and then come back). How good of a guide is our intuition for what will happen?
This is a great question [...]... Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 10:00 AM

When can we stop sampling and have a beer?

by Alistair Dove in Deep Type Flow

Yesterday I got a very kind email from a fellow scientist, Eric Seabloom at Oregon State University, letting me know that a paper I wrote with my PhD advisor Tom Cribb (University of Queensland) a few years ago had influenced a recent publication of his.  My paper was about one of those patterns in nature that just seem to be universal.  They're called species accumulation curves and, at the ... Read more »

ERIC W. SEABLOOM, ELIZABETH T. BORER, CHARLES E. MITCHELL, & ALISON G. POWER. (2010) Viral diversity and prevalence gradients in North American Pacific Coast grasslands. Ecology, 91(3), 721-732. info:/

  • March 31, 2010
  • 09:31 AM

Is there publication bias in animal studies?

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

Last month, in response to some truly despicable activities by animal rights zealots, I wrote a series of posts about how animal rights activists target even researchers' children and appear to fetishize violence. This simply continued a string of posts that I've done over the years, the longest (and, in my not-so-humble-opinion, the best) deconstructs a lot of the bad scientific arguments used by animal rights activists to claim that animal research is useless, or nearly so, as well as other ar........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 09:18 AM

Predicting Psychosis

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

"Prevention is better than cure", so they say. And in most branches of medicine, preventing diseases, or detecting early signs and treating them pre-emptively before the symptoms appear, is an important art.Not in psychiatry. At least not yet. But the prospect of predicting the onset of psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia, and of "early intervention" to try to prevent them, is a hot topic at the moment.Schizophrenia and similar illnesses usually begin with a period of months or years, general........ Read more »

Ruhrmann, S., Schultze-Lutter, F., Salokangas, R., Heinimaa, M., Linszen, D., Dingemans, P., Birchwood, M., Patterson, P., Juckel, G., Heinz, A.... (2010) Prediction of Psychosis in Adolescents and Young Adults at High Risk: Results From the Prospective European Prediction of Psychosis Study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(3), 241-251. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.206  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

Press releases should be about people

by sciencebase in Sciencebase Science Blog

We’re all increasingly familiar with corporate press releases. There are countless websites that regurgitate the corporate and institutional public relations output for wider and wider audiences.
If you’re familiar with the blogosphere, you will almost certainly recognise that many posts simply echo the notices provided by the likes of Eurekalert, AlphaGalileo, and the more generic wire [...]Press releases should be about people is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
... Read more »

Johanna Kujala, Tiina Toikka, & Anna Heikkinen. (2010) Communicating corporate responsibility through media. Progress in Industrial Ecology – An International Journal, 6(4), 404-420. info:/

  • March 31, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

Not the Dry Tortugas, as such...

by Alistair Dove in Deep Type Flow

...more like the Floating Tortugas.  An article in Science Now and The Journal of Experimental Biology reports on mysterious gatherings of loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean, resembling an island made out of turtles.  It seems the critters gather to soak up the midday sun.  We probably should be surprised given how common basking is among reptiles, but loggerheads are known to spend most of ... Read more »

Knight, K. (2010) LOGGERHEADS STAY AT SURFACE TO SOAK UP SUN. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(8). DOI: 10.1242/jeb.043901  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 08:25 AM

Breaking News: Footprints challenge theory of evolution

by Johnny in Ecographica

...a paper in Arizona, which proclaims that “Research by UA assistant anthropology professor David Raichlen and his colleagues provide evidence suggesting that 3.6 billion years ago, hominins walked with the same upright gait that humans do today...”... Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 06:47 AM

Put some breathe life in your papers with clever visualization

by Abhishek Tiwari in Fisheye Perspective

I often screen papers for my reading list based on their illustration appeal. I know this may be bit strange for the people who judge the papers simply based on their abstracts or conclusion section. But trust me it works because I know what I am looking for. I always avoid the sleep inducing papers full of creepy tables and bar graphs, in fact so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness. When I say illustration appeal, I mean something which can inspire your readers to wake them up, s........ Read more »

Carlson, C., Warren, C., Hauschild, K., Ozers, M., Qadir, N., Bhimsaria, D., Lee, Y., Cerrina, F., & Ansari, A. (2010) Specificity landscapes of DNA binding molecules elucidate biological function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(10), 4544-4549. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0914023107  

de Souza, N. (2010) The DNA-binding landscape. Nature Methods, 7(4), 254-255. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth0410-254a  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 06:25 AM

When sickliness is manliness

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Below I note that sex matters when it comes to evolution, specifically in the case of how sexual reproduction forces the bits of the genome to be passed back and forth across sexes. In fact, the origin of sex is arguably the most important evolutionary question after the origin of species, and it remains one [...]... Read more »

Restif, O., & Amos, W. (2010) The evolution of sex-specific immune defences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0188  

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