Post List

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:25 AM

Junk Food Tax or Health Food Subsidy - Which Results in Healthier Food Purchases?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

In the past few years several prominent researchers have argued for the adoption of taxes on junk food as a means of reducing their consumption. Often, as in a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, the argument is made that money collected through the tax could then be used to subsidize healthier foods. This is an idea that I've found very appealing - we make the bad foods more expensive, the good foods less expensive, and people will probably shift at least some of their p........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:15 AM

Demonstrating synergy between functional groups: Burrowing mammals and megaherbivores

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Davidson et al. published another study a few weeks ago in Ecology further exploring the relationships between black-tailed prairie dogs and their much maligned neighbors, Bos taurus, cattle. Prairie dogs have been generally regarded as a danger to cattle by ranchers and removed through poisoning or other means. Overgrazing can lead to desertification, further threatening these animals. But that's a relatively new trend in a long and complex history of interaction between prairie dogs and m........ Read more »

Davidson, A., Ponce, E., Lightfoot, D., Fredrickson, E., Brown, J., Cruzado, J., Brantley, S., Sierra, R., List, R., Toledo, D.... (2010) RAPID RESPONSE OF A GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM TO AN EXPERIMENTAL MANIPULATION OF A KEYSTONE RODENT AND DOMESTIC LIVESTOCK. Ecology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-1277  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 11:08 AM

Does Domestication Produce Dummies?

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

Domestication is by far man's greatest genetic experiment, and we've been at it for well over 10,000 years. While domestication can produce wild variation (see my post on dogs, for example), a few changes seem to be universal. These include behavioral changes, like reduced fear of humans and friendliness, as well as physiological ones, like floppy ears (they develop in domesticated foxes, too). One of the most well-documented differences between domesticated animals and their wild counterparts i........ Read more »

UDELL, M., DOREY, N., & WYNNE, C. (2008) Wolves outperform dogs in following human social cues. Animal Behaviour, 76(6), 1767-1773. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.07.028  

Healy, S., & Rowe, C. (2007) A critique of comparative studies of brain size. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1609), 453-464. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3748  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 10:27 AM

Fossil teeth tell of ancient ape diets

by Laelaps in Laelaps

The partial faces of Anoiapithecus (left), Pierolapithecus (center), and Dryopithecus (right). (Images not to scale)

Our species is just one branch of a withering part of the evolutionary tree, the great apes. Along with the handful of species of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, we are all that is left of the hominids, and considering the threats our close relatives face we could very soon be the only great apes left. It has not always been this way. During the swath of prehistory ~2........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 09:59 AM

Publish or Perish: A Brief Review of Unsuccessful Attempts to Treat Writer's Block

by GrrlScientist in Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

tags: writer's block, psychology, abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, writing, publishing, career, publish or perish,,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper, journal club

Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 09:26 AM

Ancient “Swedes” were “lactose intolerant”

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

My recent focus on the lack of genetic continuity between hunter-gatherer and farming populations genetically and culturally is primarily due to the fact that we’re not in theory-land; the extraction of ancient DNA samples is steady-as-it-goes and is sharpening and overturning our understanding of the past. The relationship between culture and genetics is of [...]... Read more »

Helena Malmstrom, Anna Linderholm, Kerstin Liden, Jan Stora, Petra Molnar, Gunilla Holmlund, Mattias Jakobsson, & Anders Gotherstrom. (2010) High frequency of lactose intolerance in a prehistoric hunter-gatherer population in northern Europe. BMC Evolutionary Biology . info:/10.1186/1471-2148-10-89

  • April 1, 2010
  • 08:01 AM

Restoration is germplasm use too

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

It is well known that plant populations do best when they grow close to where they originally came from. A myriad reciprocal transplant experiments going back decades attests to the power of local adaptation. But how close is close? The question is of very real practical importance if you’re trying to restore a habitat. By [...]... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 07:02 AM

Research: Birds reduce coffee pests in Jamaica, take 2

by Julie Craves in Coffee & Conservation

As has been found in previous studies, birds on Jamaican coffee farms reduce insect pests, providing an important ecosystem service worth 12% of the total crop value.

... Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 06:24 AM

Καλό Πάσχα: Happy Easter: Frohe Ostern

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

Whatever your inclination, it’s difficult to ignore that sandwiched between the Vernal equinox and Beltane, it’s Easter time already. So Happy Easter, Frohe Ostern or Καλό Πάσχα, as they say down south, to all readers of this O’Really? blog.
If you’re gorging yourself on chocolate (see picture right), you might like to consider the food science [...]... Read more »

Stephen T. Beckett. (2000) The Science Of Chocolate. Royal Society of Chemistry Publihshing. DOI: 10.1039/9781847552143  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 05:30 AM

Will subsidizing healthy food lead to buying more junk?

by Yoni Freedhoff in Weighty Matters

No one said changing the world would be easy.Certainly one of the strategies put forth to change our nutritional environment is the subsidization of healthy foods.The theory is pretty straight forward - make healthier foods cheaper and people will buy more of them.The practice may be slightly different than the theory.A paper published ahead of print in the journal Psychological Science studied the effects of healthy food subsidizies on the purchasing behaviour of 42 mothers. Half were from low........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2010
  • 03:00 AM

Less salt: it’s that simple

by Peter Lipson in Science-Based Medicine

It has been known for decades that dietary sodium is significantly associated with hypertension and coronary heart disease.  Despite this knowledge, Americans continue to consume more sodium, most of it coming from processed foods.  Various approaches have been used to help individuals modify their behavior, one of the most popular of which is the DASH [...]... Read more »

Bibbins-Domingo K, Chertow GM, Coxson PG, Moran A, Lightwood JM, Pletcher MJ, & Goldman L. (2010) Projected effect of dietary salt reductions on future cardiovascular disease. The New England journal of medicine, 362(7), 590-9. PMID: 20089957  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 01:47 AM

Dopamine and Obesity: The D2 Receptor

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Sci would like to note that today's entry is being written on the adorably tiny screen of her netbook, which is named Ruby. Everyone say hi to Ruby!

Unfortunately, this is because her wireless on her normal computer suddenly decided that it was too good for her modem. Perhaps it's an April Fool's Day joke. This is not a good time for this to happen, but of course the not good times ARE the times when this happens, as we all know. And so, until that gets fixed, we are stuck on the netbook, w........ Read more »

WANG, G., VOLKOW, N., LOGAN, J., PAPPAS, N., WONG, C., ZHU, W., NETUSLL, N., & FOWLER, J. (2001) Brain dopamine and obesity. The Lancet, 357(9253), 354-357. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)03643-6  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 11:35 PM

Living Large

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Native ants build giant colonies in cities

... Read more »

  • March 31, 2010
  • 10:08 PM

More Details on the Longevity of PAPP-A Knockout Mice

by Reason in Fight Aging!

The gene that encodes for pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) is of interest because knocking it out - a method of rendering the gene inoperative - extends healthy life span in mice. This genetic manipulation is one of a number of ways to beneficially alter the insulin-like growth factor system to increase life span in lower animals. It also appears to slow the decline of the immune system with age. Here is a paper in which researchers present more details on their PAPP-A knockout mic........ Read more »

Conover CA, Bale LK, Mader JR, Mason MA, Keenan KP, & Marler RJ. (2010) Longevity and Age-Related Pathology of Mice Deficient in Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. PMID: 20351075  

  • March 31, 2010
  • 10:00 PM

Common copy number variation doesn't explain much complex disease risk - but why not?

by dgmacarthur in Genetic Future

... Read more »

Craddock, N., Hurles, M., Cardin, N., Pearson, R., Plagnol, V., Robson, S., Vukcevic, D., Barnes, C., Conrad, D., Giannoulatou, E.... (2010) Genome-wide association study of CNVs in 16,000 cases of eight common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature, 464(7289), 713-720. DOI: 10.1038/nature08979  

  • 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 »

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