Post List

  • June 3, 2010
  • 07:37 PM

Back to the future on syntax and Broca's area

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

Thirty-five years ago Caramazza and Zurif (1976) made a startling claim that literally changed the way the field thought about Broca's aphasia, Broca's area, and the neurology of syntax. Up until that time Broca's area was thought to be basically a motor speech area. Even the agrammatic speech output of Broca's aphasics was thought, by prominent researchers, to reflect not a syntactic deficit but an economy of effort induced by the difficulty of articulating speech. In this context, Caramazza a........ Read more »

Fadiga, L., Craighero, L., & D’Ausilio, A. (2009) Broca's Area in Language, Action, and Music. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169(1), 448-458. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04582.x  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 06:45 PM

The all-seeing eye gazes upon the land of crickets

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

It’s good to be omniscient.

Only a few natural studies have been able to approach that level of knowledge. Peter and Rosemary Grant come fairly close in some seasons studying finches on the smaller Galapagos Islands. A new paper must must surely be a contender for god-like knowledge of a population of animals.

Rodríguez-Muñoz and colleagues basically became all-seeing and all-knowing to figure out what evolutionary pressures were being brought to bear on a population of crickets (Gryllus c........ Read more »

Rodriguez-Munoz, R., Bretman, A., Slate, J., Walling, C., & Tregenza, T. (2010) Natural and sexual selection in a wild insect population. Science, 328(5983), 1269-1272. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188102  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 05:56 PM

Can Statin Drugs Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In an era of rising numbers of patients with dementia, it is imperative to look for valid prevention strategies. Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia represent the two most common forms of dementia throughout the world. Treating known cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity and diabetes) will likely reduce the risk for vascular dementia. There is some support that use of the cholesterol-lowering drugs in the statin class may also reduce risk of d........ Read more »

Li, G., Shofer, J., Rhew, I., Kukull, W., Peskind, E., McCormick, W., Bowen, J., Schellenberg, G., Crane, P., Breitner, J.... (2010) Age-Varying Association Between Statin Use and Incident Alzheimer's Disease. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.02906.x  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 05:35 PM

Repost: The Skull-Crushing Hyenas of Dragon Bone Hill

by Laelaps in Laelaps

The skull of a spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), photographed at the AMNH's "Extreme Mammals" exhibit.

There was something strange about the assemblage of Homo erectus fossils found at Zhoukoudian - the famous 750,000 - 200,000 year old site in China popularly known as Dragon Bone Hill. Despite the abundance of skulls and teeth, there were hardly any remains of the hominins from below the neck. Where were the bodies?

The majority of Homo erectus fossils from Zhoukoudian were discovered and s........ Read more »

Noel T. Boaz, Russell Ciochon, Xu Qinqi, and Liu Jinyi. (2000) Large Mammalian Carnivores as a Taphonomic Factor in the Bone Accumulation at Zhoukoudian. Acta Anthropologica Sinica, 224-234. info:/

  • June 3, 2010
  • 05:05 PM

Children can tell the difference between science and religion

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Paul Harris, a psychologist at Harvard University, is interested in how children learn to differentiate between different kinds of knowledge. In his latest study, he's teamed up with two Spanish psychologists to unpick the beliefs of young, Catholic children.

These 10-12 year olds have a pretty firm conviction in both God and the soul. They also believe (slightly more strongly, in fact) in invisible scientific entities, like oxygen and germs. What the team wanted to know was whether they believ........ Read more »

Guerrero, S., Enesco, I., & Harris, P. (2010) Oxygen and the Soul: Children's Conception of Invisible Entities. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 10(1), 123-151. DOI: 10.1163/156853710X497202  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 05:00 PM

Alcohol: Effects on Teenage Brains and Correlations Between Availability and Violence

by Darcy Cowan in Skepticon

I’ve written previously about the effects of alcohol on decision making. Today I’ll be looking at two further aspects of alcohol consumption and how it affects society. First up is a study that examines the cognitive effects of moderate to heavy drinking during adolescence, with different effects on males versus females. Secondly I’d like to [...]... Read more »

  • June 3, 2010
  • 02:58 PM

Antibiotics and Synthetic Biology

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

The model for bacterial death by antibiotics was fairly simply until recently. Antibiotics work by targeting a certain area of the bacteria; beta-lactams target the cell wall, Rifamycins target RNA synthesis, tetracyclins inhibit protein synthesis etc. The theory was that by inhibiting these processes, a certain vital function within the bacteria would be stopped, leading to its death.However due to research done by Kohanski (references below) the story is looking a bit more complicated. Looking........ Read more »

Kohanski MA, Dwyer DJ, Hayete B, Lawrence CA, & Collins JJ. (2007) A common mechanism of cellular death induced by bactericidal antibiotics. Cell, 130(5), 797-810. PMID: 17803904  

Kohanski MA, Dwyer DJ, & Collins JJ. (2010) How antibiotics kill bacteria: from targets to networks. Nature reviews. Microbiology, 8(6), 423-35. PMID: 20440275  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 02:50 PM

660 seconds (11 mins) of minimal resistance training = a HUGE difference for fat burning

by mc in begin to dig (b2d)

We know pretty unequivocally that the biggest part of a fat loss program is nutrition. That's first. BUT we also know that exercise can really help with keeping that program going. If we look at work on obesity and the role of exercise, we're looking at 5 hours of exercise a week (along with diet and expert support).

5 hours may be a good and healthy norm, but do you know any geeks who will say ... Read more »

  • June 3, 2010
  • 02:42 PM

Perception of volcanic hazards in Iceland

by Jessica Ball in Magma Cum Laude

The eruption may be subsiding a bit, but there is still a lot of discussion (and arguing) centered around the Eyafyallajökull event. It's not entirely surprising; most people in Europe don't have to deal with active volcanoes, and the last time an Icelandic one caused widespread trouble was in the 18th century. But what about the Icelandic response? One might assume, given the prevalence of volcanic and geothermal activity in Iceland, not to mention hazards caused by volcano-water........ Read more »

Bird, D., Gisladottir, G., & Dominey-Howes, D. (2009) Resident perception of volcanic hazards and evacuation procedures. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 9(1), 251-266. DOI: 10.5194/nhess-9-251-2009  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 02:10 PM

Playing the Fish Market

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Diverse salmon populations make fishery returns more stable

... Read more »

  • June 3, 2010
  • 12:28 PM

Math­e­mati­cian Vladimir Arnold dies in France

by Olexandr Isayev in

Mathematician Vladimir Arnold, perhaps one of the best known and highly cited Russian scientist, has died yesterday today at the age of 72. He was receiving treatment in France, but his disease was stronger, reports, citing a source close to the family. Arnold was one of the greatest mathematicians of the XX century [...]... Read more »

Tabachnikov, S. (2007) Arnold’s Problem. The Mathematical Intelligencer, 29(1), 49-52. DOI: 10.1007/BF02984760  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 10:49 AM

RNA Journal Club 5/6/10

by YPAA in You'd Prefer An Argonaute

A dicer-independent miRNA biogenesis pathway that requires Ago catalysis Sihem Cheloufi, Camila O. Dos Santos, Mark M. W. Chong   &  Gregory J. Hannon Nature, 465: 584–589, 3 June 2010. Nature AOP, 27 April 2010. doi:10.1038/nature09092 This week’s summary and ruminative analysis by Vikram Agarwal. It’s Vikram’s second contribution to the blog: In this article, [...]... Read more »

  • June 3, 2010
  • 08:51 AM

Organic Food Isn’t For The Birds

by Christie Wilcox in Nutrition Wonderland

It turns out birds aren't bird brains when it comes to what they eat. A number of species of birds have been shown to choose foods that contain higher levels of healthy things like protein and antioxidants and lower levels of not-so-healthy things like heavy metals and pesticides. Since they're suck finicky eaters, scientists figured to let them choose between conventionally and organically grown food, and see which they deemed better for them. The vote was unanimous: birds prefer non-organic.... Read more »

McKenzie, A., & Whittingham, M. (2010) Birds select conventional over organic wheat when given free choice. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.4025  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 08:30 AM

Why beliefs overpower science

by Colby in

Human tendencies are anything but objective.  Most people form opinions on topics without a thorough understanding of the scientific literature, which then influence subsequent interpretations.  In the nutritional science realm, ignorance is a large contributor to the current state of confusion, but even if people hear messages from accurate sources, they will most will likely [...]... Read more »

  • June 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Improving the effectivness of endangered species recovery efforts

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

Bolten, A., Crowder, L., Dodd, M., MacPherson, S., Musick, J., Schroeder, B., Witherington, B., Long, K., & Snover, M. (2010) Quantifying multiple threats to endangered species: an example from loggerhead sea turtles. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/090126  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Exercise – It Works For Depression

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

I’m currently reading with great pleasure Tony Schwartz’s new book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working – The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance. Schwartz’s main premise is that we need balance — between activity and rest on the physical level, between performance and renewal on the emotional level, between left and right brain [...]... Read more »

Babyak M, Blumenthal JA, Herman S, Khatri P, Doraiswamy M, Moore K, Craighead WE, Baldewicz TT, & Krishnan KR. (2000) Exercise treatment for major depression: maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosomatic medicine, 62(5), 633-8. PMID: 11020092  

Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Moore KA, Craighead WE, Herman S, Khatri P, Waugh R, Napolitano MA, Forman LM, Appelbaum M.... (1999) Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. Archives of internal medicine, 159(19), 2349-56. PMID: 10547175  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

The Obesity Myth Myth

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

From time to time the media loves to write stories on the Obesity Myth.
These stories come in two flavours - the first one denies the very existence of an obesity epidemic, attributing the rise in obesity statistics to moving definitions that “suddenly” make everyone obese simply by shifting the goal post.
The second flavor of obesity [...]... Read more »

Jarrett B, Bloch GJ, Bennett D, Bleazard B, & Hedges D. (2010) The influence of body mass index, age and gender on current illness: a cross-sectional study. International journal of obesity (2005), 34(3), 429-36. PMID: 20010903  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 05:03 AM

On coupling

by Richard Grant in Confessions of a (former) Lab Rat

No, not that sort of coupling. I was writing up today's Faculty Dailies, catching up on (yet) another paper about how ribosomes control the rate of transcription. As has been known for decades, bacterial transcription and translation are tightly coupled....... Read more »

  • June 3, 2010
  • 04:39 AM

Where in the world is the Yellow-billed Magpie? Help us find out this weekend!

by Madhu in Reconciliation Ecology

See and download the full gallery on posterous

What a handsome corvid, the Yellow-billed Magpie. How curiously restricted, its global range:


This lovely bird is another one I consider...

... Read more »

Reynolds, M. (1995) Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli). The Birds of North America Online. DOI: 10.2173/bna.180  

  • June 3, 2010
  • 03:00 AM

Narcotic treatment contracts and the state of the evidence

by Peter Lipson in Science-Based Medicine

Opium derivatives—and later, synthetic opioids—have probably been used for millennia for the relief of pain. Given human biology, they’ve probably been abused for just as long. Opiate use disorders are a daily fact for primary care physicians; the use of these drugs has become more and more common for chronic non-cancer pain. [...]... Read more »

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