Post List

  • May 12, 2010
  • 10:52 AM

X-Rays Give a New Look at Archaeopteryx

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Scientists have known about the feathered dinosaur Archaeopteryx for over a century and a half, but scientists are using new techniques to get a better look at this creature and its close relatives. Within the past few months alone, paleontologists have described how they have used laboratory techniques to determine what color some feathered dinosaurs [...]... Read more »

Bergmann, U., Morton, R., Manning, P., Sellers, W., Farrar, S., Huntley, K., Wogelius, R., & Larson, P. (2010) Archaeopteryx feathers and bone chemistry fully revealed via synchrotron imaging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001569107  

  • May 12, 2010
  • 10:17 AM

Smart drugs, smarter students?

by Wellcome Trust in Wellcome Trust Blog

At a Eureka Live event at Wellcome Collection in February, Professor Barbara Sahakian of the University of Cambridge said that around 16 per cent of university students use cognitive boosting drugs like Ritalin to combat tiredness, and that this practice is spreading widely. It made me realize that cognitive enhancement in students is not just [...]... Read more »

Ilina Singh, Kelly J. Kelleher. (2010) Neuroenhancement in Young People: Proposal for Research, Policy, and Clinical Management . AJOB Neuroscience, 1(1), 3-16. info:/10.1080/21507740903508591

  • May 12, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

The "Big Four," part I: Natural selection

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

This post is the first in a special series about four fundamental forces in evolution: natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, and migration.

Among non-biologists, the best-known of the Big Four forces of evolution is almost certainly natural selection. We've all heard the catchphrase "survival of the fittest," and that's a pretty good, if reductive, summing up of the principle. In more precise terms, here's how natural selection works:Natural populations of living things vary. Deer vary in........ Read more »

Futuyma, D. (1987) On the role of species in anagenesis. The American Naturalist, 130(3), 465-73. DOI: 10.1086/284724  

Grant, B., & Grant, P. (1989) Natural selection in a population of Darwin's finches. The American Naturalist, 133(3), 377-93. DOI: 10.1086/284924  

Kingsolver, J., Hoekstra, H., Hoekstra, J., Berrigan, D., Vignieri, S., Hill, C., Hoang, A., Gibert, P., & Beerli, P. (2001) The Strength of phenotypic selection in natural populations. The American Naturalist, 157(3), 245-261. DOI: 10.1086/319193  

  • May 12, 2010
  • 09:29 AM

Antidepressant medications and risk for suicide in children and adolescents: all drugs are created equal.

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

In my clinical work, I often encounter parents who are concerned about putting their kids on psychiatric medications. In the case of anti-depressants, such concerns are grounded on a large literature that has linked anti-depressant use by adolescents with a mild increase in the risk of suicide. Contrary to some common explanations, it is not simply [...]... Read more »

Schneeweiss, S., Patrick, A., Solomon, D., Dormuth, C., Miller, M., Mehta, J., Lee, J., & Wang, P. (2010) Comparative Safety of Antidepressant Agents for Children and Adolescents Regarding Suicidal Acts. PEDIATRICS, 125(5), 876-888. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-2317  

  • May 12, 2010
  • 09:15 AM

Tip of the Week: Chromhome, for karyotype level comparative genomics

by Mary in OpenHelix

Usually when we think about comparative genomics data, we are thinking about genomes that are pretty well sequenced, and we want to look at that data with variety of tools and algorithms.  But this past week we saw a question about less-well-sequenced genomes, and we thought it was an interesting inquiry.  The question was: is there a web site that displays comparative karyotype data?  So we went looking. And we found Chromhome.
Chromhome has a very straightforward interface.  You choose a ........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 08:28 AM

The post-Columbian panmictic “natural experiment”

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Economists in the last few years have been shifting toward testing their theoretical models, whether through the experiments of behavioral economics, or, “natural experiments.” The reason economists have had issues with testing their models is that experimentation on humans has some natural constraints. Macroeconomists have an even greater problem, as experimentation on whole societies not [...]... Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 08:10 AM


by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

"Head-wound Hank", from Geek Orthodox.The 19th century archive of The Lancet1 is filled with simply delightful case reports. Who can resist the allure of early plastic surgery failures, such as RHINOPLASTIC OPERATION, PERFORMED BY M. LISFRANC, FOLLOWED BY DEATH? Or how about a Case of Local Tubercular Deposit on the Surface of the Brain, presented by Robert Dunn, Esq.? Finally, the tragic History of a Case of Hydrophobia, treated at the Hotel Dieu at Paris, by an injection of water into the ve........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Self-Medicating Depression With Chocolate

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

Chocolate, prepared from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree, contain alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have physiological effects on the body that include elevating serotonin levels in the brain.
Low levels of serotonin are linked to mood disorders and one of the primary action of antidepressants is to raise brain serotonin levels, [...]... Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Fish tanks as vectors for accidental introduction of exotic species

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

The beginnings of bone

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Bones have probably given us more evidence for evolution than almost anything else. But could bones also pose a problem for evolutionary biology?

The Times – not the New York Times, the original, singular Times – interviews frequent quotation workhorse for Texas young Earth creationists, dentist and outgoing State Board of Education member, Don McLeroy.

McLeroy is saying the same things he usually does, but this time, he actually said something a little more interesting if only because it........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 05:51 AM

Contaminated Vaccines

by Atila Iamarino in Influenza A (H1N1) Blog – English

Although H1N1 is circulating around us at least a little bit before 1918, we passed almost 20 years free of it. In 1957, a line of influenza virus received three genes of an avian virus, among them new HA and NA, and started to be called H2N2. With these new proteins, it did not meet [...]... Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 05:30 AM

Pepsi Refresh adapts Big Tobacco marketing playbook for the 21st century.

by Yoni Freedhoff in Weighty Matters

Have you heard about Pepsi Refresh? If not, I promise you will, probably from your friends.Pepsi Refresh is Pepsi's latest brilliant marketing campaign.The premise is simple. Each month for a year consumers will be asked to submit and vote for Pepsi funded grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 in one of six areas: Health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education. 1,000 applications are accepted monthly and applicants use their own social networks to rally for ........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 05:07 AM

Sunday Protist -- Tachyblaston: A suctorian parasite of suctorians

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

[it's totally still Sunday in someone's mind somewhere...right?]Reading old protistology books can be quite a frustrating exercise: image you come across a really cool-looking organism, try to follow up on what happened to it since, and discover it's only been written up once in the distant past and neglected ever since. This happens to a very annoying percentage of organisms described in those older books (newer books tend to forget the phantom and near-phantom species). Now this organism in pa........ Read more »

Martin, CH. (1909) Some Observations on Acinetaria: Part I.—The " Tinctin-kbrper " of Acinetaria and the Conjugation of Acineta papillifera. Quarterly journal of microscopical science, 53(2), 351-389. info:/

  • May 12, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

Measuring the "naturalness" of landscapes: a look at the U.S.

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

A new study in the journal Landscape Ecology presents an approach for measuring the level of naturalness across a region. Colorado State University researcher David Theobold tests this approach on the lower 48 states of the U.S. to determine the naturalness of the nation and how it is projected to change over the next 20 years.... Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 03:30 AM

What IS the dentate gyrus doing to CA3?

by Jason Snyder in Functional Neurogenesis

A fundamental property of the hippocampus is its ability to rapidly encode memories while simultaneously keeping them distinct. Recording from hippocampal neurons one can clearly see that different populations of neurons are active as a rat explores two environments. This is thought to be one mechanism by which information is kept distinct in the brain.
For [...]... Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 01:09 AM

Walking and Obesity: The City Life vs the Country Life

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Sci rather wishes this study were done in mice, if only so she could write "the city mouse and the country mouse" in her title. But it was done in humans, which was really probably a good thing.

This post has some background. Sci was sitting around with her lab one day, shootin' the breeze like you do when it's Friday and science has you cross-eyed, and we were talking about going to meetings in exotic locales. We were talking about one especially large city, and one person in the group said........ Read more »

  • May 11, 2010
  • 11:30 PM

Sleep, Dreams, Death

by Allison in Dormivigilia

An overview of sleep deprivation contribution to psychosis, death, and other deleterious physical and physiological problems using the characters of A Nightmare on Elm Street as a ploy.... Read more »

Everson CA, Bergmann BM, & Rechtschaffen A. (1989) Sleep deprivation in the rat: III. Total sleep deprivation. Sleep, 12(1), 13-21. PMID: 2928622  

  • May 11, 2010
  • 07:38 PM

Senses Of The Deep Sea

by Daniel Bassett in Chew the Fat

The most abundant life on this planet is found deep beneath the waves at depths that sunlight hardly penetrates. Species that live at these depths are impossible to capture for behavioural studies where questions can then be asked about how fish at these depths 'see' the world.... Read more »

Wagner, H. (2001) Sensory Brain Areas in Mesopelagic Fishes. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 57(3), 117-133. DOI: 10.1159/000047231  

Wagner, H. (2001) Brain Areas in Abyssal Demersal Fishes. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 57(6), 301-316. DOI: 10.1159/000047249  

  • May 11, 2010
  • 06:38 PM


by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

By now, unless you live under a rock, you should have heard the news: New genetic studies indicate that Neanderthals and modern humans likely interbred: Among the findings, published in the May 7 issue of Science, is evidence that shortly after early modern humans migrated out of Africa, some of them interbred with Neanderthals, leaving bits of Neanderthal DNA sequences scattered through the genomes of present-day non-Africans. "We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow fro........ Read more »

Burbano, H., Hodges, E., Green, R., Briggs, A., Krause, J., Meyer, M., Good, J., Maricic, T., Johnson, P., Xuan, Z.... (2010) Targeted Investigation of the Neandertal Genome by Array-Based Sequence Capture. Science, 328(5979), 723-725. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188046  

ESWARAN, V., HARPENDING, H., & ROGERS, A. (2005) Genomics refutes an exclusively African origin of humans. Journal of Human Evolution, 49(1), 1-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2005.02.006  

Green, R., Krause, J., Briggs, A., Maricic, T., Stenzel, U., Kircher, M., Patterson, N., Li, H., Zhai, W., Fritz, M.... (2010) A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome. Science, 328(5979), 710-722. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188021  

  • May 11, 2010
  • 05:52 PM

Isolation of RNA from breast cancer FFPE tissues

by epibio in EpiCentral

In order to develop guidelines for clinical diagnostic tests using gene expression profiling based on qRT-PCR analyses of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, Sánchez-Navarro et al.* compared the performance of different normalization strategies in the correlation of quantitative data between fresh-frozen (FF) and FFPE tissues.  A significant challenge to expression analysis of FFPE samples is the substantial degradation of RNA extracted from these tissues, resulting in a shif........ Read more »

Sánchez-Navarro, I. et al. (2010) Comparison of gene expression profiling by reverse transcription quantitative PCR between fresh frozen and formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded breast cancer tissues. BioTechniques, 48(May 2010), 389-397. info:/10.2144/000113388

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