Post List

  • July 30, 2010
  • 10:03 AM
  • 1,106 views

(Mis)understanding mirror neurons -- An alternative interpretation to "action understanding" and why they got it wrong in the first place

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

The idea that mirror neurons support action understanding is by far the dominant interpretation of the function of these cells in the monkey motor system. However, it is not the only interpretation. A "sensory-motor" hypothesis, such as that proposed by Cecelia Heyes and others, has been gaining steam in the last few years. In a just published piece in Current Biology, Marc Hauser and I propose a variant of the sensory-motor view, namely that mirror neurons function not for action understandi........ Read more »

Hickok G, & Hauser M. (2010) (Mis)understanding mirror neurons. Current biology : CB, 20(14). PMID: 20656198  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:55 AM
  • 1,750 views

Driven By Coffee: Creating a Culture of Productivity

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

Today's post is the last in a three-part series on coffee. Monday's post investigated how coffee came to be such an integral part of everyday life. Wednesday's post provided a history of the coffee bean's travels around the globe. And today's discussion considers the social place of coffee in our lives. Be sure to go back and read the others if you've missed them!_________________________________

... Read more »

Ryan L, Hatfield C, & Hofstetter M. (2002) Caffeine reduces time-of-day effects on memory performance in older adults. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 13(1), 68-71. PMID: 11892781  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:47 AM
  • 1,248 views

"Adaptation perfected" (possibly) in a turtle's head (matamatas part III)

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

Welcome to another article on the Matamata Chelus fimbriatus. Yay!





In the previous episode we looked briefly at the Matamata's long, thick neck and on a few aspects of Matamata evolution (a brief introduction to what the Matamata is, and where it lives, can be found here) [in the composite image shown above, the skull and neck is from digimorph while the photo of the live animal is from wikipedia]. This time, we're going to look at the anatomy of the skull and hyoid skeleton (do stick with........ Read more »

Lemell, P., Beisser, C. J., Gumpenberger, M., Snelderwaard, P., Gemel, R., & Weisgram, J. (2010) The feeding apparatus of Chelus fimbriatus (Pleurodira; Chelidae) - adaptation perfected?. Amphibia-Reptilia, 97-107. info:/

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:07 AM
  • 1,201 views

Donating Eggs from an Anoxic Brain Injury Patient?

by Brian McMichael, MD in Pallimed: a Hospice & Palliative Medicine Blog

focused on an ethical dilemma at end-of-life. It got coverage in the mainstream media as well, about a women who collapsed on an airplane with a pulmonary embolism, had severe anoxic brain injury, and the family requested her oocytes be harvested.... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:01 AM
  • 700 views

Dead Zone Entrée

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

You already know your carbon footprint. How about your “nitrogen footprint”? Researchers have calculated how much nitrogen pollution is produced by the production of common foods. Ultimately, they hope the approach might help consumers curb nutrient pollution that is creating oxygen-poor “dead zones” in many coastal seas.
Over the last few decades, researchers have documented […] Read More »... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 08:00 AM
  • 2,381 views

Will Eating Fruit Hamper Weight Loss?

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

After yesterday’s post on the potential benefits of eating blueberries, some readers noted that one should not discount the calories in fruit. In addition, there appears to be a “myth” out there that because of the sugar in fruit, they should be considered a high-glycemic food and could therefore be counterproductive in weight-loss diets - [...]... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 07:58 AM
  • 697 views

Friday Feature: The Virtual Fish

by Becky in It Takes 30

Your Friday treat is a movie from Sean Megason’s lab of the development of a zebrafish ear.  Sean has a plan to provide a complete (“in toto”) image set describing the entire development of a vertebrate, using methods described here (Megason SG (2009). In toto imaging of embryogenesis with confocal time-lapse microscopy. Methods in molecular [...]... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 07:42 AM
  • 840 views

Not the bang they were looking for

by Niall in we are all in the gutter

A satellite detects a bright burst of gamma-rays. Within minutes telescopes swing in to action expecting to see a massive star being torn apart by a cataclysmic explosion in a far-flung corner of the universe. But that wasn't what they found........... Read more »

Rachel A. Osten, Olivier Godet, Stephen Drake, Jack Tueller, Jay Cummings, Hans Krimm, John Pye, Valentin Pal'shin, Sergei Golenetskii, Fabio Reale.... (2010) The Mouse that Roared: A Superflare from the dMe Flare Star EV Lac detected by Swift and Konus-Wind. Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. arXiv: 1007.5300v1

  • July 30, 2010
  • 07:21 AM
  • 1,173 views

Remote control neurons

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

Clever, elegant and extremely powerful – techniques to activate specific sets of neurons with light have the potential to revolutionise cellular and systems neuroscience.  Optogenetics has already been used to address a number of questions which have been resistant to answer by other techniques, and also holds great promise for neurotherapeutics and prosthetics.  A new paper adds another approach to the toolkit – the ability to activate neurons with a radio frequency magnetic field.  Wh........ Read more »

Lee, J., Durand, R., Gradinaru, V., Zhang, F., Goshen, I., Kim, D., Fenno, L., Ramakrishnan, C., & Deisseroth, K. (2010) Global and local fMRI signals driven by neurons defined optogenetically by type and wiring. Nature, 465(7299), 788-792. DOI: 10.1038/nature09108  

Busskamp, V., Duebel, J., Balya, D., Fradot, M., Viney, T., Siegert, S., Groner, A., Cabuy, E., Forster, V., Seeliger, M.... (2010) Genetic Reactivation of Cone Photoreceptors Restores Visual Responses in Retinitis Pigmentosa. Science, 329(5990), 413-417. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190897  

Kravitz, A., Freeze, B., Parker, P., Kay, K., Thwin, M., Deisseroth, K., & Kreitzer, A. (2010) Regulation of parkinsonian motor behaviours by optogenetic control of basal ganglia circuitry. Nature, 466(7306), 622-626. DOI: 10.1038/nature09159  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 06:00 AM
  • 1,278 views

Paucis Verbis card: Strep pharyngitis

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

Have you heard of the Modified Centor Score for strep pharyngitis? Interestingly, it has been validated in adults and children. The methodology builds on the traditional Centor Score by incorporating the patient's age, because this disease is more prevalent in kids than adults. In fact, you actually lose a scoring point if you are older than 44 years old.There are 2 schools of thought about whether to use the Modified Centor Scoring system at all. One school (ACP, CDC, AAFP) recommend using the ........ Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 05:41 AM
  • 1,246 views

What proportion of chemical leaks provoke mass hysteria?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Mass hysteria and not leaked chemicals was the likely cause of the symptoms experienced by those exposed in 16 per cent of hundreds of chemical leaks recorded in England and Wales between January 2007 and April 2008.

That's according to an analysis by Lisa Page and colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry of 280 chemical leaks recorded by the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards based at Chilton in Oxfordshire.

Otherwise known as 'mass psychogenic illness', mass hysteria........ Read more »

Page, L., Keshishian, C., Leonardi, G., Murray, V., Rubin, G., & Wessely, S. (2010) Frequency and Predictors of Mass Psychogenic Illness. Epidemiology, 1. DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181e9edc4  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 01:31 AM
  • 1,208 views

A Small, Informal Cat Causality Cognition Experiment

by Anne Corwin in Existence is Wonderful

(Cross-posted to Felines Are Wonderful)My post referencing the 2009 cat-cognition study noted that:(a) Most of the popular articles regarding that study made what looked to me like unwarranted interpretive leaps (sadly not much of a surprise there these days), and (b) While the study itself read as more "neutrally investigative" and data-focused than the popular articles, it did not seem as if the experimental setup necessarily accounted for feline sensory modalities, and hence may not have perm........ Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 12:41 AM
  • 1,006 views

Friday Weird Science: HEY GUYS, I’M SO DRUNK RIGHT NOW!!!!

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

You know how it is when you’re in college (or high school). You’ve got that one kid (and yes, it has at some point been you) who’s never had a drink before, and they go to a party. You have a few drinks, they have a few drinks, and pretty soon, even though they have [...]... Read more »

Upile, T., Sipaul, F., Jerjes, W., Singh, S., Nouraei, S., El Maaytah, M., Andrews, P., Graham, J., Hopper, C., & Wright, A. (2007) The acute effects of alcohol on auditory thresholds. BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders, 7(1), 4. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6815-7-4  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 12:32 AM
  • 850 views

Endocannabinoids and the runner's high

by NeuroKüz in NeuroKüz

Throughout most of human history, our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to engage in physical activity to obtain food. But nowadays we can drive to the supermarket, briefly walk through its aisles, check-out, then drive back home. This may seem like a luxury, but evolution hasn’t prepared us for such a drastic shift in behaviour.A possible explanation for the “runner’s high,” a feeling of intense euphoria associated with going on a long run, is that our brains are stuck thinking that lots of........ Read more »

  • July 29, 2010
  • 11:54 PM
  • 366 views

…Happiness, Fatness, and Pizza

by Rift in Psycasm

I’ve always wanted to create a meme. Something that I can just devise, and watch it spread like a virus. And I didn’t realize it until recently (though it was lurking in the back of my mind) that I’m fascinated by networks – how information is spread from person to person, and how each person [...]... Read more »

James H. Fowler, & Nicholas A. Christakis. (2009) Cooperative Behavior Cascades in Human Social Networks. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. arXiv: 0908.3497v2

Christakis, N., & Fowler, J. (2007) The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(4), 370-379. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa066082  

  • July 29, 2010
  • 09:36 PM
  • 1,656 views

Phytoplankton are disappearing, so we're all going to suffocate

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Phytoplankton is responsible for about half of the total amount of oxygen produced by all plant life. That would make a 1% yearly reduction of phytoplankton a really negative outcome of global warming, don't you think?... Read more »

Boyce, D., Lewis, M., & Worm, B. (2010) Global phytoplankton decline over the past century. Nature, 466(7306), 591-596. DOI: 10.1038/nature09268  

  • July 29, 2010
  • 09:29 PM
  • 570 views

Neury Thursday: Neurobiological Mechanisms of "Pot Time"

by Allison in Dormivigilia

Using an array of neuroscience techniques, researchers have dissected the neurobiology of "pot time" by focusing on cannabinoid effects on circadian entrainment and neuronal activity of the SCN circadian clock.... Read more »

Claudio Acuna-Goycolea, Karl Obrietan, and Anthony N. van den Pol. (2010) Cannabinoids Excite Circadian Clock Neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(30), 10061-10066. info:/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5838-09.2010

  • July 29, 2010
  • 08:49 PM
  • 885 views

Force Fields and Plasma Shields

by Ryan Anderson in The Science of Starcraft

I was always a fan of the Protoss: super-advanced technology, powerful units, and those awesome plasma shields protecting everything from the lowliest probe to gigantic carriers. But I always wondered: could those force fields really work? Well… Sort of. It really depends on your definition of a force field and what you want to prevent [...]... Read more »

  • July 29, 2010
  • 07:47 PM
  • 1,151 views

Loops to tie a knot in proteins?

by Grant Jacobs in Code for life






Most proteins fold onto themselves without forming knots. A minority form a “topologically entangled conformation”, a knot.
Proteins are strings of amino acids, chained together one after the other.

The properties of proteins depends on their specific three-dimensional fold, how the chain of amino acids are arranged in space.
When proteins are first made by reading the RNA [...]... Read more »

  • July 29, 2010
  • 03:51 PM
  • 2,401 views

Hubble Bubble

by The Astronomist in The Astronomist.

The Copernican principle holds that humans are not privileged observers of the Universe. Copernicus stated that the Earth is not at the center of the solar system or at any particularly special position in the heavens. Modern cosmology has extended this idea to reason that the earth does not occupy any unique position in the Universe. Modern philosophy of science pushes the principle even further to conclude that every observer (even if they be they little green men) should reason as if they wer........ Read more »

Adam Moss, James P. Zibin, & Douglas Scott. (2010) Precision Cosmology Defeats Void Models for Acceleration. arXiv preprint. arXiv: 1007.3725v1

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