Tuatara like it cold. Unusually so, for a reptile. While reptiles in most other countries are happiest with temperatures over 25 degrees celcius, here in New Zealand our reptiles prefer much lower temperatures. Alison Cree’s group at the University of Otago has been investigating exactly which temperatures tuatara prefer, with a view to determining whether [...]... Read more »
Besson, A., & Cree, A. (2010) Integrating physiology into conservation: an approach to help guide translocations of a rare reptile in a warming environment. Animal Conservation. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2010.00386.x
At the end of the 19th Century, the ground-breaking sociologist Émile Durkheim made an important discovery: across Europe, Protestant regions had a higher suicide rate that Catholic regions. This, he said, was because Catholicism created more integrated societies. In today's parlance, Catholicism generates more social capital.
Since then many studies reinforced this theory, showing that Catholicism, and indeed religion in general, seems to protect against suicide. Unfortunately, almost all the........ Read more »
Spoerri A, Zwahlen M, Bopp M, Gutzwiller F, Egger M, & for the Swiss National Cohort Study. (2010) Religion and assisted and non-assisted suicide in Switzerland: National Cohort Study. International journal of epidemiology. PMID: 20841328
"Study shows real partners are no match for ideal mates," says a Sheffield University press release I read last week. So, sometimes we settle for less than George Clooney or Heidi Klum.
read more... Read more »
Alexandre Courtiol1, Sandrine Picq, Bernard Godelle1, Michel Raymond, Jean-Baptiste Ferdy. (2010) From Preferred to Actual Mate Characteristics: The Case of Human Body Shape. PLoS ONE. info:/
To mark 10 years of Nature Reviews Neuroscience this month the journal has produced a kind of retrospective of the most highly cited reviews from each year. I got around to reading the 2002 “winner” from Maurizio Corbetta and Gordon Shulman which focused on attention networks in the brain, and a quality read it is. [...]... Read more »
Corbetta, M., & Shulman, G. (2002) CONTROL OF GOAL-DIRECTED AND STIMULUS-DRIVEN ATTENTION IN THE BRAIN. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3(3), 215-229. DOI: 10.1038/nrn755
Legrain V, Damme SV, Eccleston C, Davis KD, Seminowicz DA, & Crombez G. (2009) A neurocognitive model of attention to pain: behavioral and neuroimaging evidence. Pain, 144(3), 230-2. PMID: 19376654
Inch by inch, row by row, plant preservationists need to be aware of how their gardens grow. Efforts to save rare plants by growing them at botanic gardens can introduce subtle genetic changes that could undermine restoration programs, concludes a new study from Germany.
The world’s botanic gardens have become a key player in plant […] Read More »... Read more »
Enßlin, A., Sandner, T., & Matthies, D. (2010) Consequences of ex situ cultivation of plants: Genetic diversity, fitness and adaptation of the monocarpic Cynoglossum officinale L. in botanic gardens. Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.09.001
I wouldn’t usually discuss politics in a blog like this, but a recent story caught my eye, as it provides an example of the depressing and sometimes bizarre level of scientific illiteracy among elected officials or some people who hope to be elected. The example is from the United States, which is an easy target in this regard, but we have had a similar episode in Ireland recently so I don’t think we (or indeed any other non-Americans) can feel particularly smug about it. This one is espec........ Read more »
Snyder BR, Chiu AM, Prockop DJ, & Chan AW. (2010) Human multipotent stromal cells (MSCs) increase neurogenesis and decrease atrophy of the striatum in a transgenic mouse model for Huntington's disease. PloS one, 5(2). PMID: 20179764
Salazar DL, Uchida N, Hamers FP, Cummings BJ, & Anderson AJ. (2010) Human neural stem cells differentiate and promote locomotor recovery in an early chronic spinal cord injury NOD-scid mouse model. PloS one, 5(8). PMID: 20806064
Lee HJ, Lim IJ, Lee MC, & Kim SU. (2010) Human neural stem cells genetically modified to overexpress brain-derived neurotrophic factor promote functional recovery and neuroprotection in a mouse stroke model. Journal of neuroscience research. PMID: 20818776
The job of the human immune system is to destroy pathogens. Using a combination of quick, immediate responses (the innate immune system) and long-term memory (the adaptive immune system) in humans the cells of the immune system are perfectly primed to seek out any cells that are Other (i.e not Self) and kill them.Which leads to a slight problem, because rather a lot of the cells within your body are 'Other' cells, and their existence is vital to your health. Within your stomach, and your respira........ Read more »
Cerf-Bensussan N, & Gaboriau-Routhiau V. (2010) The immune system and the gut microbiota: friends or foes?. Nature reviews. Immunology, 10(10), 735-44. PMID: 20865020
Solar energy is obviously one of the key renewable energy resources available to us. At the same time researchers are hitting against a glass ceiling. A famous 1961 paper by William Shockley (who co-invented the transistor) and Hans Queisser comes to the conclusion that for a semiconductor such as silicon the maximum conversion efficiency of [...]... Read more »
Sambur, J., Novet, T., & Parkinson, B. (2010) Multiple Exciton Collection in a Sensitized Photovoltaic System. Science, 330(6000), 63-66. DOI: 10.1126/science.1191462
by Alan Derman in Small Things Considered
by Alan Derman
The planet's most abundant enzyme is also one of its lousiest. It's RuBisCO, the photosynthetic enzyme that mediates the fixation of CO2 by catalyzing its incorporation into the five carbon ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP). Routinely it goofs and incorporates O2 instead, producing the useless and potentially harmful phosphoglycolate, which cells must then expend energy to dispose of. And even if O2 is not around to confuse the enzyme, the Km of cyanobacterial RuBisCO for CO2 is........ Read more »
Fan C, Cheng S, Liu Y, Escobar CM, Crowley CS, Jefferson RE, Yeates TO, & Bobik TA. (2010) Short N-terminal sequences package proteins into bacterial microcompartments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(16), 7509-14. PMID: 20308536
I've mentioned laryngeal and tracheal anatomy a few times on Tet Zoo (see the links at the very bottom for more). Well, time to look at it again. It's (relatively) little known that a long list of mammal species possess an assortment of 'pouches', pocket-like structures and pneumatic sacs and spaces within their throats, skulls, chests, and sometimes on their palates. Some of these are air-filled, epithelium-lined structures that originate as outgrowths of the throat or windpipe, and are hence........ Read more »
Hewitt G, MacLarnon A, & Jones KE. (2002) The functions of laryngeal air sacs in primates: a new hypothesis. Folia primatologica; international journal of primatology, 73(2-3), 70-94. PMID: 12207055
There is considerable interest in methods to speed up the effects of treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Exposure and response prevention are key therapy interventions for OCD and these treatments have significant evidence-based support for effectiveness. A recent study examined whether the drug d-cycloserine can boost the effect of standard behavior therapy in OCD.D-cycloserine (DCS) is an antibiotic that appears to have cognitive effects that "facilitates fear extin........ Read more »
Chasson GS, Buhlmann U, Tolin DF, Rao SR, Reese HE, Rowley T, Welsh KS, & Wilhelm S. (2010) Need for speed: evaluating slopes of OCD recovery in behavior therapy enhanced with d-cycloserine. Behaviour research and therapy, 48(7), 675-9. PMID: 20362975
Jeff McMahan doesn’t like carnivores. Not one bit. In a pair of controversial op-ed pieces in the New York Times “The Stone” forum, the Rutgers University philosopher has argued that our species has a moral duty to eradicate the world’s rapacious, pain-inflicting predators and replace them with specially-engineered herbivores with big doe-eyes and which smell [...]... Read more »
Johnson, C., Isaac, J., & Fisher, D. (2007) Rarity of a top predator triggers continent-wide collapse of mammal prey: dingoes and marsupials in Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1608), 341-346. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3711
WALLACH, A., MURRAY, B., & ONEILL, A. (2009) Can threatened species survive where the top predator is absent?. Biological Conservation, 142(1), 43-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2008.09.021
Part 5 of my series examining research evidence for the value of video games. This time: video games that have been made for patient care and training doctors.... Read more »
If you’ve ever wondered what the biochemical pathway is that gives carbonated beverages that stinging or pungent sensation as the authors of a new paper put it, wonder no more. Ok, so probably few people other than these authors have, … Continue reading →... Read more »
Wang YY, Chang RB, & Liman ER. (2010) TRPA1 Is a Component of the Nociceptive Response to CO2. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30(39), 12958-63. PMID: 20881114
Whether you're a dog, a cat, or a grad student who hasn't been home to shower for a few days, fleas are a major problem. They make skin itch. And NOTHING is worse than itchy skin.
Do you know WHERE the fleas are? Where they like to hang out and guard their little flea eggs? Where's the best place for a flea to get a decent night's sleep, or a delicious snack? These are important questions. Lucky for us, Hsu, Hsu, and Wu of the Department of Entomology at National Taiwan University ha........ Read more »
Hsu MH, Hsu TC, & Wu WJ. (2002) Distribution of cat fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) on the cat. Journal of medical entomology, 39(4), 685-8. PMID: 12144305
It been proven that after you make a choice, you adjust your opinion to think better of the option you chose. Now a study published in Psychological Science has found ... Read more »
Sharot, T., Velasquez, C.M., & Dolan, R.J. (2010) Do decisions shape preference?: evidence from blind choice. Psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science/APS. PMID: 20679522
by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych
Monday’s briefs: Quick musing on child related research. One drawback of our culture of individualism is that it perpetuates the myth that we all have equal opportunities for success and that the only thing that is needed to achieve our goals is personal effort. The research on environmental contributions to academic and professional success strongly [...]... Read more »
Geoffroy, M., Côté, S., Giguère, C., Dionne, G., Zelazo, P., Tremblay, R., Boivin, M., & Séguin, J. (2010) Closing the gap in academic readiness and achievement: the role of early childcare. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02316.x
As blogged before, obesity is now one of the most common drivers of premature disability.
A new study by Genevieve Garlepy and colleagues from McGill University, Montreal, QC, published online in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, shows that the presence of psychological distress (a non-specific measure of mental health that captures negative mood states, including symptoms of depression [...]... Read more »
Gariepy G, Wang J, Lesage A, & Schmitz N. (2010) Obesity and the risk of disability in a 12-year cohort study: the role of psychological distress. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology. PMID: 20848077
With Alzheimer’s disease affecting 5 million Americans — a rate that the Alzheimer’s Association warns is ballooning — public health experts are scrambling for cost-effective ways to combat this deadly disease. While Alzheimer’s medications remain expensive and largely ineffective in preventing or halting disease progression, an unexpected potential weapon has recently emerged. Research published in [...]... Read more »
Llewellyn DJ, Lang IA, Langa KM, Muniz-Terrera G, Phillips CL, Cherubini A, Ferrucci L, & Melzer D. (2010) Vitamin D and risk of cognitive decline in elderly persons. Archives of internal medicine, 170(13), 1135-41. PMID: 20625021
Wilkins CH, Sheline YI, Roe CM, Birge SJ, & Morris JC. (2006) Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and worse cognitive performance in older adults. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, 14(12), 1032-40. PMID: 17138809
“Why aren’t you working harder? Don’t you know there are still people dying from cancer?!” That’s the thrust of a sanctimonious, self-righteous editorial by one Scott Kern. See below for other commentaries on it.
You know, even soldiers fighting actual wars where there is immediate and imminent danger to their comrades are given leave.
Kern has lost the plot; he’s forgotten that the main reason we want to cure cancer is so that people can lead fulfilling liv........ Read more »
Kern, SE. (2010) Where’s the passion?. Cancer Biology , 10(7), 655-657. info:/10.4161/cbt.10.7.12994
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