More waterfowl weirdness...
Most waterfowl can walk fine on land, and the majority of species are pretty agile in terms of their terrestrial abilities. But some species are so specialised for life on water, and have their legs placed so far back on their bodies, that any terrestrial abilities are poor, if not hilarious. One often reads of how divers (or loons) are only able to move on land with an awkward shuffle; less well known is that some waterfowl are pretty much the same. Read the re........ Read more »
McCracken KG, Harshman J, McClellan DA, & Afton AD. (1999) Data set incongruence and correlated character evolution: an example of functional convergence in the hind-limbs of stifftail diving ducks. Systematic biology, 48(4), 683-714. PMID: 12066296
An up-and-coming theory to explain type 2 diabetes suggests that abnormal lipid metabolism, not glucose/sugar metabolism, is the primary metabolic defect. Roger H. Unger, M.D., wrote about this in the March 12, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Early in the writing of this blog entry, I realized it is much [...]... Read more »
Unger, R. (2008) Reinventing Type 2 Diabetes: Pathogenesis, Treatment, and Prevention. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 299(10), 1185-1187. DOI: 10.1001/jama.299.10.1185
What happens when you recruit dozens of students to perform a maze-based computer task and then you ratchet up the competitive pressure? Does their performance improve or do they just cheat more?Christiane Schwieren and Doris Weichselbaumer found out by having 33 men and 32 women at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona spend 30 minutes completing on-screen mazes. Crucially, half the students were paid according to how many mazes they completed whereas the half in the 'highly competitive' co........ Read more »
Schwieren, C., & Weichselbaumer, D. (2010) Does competition enhance performance or cheating? A laboratory experiment. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31(3), 241-253. DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2009.02.005
If you’ve been following the Diabetes news lately, you likely noticed that two stories have dominated the news over the last couple of days. The first is a widely published study that implicates the consumption of white rice (as opposed to brown rice) in increased incidents of diabetes and the second relates to emerging evidence [...]... Read more »
Today's post comes to you from several tweets that Sci received way back in the mists of time (that is...two weeks ago. Three? Something like that). Sci got wind of this paper and has been meaning to blog it for a while, but other things get in the way, like other things will. And when those other things finally get out of the way, Sci sometimes finds that she's so SLEEPY she doesn't know if she can make it through any more dry, sciency prose (sciency prose, even at the best of times, is pat........ Read more »
Magalhaes, A., Holmes, K., Dale, L., Comps-Agrar, L., Lee, D., Yadav, P., Drysdale, L., Poulter, M., Roth, B., Pin, J.... (2010) CRF receptor 1 regulates anxiety behavior via sensitization of 5-HT2 receptor signaling. Nature Neuroscience, 13(5), 622-629. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2529
In my last post, I discussed a debate that is going on over whether using the internet is good or bad for the brain. Those who argue against apparently harmful effects of the internet often cite studies that suggest playing video games actually enhances certain cognitive abilities. How compelling is the evidence for these purported benefits?Well if you search the research literature, you will find a large number of studies (some in very high-impact journals) suggesting that regular video game pl........ Read more »
Donohue SE, Woldorff MG, & Mitroff SR. (2010) Video game players show more precise multisensory temporal processing abilities. Attention, perception , 72(4), 1120-9. PMID: 20436205
Mark Pagel (MP) delivered a keynote lecture at the 22nd annual Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference, titled “The Rise of the Speaking Machine: Explorations in Language Evolution.” Here is a brief description of the lecture.... Read more »
Pagel, M. (2009) Human language as a culturally transmitted replicator. Nature Reviews Genetics. DOI: 10.1038/nrg2560
It's amazing what you'll catch in the letters to the editor sometimes. In the latest issue of Fisheries Magazine is a classic back-and-forth editorial origination from an article by researcher John. C. Briggs. At first my interest was piqued simply by the fact that there was something ocean-related (since the start of my subscription Fisheries has been utterly dominated by freshwater articles), but reading the debate motivated me to go back and track down the original article. ........ Read more »
Briggs, J. (2008) The North Atlantic Ocean: Need for Proactive Management. Fisheries, 33(4), 180-185. DOI: 10.1577/1548-8446-33.4.180
Josh Donlan C, Berger J, Bock CE, Bock JH, Burney DA, Estes JA, Foreman D, Martin PS, Roemer GW, Smith FA.... (2006) Pleistocene rewilding: an optimistic agenda for twenty-first century conservation. The American naturalist, 168(5), 660-81. PMID: 17080364
One of the greater uncertanties about Avian Influenza is why it is not efficiently transmitted among humans. Thus, it is clear how likely it is that the virus is able to cross this barrier and a more efficient line appears. For example, until now the H5N1 was transmitted mainly to breeders and people in very [...]... Read more »
Scull MA, Gillim-Ross L, Santos C, Roberts KL, Bordonali E, Subbarao K, Barclay WS, & Pickles RJ. (2009) Avian Influenza virus glycoproteins restrict virus replication and spread through human airway epithelium at temperatures of the proximal airways. PLoS pathogens, 5(5). PMID: 19436701
What’s soil made of? Take out the chunks of roots and twigs, take out the particles of minerals, and what are you left with? What makes it soil, brown and lumpy, rather than something like fine sand? It’s a mixture of organic matter: stuff produced by things living in or on the soil, that can’t [...]... Read more »
Rillig, M., Wright, S., Nichols, K., Schmidt, W., & Torn, M. (2001) Large contribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to soil carbon pools in tropical forest soils. Plant and Soil, 233(2), 167-177. DOI: 10.1023/A:1010364221169
Professionalism is an explicit outcome in most medical curricula yet remains a nebulous concept. Some medical students recently asked for my opinion on body piercing and tattoos. Would having a tongue piercing or a tattoo constitute an unprofessional act? The many systems being developed to assess and measure professionalism can feel oppressive. Paradoxically, patients thrive [...]... Read more »
Bone, A., Ncube, F., Nichols, T., & Noah, N. (2008) Body piercing in England: a survey of piercing at sites other than earlobe. BMJ, 336(7658), 1426-1428. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39580.497176.25
Large European study confirms earlier findings.
It doesn’t mean you should start popping handfuls of B vitamins if you are a smoker or a former smoker (those who never smoked rarely get the disease). What it appears to mean is that people with the highest levels of vitamin B6 in their bodies may have as little as half the risk of developing lung cancer as people with very low levels of B6--also known as pyridoxine.
In a June 16 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (........ Read more »
Mattias Johansson, et. al. (2010) Serum B Vitamin Levels and Risk of Lung Cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association, 303(23), 2377-2385. info:/
Counterintuitively, people who exercise self control in some way, such as dieting or trying not to look at or think about something, might end up buying things more impulsively instead if given the opportunity.Vohs & Faber (2007) explain in their study, Spent Resources: Self-Regulatory Resource Availability Affects Impulse Buying, that opportunities for impulse purchasing have increased with the proliferation of ATMs, shopping on the Internet, and shop-at-home television programs. Depletion ........ Read more »
Vohs, K., & Faber, R. (2007) Spent Resources: Self‐Regulatory Resource Availability Affects Impulse Buying. Journal of Consumer Research, 33(4), 537-547. DOI: 10.1086/510228
There was an interesting post over at Culturing Science about the widespread dispersal of bacteria which, as well as sporting an amazing hand-drawn MS Paint picture also put forward the argument that bacterial evolution occurs in very selective environmental pockets and niches, while a sort of general 'less-evolving' population floats around the world. This helps to explain why you can find almost identical species of bacteria all over the world, yet still find very specialised colonies in disti........ Read more »
I do not think I have ever blogged the paper that played an important role in my thesis (doi:10.1021/ci990038z); research of one of the papers in my thesis, started with the hypothesis proposed therein. The paper had a really good idea; but, unfortunately, it did not contain the data to support the hypothesis. That gets me to one important lesson I learned: a QSAR data set of less than 100 molecules is not enough to make untargeted statistical models.
The paper reads quite nicely, and the resul........ Read more »
Bursi, R., Dao, T., van Wijk, T., de Gooyer, M., Kellenbach, E., & Verwer, P. (1999) Comparative Spectra Analysis (CoSA): Spectra as Three-Dimensional Molecular Descriptors for the Prediction of Biological Activities. Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, 39(5), 861-867. DOI: 10.1021/ci990038z
Willighagen, E., Denissen, H., Wehrens, R., & Buydens, L. (2006) On the Use of H and C 1D NMR Spectra as QSPR Descriptors . Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, 46(2), 487-494. DOI: 10.1021/ci050282s
An urban myth, often asserted with a wink & a nod in some circles, is that a very high proportion of children in Western countries are not raised by their biological father, and in fact are not aware that their putative biological father is not their real biological father. The numbers I see and hear [...]... Read more »
Anderson, K. (2006) How Well Does Paternity Confidence Match Actual Paternity? Evidence from Worldwide Nonpaternity Rates. Current Anthropology, 47(3), 513-520. DOI: 10.1086/504167
This is the first part of a series that aims to bust some myths about booze.
Hangovers suck and they’re probably best avoided. But once you’ve got one, can you get rid of it? People swear by their favourite hangover cures — insisting that if you just follow their advice, you’ll free yourself of the post-intoxicated state.
Can [...]... Read more »
In our currently fragile economy, lifestyle changes are often necessary to maintain a reasonable budget. We may carpool more often, eat out less frequently, or reduce the number of foreign excursions. While making changes to shave costs are generally helpful, there are some corners that should not be cut.
In a recent study published in the [...]
... Read more »
Wallensten A, Oliver I, Ricketts K, Kafatos G, Stuart JM, & Joseph C. (2010) Windscreen wiper fluid without added screenwash in motor vehicles: a newly identified risk factor for Legionnaires' disease. European journal of epidemiology. PMID: 20532623
Now this is wild:
It’s a fish. It jumps.
This picture was not taken in an aquarium filled with water; it’s in air.
The fish is a blenny, Alticus arnoldorum, and a new paper introduced me to this fish that barely deserves to be called a fish. According to the author, Shi-Tong Hsieh, this fish spends so much time on land that it actively defends territory on land. It can stay out of water indefinitely, as long as it stays moist.
That blows my mind.
Hsieh was interested how blennies wer........ Read more »
Hsieh, Shi-Tong Tonia. (2010) A Locomotor Innovation Enables Water-Land Transition in a Marine Fish. PLoS ONE, 5(6). info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0011197
Touch is crucially important for social communication, mediating how we perceive and interpret the actions of others. For example, waitresses who touch customers get better tips (Crusco & Wetzel, 1984). However, touch alone does not always lead to positive outcomes. For many years researchers have known that touch is moderated by factors such as type of touch, location of touch, situational context, and many others. Until recently however, they were uncertain as to how the social effect of ........ Read more »
Olausson, H., Wessberg, J., Morrison, I., McGlone, F., & Vallbo, �. (2010) The neurophysiology of unmyelinated tactile afferents. Neuroscience , 34(2), 185-191. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.09.011
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