Post List

  • May 28, 2010
  • 05:26 PM

Dingoes do detours, dogs don’t

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

A picture like this used to adorn the office door of some of my fellow graduate students:

The original picture (minus the labels) was taken from a general biology textbook to illustrate detour problems. We look at that and think, “That’s easy. Run around the post. Silly dog.”

Dogs turn out to be fairly bad at detour problems. Squirrels, I understand, solve such problems in a heartbeat, given that they have evolved to navigate complex three-dimensional environments as they leap from bra........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 04:06 PM

Study: People Think Less of Working Moms (And of Their Children)

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

Americans may talk a good game about "work-life balance," but according to this study, they're biased against working mothers. More surprisingly, those who liked working moms less also liked the children of those mothers less.
For her Master's degree, Jennifer Livengood, who graduated this month from Kansas State University, asked 96 students to rate mothers and children after hearing them interact with their kids on an audiotape and watching a brief video. The raters knew in advance........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 12:57 PM

Prodigious Pronghorn Population Projections

by TwoYaks in Gene Flow

Can the presence of wolves be good for prey species? Intuition seems to suggest the answer is no. After all, wolves eat prey, and being eaten is fairly bad for one's health. Wolves are implicated in a number of natural declines of prey species in a number of systems, especially in closed populations where immigration can't bolster floundering populations. The use of wolf control is a ... Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 11:47 AM

The Cerebral Linguistic Toolbox That Blows The Mind

by Robert Deyes in Promega Connections

“Depending on the type of grammar used in forming a given sentence, the brain will activate a certain set of regions to process it, like a carpenter digging through a toolbox to pick a group of tools to accomplish the various basic components that comprise a complex task” (1). This was the descriptive offered by [...]... Read more »

Newman AJ, Supalla T, Hauser P, Newport EL, & Bavelier D. (2010) Dissociating neural subsystems for grammar by contrasting word order and inflection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(16), 7539-44. PMID: 20368422  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 11:13 AM

This Is Your Brain's Anti-Drug

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

What's your anti-drug? Well, it might well be hemopressin. At least, that's probably your anti-marijuana.Hemopressin is a small protein that was discovered in the brains of rodents in 2003: its name comes from the fact that it's a breakdown product of hemoglobin and that it can lower blood pressure.No-one seems to have looked to see whether hemopressin is found in humans, yet, but it seems very likely. Almost everything that's in your brain is in a mouse's brain, and vice versa.Pharmacologically........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 11:12 AM

Repost: Suminia: Life in the Trees 260 Million Years Ago

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Color-coded diagram of a small bone bed containing at least twelve individuals of the Permian synapsid Suminia. From Frobisch and Reisz (2009)

When I hear the phrase "early human relative" I cannot help but think of an ape-like creature. Something like Sahelanthropus fits the bill nicely - it may not be a hominin but it is still a close relative from around the time that the first hominins evolved. That is why I was a bit puzzled to see parroting a story written by the Discovery C........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 10:37 AM

One bourbon, one scotch…

by Richard Grant in Naturally Selected

Culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
When we go to art galleries or see plays or listen to music, we invariably do it in the company of other people. We will often have dinner or a drink before, after, or even during the performance (whether in the interval or not).

Art abhors a vacuum
And not much improves [...]... Read more »

Naiping Hu, Dan Wu, Kelly Cross, Sergey Burikov, Tatiana Dolenko, Svetlana Patsaeva, & Dale W. Schaefer. (2010) Structurability: A Collective Measure of the Structural Differences in Vodkas. J. Agric. Food Chem. info:/10.1021/jf100609c

  • May 28, 2010
  • 09:49 AM

I remember because my DNA was methylated

by Grant Jacobs in Code for life

Our memories keep our yesterdays, our friends’ faces, the distinctive smell of previous partners, if we’ve read that book before, what clothes you wore to the party.
Movies and books have been written about memories. Or the trials not being able to keep them.2
Poets and lyricists evoke them, talk about them and reminiscence over them: “Preserve your memories, [...]... Read more »

Miller CA, Gavin CF, White JA, Parrish RR, Honasoge A, Yancey CR, Rivera IM, Rubio MD, Rumbaugh G, & Sweatt JD. (2010) Cortical DNA methylation maintains remote memory. Nature neuroscience, 13(6), 664-6. PMID: 20495557  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 09:34 AM

Eye Color Predicts and Doesn't Predict Perceived Dominance

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

An upcoming study Personality and Individual Differences links eye color to perceived dominance ratings. But there's more to the study than immediately reaches the eye...... Read more »

Kleisner, K., Kočnar, T., Rubešová, A., & Flegr, J. (2010) Eye color predicts but does not directly influence perceived dominance in men. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(1), 59-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.03.011  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 09:22 AM

Falling Child Mortality - Where we are on Millennium Development Goal 4

by Ryan in Upon*the.People

The release several days ago of revised estimates for global child mortality showing that mortality has fallen faster than we previously expected was a cause for celebration. As one of the eight targets of the Millennium Development Goals, child mortality is among the better indicators we have for the health status of a given population, and is, in the words of Michael Marmot, "the health outcome most sensitive to the effects of absolute material deprivation."[Children in Burma; The Ir........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Just the job?

by Wellcome Trust in Wellcome Trust Blog

You may have groaned when the alarm clock went off for work this morning, but it’s long been recognised that employment is important for wellbeing. Being part of a team and having a sense of purpose can improve your quality of life. Such benefits can be especially important for people who may find themselves on [...]... Read more »

Howard, L., Heslin, M., Leese, M., McCrone, P., Rice, C., Jarrett, M., Spokes, T., Huxley, P., & Thornicroft, G. (2010) Supported employment: randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 196(5), 404-411. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.061465  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Praise the Effort Not the Result!

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

Earlier this week, I read an immensely readable book called “:59 Seconds” by Richard Wiseman, Professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, UK.
The book elegantly exposes the often-heard modern-day myths promoted by the self-help industry by looking at the actual scientific evidence behind buzzwords like positive thinking, visualization, or brainstorming.
As [...]... Read more »

Mueller CM, & Dweck CS. (1998) Praise for intelligence can undermine children's motivation and performance. Journal of personality and social psychology, 75(1), 33-52. PMID: 9686450  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

Coastal birds, innocent vectors of heavy metal pollution

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

Michelutti, N., Blais, J., Mallory, M., Brash, J., Thienpont, J., Kimpe, L., Douglas, M., & Smol, J. (2010) Trophic position influences the efficacy of seabirds as metal biovectors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001333107  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 05:11 AM

Men with brown eyes are perceived as more dominant, but it's not because their eyes are brown

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Men with brown eyes are perceived to be more dominant than their blue-eyed counterparts. However, a blue-eyed man looking to make himself appear more dominant would be wasting his time investing in brown-coloured contact lenses. A new study by Karel Kleisner and colleagues has found that brown iris colour seems to co-occur with some other aspect of facial appearance that triggers in others the perception of dominance. Sixty-two student participants, half of them female, rated the dominance and/o........ Read more »

Kleisner, K., Kočnar, T., Rubešová, A., & Flegr, J. (2010) Eye color predicts but does not directly influence perceived dominance in men. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(1), 59-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.03.011  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 02:23 AM

The University of Twitter, UK: A Quick Survey

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

Many people are still trying to work out exactly what twitter is good for but with more than 41 million users worldwide [1], the website is clearly popular with those who like to communicate via short “sound bites” of 140 characters or less. Communication is an important part of what Universities are all about, so [...]... Read more »

Haewoon Kwak, Changhyun Lee, Hosung Park, & Sue Moon. (2010) What is Twitter, a social network or a news media?. WWW '10: Proceedings of the 19th international conference on World wide web, New York, NY, USA, 591-600. DOI: 10.1145/1772690.1772751  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 01:10 AM

Friday Weird Science: College Student Regrets

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Sci happened to be Pubmedding the word "vomit"* today when she ran across this article. It's one of those articles that is weird because it's. So. Obvious.

Mallett et al. "Do We Learn from Our Mistakes? An Examination of the Impact of Negative Alcohol-Related Consequences on College Students' Drinking Patterns and Perceptions" J Stud Alcohol. 2006

That's right. The study of vomiting, hangovers, blackouts, and other stupid stuff you did in college.

(Including when you wore this shirt aroun........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 09:42 PM

Ardipithecus Drama!

by zinjanthropus in A Primate of Modern Aspect

Ooooo, is there some Ardi drama today!  Two technical comments were published in science which question the conclusions reached by Tim White and his team in last September’s Ardi blitz.  The comment by Esteban Sarmiento was particularly interesting, particularly this quote: In contrast to what the authors describe in other papers, the LCA character conditions [...]... Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 08:09 PM

Fixing the Psychiatric Diagnosis Problem: A New Genetic Framework

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Progress in understanding the genetics of common psychiatric disorders has been disappointing. Promising findings commonly cannot be replicated in independent samples. There could be several potential explanations for this scenario.1.) There may be no genetic contributions to risk and findings represent random effects2.) Genetic effects are complex, due to multiple genes or explain only a small amount of the risk variance for the disorders3.) The psychiatric diagnostic categories are inherentl........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 06:45 PM


by Toaster Sunshine in Mad Scientist, Junior

When I came across this post "Medical Advice for Headbangers" on Boing Boing today, I couldn't help but click through to read the paper. What I found was a pun-fest of scholarly research, and I'm left intensely curious about who funded this research. Ironically enough, at the time I came across the post I was listening to an auto-swung version of Metallica's "Enter the Sandman" (songs run through a rather neat Python script to swing them*).When Toaster was a young whelp in The Ozarks, it event........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 04:12 PM

Headless HA: Universal influenza vaccine?

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

A serious shortcoming of current influenza virus vaccines is the need to reformulate them every year or two as the virus undergoes antigenic drift. Many virologists have been captivated by the idea of a more universal vaccine that would endure longer, perhaps a decade or more. The identification of a conserved domain in the stalk [...]... Read more »

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