Stanley Milgram's 1960s obedience to authority experiments, in which a majority of participants applied an apparently fatal electric shock to an innocent 'learner', are probably the most famous in psychology, and their findings still appall and intrigue to this day. Now, in a hunt for fresh clues as to why ordinary people were so ready to harm another, Nestar Russell, at Victoria University of Wellington, has reviewed Milgram's personal notes and project applications, which are housed at Yale Un........ Read more »
Charles, N. (2010) Milgram's obedience to authority experiments: Origins and early evolution. British Journal of Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1348/014466610X492205
Sci was going to try and stick with the sex this week, but this paper reminded her SO much of this article in the New Yorker, which then reminded her SO much of that awesome YouTube video, and the next thing you knew Sci had to blog bees on crack. It's how I roll.
But first, let's get in the mood:
(Nice web, crack spider)
And from the New Yorker:
There's that fat kid again. I'm going to sting this whole family! "Aah!" They're running! I'm buzzing, I'm buzzing, I'm buzzing, this is incredibl........ Read more »
.......fatter than the average bear.Apologies for that awful title that I couldn't resist.If you are fond of sweets, chocolates, candy, cookies and ice cream, and have ever read the label for the ingredients, you must have noticed one of them, called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). You might have wondered about it a little, or just thought that fructose is sweet like glucose, and gone on with your indulgence. HFCS has now largely replaced table sugar (or sucrose) as the main sweetener in most........ Read more »
Miriam E. Bocarslya, Elyse S. Powella, , Nicole M. Avenaa, and Bartley G. Hoebel. (2010) High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels . Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. info:/
Have you ever read a science story in a newspaper and just not understand what the point of the research was?
Alex Buque looks at the recent moral compass and magnets hoo-haw and wonders what all the fuss is.... Read more »
Young L, Camprodon JA, Hauser M, Pascual-Leone A, & Saxe R. (2010) Disruption of the right temporoparietal junction with transcranial magnetic stimulation reduces the role of beliefs in moral judgments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20351278
She: “What are you writing about?”
Me: “Cognition in cold-blooded animals.”
Most people who study cognition focus on mammals or birds. But I hope I’ve convinced you that other animals are important to investigate as well. One research group at the University of Vienna likes cold-blooded critters. Turtles and lizards and such. They argue:
Reptiles, birds and [...]... Read more »
Wilkinson, A., Kuenstner, K., Mueller, J., & Huber, L. (2010) Social learning in a non-social reptile (Geochelone carbonaria). Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0092
Computer system tracks penguins by their chest markings
... Read more »
Sherley, R.B. et al. (2010) Spotting the difference: towards fully-automated population monitoring of African penguins Spheniscus demersus. Endangered Species Research, 101-111. DOI: 10.3354/esr00267
Dyslexic rats? Really? Well, these rats can’t read, but they’re still used as an animal model for dyslexia.
First, some background. The underlying cause of dyslexia is still under debate, but it’s generally accepted that it involves deficits in auditory and phonological (language sounds) processing, with a possibility of visual deficits as well. Post mortem
... Read more »
Biological fitness includes a measure of both survival and reproductive ability – one is not nearly as important without the other. So what happens if the ‘unfit’ members of a population are suddenly the ones with all of the reproductive power?
This kind of absurdity can only happen when nature gets a little ‘help’ from humankind.
Eutrophication [...]... Read more »
Heuschele, J., & Candolin, U. (2010) Reversed parasite-mediated selection in sticklebacks from eutrophied habitats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-010-0937-9
I recently attended the DISCCRS symposium for recent PhDs of a wide variety of disciplines whose work (past or present) deals with climate change. The week-long meeting was phenomenal, seeding me with thoughts, ideas, and basically making me feel quite good about the work I’m doing (if also very pessimistic about how society is [...]... Read more »
Byrnes, J., Reynolds, P., & Stachowicz, J. (2007) Invasions and Extinctions Reshape Coastal Marine Food Webs. PLoS ONE, 2(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000295
Byrnes, J., Stachowicz, J., Hultgren, K., Randall Hughes, A., Olyarnik, S., & Thornber, C. (2005) Predator diversity strengthens trophic cascades in kelp forests by modifying herbivore behaviour. Ecology Letters, 9(1), 61-71. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00842.x
Byrnes, J., & Stachowicz, J. (2009) The consequences of consumer diversity loss: different answers from different experimental designs. Ecology, 90(10), 2879-2888. DOI: 10.1890/08-1073.1
*Not to be confused with the hit song by Survivor.
The vent shrimp Rimicaris exoculata (literally the Rift-shrimp deprived of eyes) swarms hydrothermal chimneys, with temperatures reaching over 350 C, en masse in the darkness of the deep sea. It has a certain peculiarity in that its eyes are completely absent yet there is a high [...]... Read more »
Nuckley, D., Jinks, R., Battelle, B., Herzog, E., Kass, L., Renninger, G., & Chamberlain, S. (1996) Retinal Anatomy of a New Species of Bresiliid Shrimp from a Hydrothermal Vent Field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Biological Bulletin, 190(1), 98-110. DOI: 10.2307/1542679
Pelli, D., & Chamberlain, S. (1989) The visibility of 350 C black-body radiation by the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata and man. Nature, 337(6206), 460-461. DOI: 10.1038/337460a0
You don't have to look far to find mutterings about the peer review system, especially about the ways in which anonymous reviewers might hold up your paper or harm your career. On the other hand, there are plenty of champions of the status quo who argue that anonymous peer review is the essential mechanism by which reports of scientific findings are certified as scientific knowledge.
So how do scientists feel about anonymous peer review? A 2008 paper in Science and Engineering Ethics by David........ Read more »
Resnik, D., Gutierrez-Ford, C., & Peddada, S. (2008) Perceptions of Ethical Problems with Scientific Journal Peer Review: An Exploratory Study. Science and Engineering Ethics, 14(3), 305-310. DOI: 10.1007/s11948-008-9059-4
Norovirus (from J Virol. 82:2079-2088 (2008))
P.G. Wodehouse described his “Blandings Castle” short stories as “the short snorts between the solid orgies”. I usually go for at least one of the solid orgies per week,1 but it’s spring break and I’m hanging out with my kids for the next while.2 So this week and likely next, [...]... Read more »
Bull, R., Eden, J., Rawlinson, W., & White, P. (2010) Rapid Evolution of Pandemic Noroviruses of the GII.4 Lineage. PLoS Pathogens, 6(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000831
CASTRO, C., ARNOLD, J., & CAMERON, C. (2005) Incorporation fidelity of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase: a kinetic, thermodynamic and structural perspective. Virus Research, 107(2), 141-149. DOI: 10.1016/j.virusres.2004.11.004
In an intriguing political story, it seems that Switzerland is on the verge of voting in legal representation for all victim animals. A key consideration is whether a fish, for example, is a sentient being. Well, I think that is interesting, but I write this because it reminds me of something a mate of mine [...]... Read more »
Edwards SC, & Pratt SC. (2009) Rationality in collective decision-making by ant colonies. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 276(1673), 3655-61. PMID: 19625319
Tero A, Takagi S, Saigusa T, Ito K, Bebber DP, Fricker MD, Yumiki K, Kobayashi R, & Nakagaki T. (2010) Rules for biologically inspired adaptive network design. Science (New York, N.Y.), 327(5964), 439-42. PMID: 20093467
The amount of linguistic variance in a country is predicted by network statistics of Twitter.... Read more »
Lupyan G, & Dale R. (2010) Language structure is partly determined by social structure. PloS one, 5(1). PMID: 20098492
Kirby S, Dowman M, & Griffiths TL. (2007) Innateness and culture in the evolution of language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(12), 5241-5. PMID: 17360393
Marcel Zentner and Tuomas Eerola (University of York, United Kingdom, and University of Jyvaskyla, Finland) have found that preverbal human infants move in response to musical rhythm, with no prior training and no prompting, suggesting that this ability is present from birth. This news feature was written on April 1, 2010.... Read more »
It’s been roughly 80 years since the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) arrived from South America to Mobile, Alabama in soil used as ballast to weigh down boats. Needless to say, fire ants have adapted well in southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Florida, disrupting native wildlife and plants and causing problems for people ranging from shorting out street lights to stinging limbs.
But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, scientists brought over several strains of parasitoid........ Read more »
Henne, D., & Johnson, S. (2007) Zombie fire ant workers: behavior controlled by decapitating fly parasitoids. Insectes Sociaux, 54(2), 150-153. DOI: 10.1007/s00040-007-0924-y
Porter, S. (2010) Distribution of the Formosa Strain of the Fire Ant Decapitating fly (Diptera: Phoridae) Three and a Half Years after Releases in North Florida . Florida Entomologist, 93(1), 107-112. DOI: 10.1653/024.093.0114
In the past few years several prominent researchers have argued for the adoption of taxes on junk food as a means of reducing their consumption. Often, as in a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, the argument is made that money collected through the tax could then be used to subsidize healthier foods. This is an idea that I've found very appealing - we make the bad foods more expensive, the good foods less expensive, and people will probably shift at least some of their p........ Read more »
Epstein, L., Dearing, K., Roba, L., & Finkelstein, E. (2010) The Influence of Taxes and Subsidies on Energy Purchased in an Experimental Purchasing Study. Psychological Science, 21(3), 406-414. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610361446
Davidson et al. published another study a few weeks ago in Ecology further exploring the relationships between black-tailed prairie dogs and their much maligned neighbors, Bos taurus, cattle. Prairie dogs have been generally regarded as a danger to cattle by ranchers and removed through poisoning or other means. Overgrazing can lead to desertification, further threatening these animals. But that's a relatively new trend in a long and complex history of interaction between prairie dogs and m........ Read more »
Davidson, A., Ponce, E., Lightfoot, D., Fredrickson, E., Brown, J., Cruzado, J., Brantley, S., Sierra, R., List, R., Toledo, D.... (2010) RAPID RESPONSE OF A GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM TO AN EXPERIMENTAL MANIPULATION OF A KEYSTONE RODENT AND DOMESTIC LIVESTOCK. Ecology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-1277
Domestication is by far man's greatest genetic experiment, and we've been at it for well over 10,000 years. While domestication can produce wild variation (see my post on dogs, for example), a few changes seem to be universal. These include behavioral changes, like reduced fear of humans and friendliness, as well as physiological ones, like floppy ears (they develop in domesticated foxes, too). One of the most well-documented differences between domesticated animals and their wild counterparts i........ Read more »
Kruska, D. (2005) On the Evolutionary Significance of Encephalization in Some Eutherian Mammals: Effects of Adaptive Radiation, Domestication, and Feralization. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 65(2), 73-108. DOI: 10.1159/000082979
Frank, H., & Frank, M. (1985) Comparative manipulation-test performance in ten-week-old wolves (Canis lupus) and Alaskan malamutes (Canis familiaris): A Piagetian interpretation. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 99(3), 266-274. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7036.99.3.266
UDELL, M., DOREY, N., & WYNNE, C. (2008) Wolves outperform dogs in following human social cues. Animal Behaviour, 76(6), 1767-1773. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.07.028
Harker KT, & Whishaw IQ. (2002) Place and matching-to-place spatial learning affected by rat inbreeding (Dark-Agouti, Fischer 344) and albinism (Wistar, Sprague-Dawley) but not domestication (wild rat vs. Long-Evans, Fischer-Norway). Behavioural brain research, 134(1-2), 467-77. PMID: 12191833
Lewejohann L, Pickel T, Sachser N, & Kaiser S. (2010) Wild genius - domestic fool? Spatial learning abilities of wild and domestic guinea pigs. Frontiers in zoology, 7(1), 9. PMID: 20334697
The partial faces of Anoiapithecus (left), Pierolapithecus (center), and Dryopithecus (right). (Images not to scale)
Our species is just one branch of a withering part of the evolutionary tree, the great apes. Along with the handful of species of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, we are all that is left of the hominids, and considering the threats our close relatives face we could very soon be the only great apes left. It has not always been this way. During the swath of prehistory ~2........ Read more »
Alba, D., Fortuny, J., & Moya-Sola, S. (2010) Enamel thickness in the Middle Miocene great apes Anoiapithecus, Pierolapithecus and Dryopithecus. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0218
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