The normal distribution is the “norm” when applying statistics to data. It is simple to interpret, simple to predict, simple to optimize, convenient software-wise and analytically elegant. But in many applications, this modeling assumption may not be optimal. The first is that the normal distribution doesn’t have a zero bound. In ecology, the data is [...]... Read more »
LIMPERT, E., STAHEL, W., & ABBT, M. (2001) Log-normal Distributions across the Sciences: Keys and Clues. BioScience, 51(5), 341. DOI: 10.1641/0006-3568(2001)051[0341:LNDATS]2.0.CO;2
Researchers in this week's the Journal of Neuroscience reported that chromosomal make-up exerts a significant influences on habit-forming alcohol behaviors and amount consumed, arguing against a more traditional hypothesis that reproductive hormones drive alcohol-related behaviors. ... Read more »
Barker JM, Torregrossa MM, Arnold AP, & Taylor JR. (2010) Dissociation of genetic and hormonal influences on sex differences in alcoholism-related behaviors. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30(27), 9140-4. PMID: 20610747
by Matt DiLeo in Biofortified
I’ve been meaning to tell this story for some time. It’s a good example of how not all biotechnology is genetic engineering. Traditional Breeding In trad breeding, the breeder/gardener simply crosses two parents that show great (and complementary) traits, grows up the offspring, selects the best and repeats. It’s effective, slow, labor intensive and limited by the perception of the breeder. Most traits are also very heavily impacted by the environment, so each new Continue read........ Read more »
Bernardo, R., & Yu, J. (2007) Prospects for Genomewide Selection for Quantitative Traits in Maize. Crop Science, 1082-1090. DOI: 10.2135/cropsci2006.11.0690
Schaeffer LR. (2006) Strategy for applying genome-wide selection in dairy cattle. Journal of animal breeding and genetics , 123(4), 218-23. PMID: 16882088
Restoring coral reefs is a delicate business. Corals can bleach, become detached, or get hit by natural disasters. But using a fast-growing “weedy” species could improve the odds of success, researchers say.
A team tested the idea with Montipora digitata, a coral species that grows quickly and often produces new colonies by fragmenting. The researchers […] Read More »... Read more »
Shaish, L., Levy, G., Katzir, G., & B. Rinkevich. (2010) Employing a highly fragmented, weedy coral species in reef restoration. Ecological Engineering. info:/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2010.06.022
Friends, This is the third and final post in my series on the Fto gene. The appearance of a new an exciting paper will, of course, increase the probability of me emitting another Fto related post, but this is it for the time being. Fto is an exciting gene, however, so it likely won’t be [...]... Read more »
Fischer, J., Koch, L., Emmerling, C., Vierkotten, J., Peters, T., Brüning, J., & Rüther, U. (2009) Inactivation of the Fto gene protects from obesity. Nature, 458(7240), 894-898. DOI: 10.1038/nature07848
Imagine you're a lizard living under a rock on the coast-land of South Carolina (officially a state in, oh, 50, 000 years.) You're small--about 3 inches from snout to tail.
You scurry around hunting crickets and crustaceans, bask in the morning sun, and don't expect to leave your coastal abode for your entire 20-year life. But, low and behold, the sky darkens, the wind kicks up in furious, chaotic sweeps. A full blown hurricane picks you up, whirls you around, and drops you back down on t........ Read more »
Brandley MC, Wang Y, Guo X, Nieto Montes de Oca A, Fería Ortíz M, Hikida T, & Ota H. (2010) Bermuda as an evolutionary life raft for an ancient lineage of endangered lizards. PloS one, 5(6). PMID: 20614024
MAGNETIC nanoparticles targeted to nerve cell membranes can be used to remotely control cellular activity and even the simple reflex behaviours of nematode worms, according to research by a team of biophysicists at the University of Buffalo. The new method, which is described in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could be very useful for investigating how cells interact in neuronal networks, and may eventually lead to new therapies for cancer and diabetes.
Heng Huang and her colleagues synthesi........ Read more »
Huang, H., Delikanli, S., Zeng, H., Ferkey, D., & Pralle, A. (2010) Remote control of ion channels and neurons through magnetic-field heating of nanoparticles. Nature Nanotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2010.125
It is my understanding that FIFA is reluctant to bring in more technology because they do not want areas of the world that are too poor to afford that technology to be at a disadvantage. If this is the case, then perhaps we can think of ways to eliminate error without the use of additional technology that would sully the ‘humanity’ of the sport. To this effect, Kranjec and colleagues devised an experiment to test whether subconscious visual bias associated with left-to-right reading ........ Read more »
Alexander Kranjec, Matthew Lehet, Bianca Bromberger, Anjan Chatterjee. (2010) A Sinister Bias for Calling Fouls in Soccer. PLoS ONE, 5(7). info:/doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011667
Imagine you drive into a motel in Gatlinburg TN, and see behind an open room door 2 guys setting up cameras pointing at the beds while two young women peek from the parking lot. Well, if it was in the mid ’90′s it might have been Drs Moiseff and Copeland setting up the equipment before [...]... Read more »
Moiseff, A., & Copeland, J. (2010) Firefly Synchrony: A Behavioral Strategy to Minimize Visual Clutter. Science, 329(5988), 181-181. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190421
The big physics story at the moment is probably the new measurement of the size of the proton, which is reported in this Nature paper (which does not seem to be on the arxiv, alas). This is kind of a hybrid of nuclear and atomic physics, as it's a spectroscopic measurement of a quasi-atom involving an exotic particle produced in an accelerator. In a technical sense, it's a really impressive piece of work, and as a bonus, the result is surprising.
This is worth a little explanation, in the usual........ Read more »
Every now and then, I come across a study that makes me hope my first doubtful impression is wrong and that the authors have better evidence to back up their claims. One such case was the hypothesis that the feathered dinosaur Sinornithosaurus had a venomous bite, as was proposed by scientists Enpu Gong, Larry Martin, [...]... Read more »
Gianechini, F., Agnolín, F., & Ezcurra, M. (2010) A reassessment of the purported venom delivery system of the bird-like raptor Sinornithosaurus. Paläontologische Zeitschrift. DOI: 10.1007/s12542-010-0074-9
There is a long list of chronic diseases we see as a consequence of illicit drug use. One issue that wasn’t really touched on in this editorial* is the premature ageing effect of drugs. A good example is the state of an intravenous drug user’s legs – the acute risks of DVT and infection are [...]... Read more »
In a recent post, I presented the evidence that sexual preference is strongly influenced by genetic variation. Here, I discuss the neurobiological evidence that shows that the brains of homosexual men and women are wired differently from those of their heterosexual counterparts. First, we must consider the differences between the brains of heterosexual males and females. These differences are extensive and arise mainly due to the influence of testosterone during a critical period of e........ Read more »
Savic I, & Lindström P. (2008) PET and MRI show differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(27), 9403-8. PMID: 18559854
Swaab DF. (2008) Sexual orientation and its basis in brain structure and function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(30), 10273-4. PMID: 18653758
This is another one of those unlikely situations that insist on existing. Could a very strong emotion cause a cardiac alteration so severe capable of causing someone's death?
I'm not talking about arrhythmia. Electric alterations in the heart could make it lose its regular rhythm and, possibly, create a situation where there is, in fact, a cardiac arrest. Arrhythmias may be caused by a number of factors, including electrolytic disorders, traumas, drugs, as well as emotions.
What I am talking a........ Read more »
Wittstein IS, Thiemann DR, Lima JA, Baughman KL, Schulman SP, Gerstenblith G, Wu KC, Rade JJ, Bivalacqua TJ, & Champion HC. (2005) Neurohumoral features of myocardial stunning due to sudden emotional stress. The New England journal of medicine, 352(6), 539-48. PMID: 15703419
How you think you assess and explore new things? You might assume that you do it primarily through sight, right? If I have a cool new gadget, the first words out of your mouth would likely be, “Can I see it?” Chances are, though, that when you say that, you’ll also extend your arm and open your hand. Seeing isn’t all there is. You want to touch, feel, hold and manipulate unfamiliar things.... Read more »
Ackerman JM, Nocera CC, & Bargh JA. (2010) Incidental haptic sensations influence social judgments and decisions. Science (New York, N.Y.), 328(5986), 1712-5. PMID: 20576894
The electrical symphony of the human brain, with billions of neurons firing at different rates, up to hundreds of times per second, likely looks like chaos to any outside observer. But there are patterns in the ongoing brain activity seen, for instance, on an EEG: slow oscillations, rhythmic coordination, and purposeful ripples of communication. The [...]... Read more »
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have poor penmanship. In turn, poor penmanship leads to decreased success in communication, failed academics, and a lack of self-esteem. Until now, clinicians and autism experts believed that developmental delays were to blame for inferior handwriting skills, but a new study in Neurology reports that weak motor skills [...]... Read more »
Beversdorf DQ, Anderson JM, Manning SE, Anderson SL, Nordgren RE, Felopulos GJ, & Bauman ML. (2001) Brief report: macrographia in high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 31(1), 97-101. PMID: 11439759
Dowell LR, Mahone EM, & Mostofsky SH. (2009) Associations of postural knowledge and basic motor skill with dyspraxia in autism: implication for abnormalities in distributed connectivity and motor learning. Neuropsychology, 23(5), 563-70. PMID: 19702410
Dziuk MA, Gidley Larson JC, Apostu A, Mahone EM, Denckla MB, & Mostofsky SH. (2007) Dyspraxia in autism: association with motor, social, and communicative deficits. Developmental medicine and child neurology, 49(10), 734-9. PMID: 17880641
Frings M, Gaertner K, Buderath P, Christiansen H, Gerwig M, Hein-Kropp C, Schoch B, Hebebrand J, & Timmann D. (2010) Megalographia in Children with Cerebellar Lesions and in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Cerebellum (London, England). PMID: 20480275
Fuentes CT, Mostofsky SH, & Bastian AJ. (2009) Children with autism show specific handwriting impairments. Neurology, 73(19), 1532-7. PMID: 19901244
Mayes SD, & Calhoun SL. (2007) Learning, attention, writing, and processing speed in typical children and children with ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, and oppositional-defiant disorder. Child neuropsychology : a journal on normal and abnormal development in childhood and adolescence, 13(6), 469-93. PMID: 17852125
Distinguishing your own species from other species is useful: for one thing, it prevents a lot of potentially embarrassing mating attempts.
“Um. You mean we don’t belong to, er... that is to say... you’re not my species? I am so sorry...”
But how fine a distinction can a species draw? Does it stop at, “You’re not my species,” or can it extend to, “You’re species B, not C or D”? And would species be able to distinguish other species outside of r........ Read more »
Schuchmann M, & Siemers B. (2010) Behavioral evidence for community‐wide species discrimination from echolocation calls in bats. The American Naturalist, 176(1), 72-82. DOI: 10.1086/652993
... Read more »
Braunisch, V., Patthey, P., & Arlettaz, R. (2010) Spatially explicit modelling of conflict zones between wildlife and outdoor snow-sports: prioritizing areas for winter refuges. Ecological Applications, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-2167.1
This amazing movie, from Niethammer P, Grabher C, Look AT, Mitchison TJ. 2009 A tissue-scale gradient of hydrogen peroxide mediates rapid wound detection in zebrafish. Nature 459 996-9 PMCID: PMC2803098, shows leukocytes (the white blobs) rushing to the site of a wound in response to a hydrogen peroxide signal (fluorescence in upper panel).
We’ve known for a while that leukocytes rapidly (within minutes) home to the sites of wounds. What hasn’t been clear is what signal attracts ........ Read more »
Niethammer, P., Grabher, C., Look, A., & Mitchison, T. (2009) A tissue-scale gradient of hydrogen peroxide mediates rapid wound detection in zebrafish. Nature, 459(7249), 996-999. DOI: 10.1038/nature08119
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