When a physicist is on the front page of a newspaper, you know the story is either really bad, or really good. Just before Christmas, the Dutch paper De Volkskrant ran a big story on theoretical physicist Erik Verlinde, who has been making waves with his new theory for the origin of gravity. Since the [...]... Read more »
Have you heard about the patient who forgot to take his homeopathic medicine? He died of an overdose! Or at least that’s how the joke goes. In reality, on January 30th, a group of UK skeptics publicly took an overdose of homeopathic medication and demonstrated that taking lots of sugar pills does absolutely nothing. Of [...]... Read more »
Tachjian, A., Maria, V., & Jahangir, A. (2010) Use of Herbal Products and Potential Interactions in Patients With Cardiovascular Diseases. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 55(6), 515-525. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2009.07.074
I have a policy of not saying negative things about people (or places, or things) on this blog, and I think I’ve generally been pretty good about adhering to that policy. But I also think it’s important for scientists to speak up in cases where journalists or other scientists misrepresent scientific research in a way [...]... Read more »
Morrison, C., & Gore, H. (2010) The Relationship between Excessive Internet Use and Depression: A Questionnaire-Based Study of 1,319 Young People and Adults. Psychopathology, 43(2), 121-126. DOI: 10.1159/000277001
Unlikely cousins? Tinamou from brunorigin @ flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0| Moa from PLoS Biology
New Zealanders often think of our unique biota as a sort of time capsule - a glimpse at lifeforms that have long since been extinguished in other parts of the world. New Zealand has been apart from the rest of the world for 85 million years. At that time the land that makes up our mini-continent split from the super-continent Gondwana, opening up the Tasman Sea and moving northward . A land apart fr........ Read more »
Phillips, M., Gibb, G., Crimp, E., & Penny, D. (2009) Tinamous and Moa Flock Together: Mitochondrial Genome Sequence Analysis Reveals Independent Losses of Flight among Ratites. Systematic Biology, 59(1), 90-107. DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/syp079
New research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology sheds light onto visual stimuli processing in arthropods. Researchers (Avargues-Weber et al., 2010) have shown that honeybees, Apis mellifera, are capable of complex visual processing and learning tasks that are commonly reserved for primates. With a small fraction of mammalian neural complexity, honeybees are [...]... Read more »
Avargues-Weber, A., Portelli, G., Benard, J., Dyer, A., & Giurfa, M. (2010) Configural processing enables discrimination and categorization of face-like stimuli in honeybees. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(4), 593-601. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.039263
The New England Journal of Medicine released a study today revealing some awareness in a minority of patients diagnosed with Persistent Vegetative State (PVS). Researchers used functional MRI tests on 54 patients with PVS or minimally conscious state (MCI). The MCI patient data is interesting but the meat of the study is in the 23 patients diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, meaning that clinically all exams showed no signs of awareness. Four of these 23 patients showed b........ Read more »
Monti, M., Vanhaudenhuyse, A., Coleman, M., Boly, M., Pickard, J., Tshibanda, L., Owen, A., & Laureys, S. (2010) Willful Modulation of Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness. New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0905370
In 2008, Shozu Yokoyama et al. published a compelling paper in which they reconstructed ancestral rhodopsin proteins in order to infer specific amino acid changes that explain phenotypic differences in vertebrate dim-light vision. In doing so, the authors shed light (pun intended) on the aquatic habitat of vertebrate ancestors. Sean Carroll commented (in his book “Making of the Fittest”) that Yokoyama’s work is “the deepest body of knowledge [to date] linking differences in specific gene........ Read more »
Yokoyama S, Tada T, Zhang H, & Britt L. (2008) Elucidation of phenotypic adaptations: Molecular analyses of dim-light vision proteins in vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(36), 13480-5. PMID: 18768804
Neural stem/progenitor cells have been co-grafted with growth factors into damaged spinal cord tissue. Prior to this, the tissue was infused with an enzyme that not only reduces chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, which appear in the CNS following damage, but also increases the survival of the neural stem cells. The article can be found in this week's Journal of Neuroscience... Read more »
Soheila Karimi-Abdolrezaee, Eftekhar Eftekharpour, Jian Wang, Desiree Schut, and Michael G. Fehlings. (2010) Synergistic Effects of Transplanted Adult Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells, Chondroitinase, and Growth Factors Promote Functional Repair and Plasticity of the Chronically Injured Spinal Cord. Journal of Neuroscience. info:/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3111-09.2010
The evolution of negative interactions seems like a logical consequence of natural selection. Organisms compete for resources or view one another as a resource, thus finding ways to more efficiently find and consume prey. However, to me, the natural selection of symbiotic or mutualistic interactions has never seemed as straight forward (expect maybe the case where one species provides protection for the other, such as in ant-plant mutualisms). A specific example is the rise of nitrogen-fixing pl........ Read more »
Marchetti, M., Capela, D., Glew, M., Cruveiller, S., Chane-Woon-Ming, B., Gris, C., Timmers, T., Poinsot, V., Gilbert, L., Heeb, P.... (2010) Experimental Evolution of a Plant Pathogen into a Legume Symbiont. PLoS Biology, 8(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000280
If you wend your way back through the Fight Aging! archives, you'll find a lot of material on mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA, and how accumulated damage to mitochondrial DNA contributes greatly to aging. The short version is this: Mitochondria are the cell's power plants, important in the operation of metabolism, central to the mechanisms by which metabolism determines life span, and implicated as the culprit in many age-related diseases. As described in the mitochondrial free radical theory of........ Read more »
Dani MA, & Dani SU. (2010) Improving upon nature's somatic mitochondrial DNA therapies. Medical hypotheses. PMID: 20116178
Well, wonders will never cease. Not only is water already one of the strangest,and most interesting fluids/substances around, but clever scientists from the University of Tokyo just added another layer of WTFness.
In essence, they have developed a sort of non-fluid, yet still transparent and flexible, water. A hydrogel. That’s flexible. And transparent. (That was worth [...]
[Click on the hyperlinked headline for more of the goodness]... Read more »
Wang Q, Mynar JL, Yoshida M, Lee E, Lee M, Okuro K, Kinbara K, & Aida T. (2010) High-water-content mouldable hydrogels by mixing clay and a dendritic molecular binder. Nature, 463(7279), 339-43. PMID: 20090750
In celebration of the centenary of the publication of Korbinian Brodmann's famous map, Karl Zilles & Katrin Amunts have just published a great little piece on its history and current influence (too bad Nature Reviews Neuroscience couldn't have brought it to press in 2009). The paper highlights some interesting tidbits, like the influence of evolutionary theory on Brodmann's work, how Brodmann's map relates to those that followed, how it lost favor and how it was given new life with the advent o........ Read more »
A study of nearly 9,000 Australian adults has reported that people who watched 4 hours of TV a day or more were 46% more likely to die within the next six and a half years than those who watched less than 2 hours a day. Each one hour increase in daily television viewing increased the [...]... Read more »
Dunstan, D., Barr, E., Healy, G., Salmon, J., Shaw, J., Balkau, B., Magliano, D., Cameron, A., Zimmet, P., & Owen, N. (2010) Television Viewing Time and Mortality: The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation, 121(3), 384-391. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.894824
Many contemporary beauty researchers assume/conclude that attractive, sexually dimorphic features in men (strong jaws, increased lean muscle mass, etc.) are true signals of mate quality. This model is best illustrated in peacock tail feathers: the size and color of the train makes the male more sexually attractive to peahens. Rather than being just an attractive, [...]... Read more »
Richard G. Bribiescas . (2008) How hormones mediate trade-offs in human health and disease. (77-94). . Evolution in Health and Disease, Stearns . info:/
Nunn, C., Lindenfors, P., Pursall, E., & Rolff, J. (2009) On sexual dimorphism in immune function. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1513), 61-69. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0148
ROBERTS, M., BUCHANAN, K.L., & EVANS, M.R. (2004) Testing the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis: a review of the evidence. Animal Behaviour, 68(2), 227-239. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2004.05.001
Today in our journal club we have discussed the latest paper from Sabeti’s lab:
Grossman, S., Shylakhter, I., Karlsson, E., Byrne, E., Morales, S., Frieden, G., Hostetter, E., Angelino, E., Garber, M., Zuk, O., Lander, E., Schaffner, S., & Sabeti, P. (2010). A Composite of Multiple Signals Distinguishes Causal Variants in Regions of Positive Selection Science [...]
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Grossman, S., Shylakhter, I., Karlsson, E., Byrne, E., Morales, S., Frieden, G., Hostetter, E., Angelino, E., Garber, M., Zuk, O.... (2010) A Composite of Multiple Signals Distinguishes Causal Variants in Regions of Positive Selection. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1183863
Chronic pain is associated with a loss of the normal capacity to know where your body is. Chronic pain is also associated with odd bodily feelings. To find out if people with chronic back pain had trouble ‘feeling’ their back, they were asked to draw on a piece of paper the outline of where they felt [...]... Read more »
Lorimer Moseley. (2010) I can't find it!. BodyinMind. info:/
Brodmann's map. Anyone who has taken a course in basic neuroanatomy has been exposed to his roadmap of the cerebral cortex. In this month's Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Zilles and Amunts (1) dedicated an article to Korbinian Brodmann and his map, celebrating its 100th anniversary (Brodmann's original work was published in 1909). First, a little background. Brodmann's original map contains 52 areas; however, areas 12-16 and 48-51 are only found in nonhuman primate brains, so only 43 areas are act........ Read more »
This post contributed by Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs
Personality traits that lead an individual to want to avoid crowds could actually be playing a role in biological invasions, says a recent study that appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences. Julien Cote and colleagues at the University of California at [...]
... Read more »
Cote, J., Fogarty, S., Weinersmith, K., Brodin, T., & Sih, A. (2010) Personality traits and dispersal tendency in the invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.2128
Yes, years after I left the lab, I published a scientific paper. How did that happen?
Back in 2000, I published a paper on the way circadian clock controls the time of day when the eggs are laid in Japanese quail. Several years later, I wrote a blog post about that paper, trying to explain in lay terms what I did, why I did it, what I found, and how it fits into the broader context of this line of research. The paper was a physiology paper, and my blog post also focused on the physiological asp........ Read more »
Cooper, C., Voss, M., & Zivkovic, B. (2009) Extended Laying Interval of Ultimate Eggs of the Eastern Bluebird. The Condor, 111(4), 752-755. DOI: 10.1525/cond.2009.090061
This is a picture of a small cyanobacteria under red light:And this is a picture of exactly the same organism under blue-green light:Some cyanobacteria (both freshwater, marine and soil varieties) have the ability to change their colour depending out external conditions. The reason they do this is because they photosynthesise and therefore require light for energy. The light is harvested by the bacteria using special protein complexes called phycobilisomes which contain (among other things) two ........ Read more »
Kehoe, D., & Gutu, A. (2006) RESPONDING TO COLOR: The Regulation of Complementary Chromatic Adaptation. Annual Review of Plant Biology, 57(1), 127-150. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.57.032905.105215
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