Post List

  • July 31, 2010
  • 02:48 PM

Newsflash: a possible mechanism for Parkinson’s disease

by Sam W in From C to Carnivore

Mutations in the allele LRRK2 is used to test for Parkinson’s disease. It’s a gain-of-function mutation that causes familial as well as sporadical Parkinson’s. But so far, no one really knew what LRRK2 actually does. Now, a new study shows that pathogenic (=disease causing) LRRK2 prevents the correct function of certain miRNAs. miRNAs are RNAs [...]... Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 12:35 PM

Motor imagery enhances object recognition

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

THOUGHTS and actions are intimately linked, and the mere thought of an action is much like actually performing it. The brain prepares for an action by generating a motor simulation of it, praticising its execution of the movements by going through the motions invisibly. Seeing a manipulable object such as a tool, for example, automatically triggers a simulation of using it - a mental image of reaching out and grasping it with the hand that is nearest to the handle.  

Motor simulations and ........ Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 12:20 PM

The Jaws of Death: How Spiny Dogfish Destroy Their Prey

by Chuck in Ya Like Dags?

One of the paradoxes of public opinion on dogfish is that they’re simultaneously considered a swimming wall of teeth annihilating everything in their path and wussy, poor excuses for sharks.  I’ve heard a lot of hearsay about the “weak bite” … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 10:44 AM

Feel like I-dosing?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

A few months ago my facebook friends in the US started mentioning it. Only a few weeks later it appeared in the news in Europe, generating a lot of noise in Belgium last week when I-dosing or ‘binaural beats’ were condemned as a form of narcotics.The phenomenon of ‘binaural beats’ was first described in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. It is the sensation of hearing interference beats when two slightly different frequencies are played separately to each ear. The rate of the ‘perceived’........ Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 12:11 AM

A huge scan through cancer genomes

by Keith Robison in Omics! Omics!

Genentech and Affymetrix just published a huge paper in Nature using a novel technology to scan 4Mb in 441 tumor genomes for mutations, the largest number of tumor samples screened for many genes. Dan Koboldt over at MassGenomics has given a nice overview of the paper, but there are some bits I'd like to fill in as well. I'll blame some of my sloth in getting this out to the fact I was reading back through a chain of papers to really understand the core technique, but that's a weak excuse.It's........ Read more »

Kan Z, Jaiswal BS, Stinson J, Janakiraman V, Bhatt D, Stern HM, Yue P, Haverty PM, Bourgon R, Zheng J.... (2010) Diverse somatic mutation patterns and pathway alterations in human cancers. Nature. PMID: 20668451  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 10:32 PM

Men Murdering the Women They Love

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

The underlying motivation for why 15 men in Israel had murdered or attempted to murder their female partners is explored here with considerable insight and tact by Elisha et al. (2009). The authors call for increased research into the 'types' of men who perpetrate such despicable acts.... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 07:26 PM

Viruses are (NOT) objectively better than bacteria

by James Byrne in Disease Prone

Thomas approached me long ago with a simple yet misguided premise; viruses are objectively better than bacteria. I’ve been playfully criticising virology for years and it sounds like I finally broke him. In any case we went back to our respective corners to put forward our respective cases. We each wrote our own arguments separately and next week you will hear our rebuttals. You got to read Thomas’ attempt at an argument last week so without any further ado…
Viruses are objec........ Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 06:04 PM

Fish Market: Competition gets clients better treatment from cleaner fish

by Matt Soniak in

Game theory models based on repeated interactions between two individuals have often been the framework for understanding cooperative interactions in humans, but these models rarely apply in nature. Non-human animals, after all, rarely find themselves in situations like the “prisoner’s dilemma.”
Instead, partner choice and competition are emerging as the framework for understanding cooperation in the [...]... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 04:00 PM

Does drinking beer increase your attractiveness .... to mosquitoes?

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

The anopheles mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is the primary vector for human malaria. Mosquitoes in general, the A. gambiae included, find their prey by tracking body odor exuded from the breath and skin. Apparently, the composition of body odor determines A. gambiae's preference for one individual over another. It has been known for some time now that A. gambiae preferentially seek out and draw blood from pregnant women (Linsay et al 2000; Ansell et al 2002; Himeidan, Elbashir and Adam 2004), ........ Read more »

Lefèvre, T., Gouagna, L., Dabiré, K., Elguero, E., Fontenille, D., Renaud, F., Costantini, C., & Thomas, F. (2010) Beer Consumption Increases Human Attractiveness to Malaria Mosquitoes. PLoS ONE, 5(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009546  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 03:30 PM

Koreans, not quite the purest race?

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

PLoS One has a paper out on Korean (South) population genetics and phylogeography, Gene Flow between the Korean Peninsula and Its Neighboring Countries:
SNP markers provide the primary data for population structure analysis. In this study, we employed whole-genome autosomal SNPs as a marker set (54,836 SNP markers) and tested their possible effects on genetic ancestry [...]... Read more »

Jung J0, Kang H, Cho YS, Oh JH, & Ryu MH. (2010) Gene Flow between the Korean Peninsula and Its Neighboring Countries. PLoS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0011855

  • July 30, 2010
  • 02:41 PM

It’s all in the toes – Why Old World monkeys change their limb posture to run

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Just by looking at its limbs, you can tell that a cheetah is born to run. Not only does this felid have non-retractable claws which act like cleats on a runner's shoe - a unique feature among big cats - but it also has the familiar tip-toe limb posture which allows the carnivore to reach [...]... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 02:28 PM

What Makes Humans Unique ?(III): Self-Domestication, Social Cognition, and Physical Cognition

by Michael in A Replicated Typo 2.0

In my last post I summed up some proposals for what (among other things) makes human cognition unique. But one thing that we should bear in mind, I think, is that our cognitive style may more be something of an idiosyncrasy due to a highly specific cognitive specialization instead of a definitive quantitative and qualitative advance over other styles of animal cognition. In this post I will look at studies which further point in that direction.... Read more »

Hare, B., & Tomasello, M. (2005) Human-like social skills in dogs?. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(9), 439-444. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.07.003  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 11:26 AM

Somatic Mutations in Four Human Cancers

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

In a letter to Nature this week, a group from Genentech presents an elegant analysis of 2,576 somatic mutations across 441 tumors comprised of breast, lung, ovarian, and prostate cancer types and subtypes. Using something called “mismatch repair detection” (MRD) technology, the authors surveyed 1,507 candidate genes spanning some 4 megabases of sequence, largely comprised [...]... Read more »

Kan Z, Jaiswal BS, Stinson J, Janakiraman V, Bhatt D, Stern HM, Yue P, Haverty PM, Bourgon R, Zheng J.... (2010) Diverse somatic mutation patterns and pathway alterations in human cancers. Nature. PMID: 20668451  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 11:23 AM

It takes one to know one?

by Kris-Stella in Coffee Shop Philosophy

Are most people nice, happy, trustworthy and interesting? Or do people usually strike you as cold, grumpy and not to be trusted? How you answer can tell us something about you. In a recent psychology article, Wood et al. explore "perceiver effects", or in other words how your own personality affects your perception of others.They show that our personality affects perceptions of others with respect to one major factor: how positively we view other people. If we see others as relatively happy, we ........ Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 11:00 AM

Measuring Synchrony - pt 2 of ??

by Brandon Goodell in Bored Lunatic

This is the second in a multi-part series analyzing the paper linked below.  The paper uses several measures of synchrony and tests them against some real-world data to compare their performance.  Today I will be talking about three different measures of nonlinear interdependence between two signals, all of which are based on nearest neighbors.

The main thing here is that the frequency coherence method of measuring synchrony primarily measures linear interdependency.  In othe........ Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 10:03 AM

(Mis)understanding mirror neurons -- An alternative interpretation to "action understanding" and why they got it wrong in the first place

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

The idea that mirror neurons support action understanding is by far the dominant interpretation of the function of these cells in the monkey motor system. However, it is not the only interpretation. A "sensory-motor" hypothesis, such as that proposed by Cecelia Heyes and others, has been gaining steam in the last few years. In a just published piece in Current Biology, Marc Hauser and I propose a variant of the sensory-motor view, namely that mirror neurons function not for action understandi........ Read more »

Hickok G, & Hauser M. (2010) (Mis)understanding mirror neurons. Current biology : CB, 20(14). PMID: 20656198  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:55 AM

Driven By Coffee: Creating a Culture of Productivity

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

Today's post is the last in a three-part series on coffee. Monday's post investigated how coffee came to be such an integral part of everyday life. Wednesday's post provided a history of the coffee bean's travels around the globe. And today's discussion considers the social place of coffee in our lives. Be sure to go back and read the others if you've missed them!_________________________________

... Read more »

Ryan L, Hatfield C, & Hofstetter M. (2002) Caffeine reduces time-of-day effects on memory performance in older adults. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 13(1), 68-71. PMID: 11892781  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:47 AM

"Adaptation perfected" (possibly) in a turtle's head (matamatas part III)

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

Welcome to another article on the Matamata Chelus fimbriatus. Yay!

In the previous episode we looked briefly at the Matamata's long, thick neck and on a few aspects of Matamata evolution (a brief introduction to what the Matamata is, and where it lives, can be found here) [in the composite image shown above, the skull and neck is from digimorph while the photo of the live animal is from wikipedia]. This time, we're going to look at the anatomy of the skull and hyoid skeleton (do stick with........ Read more »

Lemell, P., Beisser, C. J., Gumpenberger, M., Snelderwaard, P., Gemel, R., & Weisgram, J. (2010) The feeding apparatus of Chelus fimbriatus (Pleurodira; Chelidae) - adaptation perfected?. Amphibia-Reptilia, 97-107. info:/

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:07 AM

Donating Eggs from an Anoxic Brain Injury Patient?

by Brian McMichael, MD in Pallimed: a Hospice & Palliative Medicine Blog

focused on an ethical dilemma at end-of-life. It got coverage in the mainstream media as well, about a women who collapsed on an airplane with a pulmonary embolism, had severe anoxic brain injury, and the family requested her oocytes be harvested.... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 09:01 AM

Dead Zone Entrée

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

You already know your carbon footprint. How about your “nitrogen footprint”? Researchers have calculated how much nitrogen pollution is produced by the production of common foods. Ultimately, they hope the approach might help consumers curb nutrient pollution that is creating oxygen-poor “dead zones” in many coastal seas.
Over the last few decades, researchers have documented […] Read More »... Read more »

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