There's been much excitement about the latest big genetic study into autism, published in Nature : the grandly titled Autism Genome Project, brought to you by a crack team of no fewer than 177 researchers.For a good summary of the research take a look here, and for a longer account here. In a nutshell, the authors examined DNA from almost 1000 people with an autism spectrum disorder. They were looking for deletions and duplications of segments of DNA: so-called copy number variations (CNVs). A C........ Read more »
Pinto, D., Pagnamenta, A., Klei, L., Anney, R., Merico, D., Regan, R., Conroy, J., Magalhaes, T., Correia, C., Abrahams, B.... (2010) Functional impact of global rare copy number variation in autism spectrum disorders. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature09146
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Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), referred to in Hindi as Methi, is a common ingredient in South Asian cuisine. Its seeds are an essential component of curry powder - its leaves are eaten as a vegetable.
Traditional Indian medicine has long attributed medicinal properties to fenugreek, especially for the treatment of diabetes.
Now, Taku Uemura and colleagues from Kyoto [...]... Read more »
Uemura T, Hirai S, Mizoguchi N, Goto T, Lee JY, Taketani K, Nakano Y, Shono J, Hoshino S, Tsuge N.... (2010) Diosgenin present in fenugreek improves glucose metabolism by promoting adipocyte differentiation and inhibiting inflammation in adipose tissues. Molecular nutrition . PMID: 20540147
This maybe just what we need to start moving deep cognitive understandings of the Web Ergonomics of users into a form that can help us simulate and apply this knowledge to instances of Web Interactivity, sort of a CogTool on steroids.... Read more »
Dominik Heckmann, & Antonio Krueger. (2003) A User Modeling Markup Language (UserML) for Ubiquitous Computing . LNCS User Modeling 2003, 1(1), 148. info:/10.1007/3-540-44963-9_55
Dominik Heckmann, Tim Schwartz, Boris Brandherm, Michael Schmitz, & Margeritta von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff. (2005) Gumo – The General User Model Ontology . User Modeling 2005, 1(1), 428-432. info:/10.1007/11527886_58
This is a post that aims to go through the evolution of the “Hockey Stick” from 1990 to the present day. It naturally misses out parts of the story, which deserve far more analysis, simply to keep the post short. Comments that expand on the bits I’ve omitted are welcome! What is the “Hockey Stick” [...]... Read more »
Mann ME, Zhang Z, Hughes MK, Bradley RS, Miller SK, Rutherford S, & Ni F. (2008) Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(36), 13252-7. PMID: 18765811
Our brains’ internal representations of ourselves are not, it would appear, quite as accurate as one would have thought.
That, at least, is the conclusion of paper which just came out in the dangerously-acronymed PNAS*.
To introduce the subject, then, let’s agree that it’s important for the brain to know where all our various physical bits are. [...]
[Click on the hyperlinked headline for more of the goodness]... Read more »
Matthew R. Longo and Patrick Haggard. (2010) An implicit body representation underlying human position sense. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1003483107
Extreme dieting and fasting can increase the risk for binge eating. For some individuals, binge eating seems to be a compensatory mechanism for weight restoration. The variability in binge eating behaviors following food restriction has been unknown. Now, a study suggests brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) may play a role in binge eating.Akkermann and colleagues from Estonia examined the relationship between BNDF polymorphism status and binge eating behavior. BNDF. BDNF gene alleles a........ Read more »
Akkermann K, Hiio K, Villa I, & Harro J. (2010) Food restriction leads to binge eating dependent upon the effect of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism. Psychiatry research. PMID: 20537407
Parents experience wide variety of emotions ranging from love and happiness to anger and frustration. Learn 3 practical implications to help you balance the extreme emotions of parenting. ... Read more »
Gorchoff SM, John OP, & Helson R. (2008) Contextualizing change in marital satisfaction during middle age: an 18-year longitudinal study. Psychological Science, 19(11), 1194-200. PMID: 19076493
Kahneman, D., Krueger, A.B., Schkade, D.A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A.A. (2004) A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method. Science, 306(5702), 1776-1780. DOI: 10.1126/science.1103572
Lyubomirsky, S., & Boehm, J. (2010) Human Motives, Happiness, and the Puzzle of Parenthood: Commentary on Kenrick et al. (2010). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(3), 327-334. DOI: 10.1177/1745691610369473
Repost from March 26, 2010.I recently wrote a research-based blog on facilitated communication. It was a rather long article, I'll admit, but I thought it important to provide as much information about facilitated communication and what the overwhelming majority of studies and meta-analyses showed regarding it. It has, despite its popularity in some sectors of the autism community and its fervent supporters, been shown that the communication comes not from the individual who is nonverbal but fro........ Read more »
Schlosser, R., & Wendt, O. (2008) Effects of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention on Speech Production in Children With Autism: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 17(3), 212-230. DOI: 10.1044/1058-0360(2008/021)
A drop in the bucket - a massive pile of bison skulls about to be ground into fertilizer, photographed circa 1870. From Wikipedia.
From almost the very start, wolves were not welcome in Yellowstone. When the national park was established by the United States government in 1872 the bison population had crashed - a victim of westward expansion, the fur trade, and the desire to deprive native people of an animal important to their existence - leaving the area's wolves little recourse but to beg........ Read more »
Elmhagen, B., Ludwig, G., Rushton, S., Helle, P., & Lindén, H. (2010) Top predators, mesopredators and their prey: interference ecosystems along bioclimatic productivity gradients. Journal of Animal Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2010.01678.x
Johnson, C. (2010) Red in tooth and claw: how top predators shape terrestrial ecosystems. Journal of Animal Ecology, 79(4), 723-725. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2010.01706.x
One of the questions addressed in this space is, "what makes a particular condition susceptible to quackery?" Some of the common features we've seen over time are: Diverse and protean symptoms: fatigue, "brain fog", diffuse pain, and other vague symptoms are often used as diagnostic criteria for controversial entities such as morgellons and chronic Lyme disease. Lack of diagnostic certainty: there are no definitive tests to make the diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease or morgellons ........ Read more »
Lanphear BP, Hornung R, Khoury J, Yolton K, Baghurst P, Bellinger DC, Canfield RL, Dietrich KN, Bornschein R, Greene T.... (2005) Low-level environmental lead exposure and children's intellectual function: an international pooled analysis. Environmental health perspectives, 113(7), 894-9. PMID: 16002379
Hu, H., Shih, R., Rothenberg, S., & Schwartz, B. (2006) The Epidemiology of Lead Toxicity in Adults: Measuring Dose and Consideration of Other Methodologic Issues. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(3), 455-462. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.9783
Shih, R., Glass, T., Bandeen-Roche, K., Carlson, M., Bolla, K., Todd, A., & Schwartz, B. (2006) Environmental lead exposure and cognitive function in community-dwelling older adults. Neurology, 67(9), 1556-1562. DOI: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000239836.26142.c5
Liu X, Dietrich KN, Radcliffe J, Ragan NB, Rhoads GG, & Rogan WJ. (2002) Do children with falling blood lead levels have improved cognition?. Pediatrics, 110(4), 787-91. PMID: 12359796
One of the key challenges facing any theories of the molecular origins of life concerns the synthesis, stability polymerization and self-assembly of early life's molecular components. If you cannot explain the chemical origin of these components, you cannot really explain the origin of life. In case of life as we know it, this boils down to explaining the origin of the building blocks of living organisms, namely nucleotides and amino acids.The simplest principles and quirks of chemistry could ha........ Read more »
Choudhary, A., Kamer, K., Powner, M., Sutherland, J., & Raines, R. (2010) A Stereoelectronic Effect in Prebiotic Nucleotide Synthesis. ACS Chemical Biology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/cb100093g
Most places which contain bacteria tend to contain lots of them. In the environment (i.e outside human bodies) bacteria often live in large colonies which can make it difficult to explore their reactions to changing conditions. In the lab, with just one bacteria, information about responses can be obtained by transcriptomics; looking at how the transcriptome changes as the environment does.The transcriptome is the set of all the mRNA within the cell. Unlike the genome, which is the all DNA prese........ Read more »
Gilbert JA, Field D, Huang Y, Edwards R, Li W, Gilna P, & Joint I. (2008) Detection of large numbers of novel sequences in the metatranscriptomes of complex marine microbial communities. PloS one, 3(8). PMID: 18725995
What have people been talking about this week in high energy physics, astrophysics, gravitation, general relativity and quantum gravity?... Read more »
Christophe Ringeval, Teruaki Suyama, Tomo Takahashi, Masahide Yamaguchi, & Shuichiro Yokoyama. (2010) Dark energy from primordial inflationary quantum fluctuations. arXiv. arXiv: 1006.0368v1
U. Sawangwit, & T. Shanks. (2009) Beam profile sensitivity of the WMAP CMB power spectrum. arXiv. arXiv: 0912.0524v2
Feldman, D., Liu, Z., Nath, P., & Peim, G. (2010) Multicomponent dark matter in supersymmetric hidden sector extensions. Physical Review D, 81(9). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.81.095017
K. S. Cheng, Yun-Wei Yu, & T. Harko. (2010) High Redshift Gamma-Ray Bursts: Observational Signatures of Superconducting Cosmic Strings?. arXiv. arXiv: 1005.3427v2
Predicting species distributions is not easy. Current approaches can be broken into two broad categories: "correlative" or "mechanistic" models. Buckley et al. (2010) do something very unique by comparing the relative accuracy of these two approaches (a total of 5 models) for two species (a butterfly and a lizard, see image). Their findings are interesting and very informative, but their conclusions lack some potential insight and they miss some important opportunities to adv........ Read more »
Buckley LB, Urban MC, Angilletta MJ, Crozier LG, Rissler LJ, & Sears MW. (2010) Can mechanism inform species' distribution models?. Ecology letters. PMID: 20482574
Everyone knows all about low back pain. This is probably by virtue of the fact that most of us have or will experience it at some stage. Everyone is an expert, clinicians and patients alike and there are a whole host of accepted truths about back pain that we all cling on to. Ideas that [...]... Read more »
Claus A, Hides J, Moseley GL, & Hodges P. (2008) Sitting versus standing: does the intradiscal pressure cause disc degeneration or low back pain?. Journal of electromyography and kinesiology, 18(4), 550-8. PMID: 17346987
Claus AP, Hides JA, Moseley GL, & Hodges PW. (2009) Is 'ideal' sitting posture real? Measurement of spinal curves in four sitting postures. Manual therapy, 14(4), 404-8. PMID: 18793867
Roffey DM, Wai EK, Bishop P, Kwon BK, & Dagenais S. (2010) Causal assessment of occupational sitting and low back pain: results of a systematic review. The spine journal , 10(3), 252-61. PMID: 20097618
Roffey DM, Wai EK, Bishop P, Kwon BK, & Dagenais S. (2010) Causal assessment of occupational standing or walking and low back pain: results of a systematic review. The spine journal , 10(3), 262-72. PMID: 20207335
When asked about my research area by people in the pub (this happens probably more than it should, most likely due to the disproportionate amount of time I spend there) I usually reply that I work on motor control, or ‘how the brain controls the body’. Today’s paper by Ganguly and colleagues looks at how the brain can control things without a body. There are some very cool results here.The field of neuroprosthetics, or the control of prosthetic devices by brain activity, is a rapidly emerg........ Read more »
Ganguly, K., & Carmena, J. (2009) Emergence of a Stable Cortical Map for Neuroprosthetic Control. PLoS Biology, 7(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000153
Think of a pianist learning how to play a sequence of chords on the piano in one position, and then playing the same sequence of chords three octaves higher. Her arms and hands will be in different positions relative to her trunk, but she’ll still be able to play the same notes. We call this ability to transfer learnt motor skills from one part of the workspace to another generalization.In today’s paper, the authors investigated how generalization works when you are learning two things at th........ Read more »
Pearson, T., Krakauer, J., & Mazzoni, P. (2010) Learning Not to Generalize: Modular Adaptation of Visuomotor Gain. Journal of Neurophysiology, 103(6), 2938-2952. DOI: 10.1152/jn.01089.2009
How do we integrate our disparate senses into a coherent view of the world? We obtain information from many different sensory modalities simultaneously - sight, hearing, touch, etc. - and we use these cues to form a percept of the world around us. But what isn't well known yet is exactly how the brain accomplishes this non-trivial task.For example, what happens if the information from two senses give differing results? How do you adapt and calibrate your senses so that the information you get fr........ Read more »
Burge, J., Girshick, A., & Banks, M. (2010) Visual-Haptic Adaptation Is Determined by Relative Reliability. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(22), 7714-7721. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6427-09.2010
We all know that music can have an effect on our mood (or, to use a mildly annoying linguistic contrivance, can affect our affect). And being in a better mood has been consistently shown to improve our performance on cognitive tasks, like verbal reasoning; the influence of serene music on such tasks is also known as the 'Mozart effect'. What's kind of interesting is that this Mozart effect has also been shown to be effective on motor tasks, like complex manual tracking.In the last post I talked ........ Read more »
Bock, O. (2010) Sensorimotor adaptation is influenced by background music. Experimental Brain Research, 203(4), 737-741. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-010-2289-0
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