Post List

  • November 19, 2010
  • 10:28 AM

A New View of Ankylosaur Feet

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Last Friday I wrote about a new study by paleontologist Phil Senter that revised the arrangement of bones in the front feet of Stegosaurus. Despite being only a distant relative of the sauropod dinosaurs, Stegosaurus had convergently evolved a semi-circular pattern of bones which would have given it semi-tubular forefeet similar to that of sauropods [...]... Read more »

  • November 19, 2010
  • 09:04 AM

How inactive are today’s kids?

by Peter Janiszewski, Ph.D. in Obesity Panacea

I was hoping to not begin this post with the following phrase, but its useless fighting the urge. I have reached an age at which I believe I am now entitled to do so.
Back in my day, when I was still in elementary school, I don’t think my parents or those of my friends ever had to worry about us being physically inactive.
Sure we had Nintendo, and Super Nintendo had just come out, but really how many hours could one spend with Duck Hunt?
At the same time, it feels like people were generall........ Read more »

  • November 19, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

How Do Typical Gamers Play Games? (VG Series Part 10/10)

by Richard Landers in NeoAcademic

Part 10 of my series examining research evidence for the value of video games. This time: understanding the psychology of typical gamers (i.e. no mental disorders this time!).... Read more »

  • November 19, 2010
  • 08:14 AM

Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

An accepted truism is that a sad jury awards lower damages from a disempowered sense of hopelessness, and an angry jury awards higher to ‘send a message’. It is never good for the plaintiff when a case concludes with sad and hopeless jurors heading off to deliberate. You end up with “It’s horrible but it’s [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: Winning Minds and Touching Hearts
Simple Jury Persuasion: Make an emotional connection with your jury
Simple Jury Persuasion: When ........ Read more »

  • November 19, 2010
  • 06:04 AM

Mutual Exclusivity in the Naming Game

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

The Naming Game looks at how communication systems evolve in populations of agents. In this post I’ll show that the algorithms used have implicit mutual exclusivity biases, which favour monolingual viewpoints. I’ll also show that this bias is not necessary and obscures some interesting insights into evolutionary dynamics of langauge.... Read more »

Andrea Baronchelli. (2010) Do you agree? Role of feedback and broadcasting in the Naming Game. ArXiv e-prints. arXiv: 1009.4798v1

Vittorio Loreto, Andrea Baronchelli, & Andrea Puglisi. (2009) Mathematical Modeling of Language Games . Evolution of Communication and Language in Embodied Agents. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-01250-1_15  

  • November 19, 2010
  • 05:02 AM

Employability: concepts and components

by David Winter in Careers - in Theory

I am preparing material for an employability module, and I’ve been getting myself into it by exploring different definitions and concepts of employability. What is employability? Coming at that question from a careers adviser’s perspective, I tend, by default, to think about employability in terms of the awareness and attributes of the individual job seeker. [...]... Read more »

  • November 19, 2010
  • 03:54 AM

Moving the eyes but not looking - why do we do it?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

You've probably noticed how people move their eyes about when in the midst of conversation, often in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with looking at the scene around them. In fact these 'non-visual gaze patterns' also occur when we're on our own, in the complete dark, and even when our eyes are closed. The implication is these eye movements are a result of mental processes that having nothing to do with vision.

To investigate, Dragana Micic and colleagues recorded the eye movements of ........ Read more »

  • November 19, 2010
  • 01:52 AM

Molecular recess

by Anna Goldstein in Berkeley Science Review Blog

It would be an understatement to say that molecular machines have been under a tremendous amount of pressure lately. Proponents of nanotechnology have left them variously responsible for curing the world’s diseases, providing mankind with limitless food, water, energy and information, and even self-assembling so we don’t have to make them ourselves. And that’s only a partial list. Under the weight of such towering expectations, can we really blame them if they give up and turn the planet i........ Read more »

Pei R, Matamoros E, Liu M, Stefanovic D, & Stojanovic MN. (2010) Training a molecular automaton to play a game. Nature nanotechnology, 5(11), 773-7. PMID: 20972436  

Lund K, Manzo AJ, Dabby N, Michelotti N, Johnson-Buck A, Nangreave J, Taylor S, Pei R, Stojanovic MN, Walter NG.... (2010) Molecular robots guided by prescriptive landscapes. Nature, 465(7295), 206-10. PMID: 20463735  

  • November 19, 2010
  • 01:09 AM

Big Pterosaurs Really Did Fly: Interview with Mark Witton

by Andrew Farke in The Open Source Paleontologist

Pterosaurs - winged denizens of the Mesozoic skies - get a bum rap. It's bad enough that their name is smeared by the general public, when animals like Pterodactylus are confused with dinosaurs in the news media and in just about every cheap set of plastic dinosaurs. Lately, some scientists have suggested that the largest of these animals just couldn't fly. Is it true that Quetzalcoatlus (pictured here; image from Wikimedia Commons), with its 10 meter wingspan, had wings that were too narrow, a ........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2010
  • 11:40 PM

Autism-Related Gene Spotlight: CNTNAP2

by Lindsay in Autist's Corner

Describes a gene encoding a protein in the neurexin family, Caspr2, that's involved in myelination and distribution of ion channels along axons. Disruptions of this gene have been associated with autism, epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, intellectual disability, schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders.... Read more »

Arking, D., Cutler, D., Brune, C., Teslovich, T., West, K., Ikeda, M., Rea, A., Guy, M., Lin, S., & Cook Jr., E. (2008) A Common Genetic Variant in the Neurexin Superfamily Member CNTNAP2 Increases Familial Risk of Autism. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 82(1), 160-164. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2007.09.015  

Bakkaloglu, B., O'Roak, B., Louvi, A., Gupta, A., Abelson, J., Morgan, T., Chawarska, K., Klin, A., Ercan-Sencicek, A., & Stillman, A. (2008) Molecular Cytogenetic Analysis and Resequencing of Contactin Associated Protein-Like 2 in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 82(1), 165-173. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2007.09.017  

  • November 18, 2010
  • 08:50 PM

Dietary nitrate reduces oxygen cost of running and walking

by Colby in

Andrew Jones and his group at the University of Exeter are certainly busy lately.  I’ve reported on two of their papers on nitrate and exercise performance here and here.  They just published another in the Journal of Applied Physiology. In … Continue reading →... Read more »

Lansley, K., Winyard, P., Fulford, J., Vanhatalo, A., Bailey, S., Blackwell, J., DiMenna, F., Gilchrist, M., Benjamin, N., & Jones, A. (2010) Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. Journal of Applied Physiology. DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01070.2010  

  • November 18, 2010
  • 03:56 PM

Study: More Privilege Means Less Empathy

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

If you're a member of America's anxious middle class, you can feel downtrodden one minute and privileged the next, just watching the news. Here's some super-rich guy planning his run for President, way above you on the social ladder. Next, a story about destitute refugees, which reminds you that you ...Read More
... Read more »

Kraus, M., Cote, S., & Keltner, D. (2010) Social Class, Contextualism, and Empathic Accuracy. Psychological Science, 21(11), 1716-1723. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610387613  

  • November 18, 2010
  • 02:50 PM

GABA Neurons and Rett Syndrome

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Rett Syndrome is a rare (1 in every 10,000 to 15,000 live female births) neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs almost exclusively in young girls. This syndrome shares features with autism.  The disorder is caused by a mutation of the MECP2 (methyl-CpG-binding protein 2) gene (MECP2 translation protein diagram noted on the right).  This gene is found on the X chromosome. Infant boys born with the mutation typically die shortly after birth as they have no reserve X chromosome that may ........ Read more »

Chao, H., Chen, H., Samaco, R., Xue, M., Chahrour, M., Yoo, J., Neul, J., Gong, S., Lu, H., Heintz, N.... (2010) Dysfunction in GABA signalling mediates autism-like stereotypies and Rett syndrome phenotypes. Nature, 468(7321), 263-269. DOI: 10.1038/nature09582  

  • November 18, 2010
  • 02:50 PM

Discussion Has Little Effect on NIH R01 Funding Outcome

by Michael Long in Phased

Discussion of R01 grant proposals submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), after they have received an initial funding priority score, generally has little effect on ultimate funding probability.... Read more »

  • November 18, 2010
  • 12:51 PM

Is there anything fish don't do!? Mucus-feeding and prolactin

by Daniel in Ego sum Daniel

Much of my work involves studying fish genomes. Over time I've gotten to know them pretty well and I can only conclude that fish are incredible and inordinately interesting creatures. Unfortunately fish have an undeservedly low standing in the eyes of the general public, as well as many researchers in more mammal-oriented fields, often being referred to as "lower vertebrates" in the great evolutionary story that led to "higher vertebrates" like mammals. In fact, more than half of all vertebrate........ Read more »

Buckley, J., Maunder, R., Foey, A., Pearce, J., Val, A., & Sloman, K. (2010) Biparental mucus feeding: a unique example of parental care in an Amazonian cichlid. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(22), 3787-3795. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.042929  

Khong, H., Kuah, M., Jaya-Ram, A., & Shu-Chien, A. (2009) Prolactin receptor mRNA is upregulated in discus fish (Symphysodon aequifasciata) skin during parental phase. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 153(1), 18-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpb.2009.01.005  

  • November 18, 2010
  • 11:15 AM

Does light controls your mood?

by Casey Rentz in Natural Selections

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a study involving mice...and circadian rhythms: too much low light (day or night ) or insufficient bright light (during the day) can mess with circadian rhythms and cause bodily fatigue, jet lag, seasonal effective disorder, whatever you want to call it. It made me glad I walk to work in the bright sunshine every day and sad that my bedroom wall has big floor-to-ceiling windows.
This week, I read another study involving hamsters...and circadian rhythms: too much........ Read more »

Altimus CM, Güler AD, Alam NM, Arman AC, Prusky GT, Sampath AP, & Hattar S. (2010) Rod photoreceptors drive circadian photoentrainment across a wide range of light intensities. Nature neuroscience, 13(9), 1107-12. PMID: 20711184  

  • November 18, 2010
  • 11:00 AM

Giordano da Silva: Teaching Scientist

by Susan Steinhardt in The PostDoc Forum

Postdoc Gio da Silva is our Featured Scientist of the Month. Read on to find out more about his passion for the sciences and love of teaching as well as valuable tips about choosing a Postdoc lab and maintaining organization in the lab.... Read more »

  • November 18, 2010
  • 10:53 AM

Facing Homotherium

by Laelaps in Laelaps

When craftsman Ken Walker decided to reconstruct an Irish elk for the “recreations” category of the 2005 World Taxidermy Championships, he did not rely on bones alone. Skeletons of the extinct Pleistocene mammal – technically called Megaloceros giganteus – were in no short supply as references, but there are some things that bones just can’t [...]... Read more »

ANTÓN, M., GARCÍA-PEREA, R., & TURNER, A. (1998) Reconstructed facial appearance of the sabretoothed felid Smilodon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 124(4), 369-386. DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.1998.tb00582.x  

Gould, S. (1997) The exaptive excellence of spandrels as a term and prototype. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 94(20), 10750-10755. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.94.20.10750  

REUMER, J., ROOK, L., VAN DER BORG, K., POST, K., MOL, D., & DE VOS, J. (2003) LATE PLEISTOCENE SURVIVAL OF THE SABER-TOOTHED CAT HOMOTHERIUM IN NORTHWESTERN EUROPE. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 23(1), 260-262. DOI: 10.1671/0272-4634(2003)23[260:LPSOTS]2.0.CO;2  

  • November 18, 2010
  • 10:27 AM

Are big brains better for long trips in bats?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Previously, on NeuroDojo...

(M)igration causes brain size to reduce, rather than the other way around.
The quote might be a bit misleading, though, because that was in reference to bird migration. All manner of animals migrate, and it is possible that birds face pressure other creatures don’t.

A good first place to look for a comparison would be bats. Because despite being separate by several hundred millions years of evolution, bats have one very obvious similarity to birds: they fly. And, ........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2010
  • 10:15 AM

What Can Dolphins Tell Us About The Evolution of Friendship?

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

Scientists thought they had a pretty good handle on the social interactions of bottlenose dophins (Tursiops). They've used the term fission-fusion dynamics to describe dolphin (and non-human primate) society and so far it has served researchers well. Fission-fusion societies among dolphins are characterized by two levels of social hierarchy: groups of two or three related males ("first-order alliances") which work together to guard one or more females from other males, and larger teams compris........ Read more »

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