Post List

  • July 7, 2016
  • 09:09 AM
  • 206 views

Are animals (and AI’s) people too?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Charles gets up and balances on his short legs. During the brief ungainly walk to the dais, he fights the urge to scratch his arms. The vest that has been tailor-made for him itches. But it will help focus the committee on his purpose, focus on him as a person. He squats on the low […]... Read more »

Perring C. (1997) Degrees of personhood. The Journal of medicine and philosophy, 22(2), 173-97. PMID: 9186928  

Windrem MS, Schanz SJ, Morrow C, Munir J, Chandler-Militello D, Wang S, & Goldman SA. (2014) A competitive advantage by neonatally engrafted human glial progenitors yields mice whose brains are chimeric for human glia. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 34(48), 16153-61. PMID: 25429155  

  • July 7, 2016
  • 05:08 AM
  • 199 views

Is OCD fuelled by a fear of the self?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Most of us have unwanted thoughts and images that pop into our heads and it's not a big deal. But for people with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) these mental intrusions are frequently distressing and difficult to ignore. A new article in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy explores the possibility that the reason these thoughts become so troubling to some people is that they play on their fears about the kind of person they might be. The reasoning goes something like this: ........ Read more »

  • July 7, 2016
  • 02:53 AM
  • 200 views

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) associated with autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) refers to a collection of conditions also headed under the label of connective tissue disorder. EDS affects the 'cellular glue' that basically gives biological tissues their shape and stability such as cartilage. There are various types of EDS and symptoms can vary from person-to-person but one of the most frequent characteristics of the syndrome is joint hypermobility.I've speculated a few times on this blog about the possibility that EDS and/or joint hypermobility ........ Read more »

  • July 6, 2016
  • 11:29 AM
  • 174 views

Fish May Lose Their Jelly Friends in a Changing Ocean

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



In the open ocean, it's good to have friends. Some young fish like to buddy up with stinging jellies to stay safe from predators. Hiding under the shelter of a jellyfish's bell, they can grow up unharmed (as long as they dodge its tentacles). These fish include some species that humans rely on for food. But in a warming ocean, that buddy system may fall apart.

Many types of fish take advantage of hop-on jelly trolleys. Ivan Nagelkerken, a marine biologist at the University of Adelaide in ... Read more »

Nagelkerken I, Pitt KA, Rutte MD, & Geertsma RC. (2016) Ocean acidification alters fish-jellyfish symbiosis. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 283(1833). PMID: 27358374  

  • July 6, 2016
  • 08:50 AM
  • 215 views

Why do we eat spices?

by Alice Breda in la-Plumeria

I love curries. My favorite is Indian tikka masala which is prepared with tomato, yogurt and many different spices including turmeric, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cumin, paprika, cloves and cinnamon. But I’m not the only one, because the passion for spicy dishes is shared among humans of all regions and ages. We eat them fresh, dried, whole, ground, raw or cooked, and our love for these tasty substances led explorers such as Polo, Magellan and Columbus to undertake risky expeditions in searc........ Read more »

Sherman, P., & Billing, J. (1999) Darwinian Gastronomy: Why We Use Spices. BioScience, 49(6), 453. DOI: 10.2307/1313553  

Billing J, & Sherman PW. (1998) Antimicrobial functions of spices: why some like it hot. The Quarterly review of biology, 73(1), 3-49. PMID: 9586227  

  • July 6, 2016
  • 08:45 AM
  • 177 views

Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just My Philodendron?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

It is usually animals that are referred to as endotherms or ectotherms – plants can’t regulate their temperature, right? Don’t tell that to a certain philodendron that can spike the temperature of its flowers to more than 113˚F on two nights of the year, just to attract the beetles that will pollinate it.... Read more »

  • July 6, 2016
  • 07:30 AM
  • 159 views

Ancestral alcohol consumption may influence your drinking behavior and responses to stress

by Gregg E. Homanics in EpiBeat

Mice born to alcohol exposed fathers were resistant to stress-induced drinking. Read more on today's EpiBeat!... Read more »

  • July 6, 2016
  • 03:00 AM
  • 177 views

Pregnancy infection and offspring autism risk meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Another day, another short post about a meta-analysis; this time based on the suggestion that maternal infection during the critical 'nine months that made us' might elevate the risk of offspring autism and reported on by Hai-yin Jiang and colleagues [1].Based on the collected analysis of 15 peer-reviewed studies covering some 40,000 people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the authors concluded that yes, "maternal infection during pregnancy was associated with an ........ Read more »

  • July 5, 2016
  • 09:40 PM
  • 160 views

Mmmm…Raw Cookie D’oh!

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

The FDA recently put out a stern warning not to eat raw cookie dough. Here's what cookie dough might do to you and why.... Read more »

  • July 5, 2016
  • 02:50 AM
  • 164 views

Autism and asthma meta-analysed.. or is it?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, the results of this meta-analysis do not suggest an association between asthma and ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Further prospective studies ascertaining the association between asthma and ASD are warranted."So said the results of the meta-analysis by Zhen Zheng and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and with it some research that made me think a little. Think because, on more than one occasion, I've talked about research suggesting that there might be a link betw........ Read more »

  • July 4, 2016
  • 01:00 PM
  • 140 views

Why are pheasant harems so small? An evolutionary puzzle

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

Why do pheasant males have so few females in their harems? Wouldn't it make sense for them to mate with as many females as possible? This week, I blog about an article in the upcoming August 2016 issue of Animal Behavior that explains this puzzling behavior.... Read more »

  • July 4, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 165 views

Autism: visual stress and coloured overlays?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The small study from Amanda Ludlow & Arnold Wilkins [1] is introduced for your reading pleasure today and the idea that "atypical sensory behaviours and symptoms of visual stress" were not uncommon features when it came to a diagnosis of autism and/or Tourette's syndrome (TS). As per that opening sentence, this was a small study - 12 children with autism, 12 children with TS and 12 controls - but that doesn't mean that the results might not be important...So far you might be slightly un........ Read more »

  • July 2, 2016
  • 04:37 AM
  • 157 views

The gut microbiome and coeliac disease risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Elective caesarean delivery and repeated maternal urinary tract infections during pregnancy are associated with increased risk of CD [coeliac disease] onset during childhood, suggesting the role of dysbiosis during early life."Those were some of the rather surprising findings reported by Fredinah Namatovu and colleagues [1] (open-access) following their pretty well-powered study covering "1 912 204 children born between 1991 and 2009, 6 596 of whom developed CD before 15 years of........ Read more »

Namatovu, F., Olsson, C., Lindkvist, M., Myléus, A., Högberg, U., Ivarsson, A., & Sandström, O. (2016) Maternal and perinatal conditions and the risk of developing celiac disease during childhood. BMC Pediatrics, 16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12887-016-0613-y  

  • July 1, 2016
  • 02:34 AM
  • 152 views

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): another over-represented condition in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Returning to the idea that not every symptom/characteristic present in cases of autism is necessarily 'due to autism' are the findings reported by Heifert and colleagues [1] and the observations that: "Children with ASD are more likely to be diagnosed with EoE [Eosinophilic esophagitis] compared to controls" and further: "A diagnosis of feeding disorder was strongly associated with EoE."EoE is something that has been discussed before on this blog in relation to the myriad of gastrointe........ Read more »

Heifert TA, Susi A, Hisle-Gorman E, Erdie-Lalena CR, Gorman G, Min SB, & Nylund CM. (2016) Feeding Disorders in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Are Associated with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. PMID: 27276430  

  • June 30, 2016
  • 02:08 AM
  • 143 views

Gestional exposure to Group B Streptococcus and an autism model

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Overall, these data show for the first time that gestational exposure to GBS [Group B Streptococcus] plays an important role in the generation of neurodevelopmental abnormalities reminiscent of human autism spectrum disorders (ASD)."I chose to discuss the findings reported by Marie-Julie Allard and colleagues [1] on this blog for various reasons. That this research team already have some research 'form' when it comes to looking at GBS [2] is one; another is the idea that they rep........ Read more »

Allard MJ, Bergeron JD, Baharnoori M, Srivastava LK, Fortier LC, Poyart C, & Sébire G. (2016) A sexually dichotomous, autistic-like phenotype is induced by Group B Streptococcus maternofetal immune activation. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 27220806  

  • June 29, 2016
  • 08:01 AM
  • 51 views

Design guidlines for tandem fluorescent timers

by Gal Haimovich in Green Fluorescent Blog

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote a post on tandem fluorescent timers (tFTs). The idea is to have two different fluorescent proteins fused together to the protein of interest. In the paper from 4 years ago, it was superfolder GFP … Continue reading →... Read more »

Khmelinskii A, Meurer M, Ho CT, Besenbeck B, Füller J, Lemberg MK, Bukau B, Mogk A, & Knop M. (2016) Incomplete proteasomal degradation of green fluorescent proteins in the context of tandem fluorescent protein timers. Molecular biology of the cell, 27(2), 360-70. PMID: 26609072  

  • June 29, 2016
  • 06:20 AM
  • 142 views

Birdsong Babel: Different birds use different grammar rules

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Zizou listens carefully. She ignores her confines and tries to focus on the intruder’s song. There’s something odd about it. Something she can’t quite put her feather on. It’s familiar, yet… not familiar. The intruder is strong. He or she keeps signing incessantly. There’s no sight of him or her, though. She has to make a […]... Read more »

Olkowicz S, Kocourek M, Lučan RK, Porteš M, Fitch WT, Herculano-Houzel S, & Němec P. (2016) Birds have primate-like numbers of neurons in the forebrain. PNAS, 113(26), 7255-60. PMID: 27298365  

  • June 29, 2016
  • 02:49 AM
  • 112 views

Antipsychotic prescribing trends in autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Almost 1 in 10 antipsychotic-treated youth were diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and/or ID [intellectual disability], and 1 in 6 youth with ASD received antipsychotics."The findings reported by Su Young Park and colleagues [1] have not surprisingly garnered some media attention (see here). Meta-analysing the available peer-reviewed data on "the frequency of youth diagnosed with ASDs and/or ID among antipsychotic-treated youth, as well as antipsychotic use in you........ Read more »

Park SY, Cervesi C, Galling B, Molteni S, Walyzada F, Ameis SH, Gerhard T, Olfson M, & Correll CU. (2016) Antipsychotic Use Trends in Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual Disability: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(6), 456-4680000. PMID: 27238064  

  • June 28, 2016
  • 02:07 AM
  • 123 views

An excess of ADHD among children born to glyphosate appliers?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The job of pesticide applicator is one that has been discussed on this blog before (see here). Minus any scaremongering, the conclusion of that post was that under certain circumstances (e.g. a high pesticide exposure event - HPEE), the effects of that particular occupation might be pretty far-reaching for the 'cognitive' as well as physical health of the individual concerned.Today I'm talking about other potential effects "needing confirmation by further studies" related to perhaps one of ........ Read more »

  • June 27, 2016
  • 03:03 AM
  • 116 views

Eating difficulties in adolescents with CFS/ME

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I tread quite carefully when discussing the paper by Sarah Harris and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) on the potential causes and effects of 'eating difficulties' when it comes to adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).Careful because (i) I don't want to confuse eating difficulties with eating disorder (they are not one and the same) and (ii) the suggestion that some of the young adults included for study "recognised how their eating difficulties were ........ Read more »

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