Post List

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:27 PM

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

... Read more »

  • February 5, 2016
  • 09:09 AM

Greenland ice sheets losing ability to absorb meltwater

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Greenland has long held sea-level rise at bay, absorbing melted water into spongy upper layers. But new research has found that icy covers to these layers are preventing water absorption and driving water into the oceans.... Read more »

Machguth, H., MacFerrin, M., van As, D., Box, J., Charalampidis, C., Colgan, W., Fausto, R., Meijer, H., Mosley-Thompson, E., & van de Wal, R. (2016) Greenland meltwater storage in firn limited by near-surface ice formation. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2899  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 05:28 AM

People who prioritise time over money are happier

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A lot of has been written about how focusing too much on materialistic ambitions, at the expense of relationships and experiences, can leave us miserable and unfulfilled. In a new paper published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, a team of psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Canada argue that there's another important distinction to be made – between how much we prioritise time versus money. Those who favour time tend to be happier, possibly because this frees them to enjoy pleasurable and meaningful activities, although this has yet to be established. The researchers led by Ashley Whillans first devised a quick and simple way to measure this difference in people. They asked just over 100 students to say whether they prioritised having more time or having more money, and to help them appreciate the distinction the researchers presented them with vignettes of two people – one who prioritises time:Tina (male names were used for male participants) values her time more than her money. She is willing to sacrifice her money to have more time. For example, Tina would rather work fewer hours and make less money, than work more hours and make more money. And one who prioritises money:Maggie values her money more than her time. She is willing to sacrifice her time to have more money. For example, Maggie would rather work more hours and make more money, than work fewer hours and have more time.The students answered this question twice, three months apart and their two choices were highly consistent, which supports the idea that people's prioritisation of time versus money is a stable trait.In several further studies involving thousands more students and adult members of the general public in Canada and the US, Whillans and her colleagues showed that people's answer to this one simple question correlated with their choices over various fictional scenarios, such as: whether they wanted to apply for a hypothetical higher salary/longer hours job or a lower salary/shorter hours alternative; whether they'd prefer a more expensive apartment with a shorter commute, or a cheaper alternative (to save money) and make a longer commute; and whether they actually chose a smaller cash reward for taking part in the study, versus a larger value reward token toward a time-saving service (such as a cleaner).What's more, across the studies, people who said they prioritised time tended to report being happier. This was true based on various ways of measuring happiness and wellbeing, and the association held even after holding constant many other factors, such as people's salary, education, hours of work and age and gender. The researchers also measured people's materialism and the association between happiness and favouring time over money remained after taking this into account.The researchers said that this relationship between prioritising time and being happier was "small but robust" – about half the size of the impact on happiness of things like being married and having more wealth. In an example of exemplary scholarship, the researchers make clear every factor they measured, every participant who was excluded and why, and the recruitment stopping rule for each study (i.e. how it was decided when to stop recruiting more participants). And perhaps most important, all their data is freely accessible via the Open Science initiative.As so often, it's worth remembering that this data was only recorded at a single point in the lives of the participants, so it's not yet been established that having more a time-centric orientation versus money-centric actually causes greater happiness – as the researchers acknowledge, it's possible that being happier allows people to see the value in saving time to do fun things. As well as longitudinal research (that follows people's priorities and happiness over time), future studies could also establish how people's time vs. money priorities change in response to important life events such as having children or retirement (the current data suggest that older people tend to favour time), and whether it's possible to deliberately change one's orientation."Although causality cannot be inferred," the researchers concluded, "these data point to the possibility that valuing time over money is a stable preference that may provide one path to greater happiness."_________________________________ Whillans, A., Weidman, A., & Dunn, E. (2016). Valuing Time Over Money Is Associated With Greater Happiness Social Psychological and Personality Science DOI: 10.1177/1948550615623842 Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.Our free fortnightly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!
... Read more »

Whillans, A., Weidman, A., & Dunn, E. (2016) Valuing Time Over Money Is Associated With Greater Happiness. Social Psychological and Personality Science. DOI: 10.1177/1948550615623842  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 05:21 AM

Disentangling the mechanisms behind climate effects on a key zooplankton species

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog

A recently paper published in
PNAS, members of the CEES Marine Group explores potential climate effects on
Calanus finmarchicus, a key zooplankton species in the North Atlantic. The paper shows how the combination of shallow mixed-layer-depth and increased wind apparently increases chlorophyll biomass in spring, and in turn
C. finmarchicus biomass in summer. These findings strongly suggest bottom-up effects of food availability on zooplankton, and highlight the need to consider climate effects “beyond temperature” when projecting zooplankton dynamics under climate change.

... Read more »

Kvile, K., Langangen, Ø., Prokopchuk, I., Stenseth, N., & Stige, L. (2016) Disentangling the mechanisms behind climate effects on zooplankton. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201525130. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1525130113  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:01 AM

Vitamin D supplementation and 'clinical improvement' in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Vitamin D deficiency might contribute to the aetiology of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Supplementation of vitamin D3, which is a safe and cost-effective form of treatment, may significantly improve the outcome of some children with ASD, especially younger children."More big words have appeared from a research group who seem to be particularly interested in how vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin/hormone) might have some important links to at least some cases of autism. The findings this time around come in the form of the paper by Feng and colleagues [1] who following on from their case-report [2] on what happened when a 2 (nearly 3) year old boy diagnosed with an ASD was given a supplement to correct an underlying vitamin D deficiency, now report on a larger participant cohort.In line with their clinical trial registration (see here) "last refreshed on 2015-05-02" a selection of 37 children from a bank of 215 diagnosed with an ASD "received vitamin D3 treatment" for 3 months alongside various measures of autistic behaviours (CARS and ABC) being delivered. Compared with a control group of 285 'do-not-have-autism' children, serum levels of 25(OH) vitamin D were lower in the children with autism as a group (n=215). Given what has been discussed before in the peer-reviewed literature, and from more than one independent source, these findings are not a great surprise. Further, we are told that: "After vitamin D3 supplementation, symptom scores were significantly reduced on the CARS and ABC. In addition, the data also suggest that treatment effects were more pronounced in younger children with ASD."Whilst potentially important findings, I do think we have to be slightly careful before singing the [universal] praises of what vitamin D might do for all autism at the current time. As far as I can make out, this was not a clinical trial insofar as pitting vitamin D supplementation against a placebo, nor was it the case that comparisons on behavioural or biological measures were made between supplementing children with autism and supplementing controls. This was, in effect, a study of 37 autistic children receiving a vitamin D supplement and the reporting on scores 'of autism' before and after such supplementation, all the while knowing that children were taking a vitamin D supplement.That's not however to say that my cautious view on this might not change in future as more controlled research is on-going in this area (see here and see here) and indeed, even talking about the possibility that vitamin D might affect the recurrence of autism in families where a child has already been diagnosed with autism (see here). We await the results of these various investigations in the peer-reviewed journal press to further inform clinical practice and perhaps also determine who might be the 'best' and non-responders to such intervention.The final question concerns what the possible mechanism(s) could be such that vitamin D supplementation, more traditionally indicated to treat skeletal issues, could potentially impact on the presentation of behaviours pertinent to autism. I don't have any substantial ideas about possible ways of working at the present time, outside of highlighting the various extra-skeletal effects that have been talked about outside of the primary autism research literature (see here and see here). I just might be tempted to suggest that any biological effect is likely to be complicated and not necessarily just related to how much vitamin D a person gets or doesn't (see here and see here). I'm also minded to bring in the idea that vitamin D might show some 'connection' to autoimmune diseases (see here) and where that could potential lead with at least some autism in mind (see here and see here). And then there is the possibility that supplementing with vitamin D might not be the only option to be explored [3] potentially also tied to other autism findings (see here).Speculation abounds and science has a lot more to do to catch up.Music: The Carpenters - Top Of The World.----------[1] Feng J. et al. Clinical improvement following vitamin D3 supplementation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nutr Neurosci. 2016 Jan 18.[2] Jia F. et al. Core symptoms of autism improved after vitamin D supplementation. Pediatrics. 2015 Jan;135(1):e196-8.[3] Jain SK. et al. L-cysteine supplementation upregulates glutathione (GSH) and vitamin D binding protein (VDBP) in hepatocytes cultured in high glucose and in vivo in liver, and increases blood levels of GSH, VDBP, and 25-hydroxy-vitamin D in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Jan 17.----------Feng J, Shan L, Du L, Wang B, Li H, Wang W, Wang T, Dong H, Yue X, Xu Z, Staal WG, & Jia F (2016). Clinical improvement following vitamin D3 supplementation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nutritional neuroscience PMID: 26783092... Read more »

Feng J, Shan L, Du L, Wang B, Li H, Wang W, Wang T, Dong H, Yue X, Xu Z.... (2016) Clinical improvement following vitamin D3 supplementation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nutritional neuroscience. PMID: 26783092  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 02:34 AM

Good morning genes

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Point:

Genes could help in determining whether a person likes to rise early in the morning or not.

Published in:

Nature Communications

Study Further:

Researchers, in affiliation with 23andMe, Inc. recently worked on the DNA of 89,283 individuals, and found that genes could show some specific variations more frequently in the people, who self-identify themselves as early risers or morning people. They found 15 different spots in the genetic makeup that can vary between morning people and self-reported evening people. Seven of those variations were found near genes that are involved in controlling a person’s daily cycle, known as circadian rhythm.

Study also showed that many people, i.e. more than 50% consider themselves as night people. Adults and females represent more numbers as morning people, i.e. in the study 39.7% morning people were males and 48.4% were females. If a father is a morning person, his son has 1.9 times higher chances of becoming a morning person and his daughter has 2.4 times higher chances of becoming a morning person. Moreover, morning people suffer less from sleep apnea or insomnia as compared to night people; though, genes or genetic variations may not have any role in this aspect. On a further note, night people have more chances of getting depression as well as other health issues such as obesity.

“With the information we have, we can uncover the genetics behind a variety of conditions and diseases, and hopefully reach a better understanding of how we differ from one another,” noted 23andme senior researcher David Hinds in a press statement.


Hu, Y., Shmygelska, A., Tran, D., Eriksson, N., Tung, J., & Hinds, D. (2016). GWAS of 89,283 individuals identifies genetic variants associated with self-reporting of being a morning person Nature Communications, 7 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10448... Read more »

  • February 4, 2016
  • 11:30 PM

Hadza hunter-gatherers, social networks, and models of cooperation

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

At the heart of the Great Lakes region of East Africa is Tanzania — a republic comprised of 30 mikoa, or provinces. Its border is marked off by the giant lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi. But the lake that interests me the most is an internal one: 200 km from the border with Kenya at […]... Read more »

Apicella, C.L., Marlowe, F.W., Fowler, J.H., & Christakis, N.A. (2012) Social networks and cooperation in hunter-gatherers. Nature, 481(7382), 497-501. PMID: 22281599  

  • February 4, 2016
  • 03:27 PM

Taser shock disrupts brain function, has implications for police interrogations

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

More than two million citizens have been Tased by police as Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the United States during the past decade. But what does that 50,000-volt shock do to a person's brain?

... Read more »

  • February 4, 2016
  • 01:28 PM

Collective Burial: Emphasizing Community in Neolithic Spain

by Katy Meyers Emery in Bones Don't Lie

In the United States, historically we chose to bury our dead with our family and community. People would buy large plots within cemeteries where they could bury their relatives over […]... Read more »

Alt KW, Zesch S, Garrido-Pena R, Knipper C, Szécsényi-Nagy A, Roth C, Tejedor-Rodríguez C, Held P, García-Martínez-de-Lagrán Í, Navitainuck D.... (2016) A Community in Life and Death: The Late Neolithic Megalithic Tomb at Alto de Reinoso (Burgos, Spain). PloS one, 11(1). PMID: 26789731  

  • February 4, 2016
  • 10:06 AM

A sense of mystery results from the brain failing to shut down flights of fancy

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

People who have a mystical experience might describe it as being “touched by some higher or greater truth or power“, or as “experiences felt or experienced beyond the realms of ordinary consciousness”. Psychologists define them as a breakdown in the usual sense of time or space, or of the difference between the self and the [Read More...]... Read more »

Cristofori, I., Bulbulia, J., Shaver, J., Wilson, M., Krueger, F., & Grafman, J. (2016) Neural correlates of mystical experience. Neuropsychologia, 212-220. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.11.021  

  • February 4, 2016
  • 04:33 AM

Establishing environmental exposures as risk factors for bipolar disorder: Difficult.

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Ciro Marangoni and colleagues [1] made for some interesting reading recently and their systematic review of longitudinal studies looking at the various environmental exposures put forward as possible risk factors pertinent to the development of bipolar disorder (BD).Trawling through the peer-reviewed material on this topic, the authors were able to 'clump' the various proposed risk factors into one of three categories: "neurodevelopment (maternal influenza during pregnancy; indicators of fetal development), substances (cannabis, cocaine, other drugs - opioids, tranquilizers, stimulants, sedatives), physical/psychological stress (parental loss, adversities, abuses, brain injury)."They did not however, report the presence of any specific 'smoking gun' on the basis of their investigations, concluding that: "Only preliminary evidence exists that exposure to viral infection, substances or trauma increase the likelihood of BD." That also the various risk categories seemed to be 'correlated' with various other psychiatric and/or behavioural labels is also an important point to make in these days of overlap and RDoC.I personally am not surprised by these results. Appreciating that diagnostic labels do not equal homogeneous groups, and that just as when defining the genetics of something like BD, so defining the non-genetic correlates is an equally difficult task, studies of this type remind us just how complicated and individual the paths are bringing someone to such a clinically-relevant label. I say this with the understanding that just because an specific environmental (or non-environmental) risk factor might not be generalisable to all BD does not mean it can't exert a more pronounced effect in smaller groups or individuals. Lessons from other labels teach us this (see here).Whilst important to understand whether there may be specific environmental exposures that might be more generally linked to an enhanced risk of developing BD, I do believe that the [research] future lies in a couple of other areas looking at: (a) how many different types of BD are there and what are the 'other' conditions/labels potentially related? (b) what does the biology of BD look like and does it include some common targets with other labels? and (c) outside of the array of interventions put forward for managing symptoms (see here), are there other intervention strategies that might fit with the findings of (a) and (b)?To close, LEGO do it best...----------[1] Marangoni C. et al. The role of environmental exposures as risk factors for bipolar disorder: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. J Affect Disord. 2016 Jan 1;193:165-174.----------Marangoni C, Hernandez M, & Faedda GL (2016). The role of environmental exposures as risk factors for bipolar disorder: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Journal of affective disorders, 193, 165-174 PMID: 26773919... Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 09:11 PM

Effect of mobile phone place and its use on fertility of men

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Point:

Men who use mobile phone more frequently and place their phone close to their groin have higher chances of getting abnormal sperm concentration.

Published in:

Reproductive BioMedicine Online

Study Further:

Researchers have reported that male infertility constitutes about 30% to 40% of all infertility cases. They also reported that studies are showing continuous decline in semen quality since the start of the last century. One of the potential contributing factors in this regard is thought to be radio frequency electromagnetic radiation produced by cell phones.

In the study, researchers were trying to find the relation between cell-phone usage and semen quality. They gave questionnaire to 106 men, who were asked for semen analysis. Researchers found that talking on mobile phone for more than or equal to one hour per day and during the charging of device is related to higher rates of abnormal semen concentration. People with these things may show nearly two times more chances of having abnormal semen concentration. Moreover, men, who place their phones within the less than or equal to 50 cm of their groin have higher rate of abnormal sperm concentration (47.1% for people, who place phone close to groin area, versus 11.1% for other people).

“Our findings suggest that certain aspects of cell phone usage may bear adverse effects on sperm concentration. Investigation using large-scale studies is thus needed,” researchers wrote in the paper.


Zilberlicht, A., Wiener-Megnazi, Z., Sheinfeld, Y., Grach, B., Lahav-Baratz, S., & Dirnfeld, M. (2015). Habits of cell phone usage and sperm quality – does it warrant attention? Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 31 (3), 421-426 DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.06.006... Read more »

Zilberlicht, A., Wiener-Megnazi, Z., Sheinfeld, Y., Grach, B., Lahav-Baratz, S., & Dirnfeld, M. (2015) Habits of cell phone usage and sperm quality – does it warrant attention?. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 31(3), 421-426. DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.06.006  

  • February 3, 2016
  • 03:06 PM

Investigating potential fetal exposure to antidepressants

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Depression is a serious issue for expecting mothers. Left untreated, depression could have implications for a fetus’s health. But treating the disease during pregnancy may carry health risks for the developing fetus, which makes an expecting mother’s decision whether to take medication a very difficult one. To better understand how antidepressants affect fetuses during pregnancy, scientists studied exposure in mice.

... Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 12:29 PM

Gun-related murder rate in the U.S.

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Point:

In the U.S., people face 25 times more chances of being killed by guns as compared to many other developed nations.

Published in:

The American Journal of Medicine

Study Further:

In a study on “violent death rates”, researchers have reported that the rate of gun-related murder in the U.S. is about 25 times higher as compared to 22 other high-income countries. Moreover, gun-related suicide rate in the U.S. is about 8 times more than other high-income nations; even though the suicide rate in the U.S. is same as in other countries.

“Overall, our results show that the U.S., which has the most firearms per capita in the world, suffers disproportionately from firearms compared with other high-income countries,” said study author Erin Grinshteyn, an assistant professor at the School of Community Health Science at the University of Nevada-Reno. “These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us,” she said in a journal news release.

Researchers also found that people in the U.S. have 7 times more chances of dying due to violence and six times more chances of being killed accidently due to a gun.

“More than two-thirds of the homicides in the U.S. are firearm homicides and studies have suggested that the non-gun homicide rate in the U.S. may be high because the gun homicide rate is high,” Grinshteyn said.

“For example, offenders take into account the threat posed by their adversaries. Individuals are more likely to have lethal intent if they anticipate that their adversaries will be armed,” she explained.

The U.S. constitutes about 82% of all gun deaths. Moreover, the country has 90% of all women, who are killed by guns. A huge amount of children, i.e. about 99%, under the age of 14 years die as a result of gun violence, and about 92% of young people in the age range of 15 years and 24 years are killed by guns.

Results of the study are as follows:

“US homicide rates were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher.”

“For 15- to 24-year-olds, the gun homicide rate in the United States was 49.0 times higher.”

“Firearm-related suicide rates were 8.0 times higher in the United States, but the overall suicide rates were average.”

“Unintentional firearm deaths were 6.2 times higher in the United States.”

“The overall firearm death rate in the United States from all causes was 10.0 times higher.”

“Ninety percent of women, 91% of children aged 0 to 14 years, 92% of youth aged 15 to 24 years, and 82% of all people killed by firearms were from the United States.”


Grinshteyn, E., & Hemenway, D. (2015). Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-income OECD Countries, 2010 The American Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.025... Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 11:30 AM

The RAD-57 – Still Unsafe?

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

I decided to look for something I wrote that I have been wrong about. I thought about Masimo and their RAD-57. I had been very critical of Dr. Michael O’Reilly (then Executive Vice President of Masimo Corporation) for being an advocate of bad science, but he has been hired away by Apple.[1] He should be less dangerous with a telephone than he was with the RAD-57. At the time, he wrote –... Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 10:18 AM

Parenthood seems to have an opposite effect on how men and women perceive babies' emotions

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In our part of the world, a growing proportion of fathers are rolling up their sleeves and getting involved in early child care. This has prompted increased interest from psychologists in any similarities or differences in the way that mothers and fathers interact with their children. One finding is that fathers tend to engage in more physical play, whereas mothers spend more time playing with toys and interacting socially. A new study in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology takes a fresh approach, asking whether mothers and fathers perceive babies' emotional expressions differently. The results, while tentative, suggest that parenthood may lead women to become more sensitive to babies' emotions, while men actually become less sensitive.Christine Parsons at the University of Oxford and her colleagues asked 110 women and men to look at and rate 50 images of 10 babies expressing strongly positive and negative emotions, muted positive and negative emotions, or exhibiting a neutral expression. There were 29 mothers (average age 29), 26 fathers (average age 28), and 29 women who weren't mothers (average age 26), and 26 men who weren't fathers (average age 28). The parents all had infants aged less than 18 months. The participants rated the babies' emotions by using a vertical sliding scale from "very positive" to "very negative".Men and women who weren't parents didn't differ in the way that they rated the babies' emotions. In contrast, among the parents, mothers tended to rate the babies' positive emotions more positively and their strongest negative emotions more negatively, compared with the fathers. Moreover, mothers tended to give more extreme ratings to the babies' emotions than women who weren't mothers, whereas fathers showed a tendency to rate the babies' emotions as less intense than men who weren't fathers.Taken together, the researchers said this suggests that parenthood affects women's and men's perceptions of infant emotions differently: "It may be that motherhood increases women's perception of the intensity of emotion in infant faces, whereas fatherhood decreases men's perception," they said. These results are preliminary and there's a need now for longitudinal research that follows the same participants over time; the current study also doesn't speak to why this gender difference emerges after parenthood. However, the researchers speculated that "If mothers and fathers [really do] perceive the same infant emotional expressions in different ways, this may contribute to the sex differences in interaction styles that are frequently observed."_________________________________ Parsons, C., Young, K., Jegindoe Elmholdt, E., Stein, A., & Kringelbach, M. (2016). Interpreting infant emotional expressions: parenthood has differential effects on men and women The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-19 DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1141967 --further reading--Men are as motivated by cute baby faces as womenHow becoming a father changes your brain10 surprising things babies can doPost written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.Our free fortnightly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!

... Read more »

Parsons, C., Young, K., Jegindoe Elmholdt, E., Stein, A., & Kringelbach, M. (2016) Interpreting infant emotional expressions: parenthood has differential effects on men and women. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-19. DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1141967  

  • February 3, 2016
  • 09:36 AM

Video Tip of the Week: SGD’s Variant Viewer

by Mary in OpenHelix

Variant viewers are very popular. As we get more and more sequence data, the challenge of looking across many samples only gets more and more important. So I always like to see how different groups are doing this. I’m still waiting for the killer app on this–the pan-genome graphs with all the paths along different […]... Read more »

Cherry, J., Hong, E., Amundsen, C., Balakrishnan, R., Binkley, G., Chan, E., Christie, K., Costanzo, M., Dwight, S., Engel, S.... (2011) Saccharomyces Genome Database: the genomics resource of budding yeast. Nucleic Acids Research, 40(D1). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkr1029  

Sheppard, T., Hitz, B., Engel, S., Song, G., Balakrishnan, R., Binkley, G., Costanzo, M., Dalusag, K., Demeter, J., Hellerstedt, S.... (2016) The Genome Database Variant Viewer . Nucleic Acids Research, 44(D1). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkv1250  

  • February 3, 2016
  • 09:20 AM

Where Do “New” Viruses Come From?

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Zika. Ebola. MERS. HIV. Where Do “New” Viruses Come From?... Read more »

Simpson, D. (1964) Zika virus infection in man. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 58(4), 339-348. DOI: 10.1016/0035-9203(64)90201-9  

Koonin EV, Senkevich TG, & Dolja VV. (2006) The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells. Biology direct, 29. PMID: 16984643  

Baize, S., Pannetier, D., Oestereich, L., Rieger, T., Koivogui, L., Magassouba, N., Soropogui, B., Sow, M., Keïta, S., De Clerck, H.... (2014) Emergence of Zaire Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(15), 1418-1425. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1404505  

  • February 3, 2016
  • 08:45 AM

Plants That Don’t Sleep Will Take The Dirt Nap

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

If you don't let your plants sleep at night, they die....really! Several species of plants fold their leaves up and reduce their activity at night, every night. If kept from doing that, they turn brown and shrivel up. It's called nyctinasty, and it is different from tropic movements that are directed against specifically positioned stimuli. And what directs their movements? Water! - plants are hydraulic machines.... Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 08:30 AM

Homeless Youth With Pets Are Less Depressed Than Those Without

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A survey of homeless youth finds that pets bring benefits – and difficulties.23% of homeless youth have pets, according to research by Harmony Rhoades et al (University of Southern California). The team surveyed 398 homeless youth at two drop-in centres in Los Angeles. While previous studies have shown that pets can be very important to homeless young people, this is the first quantitative study to look at pet ownership, mental health, and the use of services amongst this group.88% of the young people in the study had attended the drop-in for food during the previous month. Other services they had used included clothes (69%), job help (52%), housing (49%) and health services (47%). Of those with pets, dogs were most common (53%) followed by cats (22%). Other pets included a hamster, rat, chinchilla and iguana. “Companion animals provide emotional support and represent important, loving relationships in the lives of many homeless youth,” say the authors. Pet owners had lower scores for loneliness and depression, and reported many benefits to having a pet. 85% agreed that “my pet keeps me company,” 79% said the pet “makes me feel loved,” and 73% said the pet “makes me feel safe.” There was no difference in having been hurt or threatened on the street, but those with pets were more likely to report having carried a weapon. There were also no differences in being hit or seeing someone be hit at home. However, amongst those who were living with family, there was a trend for those with pets to be more likely to experience or witness violence in the home. This suggests some young people may be staying in a violent situation because it’s better for their pet.The biggest difficulty for those with pets was that half of them (49%) said it was harder for them to stay at a shelter. Most shelters do not allow pets. Although those with and without pets were equally likely to be living on the street, only 4% of those with pets were staying in a shelter or housing program, compared to 17% of those without pets.Other problems included it being tricky to find housing (16%) and hard to see a doctor (11%). Those with pets were less likely than those without to have accessed some services (housing and job help) but not others (including food, clothes and health services).While 60% said they made sure their pets ate before them, a few reported difficulties getting enough food for their pet (11%) and almost a quarter (23%) agreed that “strangers give me a hard time for having a pet.” Most of them did not find it easy to see a vet. These findings show that programs that provide pet food and vet care are an important service for homeless youth.Homelessness includes a range of circumstances. 49% of the participants in this study were living directly on the street and 14% were in a shelter or program for the homeless. Of the other housing situations, some were staying with family, friends, or a romantic partner. Many of them had experienced violence; 55% reported being hurt badly in a fight in the past year, and 46% had been hit at home.Against this backdrop, the fact so many said their pets protected them and helped them feel safe and loved suggests pets are playing an important role. The authors say, “Housing and other services must be sensitive to the needs of homeless youth with pets.”ReferenceRhoades, H., Winetrobe, H., & Rice, E. (2014). Pet Ownership Among Homeless Youth: Associations with Mental Health, Service Utilization and Housing Status Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 46 (2), 237-244 DOI: 10.1007/s10578-014-0463-5 Photo: Brad Steels / Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit