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  • December 19, 2014
  • 10:40 AM
  • 0 views

Dogs Not Great at Math (Wolves Are Better)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Even a brilliant dog may not be able to count as high as the number of feet she has. In a cheese cube counting challenge, dogs struggled to prove they have any number sense at all. Embarrassingly for the dogs, some wolves took the exact same test and passed it. This may be a hint about what dogs lost when they moved to a cushy life of domestication.

At the Wolf Science Center in Austria, Friederike Range and her colleagues raise both wolves and dogs by hand, then train them to take part i........ Read more »

Range F, Jenikejew J, Schröder I, & Virányi Z. (2014) Difference in quantity discrimination in dogs and wolves. Frontiers in psychology, 1299. PMID: 25477834  

  • December 19, 2014
  • 10:35 AM
  • 2 views

Mom, where do birds come from?

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

If you should ever get this question, the answer is rather short: “according to recent findings, birds are descended from maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs.” Makes sense, right?... Read more »

Xu, X., Zhou, Z., Dudley, R., Mackem, S., Chuong, C., Erickson, G., & Varricchio, D. (2014) An integrative approach to understanding bird origins. Science, 346(6215), 1253293-1253293. DOI: 10.1126/science.1253293  

  • December 19, 2014
  • 07:52 AM
  • 11 views

The stench of compatibility: How otters identify one another, and potential mates by smelling their poop

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

Otters don’t tend to be very visible to us, but they are more abundant than we might perceive them to be. Otters mostly live in isolation of one another, yet they manage to remotely communicate to one another without the aid of modern technology that we so often depend upon for communication.

On this blog, I previously wrote how otters communicate with one another using their spraints (faeces). They use them to mark their territory and to leave messages for other otters. As part of the rese........ Read more »

Kean, E., Chadwick, E., & Müller, C. (2014) Scent signals individual identity and country of origin in otters. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2014.12.004  

  • December 19, 2014
  • 04:44 AM
  • 15 views

Uric acid and bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Bipolar disorder appearing again on this blog this week? It's just the way that the papers fall...With a title like: 'Increased uric acid levels in bipolar disorder subjects during different phases of illness' I was hardly likely to pass up the opportunity to discuss the paper by Umberto Albert and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that there may be a lot more to see when it comes to "a purinergic dysfunction associated with BD [bipolar disorder]".I lost the defuser gun when I mispla........ Read more »

Albert U, De Cori D, Aguglia A, Barbaro F, Bogetto F, & Maina G. (2014) Increased uric acid levels in bipolar disorder subjects during different phases of illness. Journal of affective disorders, 170-175. PMID: 25462413  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 11:22 PM
  • 26 views

Top 4 of 2014: Your Favourite Canine Science Posts

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

As December rolls into its second half, and the days warm up - or cool down - depending on where you are situated on the globe, we wanted to say thank you for joining us in 2014 - we are continually blown away with the popular and supportive community we have around us at Do You Believe in Dog? here on the blog, on Facebook and also on Twitter. Taking our lead from Companion Animal Psychology, we decided to jump into some statistics (because hey, we are scientists!) to see wh........ Read more »

Wong-Parodi Gabrielle, & Strauss Benjamin H. (2014) Team science for science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25225381  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 02:35 PM
  • 35 views

Gene fragments linked to brain development and autism

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

While the anti-vaccine movement enjoys the simple (and very wrong) answer to the cause of autism, there are people who want the actual truth. This drive had lead to a slew of causes (and risk factors) for autism in recent times. Now scientists have found that very small segments of genes called “microexons” influence how proteins interact with each other in the nervous system. In turn, this opens up a new line of research into the cause of autism.... Read more »

Irimia, M., Weatheritt, R., Ellis, J., Parikshak, N., Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis, T., Babor, M., Quesnel-Vallières, M., Tapial, J., Raj, B., O’Hanlon, D.... (2014) A Highly Conserved Program of Neuronal Microexons Is Misregulated in Autistic Brains. Cell, 159(7), 1511-1523. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.11.035  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 09:36 AM
  • 32 views

What’s the Answer? (FANTOM5 promoter atlas)

by Mary in OpenHelix

Biostars is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at Biostars that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here […]... Read more »

Forrest Alistair R. R., Michael Rehli, J. Kenneth Baillie, Michiel J. L. de Hoon, Vanja Haberle, Timo Lassmann, Ivan V. Kulakovskiy, Marina Lizio, Masayoshi Itoh, & Robin Andersson. (2014) A promoter-level mammalian expression atlas. Nature, 507(7493), 462-470. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13182  

Severin Jessica, Jayson Harshbarger, Hideya Kawaji, Carsten O Daub, Yoshihide Hayashizaki, Nicolas Bertin, & Alistair R R Forrest. (2014) Interactive visualization and analysis of large-scale sequencing datasets using ZENBU. Nature Biotechnology, 32(3), 217-219. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt.2840  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 05:08 AM
  • 36 views

Autistic traits in adults with epilepsy

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Increased autistic characteristics found in adults with epilepsy without an ASD [autism spectrum disorder] diagnosis suggest that epilepsy syndromes may incorporate behavioral aspects of autism in the absence of some of its core cognitive features."Contrariwise, if you think we're alive you ought to speak to us.That was the intriguing finding reported by Sally Ann Wakeford and colleagues [1] who examined test performance on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and "systemizing ........ Read more »

Wakeford S, Hinvest N, Ring H, & Brosnan M. (2014) Autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy. Epilepsy , 203-207. PMID: 25461216  

  • December 17, 2014
  • 02:54 PM
  • 39 views

Epigenetic changes and autism

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Despite what you may think, the supposed “explosion” of children diagnosed with autism can directly attributed to better diagnosing techniques and — more importantly — the change of definition to make Autism spectrum disorders more broad. Thankfully more causes of autism have been found, none of them remotely related to vaccines and now scientists have found that chemical modifications to DNA’s packaging—known as epigenetic changes—can activate or repress genes involved in autism s........ Read more »

Gao, Z., Lee, P., Stafford, J., von Schimmelmann, M., Schaefer, A., & Reinberg, D. (2014) An AUTS2–Polycomb complex activates gene expression in the CNS. Nature, 516(7531), 349-354. DOI: 10.1038/nature13921  

Ntziachristos, P., Tsirigos, A., Welstead, G., Trimarchi, T., Bakogianni, S., Xu, L., Loizou, E., Holmfeldt, L., Strikoudis, A., King, B.... (2014) Contrasting roles of histone 3 lysine 27 demethylases in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Nature, 514(7523), 513-517. DOI: 10.1038/nature13605  

  • December 17, 2014
  • 11:00 AM
  • 1 view

What is the difference between the GAE and the VL hypotheisis?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Today a commentary was published in BBS in which the gradual audiomotor evolution (GAE) hypothesis is proposed as an alternative interpretation to the auditory timing mechanisms discussed in the BBS target article by Ackermann et al. (2014). ... Read more »

Merchant, H., & Honing, H. (2013) Are non-human primates capable of rhythmic entrainment? Evidence for the gradual audiomotor evolution hypothesis. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7(274). info:/

  • December 17, 2014
  • 09:38 AM
  • 49 views

Video Tip of the Week: yEd Graph Editor for visualizing pathways and networks

by Mary in OpenHelix

This week’s video tip of the week closes out a series that began last month. I started to explore one gene co-expression tool, which led me to another tool for visualization, and so on. This week’s tool is the final piece that you need to know about if you want to create the kind of […]... Read more »

  • December 17, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 55 views

Christmas Greenery - Friend Or Foe?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Your Christmas tree can kill you, but it can also save your life. The same holds true for mistletoe, ivy, and holly. Each is toxic, but each has uses in medicine. The least toxic Christmas plant is the most often thought of as poisonous – poinsettias really aren’t that bad, kids would have to eat 500 leaves to bring on the nastiest effects.... Read more »

  • December 17, 2014
  • 07:11 AM
  • 46 views

Humpback Whales Sing For Their Supper

by beredim in Strange Animals

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are known to employ group foraging techniques, however details on how individuals coordinate with each other still remain a mystery.

A new study by Susan Parks, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with a consortium of other researchers examined the importance of specific auditory cues that these whales emit... Read more »

Parks SE, Cusano DA, Stimpert AK, Weinrich MT, Friedlaender AS, & Wiley DN. (2014) Evidence for acoustic communication among bottom foraging humpback whales. Scientific reports, 7508. PMID: 25512188  

  • December 17, 2014
  • 04:29 AM
  • 35 views

Folate receptor autoantibodies and (some) schizophrenia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I am the league's director, Silas Ramsbottom.Upon reading the paper published by Ramaekers and colleagues [1] talking about the use of folinic acid in cases of schizophrenia as a function of the presence of "Auto-antibodies against folate receptor alpha (FRα)", I raised a little smile. Not only because the authors suggested that there may be quite a lot more to see in this area on top of some already interesting discussions about the folate cycle and schizophrenia, but also because of the ........ Read more »

Ramaekers VT, Thöny B, Sequeira JM, Ansseau M, Philippe P, Boemer F, Bours V, & Quadros EV. (2014) Folinic acid treatment for schizophrenia associated with folate receptor autoantibodies. Molecular genetics and metabolism. PMID: 25456743  

  • December 16, 2014
  • 04:29 PM
  • 48 views

Rift Valley Fever Virus and Autophagy: MyD88 and DRAM-1

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

Upon viral entry and release of the viral genome, viral RNA and DNA can be recognised by Toll-like Receptors (TLR), which once stimulated induce the expression of specific genes such as Interferon that are part of the antiviral response. TLR mediated signalling pathways predominantly signal through interferon regulatory factors (IRF) as well as Nuclear Factor-κB (NF-κB) and AP-1, eliciting the induction of the Interferon type-1 response and the expression of inflammatory cytokines as........ Read more »

Moy, R., Gold, B., Molleston, J., Schad, V., Yanger, K., Salzano, M., Yagi, Y., Fitzgerald, K., Stanger, B., Soldan, S.... (2014) Antiviral Autophagy Restricts Rift Valley Fever Virus Infection and Is Conserved from Flies to Mammals. Immunity, 40(1), 51-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.10.020  

Shi CS, & Kehrl JH. (2008) MyD88 and Trif target Beclin 1 to trigger autophagy in macrophages. The Journal of biological chemistry, 283(48), 33175-82. PMID: 18772134  

Mah LY, O'Prey J, Baudot AD, Hoekstra A, & Ryan KM. (2012) DRAM-1 encodes multiple isoforms that regulate autophagy. Autophagy, 8(1), 18-28. PMID: 22082963  

Wang RC, Wei Y, An Z, Zou Z, Xiao G, Bhagat G, White M, Reichelt J, & Levine B. (2012) Akt-mediated regulation of autophagy and tumorigenesis through Beclin 1 phosphorylation. Science (New York, N.Y.), 338(6109), 956-9. PMID: 23112296  

Narayanan A, Amaya M, Voss K, Chung M, Benedict A, Sampey G, Kehn-Hall K, Luchini A, Liotta L, Bailey C.... (2014) Reactive oxygen species activate NFκB (p65) and p53 and induce apoptosis in RVFV infected liver cells. Virology, 270-86. PMID: 24418562  

Liang Q, Chang B, Brulois KF, Castro K, Min CK, Rodgers MA, Shi M, Ge J, Feng P, Oh BH.... (2013) Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus K7 modulates Rubicon-mediated inhibition of autophagosome maturation. Journal of virology, 87(22), 12499-503. PMID: 24027317  

Mukhopadhyay S, Panda PK, Sinha N, Das DN, & Bhutia SK. (2014) Autophagy and apoptosis: where do they meet?. Apoptosis : an international journal on programmed cell death, 19(4), 555-66. PMID: 24415198  

Liang C, Oh BH, & Jung JU. (2014) Novel functions of viral anti-apoptotic factors. Nature reviews. Microbiology. PMID: 25363821  

  • December 16, 2014
  • 02:37 PM
  • 46 views

Methamphetamine use and the onset of parkinson’s

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

We’ve all seen the PSA’s trying to show the effects of meth use and in particular, what it does to your teeth. Typically, when it comes to drug use, people will not look at the long term side effects from their addiction instead thinking in the short term. This is unfortunate because as it turns out, methamphetamine users are three times more at risk for getting Parkinson’s disease than non-illicit drug users with even worse news for women, new research shows.... Read more »

  • December 16, 2014
  • 11:38 AM
  • 1 view

Spying on Animals' Movements to Learn How They're Feeling

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Rory Wilson recalls some nervous waterbirds.

"I've seen pelicans in Galapagos, in the port," the Swansea University biologist says. One set of birds was standing by the fish-gutting area and waiting for scraps, while another group stood out of the fray in some nearby bushes. Although both sets of pelicans acted the same, a closer look at the birds waiting for fish scraps revealed that they were quaking slightly. The tips of their wings trembled.

Wilson thinks the tremor in the pelicans... Read more »

Wilson, R., Grundy, E., Massy, R., Soltis, J., Tysse, B., Holton, M., Cai, Y., Parrott, A., Downey, L., Qasem, L.... (2014) Wild state secrets: ultra-sensitive measurement of micro-movement can reveal internal processes in animals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12(10), 582-587. DOI: 10.1890/140068  

  • December 16, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 60 views

Giving, Getting, and Grey Matter

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

It’s time to search out Christmas gifts! Let brain research guide you in your giving. We now know why women are often better at picking out gifts, and we know that you expect people to like your homemade gifts more than you should. We have learned that we give gifts to make ourselves feel good, and that too many gifts can screw your kids up for life. But most importantly, it actually is the thought that counts! Merry Christmas.... Read more »

Moll, J., Krueger, F., Zahn, R., Pardini, M., de Oliveira-Souza, R., & Grafman, J. (2006) Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(42), 15623-15628. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0604475103  

  • December 16, 2014
  • 04:41 AM
  • 61 views

Thioredoxin... a new 'diagnosis indicator' for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

My name's Buttercup. You've met Baron von Shush."Our study demonstrated that serum TRX [thioredoxin] levels were associated with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], and elevated levels could be considered as a novel, independent diagnosis indicator of ASD." So was the conclusion reported by Qing-biao Zhang and colleagues [1] looking at serum levels of TRX in 80 children diagnosed with an ASD compared against "100 sex and age matched typically developing children".I'll freely admi........ Read more »

Zhang QB, Gao SJ, & Zhao HX. (2014) Thioredoxin: A novel, independent diagnosis marker in children with autism. International journal of developmental neuroscience : the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience. PMID: 25433158  

  • December 15, 2014
  • 03:07 PM
  • 71 views

Finding the neurons that deal with distraction

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

What’s that over there!? The next time you are around people, count how many people are on their phone? Distractions invade every aspect of our lives. Status updates, text messages, email notifications all threaten to steal our attention away from the moment. While we fight the urge to check the phone, our brains are making constant judgment calls about where to focus attention. The brain must continually filter important information from irrelevant interference.... Read more »

Ahrens, S., Jaramillo, S., Yu, K., Ghosh, S., Hwang, G., Paik, R., Lai, C., He, M., Huang, Z., & Li, B. (2014) ErbB4 regulation of a thalamic reticular nucleus circuit for sensory selection. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3897  

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