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  • October 5, 2015
  • 06:48 PM

Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.... Read more »

Kleiman, S., Watson, H., Bulik-Sullivan, E., Huh, E., Tarantino, L., Bulik, C., & Carroll, I. (2015) The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000247  

  • October 5, 2015
  • 04:12 PM

Weird colours of bones and teeth

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

I like making lists about living things. Colour is a great starting point for such lists, whether they're about body parts infected by microbes or the origins of science words. For this post, I'm going to look at how bones and teeth can take on a bunch of strange colours.The bones of the eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), a resident of trees dotting the eastern parts of Canada and the US, glow pink if you shine an ultraviolet light on them. This weirdness is due to uroporphyrin I, an int........ Read more »

  • October 4, 2015
  • 01:39 PM

Brain networking: behind the cognitive control of thoughts

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The human brain does not come with an operating manual. However, a group of scientists have developed a way to convert structural brain imaging techniques into “wiring diagrams” of connections between brain regions. Three researchers from UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences — Michael Miller, Scott Grafton and Matt Cieslak — used the structure of neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert cognitive control ........ Read more »

Gu, S., Pasqualetti, F., Cieslak, M., Telesford, Q., Yu, A., Kahn, A., Medaglia, J., Vettel, J., Miller, M., Grafton, S.... (2015) Controllability of structural brain networks. Nature Communications, 8414. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9414  

  • October 1, 2015
  • 02:41 PM

Coincidence or conspiracy? Studies investigate conspiracist thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking ........ Read more »

  • September 28, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

Mass Grave Found in California Reveals Prehistoric Violence Against ‘Outsiders’

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

An ancient mass grave, uncovered during the construction of a shopping mall outside San Francisco, contains the bodies of seven men who appear to have been victims of “mass homicide” some 1,150 years ago, scientists say.
... Read more »

Eerkens JW, Carlson T, Malhi RS, Blake J, Bartelink EJ, Barfod GH, Estes A, Garibay R, Glessner J, Greenwald AM.... (2015) Isotopic and genetic analyses of a mass grave in central California: Implications for precontact hunter-gatherer warfare. American journal of physical anthropology. PMID: 26331533  

  • September 27, 2015
  • 02:45 PM

Breaking the anxiety cycle

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A woman who won’t drive long distances because she has panic attacks in the car. A man who has contamination fears so intense he cannot bring himself to use public bathrooms. A woman who can’t go to church because she fears enclosed spaces. All of these people have two things in common: they have an anxiety disorder. They’re also parents.... Read more »

  • September 26, 2015
  • 05:14 PM

A Primetime Psychology Experiment: Does TV Affect Behavior?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A remarkable paper just published in PLoS ONE reports on what is, I think, one of the largest psychological experiments of all time.

Researchers Elizabeth L. Paluck and colleagues partnered with a TV network to insert certain themes (or messages) into popular dramas shown on US TV. They then looked to see whether these themes had an effect on real world behavior, ranging from Google searches to drink-driving arrests.

The study was based on three prime time Spanish-language dramas (tele... Read more »

Paluck EL, Lagunes P, Green DP, Vavreck L, Peer L, & Gomila R. (2015) Does Product Placement Change Television Viewers' Social Behavior?. PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26398217  

  • September 25, 2015
  • 03:08 PM

It’s alive!! Study adds to evidence that viruses are alive

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Classifying something as living isn’t as easy as it sounds, after all we are all atoms, so when do atoms go from nonliving to living? Despite the complexities of viruses, we have historically deemed them nonliving. However, a new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized to........ Read more »

Arshan Nasir, & Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. (2015) A phylogenomic data-driven exploration of viral origins and evolution. Science Advances. info:/10.1126/sciadv.1500527

  • September 23, 2015
  • 03:27 PM

What motivates ‘Facebook stalking’ after a romantic breakup?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Social networking makes it easy to monitor the status and activities of a former romantic partner, an often unhealthy use of social media known as interpersonal electronic surveillance (IES) or, more commonly, “Facebook stalking.” Psychological and relationship factors and how individuals cope with the termination of a romantic relationship can help predict their use of online surveillance, according to a new study.... Read more »

  • September 23, 2015
  • 09:09 AM

Who Died In The Leprosarium of Saint-Thomas d’Aizier?

by Katy Meyers Emery in Bones Don't Lie

Leprosy is a fascinating disease- not just for its effects, but for the social implications of having the disease. Leprosy was an epidemic disease that not only infected millions of […]... Read more »

  • September 22, 2015
  • 09:23 PM

Who is a real refugee?

by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move

The refugee crisis in Europe has caught a lot of global media attention. Countries at the entry points and their official actions, as well civil organizations, get a lot of attention in online media; furthermore, social media comments quite often … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 22, 2015
  • 05:02 PM

Genetic analysis supports prediction that spontaneous rare mutations cause half of autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team led by researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has published a new analysis of data on the genetics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One commonly held theory is that autism results from the chance combinations of commonly occurring gene mutations, which are otherwise harmless. But the authors’ work provides support for a different theory.... Read more »

Ivan Iossifov, Dan Levy, Jeremy Allen, Kenny Ye, Michael Ronemus, Yoon-ha Lee, Boris Yamrom, & Michael Wigler. (2015) Low load for disruptive mutations in autism genes and their biased transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America. info:/

  • September 18, 2015
  • 05:34 AM

What Do Bats and Plants Have in Common? High-pitched Screaming!

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Polyglot like a pitcher plant or cryptolectic like a sperm whale?

A: “Pitcher Tower, this is Bat K hardwickii, established ILS 16. Do you copy me?”
B: “Bat K hardwickii, clear to land. Please confirm: are you ready to discharge the cargo?”
A: “Roger. Affirmative.”

This is how I imagined a conversation between the tropical carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes hemsleyana and the bat Kerivoula hardwickii would go. No, I am not on drugs; bats and plants can........ Read more »

Cantor M, Shoemaker LG, Cabral RB, Flores CO, Varga M, & Whitehead H. (2015) Multilevel animal societies can emerge from cultural transmission. Nature communications, 8091. PMID: 26348688  

Schöner MG, Schöner CR, Simon R, Grafe TU, Puechmaille SJ, Ji LL, & Kerth G. (2015) Bats Are Acoustically Attracted to Mutualistic Carnivorous Plants. Current biology : CB, 25(14), 1911-6. PMID: 26166777  

  • September 17, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

America’s Largest Earthwork, Cahokia’s Monks Mound, May Have Been Built in Only 20 Years, Study Says

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

The search to determine how native engineers built Monk’s Mound — North America’s biggest prehistoric earthen structure — has turned up some new and crucial, but very small, clues: the seeds and spores of ancient plants.... Read more »

Lopinot, N., Schilling, T., Fritz, G., & Kelly, J. (2015) Implications of Plant Remains from the East Face of Monks Mound. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, 40(3), 209-230. DOI: 10.1179/2327427115Y.0000000003  

  • September 16, 2015
  • 04:00 PM

Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Research has found evidence that spending time in nature provides protections against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more. How this exposure to green space leads to better health has remained a mystery. After reviewing hundreds of studies examining nature’s effects on health, researchers believe the answer lies in nature’s ability to enhance the functioning of the body’s immune system.... Read more »

  • September 14, 2015
  • 03:05 PM

Viruses flourish in guts of healthy babies

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Bacteria aren't the only nonhuman invaders to colonize the gut shortly after a baby's birth. Viruses also set up house there, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. All together, these invisible residents are thought to play important roles in human health.... Read more »

Lim, E., Zhou, Y., Zhao, G., Bauer, I., Droit, L., Ndao, I., Warner, B., Tarr, P., Wang, D., & Holtz, L. (2015) Early life dynamics of the human gut virome and bacterial microbiome in infants. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3950  

  • September 13, 2015
  • 03:00 PM

Homo naledi in a lawn chair

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

It is a great relief that Homo naledi, a most curious critter, was announced to the world on Thursday. I’ve been working on these fossils since May 2014, and it was really hard to keep my trap shut about it for over a year. I was in London for the ESHE conference last week when **it […]... Read more »

Berger LR, Hawks J, de Ruiter DJ, Churchill SE, Schmid P, Delezene LK, Kivell TL, Garvin HM, Williams SA, DeSilva JM.... (2015) Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife. PMID: 26354291  

  • September 12, 2015
  • 03:37 PM

Female mice sing for sex

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

They don’t use gondolas or croon like Sinatra. But scientists have known for a long time that male mice belt out something like love songs to females when the time seems right to them. What they didn’t know – until a University of Delaware researcher developed a sophisticated array of microphones and a sound analysis chamber – was that female mice were singing back.... Read more »

  • September 10, 2015
  • 01:44 PM

The First Rising Star Results: Totally @#!$&*% Badass

by Andrew White in AndyWhiteAnthropology

This morning's announcement of the first results from the Rising Star Expedition did not disappoint: a 35-page open access paper with 47 authors (Berger et al. 2015) describing fossil remains (Homo naledi) from at least 15 individuals recovered since 2013 from a cave in South Africa, and another paper by Dirks et al. (2015) describing the physical context of the fossils. I'm friends with several of the authors, and I am so happy for them both personally and professionally.  And I'm jealous......... Read more »

Berger, L., Hawks, J., de Ruiter, D., Churchill, S., Schmid, P., Delezene, L., Kivell, T., Garvin, H., Williams, S., DeSilva, J.... (2015) , a new species of the genus from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa . eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.09560  

  • September 10, 2015
  • 07:18 AM

Bitter gifts: migrants’ exclusive inclusion

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

My migration newsfeed in the past few weeks has been dominated by news about the Syrian refugee crisis and the various European and international responses. But there have also been two other noteworthy migration news: one relates to the changing … Continue reading →... Read more »

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