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  • August 29, 2015
  • 01:48 PM
  • 12 views

Confidence in parenting could help break cycle of abuse

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

To understand how confidence in parenting may predict parenting behaviors in women who were abused as children, psychologists have found that mothers who experienced more types of maltreatment as children are more critical of their ability to parent successfully. Intervention programs for moms at-risk, therefore, should focus on bolstering mothers’ self-confidence–not just teach parenting skills, the researchers said.... Read more »

  • August 29, 2015
  • 05:17 AM
  • 33 views

Maternal obesity and offspring autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "The meta-analysis results support an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children of women who were obese during pregnancy. However, further study is warranted to confirm these results."That was the conclusion reached by Ya-Min Li and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-reviewed data currently available on how maternal weight might impact on offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes. Without wishing to blame or stigmatise (this is a blog based on the examination of cold,........ Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 02:13 PM
  • 42 views

Bacteria can colour our insides!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Included in the vast array of molecules put together by bacteria are pigments, with a blotch of colour often marking the presence of a large bacterial population in nature. In addition to green stains on damp concrete and vibrant rainbows of ooze in hot springs, pigment-making bacteria will very occasionally announce their presence by infecting us and subsequently changing the colour of our body parts and fluids. Weird eh?The king of turning people a different colour is Serratia marcescens. This........ Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 01:59 PM
  • 43 views

Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a new study. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.... Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 01:28 PM
  • 43 views

Swarming Squid Sperm: A Strategy in Sneakiness

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Sneaky swarming squid sperm. Yeah, let’s talk about that. ‘Cause you hear that and you gotta know, right? But before all the sperm and the swarming is the amorous squid. Let’s start there.As you may expect, squid have both a male and a female. Male squid produce spermatophores, packets of sperm that they can transfer to the females. Female squid carry around these sperm packets until they are ready to spawn. That can be quite some time in some species. When they are ready, they will use th........ Read more »

Hirohashi, N., Alvarez, L., Shiba, K., Fujiwara, E., Iwata, Y., Mohri, T., Inaba, K., Chiba, K., Ochi, H., Supuran, C.... (2013) Sperm from Sneaker Male Squids Exhibit Chemotactic Swarming to CO2. Current Biology, 23(9), 775-781. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.040  

  • August 28, 2015
  • 12:03 PM
  • 44 views

Chickens Help Scientists Study Dinosaur Death Pose

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



To address a long-standing mystery in paleontology, scientists went to the grocery store.

Many dinosaur fossils appear in the same pose, not so much "terrible lizard" as "terrible limbo accident." Their tails are stretched out and their necks thrown back grotesquely. But it's not clear why this is. Researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada got a fresh take on the puzzle—or, at least, a recently killed and frozen take—by using dead chickens.

"Chickens are living dinosaurs, a........ Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 04:05 AM
  • 52 views

Autoantibodies not implicated in cases of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Contrary results are a common feature of the autism peer-reviewed research landscape. No sooner does one group publish the next 'big thing' when it comes to the singular term 'autism' than seemingly opposite results follow suit.So it is with the paper under discussion today by Simran Kalra and colleagues [1] (open-access) who concluded that: "The idea that autoantibodies represent an underlying cause or are biomarkers for autism pathophysiology is not supported by this report."Autoantibodies by ........ Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 01:45 PM
  • 57 views

HIV particles do not cause AIDS, our own immune cells do

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers have revealed that HIV does not cause AIDS by the virus’s direct effect on the host’s immune cells, but rather through the cells’ lethal influence on one another. HIV can either be spread through free-floating virus that directly infect the host immune cells or an infected cell can pass the virus to an uninfected cell.... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 08:10 AM
  • 62 views

What Does Jimmy Carter Have Against Worms?

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

You may have heard last week that former President Jimmy Carter wants to wipe the guinea worm out. Read why and how he is achieving this goal.... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 03:58 AM
  • 68 views

Fish oils preventing psychosis: long-term effects?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This is the first study to show, to the best of our knowledge, that a 12-week intervention with omega-3 PUFAs [polyunsaturated fatty acids] prevented transition to full-threshold psychotic disorder and led to sustained symptomatic and functional improvements in young people with an at-risk mental state for 7 years (median)."So said the quite remarkable findings reported by Paul Amminger and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who followed up their previous research study [2] l........ Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 03:40 AM
  • 47 views

Filtering sequence alignment reduces the quality of single-gene trees

by Christophe Dessimoz in Open Reading Frame

The recent publication of our paper “Current methods for automated filtering of multiple sequence alignments frequently worsen single-gene phylogenetic inference” in Systematic Biology is the conclusion of 5 years of work, most of which was spent in peer-review. I will write a separate post on the issue of pre- vs. post-publication in a later post; for now, I’ll summarise our main results and try to provide an intuition for them.

Does automatic alignment filtering lead to bett........ Read more »

  • August 26, 2015
  • 05:54 PM
  • 55 views

Non-Visual Processing in the Visual Cortex

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Are there areas of the cerebral cortex purely devoted to vision? Or can the "visual" cortex, under some conditions, respond to sounds? Two papers published recently address this question.



First off, Micah Murray and colleagues of Switzerland discuss The multisensory function of primary visual cortex in humans in a review paper published in Neuropsychologia.

They criticize the conventional view that the primary visual cortex (in the occipital lobe) is little more than a reception point ... Read more »

Bedny M, Richardson H, & Saxe R. (2015) "Visual" Cortex Responds to Spoken Language in Blind Children. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 35(33), 11674-81. PMID: 26290244  

Murray MM, Thelen A, Thut G, Romei V, Martuzzi R, & Matusz PJ. (2015) The multisensory function of primary visual cortex in humans. Neuropsychologia. PMID: 26275965  

  • August 26, 2015
  • 03:30 PM
  • 52 views

A ripple effect: skipping a single exon in PTBP1 leads to changes in splicing and neural differentiation

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

The splicing regulator PTBP1 undergoes is alternatively spliced in mammals to exclude a single exon. Here, researchers at the University of Toronto show for the first time how this uniquely evolved splice isoform functions to facilitate neural differentiation.... Read more »

Gueroussov S, Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis T, Irimia M, Raj B, Lin ZY, Gingras AC, & Blencowe BJ. (2015) RNA SPLICING. An alternative splicing event amplifies evolutionary differences between vertebrates. Science (New York, N.Y.), 349(6250), 868-73. PMID: 26293963  

  • August 26, 2015
  • 01:30 PM
  • 45 views

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That’s the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, suggesting that these tiny filaments may lash together the sperm and its target.... Read more »

  • August 26, 2015
  • 11:41 AM
  • 48 views

Inadvertently edible tiny food-based animals

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Bacteria and fungi are basically everywhere, so it's not much of a surprise to find them in food. Heck, unless they're Salmonella or have managed to multiply to the point of being visible or stinking things up, we usually don't care. Moving up a bit on the size scale, there are a couple of tiny animals inhabiting foods we eat. These include itty bitty worms living in artisanal vinegars and mites residing upon classy European cheeses.The vinegar eelworm (Turbatrix aceti) is a resilient microbe-ea........ Read more »

  • August 26, 2015
  • 09:40 AM
  • 45 views

Video Tip of the Week: Human Metabolome Database, HMDB

by Mary in OpenHelix

The HMDB, or Human Metabolome DataBase, is another nice data collection and tools from the Wishart lab. Although we have mentioned it in the past, because of it’s emphasis more on small molecules it isn’t something we covered in detail. But with this new video that’s available, I thought it was a good time to […]... Read more »

Wishart, D., Jewison, T., Guo, A., Wilson, M., Knox, C., Liu, Y., Djoumbou, Y., Mandal, R., Aziat, F., Dong, E.... (2012) HMDB 3.0--The Human Metabolome Database in 2013. Nucleic Acids Research, 41(D1). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gks1065  

  • August 26, 2015
  • 08:45 AM
  • 47 views

Twins That Share More Than Clothes

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Not every pair of monozygotic twins have the same chromosomes. Mosaic twins can be boy and girl, yet both babies come from a single zygote. The strange part is that the tests we run to prevent IVF problems may actually contribute to mosaic twinning. And have you heard of polar body twins? They’re ½ identical twins!... Read more »

Souter, V., Parisi, M., Nyholt, D., Kapur, R., Henders, A., Opheim, K., Gunther, D., Mitchell, M., Glass, I., & Montgomery, G. (2006) A case of true hermaphroditism reveals an unusual mechanism of twinning. Human Genetics, 121(2), 179-185. DOI: 10.1007/s00439-006-0279-x  

Tachon, G., Lefort, G., Puechberty, J., Schneider, A., Jeandel, C., Boulot, P., Prodhomme, O., Meyer, P., Taviaux, S., Touitou, I.... (2014) Discordant sex in monozygotic XXY/XX twins: a case report. Human Reproduction, 29(12), 2814-2820. DOI: 10.1093/humrep/deu275  

  • August 26, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 39 views

Virtual Normals for Somatic Mutation Detection

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

In cancer genomics, we typically identify somatic alterations by sequencing DNA from both a tumor and a matched normal “control” sample from the same patient. The Cancer Genome Atlas and other large-scale efforts to characterize tumor genomes have typically used this approach, because it allows mutation callers (like VarScan 2) to distinguish between inherited variation and acquired (somatic) […]... Read more »

  • August 26, 2015
  • 03:51 AM
  • 42 views

Atopic dermatitis and autism: systematically reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I briefly want to bring the paper from Lucia Billeci and colleagues [1] to your attention today and the suggestion that following their systematic review of the current peer-reviewed literature, there seemed to be something of "an association between ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and AD [atopic dermatitis]."Atopic, by the way, refers to sensitivity to allergens, and in the case of AD, how such sensitivity manifests on the skin causing itchiness, redness and the skin to ........ Read more »

Billeci L, Tonacci A, Tartarisco G, Ruta L, Pioggia G, & Gangemi S. (2015) Association Between Atopic Dermatitis and Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review. American journal of clinical dermatology. PMID: 26254000  

  • August 25, 2015
  • 03:13 PM
  • 69 views

Microbes and the mind: Who's pulling the strings?

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

There are many examples throughout nature of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites influencing the neurobiology and behavior of their hosts. For example, the rabies virus enters the nervous system almost immediately after a bite or scratch and travels to the brain, where it influences neural activity to make aggressive behavior more likely. This, of course, is beneficial for the virus as it increases the probability its infected host will make contact with another susceptible host........ Read more »

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