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  • January 14, 2016
  • 03:53 PM

Pay attention! Attention neuron type identified

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers have identified for the first time a cell type in the brain of mice that is integral to attention. Moreover, by manipulating the activity of this cell type, the scientists were able to enhance attention in mice. The results add to the understanding of how the brain's frontal lobes work and control behaviour.
... Read more »

Hoseok Kim, Sofie hedlund-Richter, Xinming Wang, Karl Deisseroth, Marie Carlén. (2016) Prefrontal Parvalbumin Neurons in Control of Attention. Cell . DOI:  

  • January 13, 2016
  • 01:37 PM

Meet The Eatles!

by Jason Organ in Eatlemania!

Meet "The Eatles", the dermestid (flesh-eating) beetle colony in the Organ Laboratory at Indiana University School of Medicine... Read more »

Sylvester AD, & Organ JM. (2010) Curvature scaling in the medial tibial condyle of large bodied hominoids. Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007), 293(4), 671-9. PMID: 20235323  

Organ JM. (2010) Structure and function of platyrrhine caudal vertebrae. Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007), 293(4), 730-45. PMID: 20235328  

Patel BA, Ruff CB, Simons EL, & Organ JM. (2013) Humeral cross-sectional shape in suspensory primates and sloths. Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007), 296(4), 545-56. PMID: 23408647  

  • January 13, 2016
  • 11:28 AM

Did GDF6 “gene tweak” allow humans to become upright?

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

The short answer is, “Not really.” But as is often the case, the real story behind so many headlines last week is a bit more complicated. What are they talking about, Willis? These headlines, each saying something slightly different, are referring to a study by Indjeian and colleagues published in Cell.  Researchers identified a stretch of […]... Read more »

  • January 12, 2016
  • 04:08 PM

Improving your toddler’s memory skills has long-term benefits

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

If your toddler is a Forgetful Jones, you might want to help boost his or her brainpower sooner rather than later. New research shows that preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12.
... Read more »

  • January 11, 2016
  • 04:23 PM

Stereotype means girls should expect poorer physics grades

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Imagine that you are a female student and give the exact same answer to a physics exam question as one of your male classmates, but you receive a significantly poorer grade. This is precisely what happens on a regular basis, as concluded in a study by Sarah Hofer, a researcher in the group led by ETH professor Elsbeth Stern.... Read more »

  • January 10, 2016
  • 03:37 PM

Put the cellphone away! Fragmented baby care can affect brain development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Mothers, put down your smartphones when caring for your babies! That's the message from University of California, Irvine researchers, who have found that fragmented and chaotic maternal care can disrupt proper brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life.... Read more »

  • January 9, 2016
  • 03:36 PM

Feeling sick? It’s evolution’s way of telling you to stay home

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

When you have a fever, your nose is stuffed and your headache is spreading to your toes, your body is telling you to stay home in bed. Feeling sick is an evolutionary adaptation according to a hypothesis put forward by Prof. Guy Shakhar of the Weizmann Institute’s Immunology Department and Dr. Keren Shakhar of the Psychology Department of the College of Management Academic Studies.... Read more »

  • January 7, 2016
  • 02:45 PM

Are you multicellular? Thank a random mutation that created a new protein

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

All it took was one mutation more than 600 million years ago. With that random act, a new protein function was born that helped our single-celled ancestor transition into an organized multicellular organism. That’s the scenario — done with some molecular time travel — that emerged from basic research in the lab of University of Oregon biochemist Ken Prehoda.... Read more »

Anderson, D., Whitney, D., Hanson-Smith, V., Woznica, A., Campodonico-Burnett, W., Volkman, B., King, N., Prehoda, K., & Thornton, J. (2016) Evolution of an ancient protein function involved in organized multicellularity in animals. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.10147  

  • January 6, 2016
  • 04:49 PM

Schizophrenia linked to loss of cells in the brain’s memory center

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists at Columbia University’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), and the Université Paris Descartes have found that deficits in social memory–a crucial yet poorly understood feature of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia–may be due to a decrease in the number of a particular class of brain cells, called inhibitory neurons, in a little-explored region within the brain’s memory center.... Read more »

  • January 5, 2016
  • 10:16 AM

We Have Become Exhausted Slaves in a Culture of Positivity

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

We live in an era of exhaustion and fatigue, caused by an incessant compulsion to perform. This is one of the central tenets of the book "Müdigkeitsgesellschaft" (translatable as "The Fatigue Society" or "The Tiredness Society") by the German philosopher Byung-Chul Han. Han is a professor at the Berlin Universität der Künste (University of the Arts) and one of the most widely read contemporary philosophers in Germany. He was born in Seoul where he stu........ Read more »

Byung-Chul Han. (2015) The Burnout Society. Stanford University Press. info:/

  • January 4, 2016
  • 02:36 PM

If our brain is a computer, do we really have free will?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The background to this new set of experiments lies in the debate regarding conscious will and determinism in human decision-making, which has attracted researchers, psychologists, philosophers and the general public, and which has been ongoing since at least the 1980s. Back then, the American researcher Benjamin Libet studied the nature of cerebral processes of study participants during conscious decision-making.... Read more »

Schultze-Kraft, M., Birman, D., Rusconi, M., Allefeld, C., Görgen, K., Dähne, S., Blankertz, B., & Haynes, J. (2015) The point of no return in vetoing self-initiated movements. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201513569. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1513569112  

  • January 2, 2016
  • 03:47 PM

Gene-editing technique stops progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Using a new gene-editing technique, a team of scientists from UT Southwestern Medical Center stopped progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in young mice. If efficiently and safely scaled up in DMD patients, this technique could lead to one of the first successful genome editing-based treatments for this fatal disease, researchers said.... Read more »

Long, C., Amoasii, L., Mireault, A., McAnally, J., Li, H., Sanchez-Ortiz, E., Bhattacharyya, S., Shelton, J., Bassel-Duby, R., & Olson, E. (2015) Postnatal genome editing partially restores dystrophin expression in a mouse model of muscular dystrophy. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aad5725  

  • January 1, 2016
  • 11:11 AM

#FossilFriday: 2015 Retrospecticus

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

Holy crap 2015 was a big year for fossils. And how fortuitous that 2016 begins on a Fossil Friday – let’s recap some of last year’s major discoveries. Homo naledi The Homo naledi sample is a paleoanthropologist’s dream – a new member of the genus Homo with a unique combination of traits, countless remains belonging to at least a dozen individuals from infant […]... Read more »

Haile-Selassie, Y., Gibert, L., Melillo, S., Ryan, T., Alene, M., Deino, A., Levin, N., Scott, G., & Saylor, B. (2015) New species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene hominin diversity. Nature, 521(7553), 483-488. DOI: 10.1038/nature14448  

Harmand, S., Lewis, J., Feibel, C., Lepre, C., Prat, S., Lenoble, A., Boës, X., Quinn, R., Brenet, M., Arroyo, A.... (2015) 3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya. Nature, 521(7552), 310-315. DOI: 10.1038/nature14464  

Thompson, J., McPherron, S., Bobe, R., Reed, D., Barr, W., Wynn, J., Marean, C., Geraads, D., & Alemseged, Z. (2015) Taphonomy of fossils from the hominin-bearing deposits at Dikika, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution, 112-135. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.06.013  

Villmoare, B., Kimbel, W., Seyoum, C., Campisano, C., DiMaggio, E., Rowan, J., Braun, D., Arrowsmith, J., & Reed, K. (2015) Early Homo at 2.8 Ma from Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia. Science, 347(6228), 1352-1355. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1343  

Ward, C., Feibel, C., Hammond, A., Leakey, L., Moffett, E., Plavcan, J., Skinner, M., Spoor, F., & Leakey, M. (2015) Associated ilium and femur from Koobi Fora, Kenya, and postcranial diversity in early Homo. Journal of Human Evolution, 48-67. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.01.005  

Chang, C., Kaifu, Y., Takai, M., Kono, R., Grün, R., Matsu’ura, S., Kinsley, L., & Lin, L. (2015) The first archaic Homo from Taiwan. Nature Communications, 6037. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7037  

Hershkovitz, I., Marder, O., Ayalon, A., Bar-Matthews, M., Yasur, G., Boaretto, E., Caracuta, V., Alex, B., Frumkin, A., Goder-Goldberger, M.... (2015) Levantine cranium from Manot Cave (Israel) foreshadows the first European modern humans. Nature, 520(7546), 216-219. DOI: 10.1038/nature14134  

  • December 29, 2015
  • 03:46 PM

Being anxious could be good for you! If you’re in a crisis…

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

New findings by French researchers show that the brain devotes more processing resources to social situations that signal threat than those that are benign. The results may help explain the apparent “sixth sense” we have for danger. This is the first time that specific regions of the brain have been identified to be involved in the phenomenon. The human brain is able to detect social threats in these regions in a fast, automatic fashion, within just 200 milliseconds.... Read more »

  • December 28, 2015
  • 03:48 PM

Want to keep your new year’s resolution? Ask, don’t tell.

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

“Will you exercise this year?” That simple question can be a game-changing technique for people who want to influence their own or others’ behavior, according to a recent study spanning 40 years of research. The research is the first comprehensive look at more than 100 studies examining the ‘question-behavior effect,’ a phenomenon in which asking people about performing a certain behavior influences whether they do it in the future. The effect has been shown to last more than six month........ Read more »

Spangenberg, E., Kareklas, I., Devezer, B., & Sprott, D. (2015) A meta-analytic synthesis of the question-behavior effect. Journal of Consumer Psychology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcps.2015.12.004  

  • December 27, 2015
  • 03:17 PM

The development of the cerebellar circuitry is driven by epigenetic “music”

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

From before birth through childhood, connections form between neurons in the brain, ultimately making us who we are. So far, scientists have gained a relatively good understanding of how neural circuits become established, but they know less about the genetic control at play during this crucial developmental process. Now, a team of researchers has described for the first time the so-called epigenetic mechanisms underlying the development of the cerebellum, the portion of the brain that allows us........ Read more »

  • December 23, 2015
  • 01:00 PM

Fragmentary fossils help reveal Neandertal skull growth

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

Frank Williams and I have a paper coming out shortly, comparing skull growth in Neandertals and humans. We use the resampling-based “grdif” method (see here) to compare an ontogenetic series of 20 non-adult and 20 adult Neandertals with a giant ontogenetic sample of humans. While Neandertal skull growth has been looked at before, the fragmentary […]... Read more »

Cofran Z. (2014) Mandibular development in Australopithecus robustus. American journal of physical anthropology, 154(3), 436-46. PMID: 24820665  

  • December 22, 2015
  • 03:06 AM

Watching the Sun

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Today is the winter solstice, and the seventh anniversary of this blog. I’ve traditionally posted about archaeoastronomy on these anniversaries, so I’m going to briefly interrupt my series on Crucible of Pueblos to discuss an interesting article on the evidence for astronomical observations at Chaco Canyon. There turns out to be some overlap, actually, which […]... Read more »

Munro AM, & Malville JM. (2010) Calendrical Stations in Chaco Canyon. Archaeoastronomy, 91-106. info:/

  • December 20, 2015
  • 03:35 PM

Women, do you want to be a leader at a teaching hospital? Grow a mustache!

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Thirteen percent of department leader positions at top academic medical institutions in the United States are held by women, while nearly 20 percent are held by men with mustaches. The findings of the tongue-in-cheek study, an analysis of more than 1,000 headshots of department leaders at top National Institutes of Health-funded academic medical institutions, provide a new context for examining gender disparities in the field.... Read more »

  • December 20, 2015
  • 08:26 AM

Only 2% of People Will Return A Christmas Card From A Stranger

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

If you got a Christmas card in the mail from a complete stranger, would you send them one back?

Surprisingly, this isn't a purely hypothetical question. Social psychologists have used Christmas cards from a stranger as a model to research the 'reciprocity norm' - the expectation that you should return a favor, and help someone who helps you.

In 1976, researchers Phillip Kunz and Michael Woolcott sent cards to a random sample of 578 Americans. Overall, they found that 20% of the recipients ... Read more »

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