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  • August 7, 2013
  • 08:35 AM

What Comes First: The Signal or the Response?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Jewel wasps show us how new communication systems may have come to be. Photo by M.E. Clark at Wikimedia Commons.Finding and attracting a mate is tricky business for most species. It can be quite helpful then to have a species-specific signal that is sent and received by members of your own species, but not perceived as well by predators. Chemical signals (those we perceive through smell and taste) are among the most diverse and specific signals produced in the animal kingdom, so they make good c........ Read more »

Niehuis, O., Buellesbach, J., Gibson, J.D., Pothmann, D., Hanner, C., Mutti, N.S., Judson, A.K., Gadau, J., Ruther, J., & Schmitt, T. (2013) Behavioural and genetic analyses of Nasonia shed light on the evolution of sex pheromones. Nature, 345-348. DOI: 10.1038/nature11838  

  • July 29, 2013
  • 05:31 PM

How blind people see

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Blind people have revolutionised our view on vision. Biology text books still teach us that vision functions roughly as light hitting the eyes where special cells – rods and cones – turn it into neural signals. These travel to the back of the head, the visual cortex, for brain processing leading to something we experience […]... Read more »

Czeisler CA, Shanahan TL, Klerman EB, Martens H, Brotman DJ, Emens JS, Klein T, & Rizzo JF 3rd. (1995) Suppression of melatonin secretion in some blind patients by exposure to bright light. The New England journal of medicine, 332(1), 6-11. PMID: 7990870  

Trevethan CT, Sahraie A, & Weiskrantz L. (2007) Can blindsight be superior to 'sighted-sight'?. Cognition, 103(3), 491-501. PMID: 16764848  

Vandewalle G, Collignon O, Hull JT, Daneault V, Albouy G, Lepore F, Phillips C, Doyon J, Czeisler CA, Dumont M.... (2013) Blue Light Stimulates Cognitive Brain Activity in Visually Blind Individuals. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. PMID: 23859643  

Weiskrantz L, Warrington EK, Sanders MD, & Marshall J. (1974) Visual capacity in the hemianopic field following a restricted occipital ablation. Brain : a journal of neurology, 97(4), 709-28. PMID: 4434190  

  • July 19, 2013
  • 10:37 AM

Are Intelligent People Better At Morality?

by Katja Keuchenius in United Academics

We may need a good pair of brains to make decisions that are best for everyone. On the other hand, war taught us that rather intelligent people can also do much harm. Are those evil geniuses exceptions? Or do better brains actually enable people to justify their malintentions?... Read more »

Lawrence Kohlberg. (1968) The child as a moral philosopher. Psychology Today. DOI: 10.1037/e400132009-002  

  • July 17, 2013
  • 06:42 PM

The Laws of Attraction: Mangrove Killifish Style

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

A mangrove killifish. Photo by D. Scott Taylor at Wikimedia.In the game of love, we typically think of males as being the showy courting sex and females being the coy choosy sex. But what if your species doesn't have the simple division of males and females? Most populations of animal species (and most notably our own) are roughly half male and half female, so this is the standard we tend to accept as "normal". In this common system, males generally invest less in each potential offspring than ........ Read more »

Ellison, A., Jones, J., Inchley, C., & Consuegra, S. (2013) Choosy males could help explain androdioecy in a selfing fish. The American Naturalist, 181(6), 855-862. DOI: 10.1086/670304  

  • July 12, 2013
  • 09:48 AM

Nietzsche the mathematician

by Ignacio Gallo in populations, function and meaning

I wanted to talk about some interesting observations made by Stephen Brush, an important commentator in the English language of the history of the molecular interpretation of thermodynamics [1]. As noted by Brush [2], Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: If the universe may be conceived as a definite quantity of energy, as a definite number of centres of [...]... Read more »

  • July 9, 2013
  • 08:36 AM

Science and Philosophy: A Love-Hate Relationship

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

In this paper I review the problematic relationship between science and philosophy; in particular, I will address the question of whether science needs philosophy, and I will offer some positive (if incomplete) perspectives that should be helpful in developing a synergetic relationship between the two. I will review three lines of reasoning often employed in arguing that philosophy is useless for science: a) philosophy’s death diagnosis (‘philosophy is dead’) and what follows f........ Read more »

  • June 26, 2013
  • 12:22 PM

Do Animals Have Personalities?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Leaders and followers. What makes personality? Photo by Thang Nguyen at Wikimedia Commons.The heart of science lies in existential questions such as "Who am I?" and "Where did I come from?" Yet somehow, these are the very questions that scientists tend to shy away from. It's as if we're afraid that by unraveling the mysteries of our world and ourselves, we'll be left with nothing but a handful of yarn. But many of us see the quest for personal understanding differently - as a journey to gain app........ Read more »

Réale, D., Reader, S., Sol, D., McDougall, P., & Dingemanse, N. (2007) Integrating animal temperament within ecology and evolution. Biological Reviews, 82(2), 291-318. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2007.00010.x  

Huntingford, F.A. (1976) The Relationship between anti-predator behavior and aggression among conspecifics in the three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Animal Behaviour, 245-260. info:/

  • June 26, 2013
  • 06:18 AM

Making one out of two or three

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

A life without feelings – unimaginable. Although emotions are so important, philosophers are still discussing what they actually are. Prof. Dr. Albert Newen and Dr. Luca Barlassina of the Institute of Philosophy II at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have drawn up a new theory. According to this, emotions are not just special cases of perception or thought but a separate kind of mental state which arises through the integration of feelings of bodily processes and cognitive contents. They d........ Read more »

Dr. Julia Weiler. (2013) Making one out of two or three. Press Office Ruhr University Bochum. info:/

  • June 26, 2013
  • 05:30 AM

Monoids, weighted automata and algorithmic philosophy of science

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

If pressed to find a passion and unifying theme behind my interests, I would say that my goal is to emancipate theoretical computer science from the current tyranny of technology and engineering, and restore it to its original position of asking and helping find answers for fundamental questions in science and philosophy. I’ve already written […]... Read more »

Mohri, M. (2009) Weighted automata algorithms. Handbook of Weighted Automata, 213-254. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-01492-5_6  

  • June 22, 2013
  • 02:06 AM

Working dogs working together

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hey Julie! It's the weekend and I'm racing about catching up after an amazing past fortnight! It's been a whirlwind and by gee, do I have some super fun things to tell you about! Working dogs, working together My first news is what has been keeping me flat out busy over the first half of this year, and ESPECIALLY for the past fortnight.  I'm excited to introduce to you, the Australian Working Dog Alliance!You know all about my work with the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) wor........ Read more »

Bik Holly M, & Goldstein Miriam C. (2013) An introduction to social media for scientists. PLoS biology. PMID: 23630451  

  • June 19, 2013
  • 03:58 PM

Thanks Dad!

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Daddy's girl. Photo from’s take a moment to appreciate just how special dads are. Across the animal kingdom, fathers caring for their young is the exception, not the rule. Paternal care is most often seen in species in which males can be pretty sure that they are indeed the father (for example, in species that fertilize eggs outside of the mothers’ bodies or in socially monogamous species). Mammals rarely act fatherly - Only 10% of mammalian species show pate........ Read more »

  • June 18, 2013
  • 07:25 PM

I WILL FEAR NO EVIL: the first head transplant on human

by Eugenio Maria Battaglia in

In 2008, doctor Sergio Canavero, an italian neurosurgeon based in Turin, IT, have awakened a 20 years old lady from a permanent post-traumatic vegetative state, by means of a bifocal extradural cortical electro-stimulation. Today, while Science still find it hard to explain consciousness and embodied cognition – the world-class neurosurgeon made a shock announcement: “I’m ready for the first head transplant on a man.”

In the manuscript published on Surgical Neurology I........ Read more »

  • June 10, 2013
  • 04:57 AM

The SAT-ACT Score Map

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

Using multiple regression, I animate state college entrance exam scores controlled for state participation levels and test preference. Then, I review a study on “noncognitive predictors” of college outcomes, which might eventually replace the SAT and ACT.... Read more »

  • June 6, 2013
  • 08:33 AM

Decoding Space and Time in the Brain

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

“…henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union between the two will preserve an independent reality.”... Read more »

Aiden Arnold. (2013) Decoding Space and Time in the Brain. Scientific American. info:/

  • June 5, 2013
  • 09:30 PM

Machine learning and prediction without understanding

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Big data is the buzzword du jour, permuting from machine learning to hadoop powered distributed computing, from giant scientific projects to individual social science studies, and from careful statistics to the witchcraft of web-analytics. As we are overcome by petabytes of data and as more of it becomes public, it is tempting for a would-be […]... Read more »

Chattopadhyay, Ishanu, Wen, Yicheng, & Ray, Asok. (2010) Pattern Classification In Symbolic Streams via Semantic Annihilation of Information. American Control Conference. arXiv: 1008.3667v1

  • May 22, 2013
  • 07:28 AM

Double vision

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

Scientists must ensure that they take the lead in the ethical debate surrounding the therapeutic use of stem cells derived from human clones.... Read more »

Nature Editorial. (2013) Double vision. Nature, 497(7450), 409-409. DOI: 10.1038/497409a  

  • May 17, 2013
  • 10:35 AM

I Am Not This Body

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

Every time I look at my face in a magnified mirror in a hotel bathroom, I jump back in surprise. Seen closely, my skin looks like the surface of a strange planet. Ridges and canyons pock my chin and lips. Forests of tiny hairs grow from my ear lobes. Unnoticed pimples rise from my nose like volcanoes. A sheen of oil coats the landscape. I half expect to see alien creatures living in minute settlements in my dimples or roving the great plains of my cheeks — and could I look at higher magnif........ Read more »

BRIAN JAY STANLEY. (2013) I Am Not This Body. The New York Times. info:/

  • May 14, 2013
  • 10:30 PM

Four color problem, odd Goldbach conjecture, and the curse of computing

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

For over twenty-three hundred years, at least since the publication of Euclid’s Elements, the conjecture and proof of new theorems has been the sine qua non of mathematics. The method of proof is at “the heart of mathematics, the royal road to creating analytical tools and catalyzing growth” (Rav, 1999; pg 6). Proofs are not […]... Read more »

Rav, Y. (1999) Why Do We Prove Theorems?. Philosophia Mathematica, 7(1), 5-41. DOI: 10.1093/philmat/7.1.5  

  • May 14, 2013
  • 05:04 PM

RDoC and the cross-roads of psychiatry

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The Irish poet Brendan Behan is, I think, credited with the phrase: "There's no bad publicity except an obituary". One wonders how appropriate this phrase might be to the 'diagnostic Bible' (except that it isn't) which is DSM-V which is poised to make its entrance into the World in the coming days.The real Homer @ Wikipedia Indeed, the story of DSM-V even before it hits the diagnostic shelves of all good psychiatric bookshops, has the makings of an epic piece of poetry or literature, o........ Read more »

Ian B Hickie1, Jan Scott, Daniel F Hermens, Elizabeth M Scott, Sharon L Naismith, Adam J Guastella, Nick Glozier, & Patrick D McGorry. (2013) Clinical classification in mental health at the cross-roads: which direction next?. BMC Medicine, 126. info:/

  • May 8, 2013
  • 10:50 AM

Thanks Mom!

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Like Mother, like baby! Photo from give us so much more than we ever give them credit for. Biologically speaking, we all have a mom and a dad (unless you’re a flatworm or some other species that can reproduce without sex) that provide us with one of each chromosome type (our chromosomes contain our genes, commonly thought of as our “biological blueprints”). So it makes sense that we tend to think of ourselves as being half-our-mom and half-our-dad. But not so! Al........ Read more »

BERNARDO, J. (1996) Maternal Effects in Animal Ecology. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 36(2), 83-105. DOI: 10.1093/icb/36.2.83  

Wolf, J., & Wade, M.J. (2009) What are maternal effects (and what are they not)?. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 1107-1115. info:/

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