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  • November 4, 2016
  • 05:00 AM
  • 493 views

Friday Fellow: Silvergreen Moss

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Found throughout most of the world, you probably have encountered this fellow many times in your life, but did not pay any attention. After all, it is just a moss! Scientifically known as Bryum argenteum and popularly … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • November 4, 2016
  • 04:03 AM
  • 424 views

Hyperhomocysteinemia as a significant risk factor for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Naushad Shaik Mohammad and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today and the suggestion of a link between some of the genetics of the folate pathway and the finding of elevated levels of homocysteine with [some] autism in mind.OK, from the start, the genetics of folate metabolism mentioned in the context of autism typically means reference to the quite well replicated finding of issues with the gene methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) (see ........ Read more »

Shaik Mohammad N, Sai Shruti P, Bharathi V, Krishna Prasad C, Hussain T, Alrokayan SA, Naik U, & Radha Rama Devi A. (2016) Clinical utility of folate pathway genetic polymorphisms in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Psychiatric genetics. PMID: 27755291  

  • November 3, 2016
  • 01:49 PM
  • 616 views

Does The Motor Cortex Inhibit Movement?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper could prompt a rethink of a basic tenet of neuroscience. It is widely believed that the motor cortex, a region of the cerebral cortex, is responsible for producing movements, by sending instructions to other brain regions and ultimately to the spinal cord. But according to neuroscientists Christian Laut Ebbesen and colleagues, the truth may be the opposite: the motor cortex may equally well suppress movements.



Ebbesen et al. studied the vibrissa motor cortex (VMC) of the rat, ... Read more »

  • November 3, 2016
  • 04:10 AM
  • 476 views

Antibiotic brain part 3

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study demonstrates an association between antibiotic use in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes in childhood."So said the findings reported by Slykerman and colleagues [1] who relied on data from the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative Study (an initiative set up to determine whether "internationally recognized risk factors for small-for-gestational-age (SGA) term babies were applicable in New Zealand") to examine the suggestion that early life antib........ Read more »

Slykerman RF, Thompson J, Waldie KE, Murphy R, Wall C, & Mitchell EA. (2016) Antibiotics in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992). PMID: 27701771  

  • November 2, 2016
  • 08:00 AM
  • 273 views

Estrogen, Memory, & Aging: DNA methylation of the ERα promoter contributes to transcriptional differences in age across the hippocampus

by Lara Ianov in EpiBeat

Estradiol (E2) influences a number of processes that are important for maintaining healthy brain function, including memory. The ability of E2 to protect the brain and enhance or maintain memory function depends on the interaction of E2 with different estrogen receptors.1 In particular, the expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) has been linked to synaptic plasticity, inflammation, and neuroprotection.2-5 Thus, it may be important that expression of ERα in the hippocampus, a bra........ Read more »

Bean LA, Ianov L, & Foster TC. (2014) Estrogen receptors, the hippocampus, and memory. The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry, 20(5), 534-45. PMID: 24510074  

Adams MM, Fink SE, Shah RA, Janssen WG, Hayashi S, Milner TA, McEwen BS, & Morrison JH. (2002) Estrogen and aging affect the subcellular distribution of estrogen receptor-alpha in the hippocampus of female rats. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 22(9), 3608-14. PMID: 11978836  

Benedusi V, Meda C, Della Torre S, Monteleone G, Vegeto E, & Maggi A. (2012) A lack of ovarian function increases neuroinflammation in aged mice. Endocrinology, 153(6), 2777-88. PMID: 22492304  

Merchenthaler I, Dellovade TL, & Shughrue PJ. (2003) Neuroprotection by estrogen in animal models of global and focal ischemia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 89-100. PMID: 14993043  

Zhang QG, Raz L, Wang R, Han D, De Sevilla L, Yang F, Vadlamudi RK, & Brann DW. (2009) Estrogen attenuates ischemic oxidative damage via an estrogen receptor alpha-mediated inhibition of NADPH oxidase activation. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(44), 13823-36. PMID: 19889994  

Bean LA, Kumar A, Rani A, Guidi M, Rosario AM, Cruz PE, Golde TE, & Foster TC. (2015) Re-Opening the Critical Window for Estrogen Therapy. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 35(49), 16077-93. PMID: 26658861  

Han X, Aenlle KK, Bean LA, Rani A, Semple-Rowland SL, Kumar A, & Foster TC. (2013) Role of estrogen receptor α and β in preserving hippocampal function during aging. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(6), 2671-83. PMID: 23392694  

  • November 2, 2016
  • 03:55 AM
  • 481 views

ADHD (symptoms) and pain

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

If a primary goal of medicine is to relieve pain and suffering then the paper by Andrew Stickley and colleagues [1] might provide an important insight into how medicine might be missing some important groups when it comes to the experience of pain "assessed by the degree to which it interfered with work activity in the previous month."Drawing on data from the English 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) (a resource that has cropped up on this blog before), auth........ Read more »

Stickley A, Koyanagi A, Takahashi H, & Kamio Y. (2016) ADHD symptoms and pain among adults in England. Psychiatry research, 326-331. PMID: 27750114  

  • November 1, 2016
  • 11:00 AM
  • 321 views

Giant pumpkins and other massive fruits

by Alice Breda in la-Plumeria

In the form of a creepy Jack-o’-lantern frightening kids who seek for treats, or of a creamy soup in a cold fall night, pumpkins are the most distinctive fruits we find on the market stands in this season. But this fruit, in its larger variants, is also at the center of a special type of competition that takes place every year. A group of fierce farmers equipped with large scales and the heaviest products of their fields meet up to determine who among them was able to grow the largest pump........ Read more »

  • November 1, 2016
  • 04:09 AM
  • 460 views

On the "increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The quote titling this brief post - "increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression" - comes from the review by Parker and colleagues [1] who seem to be no strangers to reviewing evidence on a possible link between the sunshine vitamin/hormone and depression [2].Affiliated to the Black Dog Institute in Oz ('black dog' being used as a metaphor for depression for quite a few years), the authors surveyed the quite voluminous peer-reviewed research literat........ Read more »

Parker GB, Brotchie H, & Graham RK. (2016) Vitamin D and depression. Journal of affective disorders, 56-61. PMID: 27750060  

  • October 31, 2016
  • 05:36 AM
  • 464 views

HBOT and autism systematically reviewed again (and the same results?)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"To date, there is no evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves core symptoms and associated symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the results of the review by Xiong and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) completed under the auspices of the Cochrane Collaboration, leaders in the science and publication of systematic reviews (see here for another example).Looking at the collected peer-reviewed science on the topic of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for aut........ Read more »

  • October 30, 2016
  • 04:00 PM
  • 612 views

The science behind real life zombies

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In the spirit of Halloween we bring you the science fact and fiction behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little guys, (and girls) are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic zombie, but did you know that we aren't the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn't a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction, so let's dive in.

... Read more »

Lafferty KD. (2006) Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 273(1602), 2749-55. PMID: 17015323  

Vyas A, Kim SK, Giacomini N, Boothroyd JC, & Sapolsky RM. (2007) Behavioral changes induced by Toxoplasma infection of rodents are highly specific to aversion of cat odors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(15), 6442-7. PMID: 17404235  

Thomas, F., Schmidt-Rhaesa, A., Martin, G., Manu, C., Durand, P., & Renaud, F. (2002) Do hairworms (Nematomorpha) manipulate the water seeking behaviour of their terrestrial hosts?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15(3), 356-361. DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00410.x  

W. Wesołowska T. Wesołowski. (2014) Do Leucochloridium sporocysts manipulate the behaviour of their snail hosts?. Journal of Zoology , 292(3), 151-155. info:/10.1111/jzo.12094

  • October 29, 2016
  • 04:08 AM
  • 401 views

Living with severe autism: families share their experiences

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Appreciating that the autism spectrum is truly a wide and heterogeneous one (or even several?), I'd like to direct your attention today to the findings reported by Jocelyn Bessette Gorlin and colleagues [1] on the topic of "the experiences of families living with a child with severe autism."In particular, I'd like to highlight the six areas that emerged from the "29 interviews with 22 participants from 11 families" related to family experiences and how, minus any sweeping generalisations, m........ Read more »

Bessette Gorlin J, McAlpine CP, Garwick A, & Wieling E. (2016) Severe Childhood Autism: The Family Lived Experience. Journal of pediatric nursing. PMID: 27720503  

  • October 28, 2016
  • 06:14 AM
  • 404 views

Lack of Tsc2 in Mesenchymal Cells Causes Kidney Cysts and Defective Lung Alveolarization

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder that shares clinical similarities with BHD. TSC results from germline mutations in the Tsc1 or Tsc2 gene, affecting multiple organs, including the kidney and lung. In the kidney, lesions such as multiple renal cysts and renal cell carcinoma can occur. In the lung, patients can develop multifocal micronodular pneumocyte hyperplasia and LAM. TSC proteins are negative regulators of the mTORC1 pathway. The mechanisms of organ........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2016
  • 05:15 AM
  • 424 views

Lower autism rate under DSM-5 (yet again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "Results indicate that individuals diagnosed with PDD [pervasive developmental disorder] by DSM-IV-TR criteria may not be diagnosed using DSM-5 criteria."That was the conclusion reached by Ferhat Yaylaci & Suha Miral [1] following their study of 150 children (3-15 years old) diagnosed with PDD "by DSM-IV-TR" whose symptoms/presentation were "reviewed through psychiatric assessment based on DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 criteria." The percentage figure they arrived at (19.3%) indicat........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2016
  • 05:00 AM
  • 327 views

Friday Fellow: Sun Beetle

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Who says beetles cannot be cute? Take a look at those guys: These little fellows are beetles of the species Pachnoda marginata, commonly known as sun beetle or taxi cab beetle. Native from Africa, they reach up … Continue reading →... Read more »

Stensmyr, Marcus C., Larsson, Mattias C., Bice, Shannon, & Hansson, Bill S. (2001) Detection of fruit- and flower-emitted volatiles by olfactory receptor neurons in the polyphagous fruit chafer Pachnoda marginata (Coleoptera: Cetoniinae). Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 187(7), 509-519. info:/

  • October 27, 2016
  • 10:08 PM
  • 513 views

Dogs Do as You Do, Not as You Say

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Italy's school for water rescue dogs, the Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, has trained hundreds of animals in canine heroics. The dogs work on Italian police and coast guard boats, and with fire departments and the navy. They can even jump into the ocean from a hovering helicopter to save a person.

They're pros at taking commands from humans. So researchers wondered if the dogs could help them understand what kind of command works best: Words? Or gestures?

Biagio D'Aniello, a biologis... Read more »

  • October 27, 2016
  • 05:00 AM
  • 357 views

Autism and inborn errors of metabolism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'd like to think that the review article by Annik Simons and colleagues [1] (open-access) highlights some pretty strong evidence to suggest there being at least some connection between some autism and some of the collected inborn errors of metabolism. Indeed, when people generally talk about 'not knowing what causes autism' if we perhaps consider a more plural view of 'the autisms', there is a case to be made to say we might know what causes 'some' autism and some of it might lie in this area.......... Read more »

  • October 26, 2016
  • 07:42 AM
  • 438 views

'Super-parenting' improves children's autism: headline fail as PACT re-emerges...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this post is partially taken from the BBC take on the findings reported by Andrew Pickles and colleagues [1] detailing a long-term follow up (and slight adjustment to the calculation of behavioural scores) of the Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT). PACT by the way, is a strategy based on the important tenet of shared attention where: "The approach aims to help parents adapt their communication style to their child’s impairments and respond to their child with enhance........ Read more »

  • October 26, 2016
  • 05:25 AM
  • 396 views

"Increased risk for substance use-related problems in autism"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"We aimed to investigate the risk of substance use-related problems in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Findings: "The risk of substance use-related problems was the highest among individuals with ASD and ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the findings reported by Agnieszka Butwicka and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking again at an important but slightly uncomfortable topic: substance use-related problems or substance use disorder (SUD) with autism in ........ Read more »

Butwicka, A., Långström, N., Larsson, H., Lundström, S., Serlachius, E., Almqvist, C., Frisén, L., & Lichtenstein, P. (2016) Increased Risk for Substance Use-Related Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2914-2  

  • October 25, 2016
  • 07:35 PM
  • 511 views

Why do polar bears mock battle? and other facts about polar bear reproduction

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

Inspired by an Instagram photo of polar bears playfighting, I decided to find out more about this strange behavior and learned many interesting things about polar bear reproduction.... Read more »

Fitzgerald KT. (2013) Polar bears: the fate of an icon. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, 28(4), 135-42. PMID: 24331553  

  • October 25, 2016
  • 05:27 AM
  • 448 views

Vitamin D toxicity and autism: a case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Alternative medicine treatment put four-year-old boy in A&E [accident & emergency / emergency room]" went the recent BBC headline talking about the case report published by Drs Catriona Boyd and Abdul Moodambail [2].Describing the experiences of a 4-year old boy who attended A&E (the emergency room) following an extended period of "vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, polyuria, polydipsia and loss of 3kg in weight" in previous weeks, the authors report how after an unremar........ Read more »

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