Guest post by Rebecca McDonald, science writerPhoto Credit: LeRoy N. Sanchez While many scientists who study climate change look up to the sky for clues about the Earth’s future, one researcher has spent her career looking down—at the abundance of life in the soil below. Innumerable microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi live in harmony with plant roots, decomposing fallen leaves and dead animals. In addition to acting as the ultimate recyclers, they also stabilize the soil and help to re........ Read more »
Steven B, Kuske CR, Gallegos-Graves LV, Reed SC, & Belnap J. (2015) Climate change and physical disturbance manipulations result in distinct biological soil crust communities. Applied and environmental microbiology, 81(21), 7448-59. PMID: 26276111
Sinsabaugh RL, Belnap J, Rudgers J, Kuske CR, Martinez N, & Sandquist D. (2015) Soil microbial responses to nitrogen addition in arid ecosystems. Frontiers in microbiology, 819. PMID: 26322030
Mueller RC, Belnap J, & Kuske CR. (2015) Soil bacterial and fungal community responses to nitrogen addition across soil depth and microhabitat in an arid shrubland. Frontiers in microbiology, 891. PMID: 26388845
If a man is a good storyteller, we tend to see him as more attractive and as having higher status. That is, if we are looking for a long-term relationship partner. Unfortunately, it does not work for women storytellers with male audiences nor for those looking for a short-term relationship. This is the first series […]
How I assess your status (or lack thereof) at a glance
When you wear glasses you are less attractive but more smart and trustworthy
Will Mozart or Metallic........ Read more »
DONAHUE, J., & GREEN, M. (2016) A good story: Men's storytelling ability affects their attractiveness and perceived status. Personal Relationships. DOI: 10.1111/pere.12120
image: Mihály Vöröslakos / University of Szeged “Don't Lose Your Head Over tDCS,” I warned last time. Now the infamous cadaver study has reared its ugly hot-wired head in Science News (Underwood, 2016).The mechanism of action of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) had been called into question by Dr. György Buzsáki during his presentation at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting....Or had it?To recap, my understanding was that an unpublished study of transcranial e........ Read more »
Ozen, S., Sirota, A., Belluscio, M., Anastassiou, C., Stark, E., Koch, C., & Buzsaki, G. (2010) Transcranial Electric Stimulation Entrains Cortical Neuronal Populations in Rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(34), 11476-11485. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5252-09.2010
Underwood, E. (2016) Cadaver study challenges brain stimulation methods. Science, 352(6284), 397-397. DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6284.397
An in-depth interview with a formerly violent right-wing extremist has provided psychologists with rare insights into the processes of disengagement and deradicalisation. John Horgan at Georgia State University and his colleagues interviewed "Sarah" face-to-face for several hours, and also followed up with telephone calls. Their account is published in Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression. The woman had previously been a member of various Neo-Nazi right-wing groups and was u........ Read more »
Horgan, J., Altier, M., Shortland, N., & Taylor, M. (2016) Walking away: the disengagement and de-radicalization of a violent right-wing extremist. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 1-15. DOI: 10.1080/19434472.2016.1156722
In today's short post I'd like to bring the findings reported by Lotta Höglund Carlsson and colleagues  to your attention and a reminder that developmental regression accompanying autism onset is an important feature for quite a few people.With the aim of looking at the "national, routine 18-month developmental surveillance at Child Healthcare Centres (CHC) on children later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" in Stockholm County, Sweden, authors reported on the results of sa........ Read more »
Höglund Carlsson, L., Westerlund, J., Barnevik Olsson, M., Eriksson, M., Hedvall, �., Gillberg, C., & Fernell, E. (2016) Autism spectrum disorders before diagnosis: results from routine developmental surveillance at 18 months. Acta Paediatrica. DOI: 10.1111/apa.13418
From Van Gogh to Poe, history is littered with famous cases of creative geniuses plagued by inner turmoil. But going beyond the anecdotal, are creative people really more prone to mental health difficulties?Past studies have led to conflicting results – for every one that uncovered a link, another has come along with the opposite result. In a new paper in Psychological Bulletin, a Netherlands-based team led by Matthijs Baas takes us through a tour of this earlier work and they propose a brain-........ Read more »
Baas, M., Nijstad, B., Boot, N., & De Dreu, C. (2016) Mad Genius Revisited: Vulnerability to Psychopathology, Biobehavioral Approach-Avoidance, and Creativity. Psychological Bulletin. DOI: 10.1037/bul0000049
There is something mysterious about Stonehenge. I have a very distinct memory of visiting Stonehenge as a child, seeing the standing rocks in the distance Perhaps it was the fog and grey […]... Read more »
Willis, C., Marshall, P., McKinley, J., Pitts, M., Pollard, J., Richards, C., Richards, J., Thomas, J., Waldron, T., Welham, K.... (2016) The dead of Stonehenge. Antiquity, 90(350), 337-356. DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2016.26
In (unintentionally) keeping with one of the themes from the last post — let’s talk about baseball after Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier. Most people will tell you that even after Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in 1947, black players had to … Continue reading →... Read more »
Newman, L., Zhang, L., & Huang, R. (2015) Prejudice in Major League Baseball: Have Black Players Been Held to a Higher Standard Than White Players?. Journal of Sport . DOI: 10.1177/0193723515594211
The herbivorous side of spiders
Spiders are famous for being voracious predators; indeed, some spiders may even eat bats. However, not all spiders are fully carnivore. In 1984 it was first suggested that pollen may have a role in the diet of some juvenile spiders and in 2009 one research showed that one particular spider species (Bagheera kiplingi; see picture below) mainly feeds on plant materials. Other observations of spiders eating plants or fungi are more scattered but a recent review iden........ Read more »
"Short IPIs [interpregnancy intervals] are associated with a significantly increased risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Long IPIs also appear to increase the risk of ASD.So said the results of the systematic review undertaken by Agustín Conde-Agudelo and colleagues  into how birth spacing might impact on the risk of a child developing an ASD. Drawing on data from 7 studies that "reported an association between short IPIs and increased risk of ASD" including over 1.1 ........ Read more »
Conde-Agudelo, A., Rosas-Bermudez, A., & Norton, M. (2016) Birth Spacing and Risk of Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review. PEDIATRICS. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-3482
If you can't stand the heat, you're not an echidna, as the saying (almost) goes. These egg-laying mammals are unusual for several reasons. One of those reasons, it turns out, is that their ability to lower their body temperatures makes them largely indifferent to their homes burning down around them.
The short-beaked echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus, is one of four living species of echidna. Like the platypus, echidnas are Australian mammals that lay eggs instead of bearing live young. The........ Read more »
In a new paper called Molecular fMRI, MIT researchers Benjamin B. Bartelle, Ali Barandov, and Alan Jasanoff discuss technological advances that could provide neuroscientists with new tools for mapping the brain.
Currently, one of the leading methods of measuring brain activity is functional MRI (fMRI). However, as Bartelle et al. note, it has its limitations:
Because brain activity mapping with fMRI depends on neurovascular coupling, resolution at the level of single cells is out of reach.... Read more »
Cats have a moderately-enriched life, but people need more knowledge about their felines in order to do better, according to a new study.There are many ways we can improve our cats’ lives: toys that let the cat simulate stalking prey, social interaction with people, providing spaces high-up for cats to go. This is called environmental enrichment, and is especially important for indoor cats. A new study by Ana Margarida Alho et al (University of Lisbon) finds that although most cats do quite we........ Read more »
Alho, A., Pontes, J., & Pomba, C. (2016) Guardians' Knowledge and Husbandry Practices of Feline Environmental Enrichment. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 19(2), 115-125. DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2015.1117976
For hundreds of years, scientists were just one fixture in the firmament of the intellectual class, as colourful and strident in their own way as the philosophers and poets. But come the 20th Century and the public began to regard scientists with fear and awe, thanks to the advent of immense technologies such as the atomic bomb. In response, the profession consciously rebranded as anonymous public servants in white coats: dutiful, considered and above all, safe. But new research published in PLO........ Read more »
Rutjens, B., & Heine, S. (2016) The Immoral Landscape? Scientists Are Associated with Violations of Morality. PLOS ONE, 11(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152798
I didn’t expect to do another tip on the paths through experiments or data this week. But there must be something in the water cooler lately, and all of these different tools converged on my part of the bioinformatics ecosphere. As I was perusing my tweetdeck columns, a new tool from the folks who do […]... Read more »
Christian Partl, Samuel Gratzl, Marc Streit, Anne Mai Wassermann, Hanspeter Pfister, Dieter Schmalstieg, & Alexander Lex. (2016) Pathfinder: Visual Analysis of Paths in Graphs. Computer Graphics Forum . info:other/
When people are sick we isolate, we feel sorry for them, we avoid them. But we don’t think about the many times that being sick is actually good for your health. One example – vaccines. Many vaccines give you disease to prevent disease. Unfortunately, too many people are foregoing vaccination for their children based on fraudulent data. Think anti-vaxxers don’t affect you because you and your kids are vaccinated? Read on and learn better.... Read more »
Mushrooms come in many shapes and colours. In the case of green ones, which I've written about previously, a subset owe their colour not to any particular pigment they themselves produce, but rather to algae living on top of them.These algae-bearing fungi are usually polypores, otherwise known as bracket or shelf fungi. They tend to live inside dead trees, although they also be found in soil living in association with tree roots. After eating their fill of delicious wood, polypores produce shelf........ Read more »
Zavada M, Dimichele L, & Toth C. (2004) The demi-lichenization of Trametes versicolor (L.: Fries) Pilat (Polyporaceae): The transfer of fixed 14CO2 from epiphytic algae to T. versicolor. Northeastern Naturalist, 11(1), 33-40. DOI: 10.1656/1092-6194(2004)011[0033:TDOTVL]2.0.CO;2
When I was younger, I would have moments of clarity I referred to as epiphanies. I learned pretty quickly that if I did not somehow reinforce that epiphany in my mind, I would forget it—only to (sometimes) realize it again at some point in the future. So now, when I am working on a project […]
Never trust a man with a wide face
The Trust in Science and Scientists Inventory Scale
Everyone knows you just can’t trust an atheist!
... Read more »
Salvi, C., Bricolo, E., Kounios, J., Bowden, E., & Beeman, M. (2016) Insight solutions are correct more often than analytic solutions. Thinking , 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/13546783.2016.1141798
Emerge into Brazil's swamp, with Chiara and the Wildlife Conservation Society.... Read more »
Keuroghlian, A., Andrade Santos, M., & Eaton, D. (2015) The effects of deforestation on white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) home range in the southern Pantanal. Mammalia, 79(4). DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2014-0094
Complications following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction are rare (1.3%). Patients who smoke, have a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or dyspnea have a greater risk of complications than those that do not.... Read more »
Cvetanovich, G., Chalmers, P., Verma, N., Cole, B., & Bach, B. (2016) Risk Factors for Short-term Complications of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in the United States. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(3), 618-624. DOI: 10.1177/0363546515622414
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