Post List

  • August 17, 2011
  • 09:02 AM

In the news: re-tooling the body’s police force to beat leukaemia

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

Our immune system is our very own internal ‘police force’. It’s made up of disease-battling cells and proteins that travel through our bloodstream, searching out potentially harmful infections like the flu. In the past couple decades, the immune system’s role in cancer has come into sharp focus, and a whole scientific field of cancer immunotherapy [...]... Read more »

  • August 17, 2011
  • 08:47 AM

Getting to the root of Alzheimer’s disease

by Sanford- Burnham in Beaker

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by abnormal proteins that stick together in little globs, disrupting cognitive function (thinking, learning, and memory). These sticky proteins are mostly made up of beta-amyloid peptide. A better understanding of these proteins, how they form, and how they affect brain function will no doubt improve the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s [...]... Read more »

  • August 17, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Can reading a story make you a vampire?

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Apparently, the answer is yes. And it can also make you a wizard. The key (according to this research) is in what you are reading. We’ve talked about the power of stories (told well) to transport the listener. This goes beyond transporting listeners into something that is frankly strange. Researchers looked at the narrative-collective-assimilation hypothesis.  [I [...]

Related posts:You’re not too old for a story (but you might be too young!)
Voir Dire Tip: Are you ‘transported’ by a........ Read more »

  • August 17, 2011
  • 06:04 AM

Universal needs?

by David Winter in Careers - in Theory

What are the fundamental human needs? What things, if we get them, will make us happy human beings? Are there such things as universal human needs, that everyone in every society would identify with, or does it depend on your personality and cultural background? In an earlier post on Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs, I mentioned [...]... Read more »

Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2011) Needs and subjective well-being around the world. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(2), 354-365. DOI: 10.1037/a0023779  

  • August 17, 2011
  • 05:01 AM

And then the smokers came for your sperm...

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

Today was a lovely day. The weather was perfect, a good day in lab, a good run, a delicious veggie burger, a good beer. Life was pretty much perfect as I sat down in a mood to blog. ...and then I read this paper. And it was like this: (You know, if only they could [...]... Read more »

Marchetti, F., Rowan-Carroll, A., Williams, A., Polyzos, A., Berndt-Weis, M., & Yauk, C. (2011) Sidestream tobacco smoke is a male germ cell mutagen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(31), 12811-12814. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1106896108  

  • August 17, 2011
  • 03:29 AM

Pharmaceutical Company Threatens Blogger

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Boiron, a multinational pharmaceutical company, have threatened an Italian blogger with legal action, the BMJ reports.

Many people are concerned when big pharmaceutical companies do this kind of thing. So I don't think we should make any exception merely because Boiron's pharmaceuticals happen to be homeopathic ones.

Samuel Riva, who blogs (in Italian) at, put up some articles critical of homeopathy
which included pictures of Boiron’s blockbuster homoeopathic product Oscillococci........ Read more »

  • August 16, 2011
  • 11:43 PM

More Autistic Strengths: Symmetry-Spotting

by Lindsay in Autist's Corner

A recent study has added to the list of cognitive strengths peculiar to autism: in this study, a group of autistic teens/young adults and a group of age-, IQ-, sex- and eyesight-matched control subjects were shown a series of paired images, all of them different arrangements of lots and lots of tiny black-and-white dots, and determine which of the two images has some of the dots arranged in a symmetric pattern. Consistently, the autistic young people were able to pick out the symmetrical images ........ Read more »

Perreault, A., Gurnsey, R., Dawson, M., Mottron, L., & Bertone, A. (2011) Increased Sensitivity to Mirror Symmetry in Autism. PLoS ONE, 6(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019519  

  • August 16, 2011
  • 07:27 PM

Mirror Neuron Forum - Some additional discussion - Part I

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

Now that people have had a chance to digest the recently published "Mirror Neuron Forum" (Perspectives on Psychological Science 6(4) 369–407) I think it would be useful to revisit some of the claims and counter-claims. I will start working through some of the points in a series of posts. Of course, my focus will be on the parts of the forum that I participated in, but if you have some comments and thoughts on any part of it, feel free to email me and I'll post it as "guest post".

I would li........ Read more »

Gallese V, & Goldman A. (1998) Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading. Trends in cognitive sciences, 2(12), 493-501. PMID: 21227300  

  • August 16, 2011
  • 07:02 PM

Kickass Mutualisms: Lycaenids Ants

by Marc in Teaching Biology

The Lycaenidae (gossamer-winged butterflies) is the second largest family of butterflies, with ~5000 species, including some of the more famous butterflies, such as the Theclinae (hairstreaks), the Polyommatinae (blues) and the Lycaeninae (coppers). They are mostly found in the Old World (de Jong, 2003), where 28 of the 33 lycaenid tribes are endemic. They are [...]... Read more »

Pierce, N., Braby, M., Heath, A., Lohman, D., Mathew, J., Rand, D., & Travassos, M. (2002) The ecology and evolution of ant association in the Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera). Annual Review of Entomology, 47(1), 733-771. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.ento.47.091201.145257  

  • August 16, 2011
  • 05:36 PM

The “Yellow Snow” Test for Self-Recognition

by Paul Norris in AnimalWise

The mirror self-recognition (MSR) test has long been used to assess whether an animal is self-aware, whether it has a sense of self. In the classic version of the test, a colored mark is placed on an animal’s body in such a way … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • August 16, 2011
  • 05:11 PM

Slacker Wrap-Up Part I: Eau de Toilette (Literally)

by Kelsey in Mauka to Makai

Hi, my name is Kelsey and I’m a slacker. (Note: Pete has progressed past the slacker phase into delinquency.) I will try to redeem myself—slowly. I have a whole slew (like five) of completely researched and partially written posts. After careful deliberation, I’ve decided that three of them are keepers. I’ve also decided that if [...]... Read more »

  • August 16, 2011
  • 05:00 PM

Cow-like Mealybug Home to Sexy Symbiotic Machine

by Jennifer Frazer in The Artful Amoeba

If it goes around on six legs, it doesn’t get much dowdier than the mealybug.* Powdery, bovine, and frightening if you find them binging on your gardenias, these wax-shedding roving syringes are one of many mosquito-like parasites that plague plants. Yes, sexy, mealybugs are not — unless you look inside them. There, you will find [...]... Read more »

  • August 16, 2011
  • 04:52 PM

MBA – Major Bad Ass?

by Jan Husdal in

Are business schools bad for business? Are they to blame for the demise in good management practices because they have become obsessed with teaching maximizing shareholder value at the expense of everything else? Perhaps they are. If so, is there a way out? [ ... ]... Read more »

  • August 16, 2011
  • 04:41 PM

Anterior cervical spinal cord surgery and dysphagia severity

by Adam in slowdog

I received a Google alert the other day on something about dysphagia and something about spinal cords. Naturally I was curious and scuttled to the source. A few clicks later I had myself a free journal article looking at dysphagia severity after anterior cervical (AC) surgery. Not quite ground breaking research, but interesting nonetheless. The study aimed “to determine the degree of dysphagia preoperatively and postoperatively in patients undergoing AC [anterior cervical] surgery compared........ Read more »

  • August 16, 2011
  • 04:15 PM

Religious differences and murder

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Most research into religion looks at how it influences attitudes towards co-religionists. But the flip side to religion is that it can also serve as a foundation for social divisions, in a similar way to ethnic and language barriers.

You might think this could increase social tensions, but new research by Don Soo Chon, at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama, suggests that this may not be the case. He looked at how the level of ethnic, linguistic, and religious fragmentation relates to hom........ Read more »

  • August 16, 2011
  • 03:52 PM

Why Reindeer Don’t Go Snowblind

by Jim Ryan in Wild Mammals

Polar explorers and the Inuit often experience photokeratitis, a painful eye condition commonly referred to as snow blindness. It is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun reflecting off a landscape of white snow. The Inuit of the Arctic solved this problem by fashioning snow goggles from caribou antlers (Rangifer tarandus); similar goggles were later adopted by many polar explorers.

Figure 1. Caribou feeding on lichens in the Arctic. (From Flickr/Billy Lin........ Read more »

Hogg, C., Neveu, M., Stokkan, K., Folkow, L., Cottrill, P., Douglas, R., Hunt, D., & Jeffery, G. (2011) Arctic reindeer extend their visual range into the ultraviolet. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214(12), 2014-2019. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.053553  

  • August 16, 2011
  • 03:04 PM

School Refusal: Exploring Why Children and Adolescents Refuse School

by Anita M. Schimizzi, Ph.D. in Child-Psych

Wow!  It’s really that time of year again.  While there are a range of thoughts and feelings that students have about heading back to school, it is the students that have a true phobia about attending that I hope to reach in this post.  Hopefully, this will find its way to parents that have seen [...]... Read more »

Hughes, E. K., Gullone, E., Dudley, A., & Tonge, B. (2010) A Case-controlled Study of Emotion Regulation and School Refusal in Children and Adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 691-706. info:/

  • August 16, 2011
  • 01:45 PM

More evidence that we’re all a little Extra-terrestrial

by Brooke N in Smaller Questions

Where did nucleic acids come from?

What do you start looking at first? Nucleobases – A’s, T’s, C’s and G’s.

Where do you start looking first? Outer-space! More specifically carbonaceous meteorites. “Meteorites provide a record of the chemical processes that occurred in the solar system before life began on Earth”, Dun DUH: ... Read more »

Callahan MP, Smith KE, Cleaves HJ 2nd, Ruzicka J, Stern JC, Glavin DP, House CH, & Dworkin JP. (2011) Carbonaceous meteorites contain a wide range of extraterrestrial nucleobases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21836052  

  • August 16, 2011
  • 01:28 PM

It was twenty years ago today . . .

by Marco Frasca in The Gauge Connection

With these beautiful words starts a recollection paper by the founder of arXiv, Paul Ginsparg. This is worth the reading as this history spans a number of years exactly overlapping the computer revolution that definitely changed our lives. What Paul also changed through these new information tools was the way researchers should approach scientific communication. [...]... Read more »

Paul Ginsparg. (2011) It was twenty years ago today .. arXiv. arXiv: 1108.2700v1

R. Aouane, V. Bornyakov, E. -M. Ilgenfritz, V. Mitrjushkin, M. Müller-Preussker, & A. Sternbeck. (2011) Landau gauge gluon and ghost propagators at finite temperature from quenched lattice QCD. arXiv. arXiv: 1108.1735v1

Axel Maas, Tereza Mendes, & Stefan Olejnik. (2011) Yang-Mills Theory in lambda-Gauges. arXiv. arXiv: 1108.2621v1

  • August 16, 2011
  • 01:26 PM

Stick with shade, clothes and sunscreen to prevent skin cancer – not coffee

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

Today, a new study has led to headlines claiming that adding caffeine to sunscreen could improve its effectiveness in preventing skin cancer. But don’t chuck away the sunscreen just yet, nor pour your coffee into it – this was an interesting study in mice, but it doesn’t prove that adding caffeine to sunscreen would have any effect [...]... Read more »

Kawasumi, M., Lemos, B., Bradner, J., Thibodeau, R., Kim, Y., Schmidt, M., Higgins, E., Koo, S., Angle-Zahn, A., Chen, A.... (2011) Protection from UV-induced skin carcinogenesis by genetic inhibition of the ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(33), 13716-13721. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1111378108  

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