Post List

  • July 2, 2011
  • 12:21 PM

Community & Kinship at Catalhoyuk

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

Strange things are afoot at Catalhoyuk (7400-5600 BCE), one of the earliest and most important Neolithic (i.e., sedentary and agricultural) sites known to archaeology. As I noted in Bones, Burials and Ancestors, mortuary practices at Catalhoyuk were unusual and often involved secondary burial in the floors of homes.

The assumption has always been that these were [...]... Read more »

Pilloud, Marin A., & Larsen, Clark Spencer. (2011) “Official” and “practical” kin: Inferring social and community structure from dental phenotype at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. info:/10.1002/ajpa.21520

  • July 2, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Female Orgasm – Unlocking the Neuroscientific Mysteries

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Recently Brain Blogger featured an article entitled Your Brain on Sex and Love. While it delineated a few recent studies that focused on what goes on in the brain during sex, few recognize how little is known about human sexuality, particularly the neural and psychological responses that stem from it. Logistically, it is difficult to [...]... Read more »

Komisaruk BR, & Whipple B. (2005) Functional MRI of the brain during orgasm in women. Annual review of sex research, 62-86. PMID: 16913288  

  • July 2, 2011
  • 05:46 AM

Dear Mr Editor, Your Science Reporting Truly Sucks…

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

A letter to the editor of the British Journal of General Practice (The official periodical of the Royal College of General Practice and leading journal for family medicine in Europe) Dear Professor Roger Jones, Last month’s BJGP was noteworthy for several reasons. Most strikingly was the beautiful redesign and compelling headline, “Acupuncture: effective in a … Continue reading »... Read more »

Paterson, C., Taylor, R., Griffiths, P., Britten, N., Rugg, S., Bridges, J., McCallum, B., . (2011) Acupuncture for ‘frequent attenders’ with medically unexplained symptoms: a randomised controlled trial (CACTUS study). British Journal of General Practice, 61(587). info:/10.3399/bjgp11X572689

  • July 1, 2011
  • 11:38 PM

Thermodynamics and Poker

by csoeder in Topologic Oceans

There is a comapnion article which discusses this project’s role in decentralized community and citizen science at ArkFab. You can find the current paper here. A while back, I got the idea to investigate how the entropy of a poker tournament evolves with time. In thermodynamics, entropy is a measure of how ‘spread out’ energy [...]... Read more »

Clément Sire. (2007) Universal statistical properties of poker tournaments. J. Stat. Mech. (2007) P08013. arXiv: physics/0703122v3

Annila, Arto. (2009) Economies Evolve by Energy Dispersal. Entropy, 11(4), 606-633. DOI: 10.3390/e11040606  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 11:16 PM

Wrinkly fingers for gripping?

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, here's the latest in adaptationism:

Best URL for sharing:
Permanent image URL for hotlinking or embedding:
Hat-tip to Justin Blumenstiel, who is the king of transposable elements, which I think means that every time one of them transposes, they have to tithe to him.

Changizi M, Weber R, Kotecha R, & Palazzo J (2011). Are Wet-Induced Wrinkled Fingers Primate Rain Treads? Brain, behavior and evolution PMID: 21701145

... Read more »

Changizi M, Weber R, Kotecha R, & Palazzo J. (2011) Are Wet-Induced Wrinkled Fingers Primate Rain Treads?. Brain, behavior and evolution. PMID: 21701145  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 08:50 PM

Q&A's with a Science Journalist: 'It's All Relativity'

by Paige Brown in From The Lab Bench

This week I am interviewing Louise Ogden, a science blogger on our own community blog Student Voices, which is hosted on Scitable by Nature Education. Louise also has her own science blog, It’s All Relativity, where she talks about space missions, climate change, exoplanets, solar eclipses, and much more! Louise is currently finishing up her Masters project at City University in London, which will earn her an (exciting!) degree in science journalism.... Read more »

Alison Wright. (2010) High-energy physics: Top of the class . Nature Physics, 6(644). info:/10.1038/nphys1783

  • July 1, 2011
  • 08:50 PM

Summer of the pill: will the pill mess up my chances at finding my One True Love?

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

Next in the summer of the pill series. This week I deal with research that shows the pill alters women's mate preferences.... Read more »

Bereczkei T, Voros S, Gal A, & Bernath L. (1997) Resources, attractiveness, family commitment; reproductive decisions in human mate choice. Ethology : formerly Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie, 103(8), 681-99. PMID: 12293453  

Brinsmead-Stockham K, Johnston L, Miles L, & Neil Macrae C. (2008) Female sexual orientation and menstrual influences on person perception. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(3), 729-734. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2007.05.003  

Kurzban R, & Weeden J. (2005) HurryDate: Mate preferences in action. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26(3), 227-244. DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.08.012  

Pawłowski B, & Dunbar RI. (1999) Impact of market value on human mate choice decisions. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 266(1416), 281-5. PMID: 10081164  

Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Carter V, & Petrie M. (2008) MHC-correlated odour preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 275(1652), 2715-22. PMID: 18700206  

Wedekind C, Seebeck T, Bettens F, & Paepke AJ. (1995) MHC-Dependent Mate Preferences in Humans. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 260(1359), 245-249. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0087  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 08:07 PM

How does boiling work?

by Anne Hanna in Icarus Swims

This post is a joint outcome from a couple classes I took in the spring term, on of which was on two-phase fluid flow and the other of which was on scientific communication. The science communication class included a project in which we were to translate a bit of technical literature to a popular science level, and I selected for this purpose the discussion of boiling processes presented in my two-phase flow course. It turns out that boiling processes are a lot more interesting than I'd expected (at least, to me), so on the off chance that anyone else might also find this interesting I've posted my writing project below. Let me know what you think!Read more »... Read more »

Van P. Carey. (2008) Chapter 7: Pool Boiling, Section 1: Regimes of Pool Boiling. Liquid Vapor Phase Change Phenomena: An Introduction to the Thermophysics of Vaporization and Condensation Processes in Heat Transfer Equipment, Second Edition. info:other/978-1591690351

  • July 1, 2011
  • 05:03 PM

How safe is mist netting for birds?

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

ABSTRACT: A newly-published study analyses the risks to wild birds of using mist nets to capture them for research ... Read more »

Erica N. Spotswood, Kari Roesch Goodman, Jay Carlisle, Renee L. Cormier, Diana L. Humple, Josee Rousseau, Susan L. Guers, & Gina G. Barton. (2011) How safe is mist netting? Evaluating the risk of injury and mortality to birds. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. info:/10.1111/j.2041-210X.2011.00123.x

  • July 1, 2011
  • 04:47 PM

Does Playing Hard To Get Really Work?

by eHarmony Labs in eHarmony Labs Blog

Do we have to jump through the hoops of “playing hard to get” even if we like the other person? Does “playing hard to get” really work? Discover the answers from the latest research.... Read more »

Walster, E., Walster, G., Piliavin, J., & Schmidt, L. (1973) "Playing hard to get": Understanding an elusive phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 26(1), 113-121. DOI: 10.1037/h0034234  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 03:12 PM

To Live Longer, Be a Happy Ape

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Orangutans that achieve their goals, enjoy swinging with others, and always look on the bright side of the banana have longer lifespans than those who merely mope around the zoo. That's the conclusion of a long-term study of over 180 captive orangutans. The unhappy apes died sooner, and the happy apes lived to gloat about it.Alexander Weiss at the University of Edinburgh and his colleagues collected data on captive orangutans in parks around the world. At the beginning of the study period, employees at each zoo who were familiar with the orangutans there rated the apes on their apparent happiness. Questions included how often each orangutan seemed to be in a positive or negative mood, whether it enjoyed social interactions, how well it was able to achieve its goals, and "how happy [raters] would be if they were the orangutan for a short period of time."Over the next seven years, the researchers kept track of which orangutans had died. Though orangutans in captivity rarely live past their 30s, their aging process is similar to humans'.  And, as in humans, females tend to outlive males.So it wasn't surprising that more male orangutans died during the course of the study. But the researchers also found that orangutans rated as happier at the beginning of the study were less likely to die over the seven years that followed.One standard deviation in happiness, they found, was worth about five and a half added years of life. That means the difference between a pretty happy orangutan and a pretty unhappy orangutan is 11 years of living--no small change when you can only hope for 30 to 35 years to begin with.What could cause unhappy apes to die younger? One possibility is that apes appearing less happy are already ill in some subtle, pre-symptomatic way. Another explanation is that a positive attitude evolved through sexual selection, like a set of showy tail feathers, as a signal to potential mates that Suzy or Sammy Sunshine has good genes. (Though being able to live into old age presumably isn't as important to potential mates as just living long enough to make some baby apes.)A third possibility is that unhappy orangutans are experiencing more stress in their life, or have a poor ability to handle stress. Our bodies react to stressors by activating a hormonal system that gears us up to fight or flee whatever real or figurative predator is chasing us. It's a survival mode in the short term, but keeping that mode switched on in the long term is damaging to our bodies. Unhappy apes may have their lives shortened by stress.The authors note that in orangutans, as in humans, happiness doesn't rely on outside circumstances. Part of it is inherited: you're born with your personality. But genes aren't fate, and aiming for a positive attitude--or the fruit on the high branch--might keep you swinging around the jungle into old age.Image: harrymoon/FlickrWeiss, A., Adams, M., & King, J. (2011). Happy orang-utans live longer lives Biology Letters DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0543... Read more »

Weiss, A., Adams, M., & King, J. (2011) Happy orang-utans live longer lives. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0543  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 02:22 PM

Wilderness housing boom challenges conservation

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

The housing boom may be over in the United States, but things look very different when you take a step back. Since the 1940s, housing has grown at about 20 percent each decade. And while the current recession may have slowed things down, we’ll have to start building more houses eventually if we’re to house [...]... Read more »

Radeloff, V., Stewart, S., Hawbaker, T., Gimmi, U., Pidgeon, A., Flather, C., Hammer, R., & Helmers, D. (2009) Housing growth in and near United States protected areas limits their conservation value. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(2), 940-945. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0911131107  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 01:36 PM

The Anatomy of "The Look"

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind

I’m sure most of you will recognize these pictures, and many of you may even remember the exact moments when they were taken. Certain words immediately come to mind: disgrace, fall, scandal, regret. These eerily similar expressions all occurred during the variety of infidelity scandals that have rocked the political scene. This picture, now being called “the look,” has been floating around the internet for the last few weeks.  It provides a great opportunity for social psychologists to rally around the importance of non-verbal expressions in communication and how power can affect our emotional experience. 
The expressions of these disgraced politicians may be a bit confusing. It’s clear they express negative feelings, but which exactly? Take a second and look at them, do you feel a sense of sympathy, perhaps anger, or even suspicion? Their expressions are complicated and they say a lot. In some ways they communicate exactly what they are meant to, “I’m sorry, I’m ashamed, I’m disappointed in myself.”  But some other feelings also may be coming through, “I’m mad I got caught and I resent having to be here.” Facial expressions although they can be controlled can often be an honest communicator of our feelings, even when we don’t want them to be. To understand these expressions, let’s start at the beginning and break it down piece by piece.Read More-... Read more »

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. (1971) Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17(2), 124-129. DOI: 10.1037/h0030377  

Keltner, D., Gruenfeld, D., & Anderson, C. (2003) Power, approach, and inhibition. Psychological Review, 110(2), 265-284. DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.110.2.265  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 11:49 AM

And the Oscar goes to…Science!?

by Ben Good in B Good Science

Hollywood has never had a particularly good reputation for scientific accuracy. However, recently its science acumen has received a boost. It is currently the first time that the ‘reigning’ best actor and actress have been both been scientifically published. Colin Firth, has taken time out from swimming in country lakes and stuttering to co-author a [...]... Read more »

  • July 1, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Should we channel Donna Reed and James Dean?

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Really?  Tell me it isn’t so.  Okay. We are not so sure about this one. We’ve spent lots of time telling you about research that talks about being likable, how to be persuasive to juries, and the importance of jurors seeing you as “like” them but still true to yourself. So now, we have new research saying that [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: Using attraction to your advantage
Simple Jury Persuasion: Tilt your head. (no kidding)
Simple Jury Persuasion: She reminds me of my Grandmother…
... Read more »

  • July 1, 2011
  • 06:00 AM

Paucis Verbis: Imaging for blunt cerebrovascular injuries

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

In the setting of blunt trauma, it is easily to overlook a patient's risk for blunt cerebrovascular injuries (BCVI). These are injuries to the carotid and vertebral arteries. Often they are asymptomatic with the initial injury, but the goal is to detect them before they develop a delayed stroke.Who are at risk for these injuries? What kind of imaging should I order to rule these injuries out? Do I really treat these patients with antithrombotic agents even in the setting of trauma to reduce the incidence of CVA?FYI: A simple seat-belt sign along the neck does not warrant a CT angiogram. Patients with higher risk findings such as significant pain, tenderness, swelling, and/or a bruit probably need imaging.You can download this PV card: [MS Word] [PDF]See other Paucis Verbis cards.ReferenceBurlew CC, Biffl WL. Imaging for blunt carotid and vertebral artery injuries. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2011, 91(1), 217-31. PMID: 21184911.... Read more »

Burlew CC, & Biffl WL. (2011) Imaging for blunt carotid and vertebral artery injuries. The Surgical clinics of North America, 91(1), 217-31. PMID: 21184911  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 04:31 AM

This picture will make it more likely that you'll seek help (probably)

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Prompts in the environment make their way beneath your conscious radar and into your mind, affecting your mood and behaviour. Past research has shown that a briefcase, as opposed to a rucksack, on a table, leads people to behave more competitively. A wall poster featuring a pair of staring eyes increases people's use of an honesty box. And a 2009 study found that pictures of companionable dolls increased the likelihood that toddlers would help a stranger pick up sticks they'd dropped. Now Mark Rubin at the University of Newcastle has added to this literature with an adult study showing that pictures of companionship don't just increase the giving of help, they also increase the intention to seek help.

Actual pictures used in the study
Over a hundred students answered questions online about their general proclivity for seeking help or doing things on their own. Next they were shown a photograph of two people standing side-by-side in the corridor - either a man and woman, or woman and child - and asked to imagine for a minute that they were the woman, in the first case, or a child if they saw the second picture. Crucially, half the participants saw a version in which the two people were holding hands whilst the remaining participants saw a version in which the two people were not holding hands.

This subtle difference had a significant effect on the answers participants gave to the next eight questions they were asked, all of which pertained to whether they would seek help from other people in a lab report they had to complete later in the semester. Participants who'd seen the photo in which the two people were holding hands were far more likely to say that they would seek help than were the participants who'd seen the other picture. The difference according to Cohen's measure of effect size was small to medium, which is impressive given the subtlety of the intervention. Moreover, Rubin found this main effect held regardless of how prone people were to seeking help in general, and it held regardless of how suspicious participants were about the aims of the study. It also didn't make any difference if the hand-holding cue was seen in a romantic or parental context.

Obviously future research is needed to see if this effect applies with a non-student sample, with a non-academic helping context and with actual help-seeking behaviour rather than merely help-seeking intentions. "These findings are consistent with [the] suggestion that affiliation cues activate a broad prosocial orientation," Rubin concluded. "In particular, it appears that this prosocial orientation applies not only to others (i.e. help giving) but also to the self (i.e. help seeking)."

Rubin, M. (2011). Social affiliation cues prime help-seeking intentions. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 43 (2), 138-141 DOI: 10.1037/a0022246

Further reading: Mind Wide Open, the psychology of non-conscious influences.

This post was written by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.

... Read more »

Rubin, M. (2011) Social affiliation cues prime help-seeking intentions. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 43(2), 138-141. DOI: 10.1037/a0022246  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 04:23 AM

Unexpected FLCN mutations

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

A recent paper by Pichert et al. (2011) screened 4805 patients for genetic imbalance in cancer predisposition genes. The patients had been referred to UK clinics for developmental delay, behavioural abnormalities and birth defects. Array CGH was used to detect … Continue reading →... Read more »

Sempau L, Ruiz I, González-Morán A, Susanna X, & Hansen TV. (2010) [New mutation in the Birt Hogg Dube gene]. Actas dermo-sifiliograficas, 101(7), 637-40. PMID: 20858390  

Benhammou JN, Vocke CD, Santani A, Schmidt LS, Baba M, Seyama K, Wu X, Korolevich S, Nathanson KL, Stolle CA.... (2011) Identification of intragenic deletions and duplication in the FLCN gene in Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome. Genes, chromosomes , 50(6), 466-77. PMID: 21412933  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 03:10 AM

Scanning for juvenile delinquency

by sciencebase in Sciencebase Science Blog

Scanning for juvenile delinquency – Impulsiveness in youth is not a criminal offence, although if it reaches into the realm of delinquency it can quickly become so. Researchers in the US are using functional magnetic resonance imaging to see whether the brains of young offenders differ in some behavioural way from those of non-criminals. Seemingly, [...]Scanning for juvenile delinquency is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
... Read more »

Shannon, B., Raichle, M., Snyder, A., Fair, D., Mills, K., Zhang, D., Bache, K., Calhoun, V., Nigg, J., Nagel, B.... (2011) Premotor functional connectivity predicts impulsivity in juvenile offenders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1108241108  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 01:58 AM

A Tree of Eukaryotes v1.3a

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

Time for a new tree, finally. Some groups have been fixed and the diagram has moved from Powerpoint to a real vector art program (Illustrator), so hopefully it looks a bit nicer now and has slightly fewer glaring errors. Have yet to fix all issues, the biggest (and hardest) being the proportions taken up by the various groups -- the tree appears dominated by Excavates for some reason. Due to lack of convenient taxa for the heteroloboseans and euglenids, I expanded them to the genus level in some cases to attempt to capture some of the diversity better, but that screwed things up for the rest of the tree. Since fixing that would require some hardcore structural changes to the whole tree, I'll do that later, in the next edition (which will not take over a year to come out this time). Given some conferences coming up this summer, and that people have asked, I'll release what I have done now as v1.3a. Enjoy! (And do complain if you spot anything awry...)Previous versions and discussions, along with trees by other people, can be found here.ReferencesA shit ton (see image). But doesn't allow indexing 'shit ton', so I'm gonna be pathetically lazy and just cite this:Keeling, P., Burger, G., Durnford, D., Lang, B., Lee, R., Pearlman, R., Roger, A., & Gray, M. (2005). The tree of eukaryotes Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20 (12), 670-676 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2005.09.005

... Read more »

Keeling, P., Burger, G., Durnford, D., Lang, B., Lee, R., Pearlman, R., Roger, A., & Gray, M. (2005) The tree of eukaryotes. Trends in Ecology , 20(12), 670-676. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2005.09.005  

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