Post List

  • December 3, 2009
  • 12:00 AM

Scientists find way to strengthen memories during sleep

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If only we could make more constructive use of all the time that we spend asleep. People have tried playing various tapes to themselves while they're dozing, from foreign vocab lists to stop-smoking mantras, but they're all the wrong side of useless. What we do know for sure is that sleep is important for memory consolidation, if only we could tap into this somehow. Now, finally, John Rudoy and colleagues have provided some elusive evidence for how learning during sleep can be enhanced.Twelve pa........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:30 PM

Alternate structures and catalysis in cyclophilin

by Michael Clarkson in Conformational Flux

Of all the sources of structural variability in proteins, the hardest to pin down is side-chain conformational heterogeneity. Side chains aren't always easy to model into their primary conformation in the first place — you need excellent crystal diffraction or NMR data to do it. Even if you pulled that off, it's not always clear how (or if) side-chain fluctuations relate to a protein's activity. If we carefully examine our data for the faintest signals, however, we can sometimes find evide........ Read more »

Fraser, J., Clarkson, M., Degnan, S., Erion, R., Kern, D., & Alber, T. (2009) Hidden alternative structures of proline isomerase essential for catalysis. Nature, 462(7273), 669-673. DOI: 10.1038/nature08615  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 09:21 PM

An alternative cloning strategy: yeast recombinational cloning

by Alejandro Montenegro-Montero in MolBio Research Highlights

As part of my Ph.D thesis, I have to generate a lot of transcriptional fusions (constructs in which a promoter of choice is cloned in front of a reporter gene in order to evaluate transcriptional regulation. Such plasmids can then be transformed into your model organism to study this regulation in vivo).Traditionally, this involves amplifying the region of interest (in my case a promoter region) ... Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 06:02 PM

Risky ramblings

by Jan Husdal in

Why such a title? The abstract of this article promises to highlight six areas of supply chain risk and discuss these at length, showing how they are endemic to the extended enterprise, and develop a typology for categorizing them. And indeed, a lengthy discussion it is, hence the “rambling”. That said, it is a lengthy discussion not to be missed.
... Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 04:25 PM

Benford's Mathemagical Law

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

A wide range of naturally occurring number collections show a very distinct pattern: They more often feature a "one" as their first digit than any other number. This distributive feature has been described as Benford's law. Benford's law is an intriguing classic well worth (re-)appreciating; especially since it is often misunderstood...... Read more »

Fewster, R. (2009) A Simple Explanation of Benford's Law. The American Statistician, 63(1), 26-32. DOI: 10.1198/tast.2009.0005  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 02:28 PM

Simulation a Cat-Like Brain

by Olexandr Isayev in

IBM’s Almaden Research Center announced in November that it had produced a “cortical simulation” of the scale and complexity of a cat brain. This simulation ran on one of IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputers, in this case at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL):
Scientists, at IBM Research – Almaden, in collaboration with colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley [...]... Read more »

R. Ananthanarayanan, S. K. Esser, H. D. Simon, & D. S. Modha. (2009) The Cat is Out of the Bag: Cortical Simulations with 109 Neurons, 1013 Synapses. Proceedings of the Conference on High Performance Computing Networking, Storage and Analysis , 1-12. DOI: 10.1145/1654059.1654124  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 02:23 PM

How to make your brain shrink: age

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

A new study in the Journal of Neuroscience reports that significant reductions in cortical volume occur during normal aging over the span of only one year. The researchers collected MRI data from 142 healthy elderly people aged 60-91 (60 is elderly? Really?). Cortical volume reduction was detectable in several regions, but most prominently in temporal and prefrontal cortices which of course includes regions involved in language function. No wonder I can't remember names anymore... Fjell, A., ........ Read more »

Fjell, A., Walhovd, K., Fennema-Notestine, C., McEvoy, L., Hagler, D., Holland, D., Brewer, J., & Dale, A. (2009) One-Year Brain Atrophy Evident in Healthy Aging. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(48), 15223-15231. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3252-09.2009  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 02:10 PM

Big Cover-Up

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Some marine creatures build more shell in acidified waters

... Read more »

Ries, J., Cohen, A., & McCorkle, D. (2009) Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification. Geology. info:/10.1130/G30210A.1

  • December 2, 2009
  • 01:54 PM

Reduced predator populations lead to algal blooms

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Algal blooms are a phenomenon in which algal populations in a marine area proliferate rapidly, creating a water-column shield that blocks sunlight and oxygen. These blooms are usually attributed to rises in nitrogen levels from human agriculture and industrial runoff, which fertilize the algae. But a study in the current issue of Ecological Applications shows [...]

... Read more »

Eriksson, B., Ljunggren, L., Sandström, A., Johansson, G., Mattila, J., Rubach, A., Råberg, S., & Snickars, M. (2009) Declines in predatory fish promote bloom-forming macroalgae. Ecological Applications, 19(8), 1975-1988. DOI: 10.1890/08-0964.1  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 01:34 PM

Back to the basics: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Psychosocial Factors in Low Back Pain

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

In New Zealand, the national accident insurer, Accident Compensation Corporation, has been reviewing its pain management service contracts. The latest message from both the Government and ACC is the need to reduce costs (not that I’ve ever heard anyone say ‘let’s go for broke, let’s spend all we can!’) and one way to do [...]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 01:28 PM

New Zicam study shows possible mechanism for anosmia

by PalMD in White Coat Underground

Remember the Zicam debacle? To catch you up, Zicam has been promoted for years as a "homeopathic cold remedy". It is of course neither. Since it contains measurable amounts of zinc, it isn't "homeopathic", and since there is no cure for the common cold, it's not a remedy. In addition to having neither of it's promoted qualities, the FDA has received hundreds of reports of people losing their sense of smell (became "anosmic") after using intranasal Zicam. As Steve Novella has pointed out, th........ Read more »

Lim, J., Davis, G., Wang, Z., Li, V., Wu, Y., Rue, T., & Storm, D. (2009) Zicam-Induced Damage to Mouse and Human Nasal Tissue. PLoS ONE, 4(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007647  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 12:31 PM

Mitochondrial Networks

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

Having taken a brief look at some plastids last week, I thought I should probably balance things out by writing about mitochondria; the energy generating centres of the (eukaryote) cell. Like plastids, mitochondria are thought to originate from endosymbiosed bacteria-like organisms and are often shown as looking something like the picture on the right. As well as creating energy in the form of ATP mitochondria are also involved in the B-oxidation of fatty acids (producing energy from fats), Iron........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 12:27 PM

Autism and Schizophrenia: proof from comparative genomics

by sandygautam in The Mouse Trap

Image via Wikipedia

I have blogged extensively about the Autism and Schizophrenia as opposites on a continuum theory. I remember first putting this theory in words in an article 3 yrs back on the mouse trap titled Autism and Schizophrenia: the two cultures. That 2006 article, in turn, was inspired by Daniel Nettle’s 2005 article in [...]Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Related posts:CNVs and Autism/ Schizophrenia I had been meaning to comment on a recent paper...Autism, Schizophreni........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:33 AM

What causes antigenic drift?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

HA structure showing mutating amino acids1

Anyone who’s taken a virology class, and many who haven’t, know about “antigenic drift” and “antigenic shift”. These are usually used to explain influenza virus changes over time (although of course the same concepts apply to many other viruses). Antigenic shift refers to large, abrupt changes in the [...]... Read more »

Hensley, S., Das, S., Bailey, A., Schmidt, L., Hickman, H., Jayaraman, A., Viswanathan, K., Raman, R., Sasisekharan, R., Bennink, J.... (2009) Hemagglutinin Receptor Binding Avidity Drives Influenza A Virus Antigenic Drift. Science, 326(5953), 734-736. DOI: 10.1126/science.1178258  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:28 AM

The Circumvention of Compulsory Sex

by Johnny in Ecographica

Males are sexually coercive. During initial encounters with the opposite sex, they will go to great lengths to impress and entice; they’ll offer gifts, sing, dance, and do whatever else is necessary to win a female’s affections. However, should these preliminary advances be rejected, the males from a multitude of different animal species will unhesitantly apply the tactics of deceit, intimidation and even brute force to satisfy their reproductive drives. ... Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:15 AM

ADHD and smoking? Prenatal Exposure to cigarettes and lead may increase risk for ADHD

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

The current issue of the journal Pediatrics includes a large epidemiological analysis of the association between prenatal exposure to tobacco and later risk for ADHD. The analysis was relatively simple and elegant. They examined a national representative sample of 2,588 US adolescents. Three variables were of interest: 1) whether the teen was exposed to tobacco before birth [...]... Read more »

Froehlich, T., Lanphear, B., Auinger, P., Hornung, R., Epstein, J., Braun, J., & Kahn, R. (2009) Association of Tobacco and Lead Exposures With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. PEDIATRICS, 124(6). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-0738  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:05 AM

For yucca moths, does (flower) size matter?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

In a paper just released online at Molecuar Ecology ahead of publication, genetic tests on moth larvae provide the latest piece to the puzzle of why there are two kinds of Joshua tree -- because the tree's pollinators need to match its flowers [PDF].

I've written extensively about the interaction between Joshua tree and its pollinators. Like all yuccas, Joshua tree is pollinated only by yucca moths. Female yucca moths collect pollen in special mouthparts and deliberately apply it to a yucca flo........ Read more »

Godsoe, W., Yoder, J.B., Smith, C., & Pellmyr, O. (2008) Coevolution and divergence in the Joshua tree/yucca moth mutualism. The American Naturalist, 171(6), 816-823. DOI: 10.1086/587757  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 09:03 AM

In the News this month: spectacular outflows in Orion

by Megan in Rigel

The constellation of Orion contains some massive complex regions of star formation, the most obvious of which is the , M42, located in Orion's sword. Through an optical telescope you can see a large glowing cloud of gas illuminated by a cluster of young, hot stars. But behind this cloud, hidden from view, lies another cluster of proto-stars, clumps of gas still collapsing under gravity in the process of forming stars. As ordinary light cannot penetrate through the gas, other parts of the el........ Read more »

L. D. Matthews, L. J. Greenhill, C. Goddi, C. J. Chandler, E. M. L. Humphreys, & M. Kunz. (2010) A Feature Movie of SiO Emission 20-100 AU from the Massive Young Stellar Object Orion Source I. Astrophysical Journal. arXiv: 0911.2473v1

  • December 2, 2009
  • 08:41 AM

In the News this month: a new way to search for exoplanets

by Megan in Rigel

are continuously being refined and are detecting ever smaller planets at greater and greater distances from their parent stars. But a team of astronomers have between planetary systems and lithium abundance that could provide a . Most methods of searching for planetary systems around other stars are best suited to finding large planets orbiting very close to their host stars. But what if there was a way to determine the likelihood of a particular star hosting planets, without actually detectin........ Read more »

Israelian, G., Mena, E., Santos, N., Sousa, S., Mayor, M., Udry, S., Cerdeña, C., Rebolo, R., & Randich, S. (2009) Enhanced lithium depletion in Sun-like stars with orbiting planets. Nature, 462(7270), 189-191. DOI: 10.1038/nature08483  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 08:30 AM

What is the social cost of conservation in poor countries?

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Pamela McElwee from Arizona State University recently published an important study on the social costs of protected areas looking at the case of the Ke Go nature reserve in Vietnam. She wrote an excellent research summary for her self-titled blog, which she has graciously granted us permission to re-post here.... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit