Modern crocodylians—from alligators to gharials—can’t chew their food. Their jaws are adapted for snapping shut quickly and powerfully on prey, but once these archosaurs have captured their meal, they must either swallow it whole or tear off a smaller piece and bolt it down. Given that these extant species are often cast as “living fossils” [...]... Read more »
O’Connor, P., Sertich, J., Stevens, N., Roberts, E., Gottfried, M., Hieronymus, T., Jinnah, Z., Ridgely, R., Ngasala, S., & Temba, J. (2010) The evolution of mammal-like crocodyliforms in the Cretaceous Period of Gondwana. Nature, 466(7307), 748-751. DOI: 10.1038/nature09061
The superannuated antics of old-time public health reformers are good for a laugh. But in the folk memory of many Americans, the Keystone Healthkare Kops are still at work, trying to “tell us what’s good for us.”... Read more »
BURRIS, S., WAGENAAR, A., SWANSON, J., IBRAHIM, J., WOOD, J., & MELLO, M. (2010) Making the Case for Laws That Improve Health: A Framework for Public Health Law Research. Milbank Quarterly, 88(2), 169-210. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2010.00595.x
A rapidly accumulating body of evidence supports the profound impact of bariatric surgery on patients with type 2 diabetes, often resulting in complete resolution of this condition.
Two of the key mechanisms by which bariatric surgery improves glucose control are related to weight loss and to changes in the secretion of gut hormones that influence metabolism. [...]... Read more »
Bose M, Teixeira J, Olivan B, Bawa B, Arias S, Machineni S, Pi-Sunyer FX, Scherer PE, & Laferrère B. (2009) Weight loss and incretin responsiveness improve glucose control independently after gastric bypass surgery. Journal of diabetes, 2(1), 47-55. PMID: 20676394
There comes a moment in every biology blogger’s life when he or she must write about poop.
This is one of those moments.
When a paper’s title includes phrase, “fecal particle size,” sometimes, one just thinks, “Okay, I really should read that, if for no other reason than it was clearly a lot of unpleasant work for someone.”
The intellectual issue here relates to the difference digestive strategies of mammals and reptiles. Mammals chew; reptiles generally don’t. This has a lot of........ Read more »
Fritz, J., Hummel, J., Kienzle, E., Streich, W., & Clauss, M. (2010) To chew or not to chew: fecal particle size in herbivorous reptiles and mammals. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology. DOI: 10.1002/jez.629
John Higgins pointed me to this superb discussion of the challenges for physicists posed by biological systems (Phillips, R., & Quake, S. (2006). The Biological Frontier of Physics Physics Today 59 38-43). In this paper Rob Phillips and Stephen Quake offer — as a public service — three examples of big fascinating problems in biology [...]... Read more »
Just to be clear, we’ll be talking here about class, folk psychology, and my high school math teacher. But as ever, I’ve buried the lead. Now for some recap, before we get on to the good stuff – In the last post, we found that the behavior exhibited in the classic cookie task is more [...]... Read more »
Hurtado N, Marchman VA, & Fernald A. (2008) Does input influence uptake? Links between maternal talk, processing speed and vocabulary size in Spanish-learning children. Developmental science, 11(6), 313-9. PMID: 19046145
Marchman VA, & Fernald A. (2008) Speed of word recognition and vocabulary knowledge in infancy predict cognitive and language outcomes in later childhood. Developmental science, 11(3). PMID: 18466367
Hoff, E. (2003) The Specificity of Environmental Influence: Socioeconomic Status Affects Early Vocabulary Development Via Maternal Speech. Child Development, 74(5), 1368-1378. DOI: 10.1111/1467-8624.00612
Huttenlocher, J., Haight, W., Bryk, A., Seltzer, M., & et al, . (1991) Early vocabulary growth: Relation to language input and gender. Developmental Psychology, 27(2), 236-248. DOI: 10.1037//0012-1618.104.22.168
Try not to think of a white bear and what happens? You end up thinking of a white bear. This idea that suppressing thoughts makes them rebound stronger is well-established in psychology [pdf]. Now James Erskine and his co-workers have shown that the same or a similar process can lead behaviours to rebound too.
Eighty-five smokers (average age 31), none of whom were currently trying to quit, were divided into three groups for three weeks. One group was instructed to spend the middle week avoid........ Read more »
Erskine JA, Georgiou GJ, & Kvavilashvili L. (2010) I Suppress, Therefore I Smoke: Effects of Thought Suppression on Smoking Behavior. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS. PMID: 20660892
Sci may have mentioned before just how much she loves Mary Roach’s writing (warning, the webpage has a roach on the front. I’m warning you because if you’re like Sci and have a roach phobia, it can be…unpleasant. Just scroll down to the bottom of the screen and avoid it). Mary Roach, author of Stiff: [...]... Read more »
WARD JE, HAWKINS WR, & STALLINGS HD. (1959) Physiologic response to subgravity. II. Initiation of micturition. Aerospace medicine, 572-5. PMID: 13842868
Is it possible that if you have schizophrenia, smoking marijuana will actually improve your cognitive performance?
Since this blog is often concerned with the relationship between science and its communication, something which has come up once or twice here is the way drug and alcohol research is reported in the media.
Very often, it is reported that [...]... Read more »
Yücel M, Bora E, Lubman DI, Solowij N, Brewer WJ, Cotton SM, Conus P, Takagi MJ, Fornito A, Wood SJ.... (2010) The Impact of Cannabis Use on Cognitive Functioning in Patients With Schizophrenia: A Meta-analysis of Existing Findings and New Data in a First-Episode Sample. Schizophrenia bulletin. PMID: 20660494
Frisher, M., Crome, I., Martino, O., & Croft, P. (2009) Assessing the impact of cannabis use on trends in diagnosed schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. Schizophrenia Research, 113(2-3), 123-128. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2009.05.031
Before I started psychology I earned a degree in Business with an extended major in Advertising. When I tell people this they often go ‘Wow, that’s different. What made you make such a big change?’ I had this exact conversation yesterday. My response (which is well practised by now) is advertising is about making people [...]... Read more »
Simmons JP, & Nelson LD. (2006) Intuitive confidence: choosing between intuitive and nonintuitive alternatives. Journal of experimental psychology. General, 135(3), 409-28. PMID: 16846272
Long-time readers of this blog will know that plagiarism is a topic that comes up with some regularity, sometimes fueled by “kids today!” stories from the mainstream media, and sometimes due to actual research on plagiarism in different educational and professional spheres. Today, let’s have a look of a report of one such investigation, “Plagiarism [...]... Read more »
There is a lot of interest in how the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher will affect the ecosystem and its marine species. One such species is the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna that holds the Gulf of Mexico as one of its major spawning grounds. Recent tag data show that the location of the gusher is [...]... Read more »
Teo SL, & Block BA. (2010) Comparative influence of ocean conditions on yellowfin and atlantic bluefin tuna catch from longlines in the gulf of Mexico. PloS one, 5(5). PMID: 20526356
I hardly even know where to begin with Aaron Spital, MD. He is so pro-living donation that he concocts justifications for opinions not based on fact or logic, and refuses to acknowledge that living donors are vulnerable human beings with the same rights as the sick recipient and the almighty surgeon. In his 2001 article, he addresses Informed Consent (not necessary) and the Right to Donate (doesn't exist; a surgeon's rights come first). "Sometimes even competent people make rash decisions or are........ Read more »
SPITAL, A. (2001) Ethical issues in living organ donation: Donor autonomy and beyond. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 38(1), 189-195. DOI: 10.1053/ajkd.2001.25213
In a recent functional genomics study, Sommer et al. cite the use of the CopyControl™ Fosmid Library Production Kit to create a library from plant biomass DNA. Plant biomass is being explored for use in new biofuel development, in an effort to discover genetic functionalities that will allow growth improvement in key microbes by overcoming toxic/inhibitory compounds that are byproducts of biofuel conversions. Clones harboring these fosmids were tested against seven known growth inhibitors from........ Read more »
Sommer, M. et al. (2010) A functional metagenomic approach for expanding the synthetic biology toolbox for biomass conversion. Molecular Systems Biology. DOI: 10.1038/msb.2010.16
Researchers at Duke have elucidated the neural mechanisms of song learning and recall in swamp sparrows. Using neurophysiology, it was observed that songs learned during juvenile years are more strongly encoded and surprisingly, there was no difference between those songs sung and simply heard. This is remarkably different from human speech learning.... Read more »
Jonathan F. Prather, Susan Peters, Stephen Nowicki,and Richard Mooney. (2010) Persistent Representation of Juvenile Experience in the Adult Songbird Brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(31). info:/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6042-09.2010
In my earlier post about Stephen Hall‘s recent paper reporting on maize pollen at Chaco Canyon dating as early as 2500 BC, I said briefly that this really shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who’s been following this kind of research closely, and also that I would discuss the context for it later. Basically, the context [...]... Read more »
Merrill, W., Hard, R., Mabry, J., Fritz, G., Adams, K., Roney, J., & MacWilliams, A. (2009) The diffusion of maize to the southwestern United States and its impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(50), 21019-21026. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906075106
Simmons, A. (1986) New Evidence for the Early Use of Cultigens in the American Southwest. American Antiquity, 51(1), 73. DOI: 10.2307/280395
by Moselio Schaechter in Small Things Considered
As luck would have it, two pieces of writing on the sex habits of fungi appeared within days of each other. One is light reading, a post in the admirable Cornell Mushroom Blog entitled A Fungus Walks Into a Singles Bar. This is a précis into the complex story of fungal sexuality. It takes you...... Read more »
Raudaskoski, M., & Kothe, E. (2010) Basidiomycete Mating Type Genes and Pheromone Signaling. Eukaryotic Cell, 9(6), 847-859. DOI: 10.1128/EC.00319-09
A while back, I wrote a post about short and long term memory processes in cephalopods. I wrote then that there is good evidence for a dissociation of short and long term memory process in cephalopods, but that this isn't a good basis (alone) for inferring the presence of consciousness, or in the case of arguments about animal's rights, the capacity to suffer (which, I guess, usually comes along with being conscious.) I stand by ........ Read more »
Fiorito G, & Chichery R. (1995) Lesions of the vertical lobe impair visual discrimination learning by observation in Octopus vulgaris. Neuroscience letters, 192(2), 117-20. PMID: 7675317
SANDERS, G. (1970) Long-term memory of a tactile discrimination in Octopus vulgaris and the effect of vertical lobe removal. Brain Research, 20(1), 59-73. DOI: 10.1016/0006-8993(70)90154-X
One of the factors that is occasionally (rather inaccurately) used to separate plants from animals is that plants generally don't move. Some have fast moving parts, such as the venus fly trap, but they are still usually stuck in one place in the ground. Which means that once they've decided to grow they are totally dependent on their immediate surroundings for nutrients.As nutrients are not always plentiful many trees form symbiotic relationships with bacteria, for example nitrogen fixing bacte........ Read more »
Calvaruso C, Turpault MP, Leclerc E, Ranger J, Garbaye J, Uroz S, & Frey-Klett P. (2010) Influence of forest trees on the distribution of mineral weathering-associated bacterial communities of the Scleroderma citrinum mycorrhizosphere. Applied and environmental microbiology, 76(14), 4780-7. PMID: 20511429
"The systematic characterization of somatic mutations in cancer genomes is essential for understanding the disease and for developing targeted therapeutics." So began today's journal article from a letter to Nature (link below) from scientists at Genentech. They went on to...... Read more »
Kan, Z., Jaiswal, B., Stinson, J., Janakiraman, V., Bhatt, D., Stern, H., Yue, P., Haverty, P., Bourgon, R., Zheng, J.... (2010) Diverse somatic mutation patterns and pathway alterations in human cancers. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature09208
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