Post List

  • May 4, 2010
  • 08:54 PM

Comparative Functional Genomics: Penguin vs. Bacterium

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

No, not the flesh-blood-and-feathers penguin, but rather Tux, the beloved mascot of the Linux operating system. Compared with Escherichia coli, the model organism of choice for microbiologists.

We refer to DNA as “the book of life”; some geeks refer to it as the “operating system of life”. Just like in a computer’s operating system, DNA contains [...]... Read more »

  • May 4, 2010
  • 08:36 PM

Psychosis Among Substance Users

by Neuropsych15 in The MacGuffin

Psychosis among drug users is quite common. Often, it is difficult to determine which came first, substance use or psychosis. Frequently, they co-occur. In cases where drugs are causally related (i.e., substance-induced psychosis), the condition is typically transient with a duration of 1 month or less. In rare cases, the length of psychosis can last longer. And in even rarer cases, symptoms such as hallucinations can be permanent.Psychosis can be associated with the use ........ Read more »

Thirthalli, J . (2006) Psychosis Among Substance Users. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. info:/

  • May 4, 2010
  • 06:02 PM

Declining Standards in Higher Education

by Michael Bishop in Permutations

In a paper entitled, “Leisure College, USA“ Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks have documented dramatic declines in study effort since 1961, from 24 down to 14 hours per week. This decline occurred at all different sorts of colleges and is not a result of students working for pay.

At the same time, colleges are handing out better grades. In other work, Babcock presents strongly suggestive evidence that the two phenomena are related. That is, lower grading standards lead to less st........ Read more »

Phillip Babcock . (2010) The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data. NBER Working Paper. info:other/15954_id

  • May 4, 2010
  • 06:00 PM

Turbidity: A Safe Haven For Prey?

by Daniel Bassett in Chew the Fat

Turbidity is well known for its negative impact on fish feeding ability. As turbidity increases the visual range of the predator decreases, which leads to a reduction in the area searched, and therefore a lowered encounter rate. But what is one fish's garbage maybe another's treasure. The authors of this paper investigated whether turbidity can also provide a cover, or safe haven, for prey fish making them harder to detect.... Read more »

Chiu, S., & Abrahams, M. (2010) Effects of turbidity and risk of predation on habitat selection decisions by Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 309-316. info:/10.1007/s10641-010-9599-8

  • May 4, 2010
  • 05:55 PM

Forgive Yourself Today, Procrastinate Less...Tomorrow

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

Research shows that students who forgive themselves for procrastinating, manage to reduce subsequent procrastination on the same task.... Read more »

Michael J.A. Wohl, Timothy A. Pychyl, & Shannon H. Bennett. (2010) I forgive myself, now I can study: How self-forgiveness for procrastinating can reduce future procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences. info:/doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.029

  • May 4, 2010
  • 04:17 PM

Aterian artifacts at 175,000 BP at Ifri n’Ammar, Morocco

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

The Moroccan Ministry of Culture has a press release (in French) about the cave site of Ifri n’Ammar, about 50km south (i.e., away from the coast) of Nador, indicating that the Moroccan-German team that has been working there for the past seven years has identified Aterian levels dating to about 175,000 BP. If these dates are correct, they push back the age for the earliest Aterian assemblages by some 65,000 year, since to date, the oldest Aterian levels had been identified at the Moroccan sit........ Read more »

  • May 4, 2010
  • 03:39 PM

Dead bodies can’t feel pain, or why biomechanics and ergonomics haven’t reduced back pain

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

I know, it should make sense: reduce the biomechanical load on the body bits and pain/injury should reduce, right?  I mean, the maths adds up, cadaver experiments ‘prove it’, it has ‘face validity’, there is a whole industry based on the idea of  ‘safe lifting’ and injury prevention – physical ergonomics works, doesn’t it? Well, … Read more... Read more »

  • May 4, 2010
  • 03:39 PM

May will be a month of illusions

by Dave in The Daily Monthly

For the next month, I’m going to be blogging about illusions and the people who create them. So let’s get started. Take a look at the following short movie, following the on-screen instructions. Just watch it once!

This one is based on an illusion by Stuart Anstis, who in turn based it on a very popular [...]... Read more »

Thompson, P., Anstis, S., Rhodes, G., Jeffery, L., & Valentine, T. (2009) Thompson’s 1980 paper. Perception, 38(6), 921-932. DOI: 10.1068/pmktho  

  • May 4, 2010
  • 01:31 PM

No Free Lunch

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Bald eagles may prey on threatened species

... Read more »

  • May 4, 2010
  • 12:35 PM

Where are all the males? - ancient DNA raises questions about extinct moa populations

by Laelaps in Laelaps

The skeletons of female (larger, background) and male (smaller, foreground) Dinornis robustus, with a pigeon skeleton for comparison. From Allentoft et al 2010.

A little more than 700 years ago, multiple species of the gigantic, flightless birds called moas were still running around New Zealand. They ranged over almost the entirety of the North and South Islands, from the coast to the mountain forests, but when the Maori people arrived in the late 13th century the birds were quickly driven........ Read more »

  • May 4, 2010
  • 12:03 PM

Does Couple Therapy Work?

by eHarmony Labs in eHarmony Labs Blog

Just released are the 5-year results from the largest-ever experimental study of therapies for unhappy couples. Discover whether the effects of couple's therapy actually last.... Read more »

  • May 4, 2010
  • 11:52 AM

GWAS and the Genetics of Human Disease

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

An essay published last week in Cell dismissed the findings of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and questioned their value to the study of human disease. In their article Genetic Heterogeneity in Human Disease, McLellan and King argue that because common diseases exhibit a high deegree of allelic, locus, and phenotypic heterogeneity, their causality “can almost [...]... Read more »

McClellan J, & King MC. (2010) Genetic heterogeneity in human disease. Cell, 141(2), 210-7. PMID: 20403315  

  • May 4, 2010
  • 10:58 AM

Bilingualism as a Preadaptation for Language

by Sean Roberts in The Adventures of Auck

A comparative approach to bilingualism. Bilingualism is difficult to define, but by asking whether there is evidence for this capacity in non-human species, it's hoped that this question is made clearer.... Read more »

D. Demolin. (2010) Prosody and recursion in primate vocalisation. Proceed- ings of the JAIST International Seminar on the Emergence and Evolution of Linguistic Communication, Kyoto, Japan. info:/

Doupe AJ, & Kuhl PK. (1999) Birdsong and human speech: common themes and mechanisms. Annual review of neuroscience, 567-631. PMID: 10202549  

Fitch, W. T. (2005) The evolution of language: A comparative review. Biology and Philosophy, 20(2-3), 193-203. info:/10.1007/s10539-005-5597-1

Kaminski J, Call J, & Fischer J. (2004) Word learning in a domestic dog: evidence for "fast mapping". Science (New York, N.Y.), 304(5677), 1682-3. PMID: 15192233  

Oda, R. and Masataka, N. (1996) Interspecific responses of ring-tailed lemurs to playback of antipredator alarm calls given by Verreaux's sifakas. Ethology, 441-453. info:/10.1159/000021651

SCOTT-PHILLIPS, T. (2008) Defining biological communication. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 21(2), 387-395. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2007.01497.x  

Zuberbühler, K. (2000) Interspecies semantic communication in two forest primates. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 267(1444), 713-718. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2000.1061  

  • May 4, 2010
  • 09:12 AM

Simple Counting: an innate ability of humans to know what the chances are

by Vahid Motlagh in Ideas for a deeper sense of life

A couple of days ago Steven Strogatz, the chaos and complexity theorist, wrote a lucid article in the New York Times about the daunting task of teaching probability theory. In particular he dealt with the cerebrally demanding topic of formalizing and analyzing “conditional probability”. What he suggests is quite reasonable, "comporting with human intuition instead of confounding it."Strogatz recommends skipping the mathematical formalism and avoid using Bayes’s theorem, much as his student........ Read more »

Teglas, E., Girotto, V., Gonzalez, M., & Bonatti, L. (2007) Intuitions of probabilities shape expectations about the future at 12 months and beyond. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(48), 19156-19159. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0700271104  

  • May 4, 2010
  • 08:31 AM

Sex Addiction as a Masculine Ideal

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

Only briefly (at p.269) does Levine (2010) get close to why it is we can live in an era when hyper-sexuality in men is at once constructed as a terrible addiction and a masculine ideal. The great relief is that most men are not really sexually 'sick' at all.... Read more »

Levine SB. (2010) What is sexual addiction?. Journal of sex , 36(3), 261-75. PMID: 20432125  

  • May 4, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Winston Churchill once defined a pessimist as one who sees the difficulty in every opportunity, but an optimist as one who sees the opportunity in every difficulty. New research shows that optimists, who already enjoy better goal attainment, more resilience, and better overall well-being compared to pessimists, also enjoy a healthier immune system. The new [...]... Read more »

Avitsur, R., Powell, N., Padgett, D., & Sheridan, J. (2009) Social Interactions, Stress, and Immunity. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America, 29(2), 285-293. DOI: 10.1016/j.iac.2009.02.006  

Segerstrom, S. (2007) Stress, Energy, and Immunity: An Ecological View. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(6), 326-330. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00522.x  

  • May 4, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Leptin and the New Biology of Obesity

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

Yesterday, I co-chaired and spoke at a session on obesity management at the 25th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in New York.
Later in the afternoon, Jeff Friedman, who played a prominent role in the discovery of leptin, thereby hearkening in the modern era of adipocyte and appetite physiology, presented an update [...]... Read more »

Hedbacker K, Birsoy K, Wysocki RW, Asilmaz E, Ahima RS, Farooqi IS, & Friedman JM. (2010) Antidiabetic effects of IGFBP2, a leptin-regulated gene. Cell metabolism, 11(1), 11-22. PMID: 20074524  

  • May 4, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

Social Science to the Rescue

by Bluegrass Blue Crab in Southern Fried Science

The cultural driver of shark killing - from

Can social science save the sharks? A recent article in Progress in Oceanography by Peter Jacques seems to think so, calling for a “social oceanography”. In other circles, this could be known as the human dimensions of a marine ecosystem or the social side of [...]... Read more »

  • May 4, 2010
  • 06:46 AM

Does immune evasion allow rapid HIV progression?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

I was getting a little concerned and distressed by the lack of evidence for any function of viral MHC class I immune evasion. It’s kind of a relief to see articles demonstrating function coming out.
MHC class I is the target for cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), which are generally believed to be pretty important in [...]... Read more »

Stevenson, P., May, J., Smith, X., Marques, S., Adler, H., Koszinowski, U., Simas, J., & Efstathiou, S. (2002) K3-mediated evasion of CD8 T cells aids amplification of a latent γ-herpesvirus. Nature Immunology. DOI: 10.1038/ni818  

Hansen, S., Powers, C., Richards, R., Ventura, A., Ford, J., Siess, D., Axthelm, M., Nelson, J., Jarvis, M., Picker, L.... (2010) Evasion of CD8 T Cells Is Critical for Superinfection by Cytomegalovirus. Science, 328(5974), 102-106. DOI: 10.1126/science.1185350  

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