Post List

  • May 27, 2009
  • 04:07 PM

The autistic way of laughing

by Michelle Dawson in The Autism Crisis

There are real and fake smiles that can be distinguished visually, if you know how, and it turns out that there are real and fake laughs. William Hudenko, a clinician and researcher, patiently explained this to me at IMFAR 2009. Real laughs are "voiced" versus fake laughs that are "unvoiced" and these two kinds of laughs can be distinguished acoustically. Hudenko et al. (in press) describe voiced laughs as having a "tonal, song-like quality" and as "strongly associated with positive affect," whi........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 03:59 PM

A gene for music?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Last week a paper was published in PLoS-ONE suggesting a relation between AVPR1A-Haplotypes and musical creativity. A group of Finish researchers analyzed 19 families with a total of 343 family members on their musical aptitude —using the Seashore test and a test developed by one of the authors— and their DNA profiles. They were able to show an association between these and related genes and levels of musical creativity. The research contrasts earlier research with twins that suggested no s........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 02:49 PM

Does faking amnesia permanently distort your memory?

by Dave Munger in Cognitive Daily

A common defense in murder cases is "focal retrograde amnesia": the defendant claims to have simply forgotten what occurred around the time of the crime (perhaps due having consumed too much alcohol or other drugs). In fact, "amnesia" is claimed in as many as 45 percent of murders. Psychologists know that this sort of amnesia is in fact quite rare, so it's very likely that most, if not all of these defendants are faking amnesia.

In fact, we can confirm that many of these cases are faked: when d........ Read more »

Sun, X., Punjabi, P., Greenberg, L., & Seamon, J. (2009) Does feigning amnesia impair subsequent recall?. Memory , 37(1), 81-89. DOI: 10.3758/mc.37.1.81  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 12:30 PM

CONSERVATION: Hope for Accelerated Ecosystem Recovery

by Michael Long in Phased

Holly Jones and Oswald Schmitz

(Yale University, Connecticut) have compiled scientific evidence

that ecosystems typically recover within decades, not centuries.

This news feature was written on May 27, 2009.... Read more »

Jones, H. P., & Schmitz, O. J. (2009) Rapid Recovery of Damaged Ecosystems. PLoS ONE, 4(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005653  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 12:00 PM

Fear of Flying

by sciencebase in Sciencebase Science Blog

Personally, I’ve never had a problem with a fear of flying, a lot of people suffer from this often debilitating phobia though despite reassurances about road death statistics being much worse than air crashes. That said perhaps there is one aspect of flying that should be of concern - exposure to radiation from outer space, [...]Post from: Sciencebase Science Blog... Read more »

S. Zaichkina, O. Rozanova, G. Aptikaeva, A. Akhmadieva, H. Smirnova, S. Romanchenko, O. Vakhrusheva, S. Sorokina, A. Dyukina, & V. Peleshko. (2009) Adaptive response and genetic instability induced in mice in vivo by low dose-rate radiation simulating high-altitude flight conditions. Int. J. Low Radiation, 6(1), 28-36.

  • May 27, 2009
  • 11:00 AM

LepToThin - Nature's most powerful weight loss agent?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

I recently came across the website for LepToThin, a weight loss supplement which targets the hormone leptin. Although leptin induces satiety (in addition to many other functions), most obese individuals develop leptin resistance.  Individuals who are resistant to leptin require more food before they feel full, making weight loss or even weight maintenance increasingly difficult.

Every so often someone comes out with a treatment that "cures" leptin resistance.  This is somewh........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 11:00 AM

Science Citation Classics: One Gene, One Protein

by John Dennehy in The Evilutionary Biologist

Through sheer persistence, Beedle and Tatum unify biochemistry and genetics, ushering in a new age in biology. ... Read more »

Beadle, G.W. . (1941) The genetic control of biochemical reactions in Neurospora. . Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 499-506. DOI: 16588492  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 10:23 AM

Free drugs: Just say no?

by zayzayem in It's Alive!!

“Everybody likes something free.” I don’t think anyone is going to disagree with Chimonas and Kassirer there.

Drugs are expensive. And even if in a country like Australia, universal insurance may mean that vital medicines are cheap for the end-consumer, somewhere someone has pay the full price (i.e. the government).

Because drugs are so expensive, many [...]... Read more »

Chimonas, S., & Kassirer, J. (2009) No More Free Drug Samples?. PLoS Medicine, 6(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000074  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 10:20 AM

Your Microbiome and You

by Toaster Sunshine in Mad Scientist, Junior

You are never alone. Not even when you might want to be. Tucked away within the ~100m2 of your bowels are ~1014 (there are ~1013 somatic and germinal cells in the human body) of your closest friends, collectively termed The Microbiota. They eat, spawn, conjugate, die, poop, fight, and secrete right there inside of you, unseen and mostly unthought of except when something is wrong. This system, the remarkably homeostatic mammalian gut, forms what is perhaps the densest and most complex microb........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 09:30 AM

The peril of positive thinking - why positive messages hurt people with low self-esteem

by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science

When the going gets tough, thousands of people try to boost their failing self-esteem by repeating positive statements to themselves. Encouraged by magazine columnists, self-help books and talk-show hosts, people prepare for challenges by chanting positive mantras like "I am a strong, powerful person," and, "Nothing can stop me from achieving my dreams." This approach has been championed at least as far back as Norman Vincent Peale's infamous book The Power of Positive Thinking, published in 195........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 09:22 AM

Father-daughter bond affects the daughters’ romantic relationships

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

APS Convention Report #3

This post is part of a series of reports on research presented last weekend at the Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science.

Researchers have noted for decades that children view their home environment and relationship with their parents as “models”, and that this is usually reflected in how these children interact [...]... Read more »

Donnellan, M., Larsen-Rife, D., & Conger, R. (2005) Personality, Family History, and Competence in Early Adult Romantic Relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(3), 562-576. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.88.3.562  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 09:19 AM

Questioning One in Four: Part 1

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

One in four people suffer mental illness.Everyone knows that. But where does that number come from? The answer may surprise. Join me, if you will, as I explore the biography of a statistic."1 in 4" is ubiquitous, at least in the English-speaking world. I can't think of another such number which is better known, except perhaps the fact that 1 in 3 people will suffer from cancer.Anyone who's used the London Underground or watched British TV recently will be familiar with the Time to Change anti-st........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

Like Taking Candy From A Baby

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

...err..well, not exactly. But it is a much easier way for a 45 ton sperm whale to get a quick bite to eat. This amazing footage of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) shaking cod fishing lines 108 m deep off the coast of Sitka, Alaska, is the first ever of sperm whales feeding - albeit not on its usual prey, the massive squids of the deep sea. Most of the time, sperm whales dive to a staggering 900 to 2600 feet (that's up to half a mile or so deep) to catch their meals. At such depths, with n........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Is radiation therapy really effective for Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

by flounder in The Sharp End of the Photon

I have been closely following the sad saga of Daniel Hauser, the Minnesota teen who ran away with his mother rather than continue treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fortunately, he and his mother have returned to Minnesota, hopefully to continue his treatment. There has been a lot of debate about the ethics of a [...]... Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Can fig wasps bluff their way to mating success?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

“Not so tough now, are ya?”I think everyone secretly hopes to utter that phrase someday to someone who blusters and bullies and threatens.There’s a scene in Quentin Tarantino’s film Death Proof where Kurt Russell’s character, Stuntman Mike – who has just been terrorizing a group of women on the highway – gets shot. He runs like hell and is pretty soon all but balling his eyes out.I like the scene a lot, because we rarely see it acknowledged in movies or TV that getting shot........ Read more »

Moore, J., Obbard, D., Reuter, C., West, S., & Cook, J. (2009) Male morphology and dishonest signalling in a fig wasp. Animal Behaviour. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.04.006  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 07:02 AM

Gonna (Evolve To) Sing You My Love Song

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Why do we like to sing soppy love songs to our loved one? What is it about them that evokes a mood of affinity and bonding? Why do tears spring to our eyes when we hear a lyric that reminds us of a friendship, relationship or other close bond?The composition and interpretation of music through song, dance, and playing a musical instrument, are complex and high-level tasks of the creative brain. Indeed, the 'creative' aspects of personality are thought to constitute a particular division of intel........ Read more »

Ukkola, L., Onkamo, P., Raijas, P., Karma, K., & Järvelä, I. (2009) Musical Aptitude Is Associated with AVPR1A-Haplotypes. PLoS ONE, 4(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005534  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 06:45 AM

How the aphid got its wings

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Rosy Apple Aphid (Whalon lab, MSU)

While nothing can match the pure undiluted awesomeness that is the parasitoid wasp/bracovirus symbiosis,1 there are other symbioses that are at least in the same ballpark.  The latest one I’ve learned about is the relationship between a densovirus and the rosy apple aphid. 2  I can’t do better than to quote [...]... Read more »

Ryabov, E., Keane, G., Naish, N., Evered, C., & Winstanley, D. (2009) Densovirus induces winged morphs in asexual clones of the rosy apple aphid, Dysaphis plantaginea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(21), 8465-8470. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901389106  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 05:00 AM

The anti-vaccine movement: Is it too late for scientists to bridge the gap between evidence and fear?

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

Hot on the heels of yesterday's paper in Pediatrics showing that vaccine refusal elevates the risk of pertussis in a child by nearly 23-fold, a commentary in PLoS Biology asks what can be done to combat anti-vaccine misinformation. Entitled A Broken Trust: Lessons from the Vaccine-Autism Wars, it's an interview with a professor of medical anthropology at UCSF named Sharon Kaufman, who took a 26 month hiatus from her usual work on aging and longevity to study the anti-vaccine movement from an ant........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 02:50 AM

Emotional Intelligence and Medical Specialty Choice

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

The relationships between doctor personalities and medical specialties continues to interest me since we regularly have to select excellent young physicians to become psychiatrists. The usual caricatures of different specialties just won’t suffice as in the differences between surgeons and internists. It’s fun to read so if anyone knows some about psychiatrists and others please [...]... Read more »

  • May 27, 2009
  • 01:41 AM

Dopamine Neurons: Reward, Aversion, or Both?

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

If you can't tell by now, Sci is something of a dopamine junkie.

Ooooh yeah. See that? That's great. You wanna hit?

Anyway, when one first learns about dopamine, you learn about a "reward" molecule, the one that makes you feel good. Sounds like dope for a reason. But over time, scientist have found that it's not just about reward with dopamine. Dopamine has a lot more to do with things we like to call salience and value. The salience of a cue is in part related to its strength, and it p........ Read more »

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