Post List

  • August 9, 2010
  • 05:40 PM

A Thinking Machine: On metaphors for mind

by melodye in Child's Play

“The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.”–B. F. Skinner. The study of mind begins with a metaphor. In the 20th century (and now on into the 21st) the metaphor that has dominated our study of mind is the [...]... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 05:25 PM

Why psychotic patients with religious delusions are harder to cure.

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

We all hold beliefs that are not provable, and defining when these beliefs cross the line and become psychotic delusions is not easy. It's clear that such a line does exist, however: every town has its share of people whose religious beliefs fall sufficiently far outside the conventional that they are declared psychotic.

In popular imagination, at least, psychotic delusions often have a religious component. In reality, many psychotic delusions are not religious. However, many delusions involve ........ Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 05:22 PM

Size really does matter! Well endowed male earwigs have their cake and eat it too…

by Dr. Carin Bondar in Dr. Carin Bondar - Biologist With a Twist

Many animal species employ a polyandrous sexual system, where one female mates with many males and stores sperm in a specialized storage organ.  Since fertilization doesn’t take place immediately (in some cases females can store viable sperm for several weeks), males actively compete to contribute to her sperm bank, regardless of whether it requires another [...]... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 04:05 PM

Delayed Gratification = Success?

by Darcy Cowan in Skepticon

Today we are going to step into the time machine and go back 21 years to 1989. It was in this year that the study to become known as the “Marshmallow experiment” was published. Performed by Walter Mischel at Stanford University this experiment showed an amazing thing, that testing a child’s self-control at 4yrs could [...]... Read more »

Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. (1989) Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244(4907), 933-938. DOI: 10.1126/science.2658056  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 03:30 PM

Genetic Components and Cultural Differences: The social sensitivity hypothesis

by Wintz in A Replicated Typo 2.0

Cultural differences are often attributed to events far removed from genetics. The basis for this belief is often based on the assertion that if you take an individual, at birth, from one society and implant them in another, then they will generally grow up to become well-adjusted to their adopted culture. Whilst this is more than . . . → Read More: Genetic Components and Cultural Differences: The social sensitivity hypothesis... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 03:20 PM

Does thinking keep it so? Health anxiety & memories

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

Years ago, the relationship between depression and chronic pain was the hot topic, and it’s only more recently that anxiety and pain have become popular. So slightly tangentially, but I think you’ll see how it relates, today I want to muse a bit about health anxiety and some of the findings from this interesting area … Read more... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 02:59 PM

Shark Conservation: The problem, the goal, and how to get there

by WhySharksMatter in Southern Fried Science

The problem
Sharks consistently rank near the top of lists of American’s greatest fears. In reality, they have much more to fear from us than we do from them. Because of our actions, many species of sharks are on the verge of extinction. A recent International Union for the Conservation of Nature Shark Specialist Group report [...]... Read more »

Clarke, S., McAllister, M., Milner-Gulland, E., Kirkwood, G., Michielsens, C., Agnew, D., Pikitch, E., Nakano, H., & Shivji, M. (2006) Global estimates of shark catches using trade records from commercial markets. Ecology Letters, 9(10), 1115-1126. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2006.00968.x  

Dulvy, N., Baum, J., Clarke, S., Compagno, L., Cortés, E., Domingo, A., Fordham, S., Fowler, S., Francis, M., Gibson, C.... (2008) You can swim but you can't hide: the global status and conservation of oceanic pelagic sharks and rays. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 18(5), 459-482. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.975  

Musick, JA. (2000) Management of Sharks and their relatives (Elasmobranchii). Fisheries. info:/

  • August 9, 2010
  • 02:50 PM

Chemical Ant Language Has Synonyms

by Michael Long in Phased

Ellen van Wilgenburg (University of Melbourne, Australia) and coworkers have shown that ants can sometimes discriminate between highly similar carbon-based compounds, depending on molecular chain length and branching unit position. This news feature was written on August 9, 2010.... Read more »

van Wilgenburg, E., Sulc, R., Shea, K. J., & Tsutsui, N. D. (2010) Deciphering the Chemical Basis of Nestmate Recognition. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 36(7), 751-758. DOI: 10.1007/s10886-010-9812-4  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:33 PM

Zapping Memory Better in Alzheimer's

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Last month I wrote about how electrical stimulation of the hippocampus causes temporary amnesia - Zapping Memories Away.Now Toronto neurologists Laxton et al have tried to use deep brain stimulation (DBS) to improve memory in people with Alzheimer's disease. Progressive loss of memory is the best-known symptom of this disorder, and while some drugs are available, they provide partial relief at best.This study stems from a chance discovery by the same Toronto group. In 2008, they reported that st........ Read more »

Laxton AW, Tang-Wai DF, McAndrews MP, Zumsteg D, Wennberg R, Keren R, Wherrett J, Naglie G, Hamani C, Smith GS.... (2010) A phase I trial of deep brain stimulation of memory circuits in Alzheimer's disease. Annals of neurology. PMID: 20687206  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:28 PM

Mining figure legends. Huh.

by Mary in OpenHelix

Every so often something comes up in your weekly literature search that makes you go: huh. That happened to me today with a paper on text mining. Now, I have used a variety of text-mining tools (Textpresso, iHOP, PubMatrix,  XplorMed, etc are among the ones we have subscription tutorials on) and they have all sorts of strengths and weaknesses. And I’m convinced of the utility of them for making new connections, finding related literature, examining over-represented terms, etc. Because of ........ Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:23 PM

Green eggs power solar salamanders

by Lucas in thoughtomics

Scientists from the University of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada have discovered photosynthetic algae living inside embryonic cells of the spotted salamander, providing them with extra power like a mean green energy drink. If true, this is the first known example of a vertebrate acquiring a new symbiont.
The spotted salamander [...]... Read more »

Henrey Orr. (1888) Note on the development of amphibians, chiefly concerning the central nervous system; with additional observations on the hypophysis, mouth, and the appendages and skeleton of the head. Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science. info:/

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:22 PM

Forest fires don't just affect the trees.

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

I seem to be in a bit of an ecosystem mood lately. Having looked at the effect of trees on the soil microbiome last week, today I'm looking at how the communities of soil bacteria are effected by a much greater disaster, forest fires. Bacteria are admittedly not the first thing most people think of in this situationTurning a large area of huge leafy richness into smoking remains covering an ash filled wasteland has many far-reaching effects on animals and plants alike, but the effect on bacteria........ Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:16 PM

Anne’s picks of the literature: river and floodplain sediments

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

These four papers all attempt to understand what controls the sediments that make up the streambed and floodplain and that get preserved in the geologic record. White et al. look at how riffle positions are governed by valley width variations, while Jerolmack and Brzinski find striking similarities in grain size transitions observed in rivers and dune fields. Hart et al. examine the relationship between glacial advances and downstream sediment deposition, while Sambrook Smith et al. investigate ........ Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:03 PM

From Gray Wolf to Bulldog: Changes to the Dog Brain as Humans Reshape it’s Head

by Kari Kenefick in Promega Connections

We humans are masters of reinvention. And we love our dogs. Over the past 12,000 years we’ve mixed that love of innovation and love of dogs, to create a species with more physical variation than any other species on Earth. Much of this innovation has served us well. Domesticated dogs have protected our livestock and [...]... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

When the End Is the Story

by Welkin Johnson in Small Things Considered

by Welkin Johnson It looks like a herpesvirus, but does it replicate like one? Electronmicrographs showing mature HHV-6 particles emerging from an infected cell. Source. Sometimes, discovery in biology is about discerning rules and sometimes it is about pursuing exceptions. In this spirit, Human Herpesvirus six (HHV-6), the etiologic agent of the common childhood illness roseola infantum, is shaping up...... Read more »

Arbuckle JH, Medveczky MM, Luka J, Hadley SH, Luegmayr A, Ablashi D, Lund TC, Tolar J, De Meirleir K, Montoya JG.... (2010) The latent human herpesvirus-6A genome specifically integrates in telomeres of human chromosomes in vivo and in vitro. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(12), 5563-8. PMID: 20212114  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 12:56 PM

Storytellers and How They Force Their Brainwaves on Their Audience

by Livia Blackburne in A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing

In a previous post, I suggested that writers were brain manipulators. Now I'm refining the description. It's more like a Vulcan mind meld.

A recent experiment by scientists at Princeton University shows neural coupling (coordinated brain activity) between a storyteller and a listener. The researchers used fMRI to scan a speaker’s brain as she told an unrehearsed story about an experience from high school. They then scanned 10 volunteers as they listened to a recording of the story.

The ba........ Read more »

Stephens GJ, Silbert LJ, & Hasson U. (2010) Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20660768  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 12:08 PM

The Bite of the Bear-Dog

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Between 23 and 16 million years ago, just outside of where the city of Lisbon, Portugal sits today, there lived a unique mix of mammals which would have seemed both strange and familiar. From bones and footprints left in fossilized feces, paleontologists have found that rhinoceros, deer, horses, antelope, and elephants browsed and grazed in [...]... Read more »

Christine Argot. (2010) Morphofunctional analysis of the postcranium of Amphicyon major (Mammalia, Carnivora, Amphicyonidae) from the Miocene of Sansan(Gers, France) compared to three extant carnivores: Ursus arctos, Panthera leo, and Canis lupus. Geodivertistas, 32(1), 65-106. info:/

  • August 9, 2010
  • 10:35 AM

Sugar and Cocaine, Episode TWO

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

Sci had a chance to blog an interesting paper on the value of cocaine in rats (as compared to nice stuff like sugar), and someone pointed out to her that she authors had done a follow up! I think what they found in this followup is really rather exciting and has some very interesting implications [...]... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 09:35 AM

Designing the Green Supply Chain

by Daniel Dumke in SCRM Blog - Supply Chain Risk Management

Nowadays green logistics is an often heard buzz-word, but already eleven years ago Beamon published an article about the challenges with creating Green Supply Chains.

Traditional vs. Extended Supply Chain
A traditional supply chain has been mostly a one-way street. The issues analyzed were eg. the number of echelons, buyer-supplier relationships and inventory levels.
As a basis the extended supply chain has to consider at least the recycling / re-use and remanufacturing processes to be com........ Read more »

Beamon, B. (1999) Designing the green supply chain. Logistics Information Management, 12(4), 332-342. DOI: 10.1108/09576059910284159  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 08:15 AM

Migrating neurons clear their path

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

Most neurons in the brain are not born in their final position – they are generated by cell division in one part of the brain and have to migrate, sometimes over long distances, along complicated routes, to finally arrive at their pre-specified destination.  This process entails an incredibly complex and dynamic set of genetic instructions and interactions between different cell types.  A prime example is the migration of interneurons to the cerebral cortex – these inhibitory neurons make........ Read more »

Kaneko N, Marín O, Koike M, Hirota Y, Uchiyama Y, Wu JY, Lu Q, Tessier-Lavigne M, Alvarez-Buylla A, Okano H.... (2010) New Neurons Clear the Path of Astrocytic Processes for Their Rapid Migration in the Adult Brain. Neuron, 67(2), 213-223. PMID: 20670830  

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