What happens when you take a very boring mechanism and combine it with a mechanism only marginally less boring? A really really interesting set of behaviors.Here I discussed one paper discussing why neurons might burst, on the abstract level - not how bursting comes about but how the brain might exploit bursting. That was one of three papers I've read discussing the phenomenon of resonance frequencies in neurons. This is the second. This paper briefly looks at the different ionic mechanisms a........ Read more »
Hutcheon, B. (2000) Resonance, oscillation and the intrinsic frequency preferences of neurons. Trends in Neurosciences, 23(5), 216-222. DOI: 10.1016/S0166-2236(00)01547-2
Will a pill containing the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin someday extend human lifespan a few years? In spite of the hopeful research announcements that appeared a few days ago, I wouldn't recommend getting one's hopes up just yet.This is a topic I've discussed before: Calorie restriction, TOR signaling, and aging. And for related stuff on mTOR: here.The executive summary is that inhibition of mTOR signaling has been shown to extend lifespan in yeast, roundworms, and fruit flies........ Read more »
Harrison, D., Strong, R., Sharp, Z., Nelson, J., Astle, C., Flurkey, K., Nadon, N., Wilkinson, J., Frenkel, K., Carter, C.... (2009) Rapamycin fed late in life extends lifespan in genetically heterogeneous mice. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08221
The New York Times Magazine has a cover article on human-whale interactions, with special attention to whales' cognitive, communicative, and social abilities. It's pretty neat stuff, and I started reading it with the intention of posting something about it with a title along the lines of "So long, and thanks for all the fish." But, rather than all the whales-as-fellow-sentients stuff, this early aside about the effects of navigational sonar on whales is what actually caught my attention:The resu........ Read more »
Cox, T.M., T.J. Ragen, A.J. Read, E. Vos, R.W. Baird, K. Balcomb, J. Barlow, J. Caldwell, T. Cranford, & L. Crum. (2005) Understanding the impacts of anthropogenic sound on beaked whales. J. Cetacean Res., 7(3), 177-87. DOI: http://www.whalescience.com/SDSU/My Work/CoxEtAl_BeakedWhaleReport2006.pdf
Jepson, P., Arbelo, M., Deaville, R., Patterson, I., Castro, P., Baker, J., Degollada, E., Ross, H., Herráez, P., Pocknell, A.... (2003) Gas-bubble lesions in stranded cetaceans. Nature, 425(6958), 575-576. DOI: 10.1038/425575a
Piantadosi, C., & Thalmann, E. (2004) Pathology: Whales, sonar and decompression sickness. Nature, 428(6984). DOI: 10.1038/nature02527a
So, you know, I’m cruising along, trying to determine the diet of the white urchin, Lytechinus anamesus, from the literature. There’s your usual “It eats kelp” papers, a few red algae papers, and nothing else special and then - A PAPER ON LYTICHINUS EATING OTHER SPECIES OF URCHINS.
That’s right, baby, urchin on urchin predation. [...]... Read more »
COYER, J., ENGLE, J., AMBROSE, R., & NELSON, B. (1987) Utilization of purple and red sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus Stimpson and S. franciscanus Agassiz) as food by the white sea urchin (Lytechinus anamesus Clark) in the field and laboratory. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 105(1), 21-38. DOI: 10.1016/S0022-0981(87)80027-8
A few weeks ago I wrote about a paper detailing the evolutionary origins of swine flu. Now a second paper has been published on this topic (this one out this week in Science). This study comes from a different group of researchers (a long list of mostly US-based researchers, led by Rebecca Garten and [...]... Read more »
Garten, R., Davis, C., Russell, C., Shu, B., Lindstrom, S., Balish, A., Sessions, W., Xu, X., Skepner, E., Deyde, V.... (2009) Antigenic and Genetic Characteristics of Swine-Origin 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Viruses Circulating in Humans. Science, 325(5937), 197-201. DOI: 10.1126/science.1176225
Razib at Gene Expression has the lowdown on a new survey comparing social, political and religious attitudes of scientists with the general public. Unsurprisingly, there's a huge gulf between the two groups. While 41% of the scientists said they didn't believe in god or in a high power, just 4% of the general public said the same.There's one statistic that is rather unexpected, however. As you can see in this table, younger scientists are more likely to be religious than older ones. That's the r........ Read more »
Ecklund, E., & Scheitle, C. (2007) Religion among Academic Scientists: Distinctions, Disciplines, and Demographics. Social Problems, 54(2), 289-307. DOI: 10.1525/sp.2007.54.2.289
In multicomponent reactions several chemicals are brought together in a single reactor with formation of a single reaction product. Usually when you try this a complex mixture forms (A can react with B but also with C or D) requiring tedious separation. A successful multicomponent reaction therefore saves reaction steps, protecting/deprotecting and hence time and money. It also allows you to put together so-called chemical libraries really quickly. The current record holder, a 7-component reacti........ Read more »
Elders, N., van der Born, D., Hendrickx, L., Timmer, B., Krause, A., Janssen, E., de Kanter, F., Ruijter, E., & Orru, R. (2009) The Efficient One-Pot Reaction of up to Eight Components by the Union of Multicomponent Reactions. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200902683
As Eddie Izzard notes in the video above, the English, within our cosy, post-imperialist, monolingual culture, often have trouble coping with the idea of two languages or more jostling about for space in the same head. "No one can live at that speed!" he suggests. And yet, bilingual children seem to cope just fine. In fact, they pick up their dual tongues at the same pace as monolingual children attain theirs, despite having to cope with two sets of grammar and vocabulary. At around 12 months, b........ Read more »
Kovacs, A., & Mehler, J. (2009) Flexible Learning of Multiple Speech Structures in Bilingual Infants. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1173947
One interesting aspect of neurons is their richness in behavior. There are a lot of known neural behaviors. To name a few, there are regular spiking neurons, which start firing regularly, but then spike frequency slows down and the neuron quiets down as it adjusts to its input. There are intrinsically bursting neurons, which start out with a rapid burst of 5-6 spikes, but then drop immediately back into regular-spiking mode. There are fast spiking neurons, which are like regular spiking neur........ Read more »
Izhikevich, E. (2003) Bursts as a unit of neural information: selective communication via resonance. Trends in Neurosciences, 26(3), 161-167. DOI: 10.1016/S0166-2236(03)00034-1
Among the flowering plants, groups with flowers adapted to a narrower range of pollinators -- the more specialized ones, like orchids or mints -- tend to contain more species. Why? The classic hypothesis is that coevolution between plants and their pollinators leads to more pollinator-specialized plants, which are then more likely to become reproductively isolated, and eventually form separate species. However, I've just finished reading a review article that suggests an interesting alternative:........ Read more »
Armbruster, W., & Muchhala, N. (2008) Associations between floral specialization and species diversity: Cause, effect, or correlation?. Evolutionary Ecology, 23(1), 159-79. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-008-9259-z
V. Grant. (1949) Pollination systems as isolating mechanisms in angiosperms. Evolution, 82-97. DOI: http://www.jstor.org/pss/2405454
Johnson, S.D., & Steiner, K.E. (2000) Generalization versus specialization in plant pollination systems. Trends in Ecology , 15(4), 140-3. DOI: 10.1016/S0169-5347(99)01811-X
Sargent, R. (2004) Floral symmetry affects speciation rates in angiosperms. Proc. R. Soc. B, 271(1539), 603-608. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2003.2644
It’s not just fighting and conflict that can cause problems in a relationship. Boredom and lack of positivity in a relationship may also cause a gradual decline. A recent study by Irene Tsapelas and her colleagues found that marital boredom, measured by how often the participants felt their marriage was in a rut, [...]... Read more »
Aron, A., Norman, C., Aron, E., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. (2000) Couples' shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(2), 273-284. DOI: 10.1037//0022-3518.104.22.1683
Tsapelas, I., Aron, A., & Orbuch, T. (2009) Marital Boredom Now Predicts Less Satisfaction 9 Years Later. Psychological Science, 20(5), 543-545. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02332.x
Have you ever thought about your relationship and wondered, “Where has all the passion gone?” Like many of you, relationship scientists have been stumped for quite a while. However, recent evidence from a series of interesting studies suggests that an answer is within reach of all of us, scientists and curious partners alike.... Read more »
Eastwick, P., & Finkel, E. (2008) The attachment system in fledgling relationships: An activating role for attachment anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(3), 628-647. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1248
After a tough day at work, do you come back home feeling generally irritated or needing some quality time alone? Find out how your reactions to workplace stress can affect your family life, too.... Read more »
Repetti, R., Wang, S., & Saxbe, D. (2009) Bringing It All Back Home: How Outside Stressors Shape Families' Everyday Lives. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(2), 106-111. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01618.x
IN THE 1860s, the French physician Paul Broca treated two patients who had lost the ability to speak after suffering strokes. When they died, he examined their brains, and noticed that both had damage to the same region of the left frontal lobe. About a decade later, neuropsychiatrist Carl Wernicke described a stroke patient who was unable to understand written words or what was said to him, and later found in this patient's brain a lesion towards the back of the left temporal lobe.
Thus ........ Read more »
Ibrahim, R. (2009) Selective deficit of second language: a case study of a brain-damaged Arabic-Hebrew bilingual patient. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 5(1), 17. DOI: 10.1186/1744-9081-5-17
by Jon Voisey in Angry Astronomer
Last year, I blogged about why catching stars forming is a tricky proposition; They're surrounded in gaseous nebulae that makes trying to observe the act a bit like watching a sports game from a plane flying through the clouds. You just can't see through it all.In general, this should hold true for planets. Until the star clears out the dusty disk, the planets will remain hidden, even if we could spatially resolve them. So a paper talking about forming planets with “Observable Signatures” in........ Read more »
Jang-Condell, H. (2009) PLANET SHADOWS IN PROTOPLANETARY DISKS. II. OBSERVABLE SIGNATURES. The Astrophysical Journal, 700(1), 820-831. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/700/1/820
by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog
Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) is one of the few antiviral drugs available for treatment of influenza. Use of the drug has increased substantially because of the emergence of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain, against which no vaccine is yet available. A recent study has shown that low levels of oseltamivir can be detected in the aquatic environment. [...]... Read more »
Söderström, H., Järhult, J., Olsen, B., Lindberg, R., Tanaka, H., & Fick, J. (2009) Detection of the Antiviral Drug Oseltamivir in Aquatic Environments. PLoS ONE, 4(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006064
Life restoration of the head of Armadillosuchus. From Marinho and Carvalho (2009).
When I was trying to come up with a title for this post I almost went with "Armadillosuchus: An armored crocodylian you wouldn't want to mess with." Obviously I changed my mind. Not only was the title too long, but it was redundant to boot. All crocodylians are "armored" in that they have little bony plates called osteoderms (primarily on the dorsal, or top, side of their bodies) beneath their scales, which in t........ Read more »
Marinho, T., & Carvalho, I. (2009) An armadillo-like sphagesaurid crocodyliform from the Late Cretaceous of Brazil. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 27(1), 36-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsames.2008.11.005
Breast cancer screening is back in the headlines following the publication of a new paper in the British Medical Journal.
The paper was written by Danish researchers who have previously published work critical of the way women are given information about the balance of risks and benefits. They believe that women aren’t given sufficient information on [...]... Read more »
Jorgensen, K., & Gotzsche, P. (2009) Overdiagnosis in publicly organised mammography screening programmes: systematic review of incidence trends. BMJ, 339(jul09 1). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b2587
The human body is a factory producing trillions of new blood cells daily, and replacing the lining of the small intestine on a weekly basis. The raw materials in production are stem cells, which have the ability both to create cells used by our body, and to create copies of themselves.
To ensure quality of production, [...]... Read more »
A code is a system with which messages are transmitted. Computer coding is transmitting message to your computer to execute tasks, cryptographic coding is sending a message in secret, and neural coding is how your brain processes information. When I say I'm looking for a synchrony binding code, I mean I'm looking for evidence that the brain binds stimuli together using neural synchrony (I'm not looking for this, by the way; I have my doubts about this hypothesis). This article is looking for ........ Read more »
Hong Zhou, Howard S. Friedman, & Rüdiger von der Heydt. (2000) Coding of Border Ownership in Monkey Visual Cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 6594-6611. DOI: http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/20/17/6594
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