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The Cellular Scale
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  • July 22, 2012
  • 08:48 PM

Do small men think like big women?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Endless research has been conducted on the neurological differences between women and men. However, a study out of the University of Florida explains that almost all of the anatomical differences previously reported can be accounted for simply by adjusting for total brain size.(Lady Gaga is an excellent source of exaggerated imagery)Leonard et al., (2008) recruited 100 men and 100 women and imaged their brains. They showed that men generally have larger brains that women (not surprisin........ Read more »

DeLacoste-Utamsing C, & Holloway RL. (1982) Sexual dimorphism in the human corpus callosum. Science (New York, N.Y.), 216(4553), 1431-2. PMID: 7089533  

Leonard CM, Towler S, Welcome S, Halderman LK, Otto R, Eckert MA, & Chiarello C. (2008) Size matters: cerebral volume influences sex differences in neuroanatomy. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991), 18(12), 2920-31. PMID: 18440950  

  • August 15, 2012
  • 09:15 PM

LMAYQ: Can Odor be recorded?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Let Me Answer Your Questions: part 2, in which I answer your very important questions via google search terms. Part 1 and all subsequent LMAYQ posts will be archived in the LMAYQ LikariousSo let's get to it, what fascinating questions are you asking google? 1. "Can odor be recorded?"  This likely brought someone to my post "You can't trust your receptors:smell" in which I discuss the EOG (electrolfactogram) where you can record the electrical activity of a smell receptor while........ Read more »

  • February 2, 2012
  • 09:17 AM

You can't trust your receptors: Smell

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Food smells better when you're hungry, right? This is a common phenomenon that everyone I've ever talked to on the subject has experienced. For a long time, I assumed that the entire process underlying this phenomenon is in the brain proper, and not in the olfactory epithelium (that is, the smell receptors themselves).  However, a study on the adorable (and totally weird) salamander known as the 'Axolotl' suggests that the brain proper can actually modulate how sensitive thos........ Read more »

  • March 14, 2012
  • 10:58 AM

Plant Neurons? Sensation and action in the Venus Flytrap

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Plants are more electric than you might think.  (Venus Fly Trap by Nick Ford at nickpix2012)While they don't have neurons in the proper sense, they have sensory receptors, ion channels,  action potentials, and can process information. One of the most remarkable feats of plant information processing occurs in the venus flytrap.  The venus fly trap is remarkable among plants because it has very fast and very specific information processing capabilities.  It can ........ Read more »

Benolken RM, & Jacobson SL. (1970) Response properties of a sensory hair excised from Venus's flytrap. The Journal of general physiology, 56(1), 64-82. PMID: 5514161  

Forterre Y, Skotheim JM, Dumais J, & Mahadevan L. (2005) How the Venus flytrap snaps. Nature, 433(7024), 421-5. PMID: 15674293  

  • July 1, 2012
  • 04:14 PM

A little stress goes a long way

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

.... toward preventing PTSD symptoms.Post Traumatic Stress DisorderThis may surprise you as the S in PTSD stands for STRESS.  How on earth could stress prevent it? But you heard correctly. A new paper by Rao et al., (2012) from Biological Psychiatry shows that a little stress in the form of glucocorticoids, prior to an acute stress event actually prevents PTSD-like symptoms in rats.First of all how do you tell if a rat has PTSD?This study uses two measures: one behavioral and one cellular.T........ Read more »

  • July 15, 2012
  • 02:40 PM

A Pain in the Hippocampus

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Neuropathic Pain (source)Pain is usually a helpful sign that something is wrong with a part of your body. Heat-pain will cause you to pull your hand back from something hot before it burns you. The pain of a cut will draw your attention to it, so you can clean it. However damage to the central or peripheral nervous system can result in chronic neuropathic pain, which is not helpful form of pain. Neuropathic pain is basically some mis-firing or mis-connected pain neurons sendi........ Read more »

Mutso AA, Radzicki D, Baliki MN, Huang L, Banisadr G, Centeno MV, Radulovic J, Martina M, Miller RJ, & Apkarian AV. (2012) Abnormalities in hippocampal functioning with persistent pain. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 32(17), 5747-56. PMID: 22539837  

  • June 24, 2012
  • 06:01 PM

In defense of pink microscopes

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

I know I am late to the party here, as the "Science is a girl thing" video (embedded below) came out Friday and has already been ripped to shreds by many a blog. But I just couldn't stop thinking about it, so here's my opinion on that video and pinkifying science in general.Hello Kitty Microscope I am reminded of a quote from Pres. Obama's initial campaign.  He said (something like) "We need to shatter the blasphemy that says a black child with a book is acting white."  It is equally t........ Read more »

  • March 4, 2012
  • 02:28 PM

4 reasons why all women should play Mass Effect

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Another adventure outside of the 'cellular neuroscience' walls for The Cellular Scale.  Today we are traveling to the land of video games, video games and women.  Commander Shepard, the most badass woman in the galaxyMass Effect 3 is being released in a few days and I thought I would use this time (while my xbox is downloading the free demo) to write about why the world would be a better (or at least slightly more gender-neutral) place if all women played Mass Effec........ Read more »

Galinsky AD, Wang CS, & Ku G. (2008) Perspective-takers behave more stereotypically. Journal of personality and social psychology, 95(2), 404-19. PMID: 18665710  

  • February 19, 2012
  • 07:39 PM

Neurosexism and Delusions of Gender

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

On the cellular scale, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell the brains of men and women apart.  That is, if you zoom in on a part of the brain (like the hippocampus, cortex or striatum) and look at the morphology of a single neuron or the electrical characteristics of that neuron, you would be hard pressed to tell if the neuron you are looking at belongs to a male or a female. This is not very surprising since it is also difficult to tell if the neuron you are looking ........ Read more »

  • April 17, 2012
  • 11:23 PM

Why I type in Dvorak and you should too

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

The Dvorak keyboard is an alternative to the traditional Qwerty layout. Proponents (like me) claim that it is faster and easier to use.  Dvorak himself claimed in a 1943 National Business Education Quarterly paper "There is a better typewriter keyboard" that experts could type 35% faster in the Dvorak layout than in the Qwerty layout.  (value cited in this paper, I could not locate original)I started using Dvorak during my freshman year of college because some guy told me it was cool. ........ Read more »

Anderson AM, Mirka GA, Joines SM, & Kaber DB. (2009) Analysis of alternative keyboards using learning curves. Human factors, 51(1), 35-45. PMID: 19634307  

  • November 4, 2012
  • 08:38 PM

Ketamine for depression via neurogenesis?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

A lot of fuss has been made recently about the street drug "Special K" (ketamine). It's basically an anesthetic used in labs and veterinary offices to tranquilize mice, rats, cats, and (famously) horses, but recently its been lauded as a newer faster anti-depressant. Ketamine: from the dealer or from the doctor? (image source)The possibility that it might have near immediate anti-depressant effects on humans has been around for a little while, but the concept is picking up steam as new r........ Read more »

Duman RS, & Li N. (2012) A neurotrophic hypothesis of depression: role of synaptogenesis in the actions of NMDA receptor antagonists. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 367(1601), 2475-84. PMID: 22826346  

Li N, Lee B, Liu RJ, Banasr M, Dwyer JM, Iwata M, Li XY, Aghajanian G, & Duman RS. (2010) mTOR-dependent synapse formation underlies the rapid antidepressant effects of NMDA antagonists. Science (New York, N.Y.), 329(5994), 959-64. PMID: 20724638  

  • February 28, 2012
  • 03:32 PM

If you give a mouse a placebo...

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

...It might ask for some cocaine.  Or it might feel the effects of cocaine anyway.  Just say no, Rat (source)The "Placebo Effect" occurs when someone takes a functionally ineffectual drug, but feels the effects anyway. There are many examples of this: Someone in pain takes a sugar pill, but is told that it is a painkiller might report 'feeling much less pain'.  A Parkinson's patient takes a sugar pill having been told it was their 'L-dopa' medication and c........ Read more »

  • August 19, 2012
  • 12:29 PM

How to Build a Neuron: Step 1

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

There are many reasons to try to build a neuron, but fully building a model neuron is an extensive process with many steps.  Today we will discuss the very first step in the neuron-building process: determining the activity and  shape of the neuron. Biocytin filled cortical neurons (source)To determine the shape of neuron, you have to stain it somehow.  There are several ways to do this, but we will focus on the biocytin filling method. To determine the activity of a neuron, ........ Read more »

Marx M, Günter RH, Hucko W, Radnikow G, & Feldmeyer D. (2012) Improved biocytin labeling and neuronal 3D reconstruction. Nature protocols, 7(2), 394-407. PMID: 22301777  

  • January 15, 2013
  • 08:39 PM

How big is the GIANT Squid Giant Axon?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

With all the hubbub about the first every video of an attacking giant squid in the wild about to unveiled, I started wondering about the giant axon of the giant squid... I mean it would be huge right?...Giant Squid, Giant Axon? (source)Squid are special creatures to neuroscientists. Specifically to neurophysiologists, who study the electrical activity of neurons.Squid Axon locationAtlantic squid have this huge (1mm) amazing axon running down each side of their mantle which allowed for the first ........ Read more »

Kubodera T, & Mori K. (2005) First-ever observations of a live giant squid in the wild. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 272(1581), 2583-6. PMID: 16321779  

  • October 23, 2012
  • 11:26 AM

Can you turn a rat gay?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

What does it take to 'turn a rat gay'? This question may have crossed your mind, but a group in Mexico actually did the experiments to test it. A weak first attempt (source)Triana-Del Rio et al., 2011 used a co-habitation conditioning paradigm to see if they could condition a male rat to prefer a male partner.The basic paradigm was to house the 'experimental rat' to the 'stimulus rat' (who was scented with almond) for a full day every 4 days. Under these conditions, the experimental rat did not ........ Read more »

Triana-Del Rio R, Montero-Domínguez F, Cibrian-Llanderal T, Tecamachaltzi-Silvaran MB, Garcia LI, Manzo J, Hernandez ME, & Coria-Avila GA. (2011) Same-sex cohabitation under the effects of quinpirole induces a conditioned socio-sexual partner preference in males, but not in female rats. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 99(4), 604-13. PMID: 21704064  

  • June 17, 2012
  • 12:45 PM

Remote-controlled cyborg insects

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Cyborgs capture the imagination. Whether human-machine prosthetics or machine-insect spybots, the possibilities for medical advances and for exciting sci-fi novels are virtually endless. Remote controlled beetle from 1909 from Insect Lab A paper in 2009 by Sato et al. made some significant advances in the frontier of remote-controlled cyborg beetles. Specifically they were able to stimulate relatively specific neurons in these beetles to get them to initiate flight........ Read more »

Sato H, Berry CW, Peeri Y, Baghoomian E, Casey BE, Lavella G, Vandenbrooks JM, Harrison JF, & Maharbiz MM. (2009) Remote radio control of insect flight. Frontiers in integrative neuroscience, 24. PMID: 20161808  

  • March 27, 2012
  • 10:29 PM

Seeing Cells: Nissl and Golgi together at last

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Seeing through a glass darkly (source)The quest to visualize cells is a long and continuously evolving one.  We have previously discussed how neuroscientists use calcium to watch cells in action, but a surprising amount of information can be gleaned from simply staining fixed (inactive) cells. There are so many ways to stain fixed cells that I have to write this in parts.  First we'll discuss two of the oldest techniques still commonly used, the Nissl stain and........ Read more »

Pilati N, Barker M, Panteleimonitis S, Donga R, & Hamann M. (2008) A rapid method combining Golgi and Nissl staining to study neuronal morphology and cytoarchitecture. The journal of histochemistry and cytochemistry : official journal of the Histochemistry Society, 56(6), 539-50. PMID: 18285350  

  • June 6, 2012
  • 07:56 PM

What do mirror neurons look like?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

You have probably heard about mirror neurons, but I bet you don't know what they look like. While we know exactly what Von Economo neurons look like, but know nothing about their activity patterns, the only thing we know about Mirror Neurons is their activity pattern. Rene Magritte's Mirror (neuron)Mirror neurons are the neurons in our brains that fire when we move a certain way and also fire when we see other people move in that same way. Exciting studies have shown that some mirror neurons are........ Read more »

Casile A, Caggiano V, & Ferrari PF. (2011) The mirror neuron system: a fresh view. The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry, 17(5), 524-38. PMID: 21467305  

  • July 10, 2012
  • 10:58 PM

Beer Yeast and Zoloft

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Beer Sampler (I took this picture)Yeast is an amazing organism that converts sugar into ethanol, or in other words barley into beer. It is used to ferment beer and is then usually filtered out.  (The leftmost beer sample in the picture above is an unfiltered beer and is cloudy because of the yeast still floating in it).  Aside from providing proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy, yeast also provides a fascinating model in which scientists can study specific cellula........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2012
  • 05:42 PM

The ageless face of an Aes Sedai: Science Edition

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

How would the brain process a truly 'ageless' face? Moraine, an ageless Aes Sedai (source)I am sure this question has plagued many Wheel of Time fans, but only now has an experiment been designed to test it. Just 4 days ago, Homola et al. (2012) published a paper in PLoS ONE in which they have people guess ages of people in pictures and scan their brains.  Homola et al. (2012) Figure 1A. (Which one looks most Aes Sedai to you?)The first interesting thing that they found was that the older t........ Read more »

Homola GA, Jbabdi S, Beckmann CF, & Bartsch AJ. (2012) A Brain Network Processing the Age of Faces. PLoS One . DOI: 10.1371  

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