Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have successfully demonstrated pulse tailoring, producing a time varying focal spot size known as ‘focal zooming’ on the world’s largest operating krypton fluoride (KrF) gas laser.... Read more »
Kehne, D., Karasik, M., Aglitsky, Y., Smyth, Z., Terrell, S., Weaver, J., Chan, Y., Lehmberg, R., & Obenschain, S. (2013) Implementation of focal zooming on the Nike KrF laser. Review of Scientific Instruments, 84(1), 13509. DOI: 10.1063/1.4789313
The dramatic behavioral changes induced by cocaine, such as hyperactivity, are accompanied by post-translational modifications (PTMs) of histones. These modifications result in altered gene expression in the area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens (NAc), which is associated with pleasure. Past research pointed to the use of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as a ...... Read more »
Kennedy PJ, Feng J, Robison AJ, Maze I, Badimon A, Mouzon E, Chaudhury D, Damez-Werno DM, Haggarty SJ, Han MH.... (2013) Class I HDAC inhibition blocks cocaine-induced plasticity by targeted changes in histone methylation. Nature neuroscience, 16(4), 434-40. PMID: 23475113
As I write this, I have dirt underneath my fingernails and I love it. Spring is here, and I have begun playing in the dirt and cheering for my budding vegetable garden seedlings. I love the food plants provide us, but they’re also fascinating models for understanding cell biology and developmental biology. Today’s image is from a paper identifying a player in the development of stomata, which are important plant organs.Stomata are pore organs on leaves that regulate gas and water vapor exchange in plants. They are made of pairs of guard cells that regulate the size of the stomata openings to let air in and oxygen out. A recent paper describes the identification of a protein that regulates the maturing and functioning of stomatal guard cells. Negi and colleagues identified SCAP1, a transcription factor, that when mutated results in irregularly-shaped guard cells. These mutants also lack the ability to control stomatal opening and closing. SCAP1 regulates the transcription of known guard cell development genes. The images above show a wild-type plant (top) with normal developing stomata at all stages (mature stomata is right-most image). In a scap1 mutant (bottom), however, later stages of stomata development are defective and result in stomata with a floppy or irregular appearance.Negi, J., Moriwaki, K., Konishi, M., Yokoyama, R., Nakano, T., Kusumi, K., Hashimoto-Sugimoto, M., Schroeder, J., Nishitani, K., Yanagisawa, S., & Iba, K. (2013). A Dof Transcription Factor, SCAP1, Is Essential for the Development of Functional Stomata in Arabidopsis Current Biology, 23 (6), 479-484 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.001Copyright ©2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.... Read more »
Negi, J., Moriwaki, K., Konishi, M., Yokoyama, R., Nakano, T., Kusumi, K., Hashimoto-Sugimoto, M., Schroeder, J., Nishitani, K., Yanagisawa, S.... (2013) A Dof Transcription Factor, SCAP1, Is Essential for the Development of Functional Stomata in Arabidopsis. Current Biology, 23(6), 479-484. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.001
by Heather Buschman, Ph.D. in Beaker
Imbalance between an enzyme called neutrophil elastase and its inhibitor causes inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, and fatty liver in mice and humans—providing a new therapeutic target for these health conditions... Read more »
Mansuy-Aubert, V., Zhou, Q., Xie, X., Gong, Z., Huang, J., Khan, A., Aubert, G., Candelaria, K., Thomas, S., Shin, D.... (2013) Imbalance between Neutrophil Elastase and its Inhibitor α1-Antitrypsin in Obesity Alters Insulin Sensitivity, Inflammation, and Energy Expenditure. Cell Metabolism, 17(4), 534-548. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2013.03.005
In a study that just came out, researchers from The New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute (NYSCF) have described an improved technique for the production of 3D-cultures of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs.). The study's findings will be used by NYSCF scientists to further accelerate their research on Alzheimer's diseaseFull Story... Read more »
Nestor MW, Paull D, Jacob S, Sproul AA, Alsaffar A, Campos BA, & Noggle SA. (2013) Differentiation of serum-free embryoid bodies from human induced pluripotent stem cells into networks. Stem cell research, 10(3), 454-463. PMID: 23500645
Researchers from the Colorado School of Mines have figured out a new way to increase efficiency of photovoltaic cells. It is well known that electricity carriers in solar cells, when excited by sunlight, can quickly lose some of their energy to heat. This energy loss can be prevented by collecting electricity carriers before they convert to heat through tiny “dots” of material.... Read more »
Kiriluk, K., Fields, J., Simonds, B., Pai, Y., Miller, P., Su, T., Yan, B., Yang, J., Guha, S., Madan, A.... (2013) Highly efficient charge transfer in nanocrystalline Si:H solar cells. Applied Physics Letters, 102(13), 133101. DOI: 10.1063/1.4795940
We human beings are social creatures. It’s natural for us to orient ourselves in terms of the world outside and what the people around us are thinking and doing. This socialization instinct is strongest in us when we’re young and still developing our own sense of identity. Historically speaking, this dynamic has typically played itself … Read More →... Read more »
Leung, L. (2013) Generational differences in content generation in social media: The roles of the gratifications sought and of narcissism. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 997-1006. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.028
Maltby J. (2010) An interest in fame: confirming the measurement and empirical conceptualization of fame interest. British journal of psychology (London, England : 1953), 101(Pt 3), 411-32. PMID: 19646329
Researchers have found that vitamin-P could help us in the treatment of damaged motor neurons. It can help us in potentiating the new therapeutic strategies for diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Vitamin P is also called as 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone. Motor neurons are involved in the control of movements.
Researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum have found that vitamin P works by sending the signals through another path than the molecule Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) that was previously considered as important for the treatment of motor neuron disorders or after spinal cord damage.
"The Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor only had a limited effect when tested on humans, and even had partially negative consequences", Prof. Dr. Stefan Wiese from the RUB Work Group for Molecular Cell Biology, said in a statement. "Therefore we are looking for alternative ways to find new approaches for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis."
BDNF stimulates two signaling pathways, the so-called MAP kinase and PI3K/AKT signal paths while researchers found that Vitamin P makes use only of the latter.
Researchers are of the opinion that vitamin P could have less negative effects than BDNF as vitamin P showed only positive effects on the motor neurons in less concentration range.
"These results show how important an accurate determination of dose and effect is", said Prof. Wiese. "It is easier to use, because vitamin P, in contrast to BDNF, can pass the blood-brain barrier and therefore does not have to be introduced into the cerebrospinal fluid using pumps like BDNF," Wiese added.
Tsai, T., Klausmeyer, A., Conrad, R., Gottschling, C., Leo, M., Faissner, A., & Wiese, S. (2013). 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone leads to survival of cultured embryonic motoneurons by activating intracellular signaling pathways Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 56, 18-28 DOI: 10.1016/j.mcn.2013.02.007... Read more »
Tsai, T., Klausmeyer, A., Conrad, R., Gottschling, C., Leo, M., Faissner, A., & Wiese, S. (2013) 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone leads to survival of cultured embryonic motoneurons by activating intracellular signaling pathways. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 18-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.mcn.2013.02.007
Oral films have gained interest in the last couple of years. Films for oral application offer an interesting new approach for drug administration. Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) can be implemented in thin-sheeted polymer film matrices. These dosage forms are intended to be placed in mouth to dissolve in the saliva without the need of additional liquid and without swallowing of a solid dosage form.... Read more »
Preis, M., Pein, M., & Breitkreutz, J. (2012) Development of a Taste-Masked Orodispersible Film Containing Dimenhydrinate. Pharmaceutics, 4(4), 551-562. DOI: 10.3390/pharmaceutics4040551
Garsuch V, & Breitkreutz J. (2010) Comparative investigations on different polymers for the preparation of fast-dissolving oral films. The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 62(4), 539-45. PMID: 20604845
Hoffmann EM, Breitenbach A, & Breitkreutz J. (2011) Advances in orodispersible films for drug delivery. Expert opinion on drug delivery, 8(3), 299-316. PMID: 21284577
Janßen E.M., Schliephacke R,, Breitenbach A,, & Breitkreutz J. (2013) Drug-printing by flexographic printing technology—A new manufacturing process for orodispersible films. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 441(1-2), 818-825. info:/10.1016/j.ijpharm.2012.12.023
Garsuch V, & Breitkreutz J. (2009) Novel analytical methods for the characterization of oral wafers. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 73(1), 195-201. PMID: 19482082
Woertz K, Tissen C, Kleinebudde P, & Breitkreutz J. (2011) Taste sensing systems (electronic tongues) for pharmaceutical applications. International journal of pharmaceutics, 417(1-2), 256-71. PMID: 21094230
Female animals who prefer healthy and fit partners are having more and fitter descendants. A gene that brings forth such mating preferences is going to spread quickly. This gene can even forward the split-up of one species into two. more Filed under: English, Posts... Read more »
Schindler, S., Breidbach, O., & Jost, J. (2013) Preferring the fittest mates: An analytically tractable model. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 30-38. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2012.09.018
A scientist has discovered what animal might be responsibe for these mysterious rings.... Read more »
Juergens, N. (2013) The Biological Underpinnings of Namib Desert Fairy Circles. Science, 339(6127), 1618-1621. DOI: 10.1126/science.1222999
Researchers in California have uncovered preliminary evidence for the way children acquire scientific "habits of thought" from their parents. Megan Luce and her colleagues recruited 35 parent-child pairs of various ethnic backgrounds (22 girls, 13 boy; 16 fathers, 19 mothers) at a children's museum, and videoed them as they read through a book designed to encourage discussion about scientific, social and moral issues - including global warming, gender differences, the planetary status of Pluto, and whether it is OK to steal. The children were aged from 4 to 8 years.
Parents' comments on these topics were categorised according to whether they were "absolutist" (one side of an argument is stated dogmatically as fact), "multiplist" (a relativist stance, where each side's view is equally valid), or "evaluativist" (a scientific stance that integrates evidence to decide on an issue).
The book also contained pages on whether germs and angels are real, and the extinction of mammoths. Here the researchers focused on the children's utterances, and in particular on whether they mentioned evidence (e.g. "I know germs are real because I can see them under a microscope") or requested evidence (e.g. "How do you know that's how mammoths died?").
The researchers found that the parents' approach varied according to the topic, as well as their child's age and gender. For instance, parents of girls tended to be more absolutist when talking about morals than were the parents of boys. In contrast, boys' parents were more absolutist when talking about global warming than the parents of girls. Meanwhile, younger children were more likely to hear absolutist statements about Pluto than older children. "These findings show that children of different ages and genders may be likely to hear different patterns of absolutist talk depending on the topic," the researchers said.
Ultimately, Luce and her colleagues were interested in how the parents' stance towards knowledge (absolutist, multiplist or evaluativist) was related to their children's talk about evidence. The key finding is that parents' greater use of an evaluativist stance was strongly related to the amount that their children talked about evidence, explaining 49 per cent of the variance. Surprisingly, parents' scientific background was not related to their child's mentions of evidence.
"This surprising pattern of findings encourages further study of parents' conversation as a possible mechanism for children's developing habits of mind," the researchers said. "Children who are familiar with 'habits of thinking' that focus on evidence or justifications for 'how you know' may resist learning new information that is not backed up by evidence."
An obvious limitation of the study is its correlational design. There's no conclusive evidence here that parents' conversational style causes the children's interest in evidence.
Luce, M., Callanan, M., and Smilovic, S. (2013). Links between parents' epistemological stance and children's evidence talk. Developmental Psychology, 49 (3), 454-461 DOI: 10.1037/a0031249
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.
... Read more »
Luce, M., Callanan, M., & Smilovic, S. (2013) Links between parents' epistemological stance and children's evidence talk. Developmental Psychology, 49(3), 454-461. DOI: 10.1037/a0031249
When it comes to the sources of carbon in forests, scientists assumed that most of the sources of carbon come from dead leaves and other plant litter. Not so, say a group of Swedish researchers. ... Read more »
Clemmensen, K., Bahr, A., Ovaskainen, O., Dahlberg, A., Ekblad, A., Wallander, H., Stenlid, J., Finlay, R., Wardle, D., & Lindahl, B. (2013) Roots and Associated Fungi Drive Long-Term Carbon Sequestration in Boreal Forest. Science, 339(6127), 1615-1618. DOI: 10.1126/science.1231923
Today (Tuesday 2 April 2013) is World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD).I don't exactly know how one is supposed to communicate this message ('Happy world autism awareness day' just doesn't roll off the tongue). So I guess all I will say is to reiterate the subtext of this blog on what the spectrum - the very wide spectrum - means: "To some it means a need for life-long support. To others it is part of the varied tapestry of humanity. To all it means a need to foster a welcoming society with appropriate support and opportunities."Onwards. Having discussed the latest paper from Drs Stephen Walker and Arthur Krigsman on bowel pathology in cases of autism potentially denoting a distinct condition from other inflammatory bowel diseases and stumbling upon the paper by Peeters and colleagues* on functional defecation disorder and autistic traits, I thought it appropriate to pop into the DeLorean and revisit a paper which never really received the recognition it deserved.The subject matter for today is the paper by Karoly Horvath and colleagues** published in 1999 as we begin another trip down the autism research memory lane, same as I did when covering the the Mary Goodwin paper from 1971 on the gut-brain axis and autism (see here) and the John Money autism and autoimmunity paper also from 1971 (see here).Hadrian's Wall @ Wikipedia Remember my nameThe name Karoly Horvath will probably be familiar to quite a few people who've been on the autism research scene for a while. Another of Dr Horvath's papers*** created a bit of stir a while back based on some very preliminary findings on the use of the digestive hormone, secretin for cases of autism.Following some initial reports of "transient, marginally significant improvements in autistic behaviors" in some cases as per studies like the one from Coniglio and colleagues****, a whole slew of subsequent trials have painted a rather less positive picture on the use of secretin for autism as per the review by Krishnaswami and colleagues***** (open-access) which quite emphatically stated that "secretin as a treatment approach for ASDs warrants no further study".I'm not one to normally challenge paper conclusions - particularly systematic reviews - but will perhaps contrast that quote with the closing remarks made by the Cochrane Library review of Williams and colleagues******. They left the secretin research door slightly ajar for those who were potentially able to identify "important subgroups of children with ASD who could benefit from secretin because of a proven link between the action of secretin and the known cause of their ASD, or the type of problems they are experiencing". I'm a great believer in subgroups when it comes to autism, or rather the autisms, and how a diagnosis of autism is seemingly protective of nothing when it comes to other conditions/states, so you can perhaps assume which quote was my preference.FactoidsAnyhow, back to the Horvath 1999 paper. A few interesting factoids from their report:Thirty-six children all diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), mean age 5.7 years, formed the participant group. Children were all referred to the gastroenterology (GI) clinic where the authors worked following the presence of various GI symptoms ranging from abdominal pain to chronic diarrhoea and various other presentations.As well as quite a bit of review of participants' medical history, various clinical investigations were undertaken which included a "full upper gastrointestinal workup", analysis of digestive enzyme function in the small intestine and some histological examination.Results: quite a few important findings. Reflux esophagitis was present in nearly 70% of participants (25/36). Chronic inflammation of the gastric mucosa was determined in 15 children. Reduced disaccharidase activity was present in approximately 60% of children, and in particular low lactase levels. Following administration of secretin, participants with autism and diarrhoea comorbid showed signs of increased pancreatico-biliary fluid output potentially indicative of "upregulation of the secretin receptors" itself potentially related to "either a defect in secretin production or a problem of release from the intestinal S cells"."There was no evidence of either fungal or bacterial overgrowth in the duodenum" was another finding.I know there is a lot to take in from those results so I'm going to try and put them into some kind of perspective with some of the other related literature in the peer-reviewed domain.Lactose intoleranceI'll start with the disaccharidase activity side of things. The Horvath results were in some respects ahead of their time with their findings in this area. I've talked previously about the Rafail Kushak paper and their findings of the frequency "of lactase deficiency was 58% in autistic children ≤ 5 years old and 65% in older patients". Notice the similarity in the percentages between Horvath and Kushak. Indeed, this whole area of carbohydrate malabsorption present in cases of autism was very nicely continued by the Brent Williams paper looking at enzyme activity and autism. I know a few people have talked about how some of these findings might overlap with for example, the various reports on the use and effectiveness of a gluten- and casein-free (cereal grains and mammalian dairy free) diet in some cases of autism. Certainly, I wouldn't rule out a possible overlap to account for any results.Reflux and GERDGastroesophageal reflux and reflux esophagitis - states pertaining to inflammation of the esophagus - were also commonly reported in the participant group and indeed also correlated with various behavioural manifestations noted in some cases (nighttime wakening, signs of irritability, abdominal discomfort) which are "typically reported by non-autistic children with esophagitis". A little reading around this topic suggests that many cases of such esophagitis are tied into things like GERD - gastroesophageal reflux disease - which is basically about stomach acid rising up instead of staying where it should be and causing damage. That being said, other explanations have also surfaced to potentially account for the damage done during GERD (see the paper by Souza and colleagues*******) highlighting a possible role for cytokines in this process. I'm also conscious of the findings of eosinophilic esophagitis being reported in individual cases of autism (see here). In terms of management options and without heading down any medical advice giving path, I was very interested to see a body of work appearing supporting the use of baclofen for cases of GERD********, a derivative of which - arbaclofen - has recently been touted as a potential intervention option for cases of autism. One has to wonder whether kum-ba-arbaclofen might be doing so much more than just affecting ... Read more »
Horvath K, Papadimitriou JC, Rabsztyn A, Drachenberg C, & Tildon JT. (1999) Gastrointestinal abnormalities in children with autistic disorder. The Journal of pediatrics, 135(5), 559-63. PMID: 10547242
Steven Pinker explains again why music is not an adaptation but should be seen as a kind of 'supernormal stimulus'...... Read more »
Astronomers have taken the highest resolution radio images of the expanding supernova 1987A remnant at millimeter wavelengths with the help of Australia Telescope Compact Array, CSIRO radio telescope in northern New South Wales.
"Imaging distant astronomical objects like this at wavelengths less than 1 centimetre demands the most stable atmospheric conditions. For this telescope these are usually only possible during cooler winter conditions but even then, the humidity and low elevation of the site makes things very challenging," said lead author, Dr Giovanna Zanardo of ICRAR, a joint venture of Curtin University and The University of Western Australia in Perth.
Radio telescopes,unlike other optical telescopes, have the ability to work even in daylight and can help the astronomers to look inside the celestial objects such as supernova remnants, radio galaxies and black holes.
"Supernova remnants are like natural particle accelerators, the radio emission we observe comes from electrons spiralling along the magnetic field lines and emitting photons every time they turn. The higher the resolution of the images the more we can learn about the structure of this object," said Professor Lister Staveley-Smith, Deputy Director of ICRAR and CAASTRO, the Centre for All-sky Astrophysics.
"Not only have we been able to analyse the morphology of Supernova 1987A through our high resolution imaging, we have compared it to X-ray and optical data in order to model its likely history," said Professor Bryan Gaensler, Director of CAASTRO at the University of Sydney.
According to the researchers, a compact source or pulsar wind nebula may be present inside the radio emission, showing that the star may not collapsed into a black hole. Researchers are still digging further details.
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
Giovanna Zanardo, L. Staveley-Smith, C. -Y. Ng, B. M. Gaensler, T. M. Potter, R. N. Manchester, & A. K. Tzioumis (2013). High-resolution radio observations of SNR 1987A at high frequencies Astrophysical Journal arXiv: 1301.6527v1... Read more »
Giovanna Zanardo, L. Staveley-Smith, C. -Y. Ng, B. M. Gaensler, T. M. Potter, R. N. Manchester, & A. K. Tzioumis. (2013) High-resolution radio observations of SNR 1987A at high frequencies. Astrophysical Journal. arXiv: 1301.6527v1
Take Home Message: Back School and McKenzie exercises reduce pain and disability. McKenzie exercises may provide slightly more efficient improvements in short-term disability.
Low back pain affects many active people at some point throughout their lives. The cause and diagnosis are rarely specific and unfortunately it remains unclear which intervention program is most effective for alleviating pain and improving function. The purpose of this randomized comparative effectiveness clinical trial was to compare the effectiveness of two intervention programs (i.e., Back School and McKenzie's) to reduce non-specific low back symptoms that have been present for more than three months.... Read more »
Garcia AN, Costa LD, da Silva TM, Gondo FL, Cyrillo FN, Costa RA, & Costa LO. (2013) Effectiveness of Back School Versus McKenzie Exercises in Patients With Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Physical Therapy. PMID: 23431213
In a study released a few days ago, researchers from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre's Institute for Regenerative Medicine have presented a new method that makes allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) invisible to the host's immune system. The method involves the use of a strategy normally employed by the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) which, when used on MSCs, helps them avoid the immune system, greatly enhancing their healing potential.Full Story... Read more »
Soland, M., Bego, M., Colletti, E., Zanjani, E., St. Jeor, S., Porada, C., & Almeida-Porada, G. (2013) Mesenchymal Stem Cells Engineered to Inhibit Complement-Mediated Damage. PLoS ONE, 8(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060461
About 15 years ago, a one-page Nature study shook the scientific community. Researchers from the University of Pittsburg showed with a simple experiment that people could feel that a fake rubber hand was in fact their own- they called it the ‘rubber hand illusion’. It goes like this: place a fake hand on a table in front of you and your own hand just next to it. Then block your hand from your view, stare at the fake hand, and get someone to stroke both hands in the same way for a few minutes. Now close your eyes and point at your hand. Most people will point at the fake hand, and so should you. Credit: melodi2/everystockphotoSince this intriguing discovery, neuroscientists have been trying to understand how the brain combines visual, touch and position information to create the feeling of body ownership, or in another words, the awareness that our body parts belong to ourselves. A new study led by Anna Berti’s team at the University of Turin now shows that the embodiment of an alien limb, like someone else’s hand, can be so deeply rooted in our neural circuits that it affects motor control.When we try to perform a different motor task with each hand at the same time, let's say drawing a circle with one hand and a straight line with the other, ... Read more »
Garbarini Francesca, Pia Lorenzo, Piedimonte Alessandro, Rabuffetti Marco, Gindri Patrizia, & Berti Anna. (2013) Embodiment of an alien hand interferes with intact-hand movements. Current Biology, 23(2). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.12.003
Yesterday another piece of evidence was published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology showing a sea lion (Zalophus californianus) being able to learned to entrain to the beat of the music.... Read more »
Cook, P., Rouse, A., Wilson, M., & Reichmuth, C. (2013) A California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) Can Keep the Beat: Motor Entrainment to Rhythmic Auditory Stimuli in a Non Vocal Mimic. Journal of Comparative Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/a0032345
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