Weight loss is hard for most people. And there many different factors involved in weight gain. One of the things that differs in people is the ability to taste bitterness. The post Weight loss: does food give some people an “eaters high?” appeared first on WODMasters Stiff Competition.... Read more »
Tomassini Barbarossa I, Carta G, Murru E, Melis M, Zonza A, Vacca C, Muroni P, Di Marzo V, & Banni S. (2013) Taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil is associated with endocannabinoid plasma levels in normal-weight individuals. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 29(3), 531-6. PMID: 23398921
A group of researchers from the University of Western Australia reported a new type of unknown mechanism by which some plants communicate.... Read more »
Gagliano, M., & Renton, M. (2013) Love thy neighbour: facilitation through an alternative signalling modality in plants. BMC Ecology, 13(1), 19. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-13-19
Nodding syndrome.Ever heard of it? Well, up until a few days ago I hadn't. That is before coming across articles on the topic by Richard Idro and colleagues* (open-access) and Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige and colleagues** (open-access). Whilst not specifically my line of expertise or interest, I was intrigued to read about how nodding and other symptoms of the epileptic variety, at least in some cases, seemed to be precipitated by food and showed a potential nutritional angle.Curving spacetime @ Wikipedia Granted, the hows and whys of nodding syndrome are still a mystery, but the first thought that went through my mind was whether any specific types of food(s) might be implicated. Y'know in a similar vein to Marios Hadjivassiliou and the notion of gluten ataxia*** for example? Just speculating...With all that talk of food and behaviour in mind there are a few things that piqued my attention towards the paper by Herbert & Buckley**** seemingly part of a string of articles looking at the topic of dietary intervention published in the Journal of Child Neurology. The first thing was the title of the paper: "Autism and Dietary Therapy" simply because I have some research interest in this area. Perhaps I might have mentioned it before...Next was the authorship list, focused on at least one of the authors, Dr Martha Herbert (no disrespect intended to Dr Buckley). Alongside an already distinguished career in autism research, Dr Herbert is also making some waves with her new book: 'The Autism Revolution' co-authored with Karen Weintraub who wrote that very interesting Nature article on autism prevalence a few years back.Finally, a sentence from the paper abstract: "Over the course of several years following her initial diagnosis, the child’s Childhood Autism Rating Scale score decreased from 49 to 17, representing a change from severe autism to nonautistic, and her intelligence quotient increased 70 points".Such a dramatic description of change in presentation might once have been received with a very, very sceptical eye. Indeed I assume that still might be the case in some quarters. The publication of the Deborah Fein study (see here and here) on optimal outcome in relation to autism in conjunction with the rising tide of research looking at the potential benefits of early intervention for cases of autism, have perhaps made such observations slightly more 'acceptable', at least to some elements of the autism research community. Indeed I was also very taken by the recent BBC interview of Kristine and Jacob Barnet which discussed similar changes to symptom presentation in a young man now tipped for some absolutely amazing things. The fact that said changes detailed in the Herbert & Buckley paper seemed to occur at the same time that a "gluten-free casein-free ketogenic diet" was being followed is... interesting.Now round about this time, some people might be thinking what does this study actually show? A case study of a girl / young woman with autism where comorbid epilepsy was controlled both by anti-seizure medication and a ketogenic diet (yes, such a diet has been linked to the control of cases of epilepsy). Said dietary intervention originating in the gluten- and casein-free (GFCF) dietary domain. As time went on, seizures dissipated and over time her clinical scores on the CARS reduced indicative of quite a change in her autism presentation.One of course might say, a single case study, it means very little in the grand methodological scheme of things. That is unless you think back to the mantra 'if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism' highlighting the power of the N=1 where autism is concerned (see here). That and the interesting viewpoint expressed by people like Gary Mesibov on the issue of evidence-based medicine when applied to a extremely heterogeneous condition like autism, sorry the autisms.I am interested in the coincidental factors reported in this paper. I have questions: did the (almost) resolution of the epileptic symptoms carry any influence on the presentation of autism? In particular, I'm thinking back to that very interesting piece of research which suggested one particular type of autism (and epilepsy) might be related to a metabolic issue with the branched-chain amino acids (see here). Is this a potential model for that epilepsy-autism relationship for some people on the spectrum? What about the "resolution of morbid obesity" also reported; could this similarly have had any effect on symptom presentation?I have questions about the role of the diet adopted in this case. A ketogenic diet, as well as finding some value in cases of epilepsy or seizure disorders, has also been looked at with autistic behaviours in mind. Yep, at least one trial***** albeit preliminary, suggested that this might be an option for some people on the spectrum bearing in mind I'm not making any recommendations. Down the years I've also heard anecdotal reports about how the GFCF diet might have aided in the reduction/amelioration of certain signs and symptoms linked to autism. The paper by Stephen Genuis (see this post) is one example. Just before you say something along the lines of 'there is no methodologically sound experimental evidence for dietary effect'; well, yes and no (see here) accepting the need for much more rigorous experimental study and that the evidence is not all one-way (see here).If anyone has alternative explanations for the change in symptoms outside of just healthier eating, any placebo effect or just the research attention paid to the participant in question, please feel free to post them in the comments section. That being said, no mumbo-jumbo please like I've being reading today which has been roundly answered by psychiatry. Going back to the Fein study and the promise of more details to come, I'll be interested to see whether they report any of their optimal outcomers were following such a dietary intervention alongside other interventions.A... Read more »
Herbert, M., & Buckley, J. (2013) Autism and Dietary Therapy: Case Report and Review of the Literature. Journal of Child Neurology. DOI: 10.1177/0883073813488668
Most people recognise that we don’t speak in “sentences”. Still, speech is analysed and described using the concepts of sentence grammars, even when these writing-based systems must be bent and stretched, or vice versa – isn’t it cheating to “clean up” naturally occurring speech so it fits into a sentence grammar? In a previous post […]... Read more »
Last year, I blogged about a new and very pretty way of displaying the data about the human ‘connectome’ – the wiring between different parts of the brain. But there are many beautiful ways of visualizing the brain’s connections, as neuroscientists Daniel Margulies and colleagues of Leipzig discuss in a colourful paper showcasing these techniques. Here, [...]... Read more »
Jean Jacques Hublin has a commentary  in the current issue of Nature, about making fossils available for scanning, digital replication, and ultimately hopefully open dissemination. As Hublin points out, it's a bit ridiculous that a fossil is a rare enough thing as it is, but even after their discovery, fossils "can become unreachable relics once they are in storage." Fortunately, Hublin goes on to point to online collections that are available to anyone interested. Somewhat ironically, the article about free-ish data is behind a paywall, so here are the resources Hublin describes:The Ditsong CT Archive, created by the collaboration of Hublin's group at Max Planck and the Ditsong (formerly Transvaal) Museum in South Africa, which contains digitized hominin fossils from the site of Kromdraai (see also ).You can download CT scans of the Skhul V early human fossil, thanks to the Harvard Peabody Museum.Wanna see the the oldest possible animal embryos, early humans, insects, and other crazy fossils? Check out the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility's microCT database.Get free CT scans of 2 human skulls, thanks to the Virtual Anthropology program at the University of Vienna.Finally, the NESPOS initiative is a large repository of Pleistocene hominin fossil scans, which I somehow don't know enough about.In addition to these sources, here are 2 other datasets that are pretty badass:As I've pointed out before, the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University has a very impressive collection of primate CT scans on their website. You can manipulate & look inside the 3D images online, and potentially download the original scans (although I've not had luck with registering with them).The American Association of Orthodontists Foundation has published several sets of X-rays from longitudinal studies of craniofacial growth. It's quite a remarkable and useful collection for both research and teaching.I haven't had much opportunity to look into these datasets Hublin pointed out, but they look promising. If you know of other good resources, please do share!References Hublin, J. (2013). Palaeontology: Free digital scans of human fossils Nature, 497 (7448), 183-183 DOI: 10.1038/497183a Skinner MM, Kivell TL, Potze S, & Hublin JJ (2013). Microtomographic archive of fossil hominin specimens from Kromdraai B, South Africa. Journal of human evolution, 64 (5), 434-47 PMID: 23541384... Read more »
Hublin, J. (2013) Palaeontology: Free digital scans of human fossils. Nature, 497(7448), 183-183. DOI: 10.1038/497183a
Skinner MM, Kivell TL, Potze S, & Hublin JJ. (2013) Microtomographic archive of fossil hominin specimens from Kromdraai B, South Africa. Journal of human evolution, 64(5), 434-47. PMID: 23541384
Cooperation is a puzzle because it is not obvious why cooperation, which is good for the group, is so common, despite the fact that defection is often best for the individual. Though we tend to view this issue through the lens of the prisoner’s dilemma, Artem recently pointed me to a paper by Joanna Masel, […]... Read more »
Masel, J. (2007) A Bayesian model of quasi-magical thinking can explain observed cooperation in the public good game. Journal of Economic Behavior , 64(2), 216-231. DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2005.07.003
A new kind of cosmic flash may reveal something never seen before: the birth of a black hole.... Read more »
Marcus Woo. (2013) Birth of a Black Hole. Caltech news . info:/
One of the most valuable ponds in Alabama, if you ask me
was a drive from Auburn University to a conference in the Florida panhandle
that allowed us a short detour to visit one of the most storied wetlands in
Alabama herpetological history. But, I didn’t realize that at the time.
wouldn’t know it by looking at them now, but there are a... Read more »
Willson, J., Winne, C., Dorcas, M., & Gibbons, J. (2006) Post-drought responses of semi-aquatic snakes inhabiting an isolated wetland: Insights on different strategies for persistence in a dynamic habitat. Wetlands, 26(4), 1071-1078. DOI: 10.1672/0277-5212(2006)26[1071:PROSSI]2.0.CO;2
Winne, C., Dorcas, M., & Poppy, S. (2005) Population Structure, Body Size, and Seasonal Activity of Black Swamp Snakes (Seminatrix pygaea). Southeastern Naturalist, 4(1), 1-14. DOI: 10.1656/1528-7092(2005)004[0001:PSBSAS]2.0.CO;2
Dodd Jr., C.K. (1993) Population structure, body mass, activity, and orientation of an aquatic snake during a drought. . Canadian Journal of Zoology, 71(7), 1281-1288. DOI: 10.1139/z93-177
No, I'm not looking for people with lithe limbs to be photographed for money. Much more sexily, I'm referring to a recent paper (Pietak et al., 2013) that's found that the relative length of the segments of human limbs can be modeled with a log-periodic function:Figure 2 from Pietak et al. 2013. Human within-limb proportions are such that the length of each segment (e.g., H1-6) of a limb, from fingertip to shoulder (A) and to to hip (B), can be predicted by a logarithmic periodic function (C).In other words, within a limb, the length of each segment is mathematically fairly predictable on the basis of the segment(s) before and after it. As the authors state, "Being able to describe human limb bone lengths in terms of a log-periodic function means that only one parameter, the wavelength λ, is needed to explain the proportional configuration of the limb."The biological significance of this pattern is difficult to discern. The length of a limb segment is determined by a number of factors, including the spacing between the initial limb condensations embryonically, and thereafter the growth rates and duration of growth at proximal and distal epiphyses. As a result, limb proportions aren't static throughout life, but change from embryo to adult. For instance, here are limb proportion data for the coolest animal ever - gibbons! - from the great anatomist Adolf Schultz.An important question, and follow-up to Pietak et al's study, is whether human limb proportions can be described by such log-periodic functions throughout ontogeny, and if so how these change. Plus, it's also not clear to what extent human proportions might happen to be describable by log periodic functions, simply because each segment is shorter than the one preceding it proximally. In short, this study raises really interesting and pursuable questions about how and why animal limbs grow to the size and proportions that they do.ReferencesPietak A, Ma S, Beck CW, & Stringer MD (2013). Fundamental ratios and logarithmic periodicity in human limb bones. Journal of anatomy, 222 (5), 526-37 PMID: 23521756Schultz, A. (1944). Age changes and variability in gibbons. A Morphological study on a population sample of a man-like ape American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2 (1), 1-129 DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1330020102... Read more »
Pietak A, Ma S, Beck CW, & Stringer MD. (2013) Fundamental ratios and logarithmic periodicity in human limb bones. Journal of anatomy, 222(5), 526-37. PMID: 23521756
Schultz, A. (1944) Age changes and variability in gibbons. A Morphological study on a population sample of a man-like ape. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2(1), 1-129. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1330020102
Medieval alchemists devoted their lives to the pursuit of the infamous Philosopher's Stone, an elusive substance that was thought to convert base metals into valuable gold. Needless to say, nobody ever discovered the Philosopher’s Stone. Well, perhaps some alchemist did get lucky but was wise enough to keep the discovery secret. Instead of publishing the discovery and receiving the Nobel Prize for Alchemy, the lucky alchemist probably just walked around in junkyards, surreptitiously collected scraps of metal and brought them to home to create a Scrooge-McDuck-style money bin. Today, we view the Philosopher’s Stone as just a myth that occasionally resurfaces in the titles of popular fantasy novels, but cell biologists have discovered their own version of the Philosopher’s Stone: The conversion of fibroblast cells into precious heart cells (cardiomyocytes) or brain cells (neurons).... Read more »
Nam, Y., Song, K., Luo, X., Daniel, E., Lambeth, K., West, K., Hill, J., DiMaio, J., Baker, L., Bassel-Duby, R.... (2013) Reprogramming of human fibroblasts toward a cardiac fate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(14), 5588-5593. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1301019110
This week's Caturday morning video smile is a lovely blend of science, animals and humour all rolled up into a short video.... Read more »
Researchers have found that blood of youngsters can rejuvenate the heart of the old ones - at least in mice.
Previously, researchers found that the blood from the young mice could rejuvenate the brain of the older mice. (Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10357).
In the new study, researchers worked on two mice; one was 2-month-old and the other was 23-month-old having cardiac hypertrophy - a condition in which the heart muscle thickens leading to heart failure. Researchers surgically joined the circulatory system of the two mice that caused the blood to flow around each other’s bodies.
Researchers found that the heart of the older mouse reverted back to almost the same size as that of the younger animal and the heart of the younger animal remained unaffected even after circulating the blood from the older mice.
“After 4 weeks of exposure to the circulation of young mice, cardiac hypertrophy in old mice dramatically regressed, accompanied by reduced cardiomyocyte size and molecular remodeling,” Researchers wrote.
Researchers found that a protein, GDF11, was present in huge amount in the young mice. This protein is important in cell development and healing, and now researchers have found its role in the betterment of hearts. They are think that this protein in low levels could help the people with cardiac hypertrophy. However, further researches are needed on this.
Loffredo, F., Steinhauser, M., Jay, S., Gannon, J., Pancoast, J., Yalamanchi, P., Sinha, M., Dall’Osso, C., Khong, D., Shadrach, J., Miller, C., Singer, B., Stewart, A., Psychogios, N., Gerszten, R., Hartigan, A., Kim, M., Serwold, T., Wagers, A., & Lee, R. (2013). Growth Differentiation Factor 11 Is a Circulating Factor that Reverses Age-Related Cardiac Hypertrophy Cell, 153 (4), 828-839 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.04.015... Read more »
Loffredo, F., Steinhauser, M., Jay, S., Gannon, J., Pancoast, J., Yalamanchi, P., Sinha, M., Dall’Osso, C., Khong, D., Shadrach, J.... (2013) Growth Differentiation Factor 11 Is a Circulating Factor that Reverses Age-Related Cardiac Hypertrophy. Cell, 153(4), 828-839. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.04.015
In the soft jungle sun, a thick-limbed primate—with heavy fur and a strong grasping tail—is poised for flight. This is Lagothrix poeppigii, or Poeppigi’s woolly monkey, and it is the … Continue reading →... Read more »
Papworth Sarah, Milner-Gulland E. J., Slocombe Katie, & Noë Ronald. (2013) Hunted Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix poeppigii) Show Threat-Sensitive Responses to Human Presence. PLoS ONE, 8(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062000.s004
In my last post, I mentioned a hypothetical relatively-average psychologist (caveat: the term doesn’t necessarily apply to any specific person, living or dead). I found him to be a bit strange, since he tended to come up with hypotheses that … Continue reading →... Read more »
Cornwell, R., Palmer, C., Guinther, P., & Davis. H. (2005) Introductory Psychology Texts as a View of Sociobiology/Evolutionary Psychology’s Role in Psychology. Evolutionary Psychology, 355-374. info:/
For over a decade, cardiologists have been conducting trials in patients using cells extracted from the bone marrow and infusing them into the blood vessels of the heart in patients who have suffered a heart attack. This type of a procedure is not without risks.... Read more »
Surder, D., Manka, R., Lo Cicero, V., Moccetti, T., Rufibach, K., Soncin, S., Turchetto, L., Radrizzani, M., Astori, G., Schwitter, J.... (2013) Intracoronary Injection of Bone Marrow Derived Mononuclear Cells, Early or Late after Acute Myocardial Infarction: Effects on Global Left Ventricular Function Four months results of the SWISS-AMI trial. Circulation. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.001035
Rehman, J. (2013) Bone Marrow Tinctures for Cardiovascular Disease: Lost in Translation. Circulation. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.002775
A couple of weeks ago, if you randomly woke me in the middle of the night and demanded to know the fundamental difference between evolution and learning as adaptive processes, I would probably respond: “how did you get into my house? and umm… I guess they are mostly the same, it is just a matter […]... Read more »
Brenner, T. (1998) Can evolutionary algorithms describe learning processes?. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 8(3), 271-283. DOI: 10.1007/s001910050064
Recently I’ve been contemplating giving up on the modern
world and moving to a cabin in the woods. I mean – what is with all of this
technology, the 50+ hour work week, and guilt over the simple pleasures like
spending time with friends and family on the weekends? Maybe I would be able to
feel happier and more fulfilled if I turned my back on the world of today and instead
started living a simple life. After all, despite the fact that technology has
made our lives easier over the past century, people do not report being happier
than they were before smart phones, computers, and the internet.
Picture it – a cabin in the woods next to a gurgling river,
a garden out back with beautiful flowers and delicious produce, a feeling of
being close to nature, like my ancestors. More time for important social
interactions, which are really at the heart of a meaningful life. No more
random interneting or hours spent ignoring my husband in favor of my smart
phone. Instead I’ll spend my days doing meaningful things, going to bed with
the setting sun and sleeping as much as I need. Really, imagine it. Don’t you
all want to come and join me in the woods?
But would I really be
happier if I gave up modern conventions and moved to an isolated cabin? Up
until a few hours ago, I really thought that might be the solution. But then I
read an article by a 26 year-old, Paul, who had given up the internet for a year.
He felt that the internet was preventing him from figuring out who he truly
was, and it was time to take back his life and his identity. And giving up the
internet was good – for the first few months. He spent more time with friends,
used his boredom to write more and explore his creativity in other ways. He
read more and went out more. But then Paul adjusted to not having the internet
and soon found himself developing bad habits offline. He was unable to keep in
touch with people who were far away, and his snail mail began to overwhelm him
until he was unable to cope with sending responses to his fans. The moral of his story – we are who we are
and we will be who we will be, internet or no internet.
Read More->... Read more »
The brilliant golden powder of turmeric is best known as the main spice in curry, but has also been widely used for many years in Eastern traditional medicines as an anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric has been used as an alleviator for arthritis, stomach pain, and cancer, among many other health issues. The healing properties of turmeric ...... Read more »
Link A, Balaguer F, Shen Y, Lozano JJ, Leung HC, Boland CR, & Goel A. (2013) Curcumin modulates DNA methylation in colorectal cancer cells. PloS one, 8(2). PMID: 23460897
Somewhere in Germany, a group of 40 genetically identical females are being constantly watched. Implanted with radio-frequency identification transponders (RFID) since 4 weeks old, they are allowed to roam free in a rich, 5-storey mansion, with 20 antennas monitoring and recording their whereabouts. 3 months later their brains will be examined for traces of emerging […]... Read more »
Freund, J., Brandmaier, A., Lewejohann, L., Kirste, I., Kritzler, M., Kruger, A., Sachser, N., Lindenberger, U., & Kempermann, G. (2013) Emergence of Individuality in Genetically Identical Mice. Science, 340(6133), 756-759. DOI: 10.1126/science.1235294
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