A male western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), photographed at the Bronx Zoo.
The origin of human bipedalism has long been a hot topic among paleoanthropologists. At the very least it is seen as something of a marker for the emergence of the first hominin, yet it remains unclear whether the earliest hominins evolved from a terrestrial, knuckle-walking ancestor or a more arboreal ape. A common interpretation is that since our closest living relatives, gorillas and chimpanzees, are both knuckle-wa........ Read more »
Kivell TL, & Schmitt D. (2009) Independent evolution of knuckle-walking in African apes shows that humans did not evolve from a knuckle-walking ancestor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 19667206
Picture a dog playing with a ball. The dog is alive, and the ball is inanimate. Obvious stuff, but how do we know? You might think our brains use visual cues to sort the living from the non-living, but research published in the journal Neuron this week proves it’s a little more complicated.
A team of [...]... Read more »
Mahon, B., Anzellotti, S., Schwarzbach, J., Zampini, M., & Caramazza, A. (2009) Category-Specific Organization in the Human Brain Does Not Require Visual Experience. Neuron, 63(3), 397-405. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.07.012
[Cancer] mortality has been systematically decreasing among younger individuals for many decades. … the cancer mortality rates for 30 to 59 year olds born between 1945 and 1954 was 29% lower than for people of the same age born three decades earlier. … substantial changes in cancer mortality risk across the life span have been [...]... Read more »
Kort, E., Paneth, N., & Vande Woude, G. (2009) The Decline in U.S. Cancer Mortality in People Born since 1925. Cancer Research, 69(16), 6500-6505. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0357
It’s always exciting to see headlines about scientific breakthroughs, and today is no exception – we have “Breakthrough found to kill cancer spread”, “Scientists make breakthrough in fight against deadliest cancer cells” and the ambitious “Cancer – The end?”
The headlines came after researchers in Boston, US, discovered a way to target cancer stem cells – [...]... Read more »
Gupta, P., Onder, T., Jiang, G., Tao, K., Kuperwasser, C., Weinberg, R., & Lander, E. (2009) Identification of Selective Inhibitors of Cancer Stem Cells by High-Throughput Screening. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.06.034
The integration of different sensory inputs in the brain is crucial not only for taking appropriate motor actions but also for body perception and awareness of the bodily self. Integration occurs in higher areas in the brain usually in areas belonging to the parietal lobe1) Integrating Vision and Proprioception in Area 5 ( Graziano et. al (2000))Brodmann Area 5 (or Area 5) is part of the parietal cortex in humans, and in monkeys, is a subdivision of the parietal lobe, occupying primarily the su........ Read more »
Duhamel JR, Colby CL, & Goldberg ME. (1998) Ventral intraparietal area of the macaque: congruent visual and somatic response properties. Journal of neurophysiology, 79(1), 126-36. PMID: 9425183
Chocolate is not an antidepressant. Interaction between chocolate and neurotransmitter systems in the brain, such as serotonin, that contribute to appetite, reward and mood regulation were studied but no antidepressant mechanism of chocolate was found.
Most possible psychoactive substances in chocolate are metabolized in the blood by an enzyme (monoamineoxydase A), these substances are unable to [...]... Read more »
Wolz, M., Kaminsky, A., Löhle, M., Koch, R., Storch, A., & Reichmann, H. (2009) Chocolate consumption is increased in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Neurology, 256(3), 488-492. DOI: 10.1007/s00415-009-0118-9
People with autism are known to lack the ability to automatically attribute mental states to self and others also known as "mindblindness". A result of this impairment is failure on verbally instructed false-belief tasks. However, people with Asperger syndrome, a milder form of autism, seem to pass with flying colors. This presents a problem for the "mindblindness" theory. So do people with Asperger syndrome really have a theory of mind (ToM) contrary to popular theory?Senju, Southgate, White, a........ Read more »
Senju A, Southgate V, White S, & Frith U. (2009) Mindblind Eyes: An Absence of Spontaneous Theory of Mind in Asperger Syndrome. Science (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 19608858
Asian Smiley Emoticons Plush - Set Of 6In a study of cultural differences in the recognition of facial expressions......eye movements of 13 Western Caucasian and 13 East Asian people [were recorded] while they observed pictures of expressive faces and put them into categories: happy, sad, surprised, fearful, disgusted, angry, or neutral. The faces were standardized according to the so-called Facial Action Coding System (FACS) such that each expression displayed a specific combination of facial m........ Read more »
Jack RE, Blais C, Scheepers C, Schyns PG, Caldara R. (2009) Cultural Confusions Show that Facial Expressions Are Not Universal. Current Biology. info:/
A problem with interventions that use role-playing to beat prejudice is that bigots usually aren't motivated to take the perspective of the groups that they discriminate against. In a new study, Gordon Hodson and colleagues have tested the effectiveness of an unusual alien-themed intervention for reducing homophobia that involves participants taking the perspective of a homosexual person, without really realising that that is what they're doing.Hodson's team tested the homophobic tendencies of 1........ Read more »
Hodson, G., Choma, B., & Costello, K. (2009) Experiencing Alien-Nation: Effects of a simulation intervention on attitudes toward homosexuals☆. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 974-978. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2009.02.010
The first total synthesis of (+)-Angelmarin includes some neat cyclization reactions. They started with Umbelliferone which you can buy, and synthesized angelmarin by way of columbianetin.I'm always curious about where the names of these compounds come from. The systematic names are probably rather cumbersome, so these common names are useful. Umbelliferone is found in plants of the Umbelliferae family - which includes carrots. Also named for plant species, angelmarin was isolated from Angeli........ Read more »
By: Rosemary Stephen, Elements: Environmental Health Intelligence
The Current State
Climate change is a serious global problem resulting in disrupted weather patterns, violent storms, rising global temperatures and rising ocean levels. Climate change is also displacing people; small family groups to whole populations are being forced to leave their homelands due to environmental changes that [...]... Read more »
Rosemary Stephen. (2009) Climate Change and Climate Change Refugees, Part I. Elements: Environmental Health Intelligence. info:/
Take a look at these photos of Jim and Nora:
They've clearly been distorted (using the "spherize" filter in Photoshop), but in opposite directions. Jim's been "expanded" to make more spherical, while Nora has been "contracted" to look more concave. If you look at these photos for a while, you might have difficulty recognizing how Jim and Nora look normally.
This is an aftereffect. Aftereffects can be experienced in a number of ways, with dizziness being perhaps the most frequently observed........ Read more »
Jaquet, E., & Rhodes, G. (2008) Face aftereffects indicate dissociable, but not distinct, coding of male and female faces. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 34(1), 101-112. DOI: 10.1037/0096-15184.108.40.206
Came across this article in the New Scientist. It's a lovely piece of modern day molecular biology doing some forensic work to rediscover a species that was thought to have died out a couple of hundred years ago. The bird in question is the Tasman Booby (Sula tasmani).It has been speculated that this bird has been extinct since around 1790, though evidence has suggested that these birds might still be around. From my reading of the papers, it appears that the call for extinction of the Tasman Bo........ Read more »
Steeves, T., Holdaway, R., Hale, M., McLay, E., McAllan, I., Christian, M., Hauber, M., & Bunce, M. (2009) Merging ancient and modern DNA: extinct seabird taxon rediscovered in the North Tasman Sea. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0478
One of my more favorite reads was Aaron Filler's Upright Ape: A New Origin of the Species, shortly after it was published. The suggestion(s) regarding human evolution were attractive and revolutionary, while the discussions of homeotic mutations and their mechanisms (based upon peer-reviewed work) were enlightening and form part of the foundation of my own approach to understanding how mutation, development, and Darwinian selection work together (a subject I haven't blogged mu........ Read more »
Kivell, T., & Schmitt, D. (2009) Independent evolution of knuckle-walking in African apes shows that humans did not evolve from a knuckle-walking ancestor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901280106
In case you haven't seen it yet, there is a new paper in J. Neuroscience that reports the existence of mirror neurons in human inferior frontal gyrus (~Broca's area). It used a repetition suppression fMRI paradigm and found a suppression effect (different same) both when subjects executed and then observed the same action and when subjects observed and then executed the same action. This appears to be the best evidence yet for the existence of mirror neurons in humans: an effect was found in b........ Read more »
Kilner, J., Neal, A., Weiskopf, N., Friston, K., & Frith, C. (2009) Evidence of Mirror Neurons in Human Inferior Frontal Gyrus. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(32), 10153-10159. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2668-09.2009
It goes without saying that the US is currently experiencing a rapidly growing obesity epidemic. Researchers from various fields continue to look for possible causes and solutions to such a deleterious medical condition. A recent study conducted by Teegarden, Scott, and Bale seem to have advanced our understanding of obesity just a bit further. In a 10 day macronutrient choice preference test they found that high fat diet early-exposed mice exhibited a significantly greater preference for a high........ Read more »
Teegarden SL, Scott AN, & Bale TL. (2009) Early life exposure to a high fat diet promotes long-term changes in dietary preferences and central reward signaling. Neuroscience, 162(4), 924-32. PMID: 19465087
A paper just published in the journal PLoS ONE explores the impact of climate change on the life history and distribution of the world's worst coffee pest, a minute beetle called the coffee berry borer (CBB), Hypothenemus hampei.
... Read more »
Jaramillo, J., Chabi-Olaye, A., Kamonjo, C., Jaramillo, A., Vega, F., Poehling, H., & Borgemeister, C. (2009) Thermal Tolerance of the Coffee Berry Borer Hypothenemus hampei: Predictions of Climate Change Impact on a Tropical Insect Pest. PLoS ONE, 4(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006487
A new study published in JAMA this week has shown that in patients with colorectal cancer, taking an aspirin a day after diagnosis reduces the risk dying from the cancer or from any cause by at least 20%. Taking aspirin before diagnosis, however, did not have any effect of prognosis.
It has been known for a [...]... Read more »
Chan AT, Ogino, MD S, Fuchs CS. (2009) Aspirin Use and Survival After Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer. JAMA, 302(6), 649-658. info:other/Aspirin Use and Survival After Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer
In today’s industrialized society we are constantly exposed to work related stresses. Consequently, anxiety and insomnia (sleeplessness) have become quite common. No wonder, we are using anxiolytics and sedatives more often; to get relief from the anxiety and insomnia respectively.Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium) can effectively treat anxiety and insomnia. They do so by binding with a receptor (called Benzodiazepine-GABAa-chloride ion channel complex [hence........ Read more »
Wells, et. al. (2007), have published data from 3D body scans taken from a 9617 member, cross-sectional sample of UK adults (stratified by age and SES). The study seems intended to gather commercial (garment sizing information) and health related information, but does have some implications for beauty research.
Body shape correlates with age in females more [...]... Read more »
Wells JC, Treleaven P, & Cole TJ. (2007) BMI compared with 3-dimensional body shape: the UK National Sizing Survey. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 85(2), 419-25. PMID: 17284738
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