For health care workers in psychiatric hospitals, it is no secret: one of the major issues confronting psychiatric facilities seeking to institute blanket no-smoking policies concerns chronic inpatients with schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia are almost always heavy cigarette smokers, given a choice. As Edward Lyon wrote in an analysis of studies and surveys performed throughout [...]... Read more »
Mueser, K., Crocker, A., Frisman, L., Drake, R., Covell, N., & Essock, S. (2005) Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder in Persons With Severe Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 32(4), 626-636. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbj068
The Greek hero Theseus had a ship that was used in an annual ceremony. As the ship aged, the plans would slowly rot and were, over the years, replaced. Eventually, after many years, every one of the planks was replaced. Is it the same ship? This philosophical problem plagued the Greeks, and highlights the tension between stability and change.This problem reappears in neurobiology in many ways. Neurons must have some stability or processing information becomes impossible. Neurons must be able to ........ Read more »
Amir Minerbi, Roni Kahana, Larissa Goldfeld, Maya Kaufman, Shimon Marom, Noam E. Ziv. (2009) Long-Term Relationships between Synaptic Tenacity, Synaptic Remodeling, and Network Activity. PLoS Biology, 7(6). DOI: http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000136
If you want people to recognise that a substance is dangerous - give it a complicated, hard-to-pronounce name. That's the implication of a new study that suggests we use a simple rule-of-thumb when judging risk. If something is easy to process and digest - for example, by virtue of being easy to pronounce - we tend to assume that it's familiar and safe. By contrast, if it seems hard to process, we assume it's novel and likely to be risky. These kinds of mental short cuts are known as heuristics ........ Read more »
The Cretaceous of Gondwana - the formerly connected southern landmasses of Antarctica, Australia, South America, Africa, India, Madagascar, and Arabia - is a sticky problem. The terrestrial fossil record is spotty at best in most locations, and tremendous geographic and temporal gaps remain. As a consequence, there is considerable debate about the sequence of the tectonic breakup of Gondwana and even the very identity and relationships of some of its dinosaurs and other Mesozoic beasts. Once in ........ Read more »
Hocknull, S., White, M., Tischler, T., Cook, A., Calleja, N., Sloan, T., & Elliott, D. (2009) New mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia. PLoS ONE, 4(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006190
Ok, I'll admit, this post is kind of stolen from the fabulous Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science, who just won the Association of British Science Writers' Best Newcomer award! Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Ed. :)
Well, the post isn't stolen, but the subject is. And it's actually been a little disappointing. When I first scanned the title, I thought it said "echinoderm", rather than "echidna", and I thought "Starfish sex!!! w00t1!!!" But no. Instead of talking about t........ Read more »
Morrow, G., & Nicol, S. (2009) Cool Sex? Hibernation and Reproduction Overlap in the Echidna. PLoS ONE, 4(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006070
After a long, long wait, the BCA finally published its list of ‘evidence’ on the Simon Singh case. Read the Lay Scientist’s appraisal for an indication of how poor the evidence is. It consists entirely of irrelevant articles and poor studies but there was one paper that no-one could find. It is by Joan M. [...]... Read more »
JOAN M. FALLON, D.C., F.I.C.C.P. (1997) The Role of the Chiropractic Adjustment in the Care and Treatment of 332 Children with Otitis Media. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. DOI: http://www.labarberachiro.com/Web Articles/Ear Infec Study.pdf
Cited by 4 [ATGSATOP]So this is another paper in my attempt to finish the background reading for an invited paper in the AP2PC'07 workshop proceedings. I believe I found this one following a citation trail from Ben-Ami and Shehory (2007) and I think I grabbed it because it had "learning" in the title. Peer to Peer is mentioned in passing, but this paper is really about a multi-agent system where individual agents have learning capabilities. I know the first author from a panel ........ Read more »
Sandip Sen, Anil Gursel, & Stephane Airiau. (2007) Learning to identify beneficial partners. Working Notes of the Adaptive and Learning Agents Workshop at AAMAS.
Priests and other moral figureheads sometimes go bad. That's inevitable, given that there are so many of them. Still, it makes you wonder if there's something more complex going on. Could it be that moral authority actually contributes to immorality?Back in 2007 there was a study that suggested one way this could happen. People who are convinced of their moral correctness were found to actually be more likely to cheat - because they were more likely to feel that their cheating could be justified........ Read more »
Rees, TJ. (2009) Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief?. Journal of Religion and Society. DOI: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2009/2009-17.html
Ecological Niche Modeling is a great tool for conservation biology, phylogeography and evolutionary biology. However, as Jeff Lozier and colleagues point out in a paper in Journal of Biogeography,...
[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]... Read more »
Lozier, J., Aniello, P., & Hickerson, M. (2009) Predicting the distribution of Sasquatch in western North America: anything goes with ecological niche modelling. Journal of Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02152.x
Meet the White-faced Saki, Pithecia pithecia. P. pithecia lives in South America, where it scampers about the low canopy eating the seeds of fruit with tough outer shells. To get through those tough outer shells, it has robust, stout canines that are able to pierce the skins and dig out the soft fruit and seeds [...]... Read more »
Beard, K., Marivaux, L., Chaimanee, Y., Jaeger, J., Marandat, B., Tafforeau, P., Soe, A., Tun, S., & Kyaw, A. (2009) A new primate from the Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar and the monophyly of Burmese amphipithecids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0836
Take a group of 18- and 19-year-old women, college freshmen and sophomores. Then test them to find out who has the most social anxiety: who's most nervous about dealing with other people, particularly in public situations. What would be the most difficult thing you could ask these high-social-anxiety women to do? How about this:
I would like you to prepare and deliver a four-minute talk. This talk will be videotaped and viewed later by several professors and graduate students.... It is extremel........ Read more »
GAYLEBECK, J., DAVILA, J., FARROW, S., & GRANT, D. (2006) When the heat is on: Romantic partner responses influence distress in socially anxious women. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(5), 737-748. DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2005.05.004
As plants become starved for CO2, rock weathering diminishes. Credit: study coauthor David Beerling
Earth is currently in an ice age. (People, especially climate change naysayers, sometimes forget that.) The growth of the Antarctic ice sheet began about 25 million years ago, and by about 3 million years ago we had a full-blown ice age. [...]... Read more »
Pagani, M., Caldeira, K., Berner, R., & Beerling, D. (2009) The role of terrestrial plants in limiting atmospheric CO2 decline over the past 24 million years. Nature, 460(7251), 85-88. DOI: 10.1038/nature08133
... Read more »
Healy, G., Dunstan, D., Salmon, J., Cerin, E., Shaw, J., Zimmet, P., & Owen, N. (2008) Breaks in Sedentary Time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk. Diabetes Care, 31(4), 661-666. DOI: 10.2337/dc07-2046
Simon Leather has a good short article about the problems of working with invertebrates in biology. The problems are not intellectual, but structural. He argues that if you work on invertebrates, you really don’t have much of a chance of getting a job at a major research institution. Some of Leather’s claims are backed by references. But phrases like “it is obvious that” crop up, which are always warning signs for opinions trying to pass themselves off as facts.It contains this short bla........ Read more »
Leather, S. (2009) Institutional vertebratism threatens UK food security. Trends in Ecology . DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2009.05.002
Macrophage phagocytosing mycobacteria
Sometimes the simple, obvious answer is right, and sometimes it’s completely backwards.
Tuberculosis was a terrifying, ubiquitous killer in the 19th century, but is relatively rare today (at least, in developed countries). The reason for the drop in Tb deaths isn’t entirely clear; it started with social factors probably including accidental or deliberate isolation [...]... Read more »
Sadagopal, S., Braunstein, M., Hager, C., Wei, J., Daniel, A., Bochan, M., Crozier, I., Smith, N., Gates, H., Barnett, L.... (2009) Reducing the Activity and Secretion of Microbial Antioxidants Enhances the Immunogenicity of BCG. PLoS ONE, 4(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005531
Much of psychology's efforts over the last few decades have been spent on understanding the nature of memory. Increasingly, though, psychologists are beginning to apply what we've learned about memory, so as to help enhance people's performance. In 2007, the Digest reported on a study that investigated the optimal interval to leave between study periods if you want to remember material long term. Now Claudia Meltzer-Baddeley and Roland Baddeley have tested a related approach to study, known as a........ Read more »
So I've been putting off a final post-mortem on the use of online resources in connection with Evolution 2009, but Nature finally shamed me into it with an article specifically about blogging and microblogging at scientific meetings as part of a special section devoted to science journalism.
The Nature piece captures the concerns that came up when I first broached the subject of trying to increase the meetings' online profile, especially the question of unwanted publicity: scientific meetings o........ Read more »
Batts, S., Anthis, N., & Smith, T. (2008) Advancing science through conversations: Bridging the gap between blogs and the academy. PLoS Biology, 6(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060240
Saunders, N., Beltrão, P., Jensen, L., Jurczak, D., Krause, R., Kuhn, M., & Wu, S. (2009) Microblogging the ISMB: A new approach to conference reporting. PLoS Computational Biology, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000263
The latest issue of Genetics to flop onto my desk has a rather nice article by Sydney Brenner entitled "In the Beginning Was the Worm...". This brief article (in the regularly excellent Perspectives section) presents an account of the origins of Caenorhabditis elegans research, by the beast's main man, research which ultimately earned him Nobel Prize fameRead More...... Read more »
An interesting and largely unanswered question concern the acquisition of our ability to understand and perform mathematics. We appear to innately possess an concrete grasp of only a handful of small values, and yet we frequently engage in transactions for quantities that reach into the hundreds or thousands.
Our ability to perform these computations no doubt [...]... Read more »
Knops, A., Thirion, B., Hubbard, E., Michel, V., & Dehaene, S. (2009) Recruitment of an Area Involved in Eye Movements During Mental Arithmetic. Science, 324(5934), 1583-1585. DOI: 10.1126/science.1171599
My attention was drawn today to a recent open access paper that theorizes on how evolution came to produce the calorie restriction response. Given that calorie restriction notably improves health and longevity, why isn't this beneficial metabolic state switched on all the time? Stresses like dietary restriction or various toxins increase lifespan in taxa as diverse as yeast, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila and rats, by triggering physiological responses that also tend to delay reproduction. F........ Read more »
Ratcliff, W., Hawthorne, P., Travisano, M., & Denison, R. (2009) When Stress Predicts a Shrinking Gene Pool, Trading Early Reproduction for Longevity Can Increase Fitness, Even with Lower Fecundity. PLoS ONE, 4(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006055
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