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  • October 10, 2015
  • 07:34 AM

Can Google Books Really Tell Us About Cultural Evolution?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In 2009, Google made available Google Books (also known as the Ngram corpus), a database that now includes over 8 million books from libraries around the world. The books comprise a collection of words (over 500 billion English words) and phrases and this dataset is freely available for research use. The Books corpus allows researchers to examine changes in the frequency of word use in books over time, dating back to 1800.

This has led a lot of striking findings. So for instance, it has b... Read more »

  • October 7, 2015
  • 06:19 PM

Parents influence children’s play of violent video games

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Parents who are more anxious and emotional can impact the amount of violent video games their children play, according to new consumer research from Iowa State University. Russell Laczniak, a professor of marketing and the John and Connie Stafford Professor in Business, says given the harmful effects of violent video games, he and his colleagues wanted to better understand how parents influence children’s behavior.... Read more »

  • October 7, 2015
  • 12:28 AM

Children as language brokers

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Some of the most striking images from the refugees who have been trekking across Europe are of families and children. Beyond the immediate perils of their journeys, migration inevitably changes families. As children are usually much quicker to learn new … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 01:51 PM

American placebo – An increase in the placebo response, but only in America?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study finds that rising placebo responses may play a part in the increasingly high failure rate for clinical trials of drugs designed to control chronic pain caused by nerve damage. Surprisingly, however, the analysis of clinical trials conducted since 1990 found that the increase in placebo responses occurred only in trials conducted wholly in the U.S.; trials conducted in Europe or Asia showed no changes in placebo responses over that period.... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 09:24 AM

The Earliest Example of Decapitation and Why Archaeologists Should Learn to Draw

by Katy Meyers Emery in Bones Don't Lie

That title is not a mistake. When I read the recent articles about the earliest example of a decapitation, my first thought was “wow, look at those illustrations; we really […]... Read more »

Strauss A, Oliveira RE, Bernardo DV, Salazar-García DC, Talamo S, Jaouen K, Hubbe M, Black S, Wilkinson C, Richards MP.... (2015) The Oldest Case of Decapitation in the New World (Lapa do Santo, East-Central Brazil). PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26397983  

  • October 5, 2015
  • 06:48 PM

Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.... Read more »

Kleiman, S., Watson, H., Bulik-Sullivan, E., Huh, E., Tarantino, L., Bulik, C., & Carroll, I. (2015) The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000247  

  • October 5, 2015
  • 04:12 PM

Weird colours of bones and teeth

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

I like making lists about living things. Colour is a great starting point for such lists, whether they're about body parts infected by microbes or the origins of science words. For this post, I'm going to look at how bones and teeth can take on a bunch of strange colours...... Read more »

  • October 4, 2015
  • 01:39 PM

Brain networking: behind the cognitive control of thoughts

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The human brain does not come with an operating manual. However, a group of scientists have developed a way to convert structural brain imaging techniques into “wiring diagrams” of connections between brain regions. Three researchers from UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences — Michael Miller, Scott Grafton and Matt Cieslak — used the structure of neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert cognitive control ........ Read more »

Gu, S., Pasqualetti, F., Cieslak, M., Telesford, Q., Yu, A., Kahn, A., Medaglia, J., Vettel, J., Miller, M., Grafton, S.... (2015) Controllability of structural brain networks. Nature Communications, 8414. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9414  

  • October 1, 2015
  • 02:41 PM

Coincidence or conspiracy? Studies investigate conspiracist thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking ........ Read more »

  • September 28, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

Mass Grave Found in California Reveals Prehistoric Violence Against ‘Outsiders’

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

An ancient mass grave, uncovered during the construction of a shopping mall outside San Francisco, contains the bodies of seven men who appear to have been victims of “mass homicide” some 1,150 years ago, scientists say.
... Read more »

Eerkens JW, Carlson T, Malhi RS, Blake J, Bartelink EJ, Barfod GH, Estes A, Garibay R, Glessner J, Greenwald AM.... (2015) Isotopic and genetic analyses of a mass grave in central California: Implications for precontact hunter-gatherer warfare. American journal of physical anthropology. PMID: 26331533  

  • September 27, 2015
  • 02:45 PM

Breaking the anxiety cycle

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A woman who won’t drive long distances because she has panic attacks in the car. A man who has contamination fears so intense he cannot bring himself to use public bathrooms. A woman who can’t go to church because she fears enclosed spaces. All of these people have two things in common: they have an anxiety disorder. They’re also parents.... Read more »

  • September 26, 2015
  • 05:14 PM

A Primetime Psychology Experiment: Does TV Affect Behavior?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A remarkable paper just published in PLoS ONE reports on what is, I think, one of the largest psychological experiments of all time.

Researchers Elizabeth L. Paluck and colleagues partnered with a TV network to insert certain themes (or messages) into popular dramas shown on US TV. They then looked to see whether these themes had an effect on real world behavior, ranging from Google searches to drink-driving arrests.

The study was based on three prime time Spanish-language dramas (tele... Read more »

Paluck EL, Lagunes P, Green DP, Vavreck L, Peer L, & Gomila R. (2015) Does Product Placement Change Television Viewers' Social Behavior?. PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26398217  

  • September 25, 2015
  • 03:08 PM

It’s alive!! Study adds to evidence that viruses are alive

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Classifying something as living isn’t as easy as it sounds, after all we are all atoms, so when do atoms go from nonliving to living? Despite the complexities of viruses, we have historically deemed them nonliving. However, a new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized to........ Read more »

Arshan Nasir, & Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. (2015) A phylogenomic data-driven exploration of viral origins and evolution. Science Advances. info:/10.1126/sciadv.1500527

  • September 23, 2015
  • 03:27 PM

What motivates ‘Facebook stalking’ after a romantic breakup?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Social networking makes it easy to monitor the status and activities of a former romantic partner, an often unhealthy use of social media known as interpersonal electronic surveillance (IES) or, more commonly, “Facebook stalking.” Psychological and relationship factors and how individuals cope with the termination of a romantic relationship can help predict their use of online surveillance, according to a new study.... Read more »

  • September 23, 2015
  • 09:09 AM

Who Died In The Leprosarium of Saint-Thomas d’Aizier?

by Katy Meyers Emery in Bones Don't Lie

Leprosy is a fascinating disease- not just for its effects, but for the social implications of having the disease. Leprosy was an epidemic disease that not only infected millions of […]... Read more »

  • September 22, 2015
  • 09:23 PM

Who is a real refugee?

by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move

The refugee crisis in Europe has caught a lot of global media attention. Countries at the entry points and their official actions, as well civil organizations, get a lot of attention in online media; furthermore, social media comments quite often … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 22, 2015
  • 05:02 PM

Genetic analysis supports prediction that spontaneous rare mutations cause half of autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team led by researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has published a new analysis of data on the genetics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One commonly held theory is that autism results from the chance combinations of commonly occurring gene mutations, which are otherwise harmless. But the authors’ work provides support for a different theory.... Read more »

Ivan Iossifov, Dan Levy, Jeremy Allen, Kenny Ye, Michael Ronemus, Yoon-ha Lee, Boris Yamrom, & Michael Wigler. (2015) Low load for disruptive mutations in autism genes and their biased transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America. info:/

  • September 18, 2015
  • 05:34 AM

What Do Bats and Plants Have in Common? High-pitched Screaming!

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Polyglot like a pitcher plant or cryptolectic like a sperm whale?

A: “Pitcher Tower, this is Bat K hardwickii, established ILS 16. Do you copy me?”
B: “Bat K hardwickii, clear to land. Please confirm: are you ready to discharge the cargo?”
A: “Roger. Affirmative.”

This is how I imagined a conversation between the tropical carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes hemsleyana and the bat Kerivoula hardwickii would go. No, I am not on drugs; bats and plants can........ Read more »

Cantor M, Shoemaker LG, Cabral RB, Flores CO, Varga M, & Whitehead H. (2015) Multilevel animal societies can emerge from cultural transmission. Nature communications, 8091. PMID: 26348688  

Schöner MG, Schöner CR, Simon R, Grafe TU, Puechmaille SJ, Ji LL, & Kerth G. (2015) Bats Are Acoustically Attracted to Mutualistic Carnivorous Plants. Current biology : CB, 25(14), 1911-6. PMID: 26166777  

  • September 17, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

America’s Largest Earthwork, Cahokia’s Monks Mound, May Have Been Built in Only 20 Years, Study Says

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

The search to determine how native engineers built Monk’s Mound — North America’s biggest prehistoric earthen structure — has turned up some new and crucial, but very small, clues: the seeds and spores of ancient plants.... Read more »

Lopinot, N., Schilling, T., Fritz, G., & Kelly, J. (2015) Implications of Plant Remains from the East Face of Monks Mound. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, 40(3), 209-230. DOI: 10.1179/2327427115Y.0000000003  

  • September 16, 2015
  • 04:00 PM

Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Research has found evidence that spending time in nature provides protections against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more. How this exposure to green space leads to better health has remained a mystery. After reviewing hundreds of studies examining nature’s effects on health, researchers believe the answer lies in nature’s ability to enhance the functioning of the body’s immune system.... Read more »

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