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  • January 25, 2015
  • 03:36 PM
  • 8 views

Will the ocean follow the land? Marine ecosystems at a tipping point to follow terrestrial defaunation

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Data suggests that marine life may soon follow the mass extinctions seen in terrestrial ecosystems - similarities and differences discussed here!... Read more »

McCauley, D., Pinsky, M., Palumbi, S., Estes, J., Joyce, F., & Warner, R. (2015) Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean. Science, 347(6219), 1255641-1255641. DOI: 10.1126/science.1255641  

  • January 24, 2015
  • 01:39 PM
  • 46 views

Lucid dreaming: The similarities between dreaming and wakefulness

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

To control one’s dreams and to live out there what is impossible in real life — a truly tempting idea. Some people — so-called lucid dreamers — can do this. Researchers have discovered that the brain area which enables self-reflection is larger in lucid dreamers. Thus, lucid dreamers are possibly also more self-reflecting when they are awake.... Read more »

Filevich E, Dresler M, Brick TR, & Kühn S. (2015) Metacognitive mechanisms underlying lucid dreaming. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 35(3), 1082-8. PMID: 25609624  

  • January 24, 2015
  • 05:34 AM
  • 41 views

Hartnup disease in coeliac disease: lessons for 'some' autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Thomas Ciecierega and colleagues [1] (open-access) talking about 'refractory' coeliac disease (CD) - a lack of, or diminished response to a gluten-free diet (the primary management option for CD) - and the subsequent diagnosis of Hartnup disease in a young girl is fodder for today's brief post.I already had a big bowl of curly-toed weirdo for breakfast.Describing how authors first diagnosed her with CD but witnessed "only mild clinical and laboratory improvement"........ Read more »

  • January 23, 2015
  • 07:16 PM
  • 62 views

Mothers don’t speak clearly to their babies

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

People have a distinctive way of talking to babies and small children: We speak more slowly, using a sing-song voice, and tend to use cutesy words like "tummy". While we might be inclined to think that we talk this way because it is easier for children to understand, new research suggests that, surprisingly, mothers may actually speak less clearly to their infants than they do to adults.... Read more »

Andrew Martin, Thomas Schatz, Maarten Versteegh, Kouki Miyazawa, Reiko Mazuka, Emmanuel Dupoux, and Alejandrina Cristia. (2015) Kouki Miyazawa, Reiko Mazuka, Emmanuel Dupoux, and Alejandrina Cristia. Mothers Speak Less Clearly to Infants Than to Adults: A Comprehensive Test of the Hyperarticulation Hypothesis. Psychological Science. info:/10.1177/0956797614562453

  • January 22, 2015
  • 05:50 PM
  • 130 views

Belief’s effect on biochemistry in cases of addiction

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Ever wonder what makes people susceptible to addiction? Think about it, some people can stop addictive painkillers without a problem and others, well others are not so lucky. So the big question is are there more than biophysical factors at play in addiction? A new study shows that cognitive beliefs play a significant role in a person’s neurological response to an addictive substance and that belief can diminish the neurological effects of an addictive drug.... Read more »

Gu, X., Lohrenz, T., Salas, R., Baldwin, P., Soltani, A., Kirk, U., Cinciripini, P., & Montague, P. (2015) Belief about nicotine selectively modulates value and reward prediction error signals in smokers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201416639. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1416639112  

  • January 21, 2015
  • 03:56 PM
  • 61 views

Fish, mercury, and pregnancy: Good news for seafood lovers

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

People freak out when they hear mercury is in something and sometimes for good reasons. In vaccinations for example a very small amount of ethyl-mercury WAS used as a preservative in vaccines, people got scared so now it is not used in most vaccines. Methylmercury* however is found in seafood and larger fish in particular (in much, much higher concentrations than in vaccines mind you). They may sound the same, but the methylmercury in fish is far more toxic. That said, it turns out that fish isn........ Read more »

Gutiérrez, F., & Leon, L. (2000) Elemental Mercury Embolism to the Lung. New England Journal of Medicine, 342(24), 1791-1791. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200006153422405  

JJ Strain,, Alison J Yeates,, Edwin van Wijngaarden,, Sally W Thurston,, Maria S Mulhern,, Emeir M McSorley,, Gene E Watson,, Tanzy M Love,, Tristram H Smith,, Kelley Yost,.... (2015) Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition . info:/10.3945/​ajcn.114.100503

  • January 21, 2015
  • 07:24 AM
  • 53 views

Space Exploration 2.0

by Viputheshwar Sitaraman in Draw Science

Redefining space exploration: SpaceX's crazy week in the private space race. [Infographic]... Read more »

  • January 21, 2015
  • 05:34 AM
  • 56 views

Features of autism in childhood epilepsy

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, features of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were common in children with epilepsy regardless of cognitive ability."Whoa, whoa, whoa! Sorry, Blondie. I don't do backstorySo said Colin Reily and colleagues [1] in their paper examining facets of autism in cases of childhood epilepsy. Suggesting also that the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) might be "a useful screening instrument in this population, and combining parent and teacher forms was opt........ Read more »

Reilly C, Atkinson P, Das KB, Chin RF, Aylett SE, Burch V, Gillberg C, Scott RC, & Neville BG. (2014) Features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in childhood epilepsy: A population-based study. Epilepsy , 86-92. PMID: 25529303  

  • January 20, 2015
  • 03:01 PM
  • 67 views

You can live longer, but not healthier

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

We all want to live longer and thanks to medical technologies our life expectancies have dramatically increased. Which would be handy if we could actually enjoy the extra years. Unfortunately a study of long-lived mutant C. elegans by scientists shows that the genetically altered worms spend a greater portion of their life in a frail state and exhibit less activity as they age than typical nematodes. These findings suggest that genes that increase longevity may not significantly increase healthy........ Read more »

Bansal A, Zhu LJ, Yen K, & Tissenbaum HA. (2015) Uncoupling lifespan and healthspan in Caenorhabditis elegans longevity mutants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25561524  

  • January 19, 2015
  • 07:33 PM
  • 99 views

Menage-a-trois no more: new design removes need for conductive additives and polymers in battery electrodes

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

An ingenious new battery design removes the need for conductive additives and polymers required in conventional designs. This reduces material use, increasing energy density and has the potential to decreases costs!... Read more »

Kirshenbaum, K., Bock, D., Lee, C., Zhong, Z., Takeuchi, K., Marschilok, A., & Takeuchi, E. (2015) In situ visualization of Li/Ag2VP2O8 batteries revealing rate-dependent discharge mechanism. Science, 347(6218), 149-154. DOI: 10.1126/science.1257289  

Dudney, N., & Li, J. (2015) Using all energy in a battery. Science, 347(6218), 131-132. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2870  

  • January 19, 2015
  • 03:05 PM
  • 84 views

Fear, PTSD, and newly found neural circuits in the brain

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

People with anxiety disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often experience prolonged and exaggerated fearfulness. Now, an animal study suggests that this might involve disruption of a gradual shifting of brain circuitry for retrieving fear memories. Researchers have discovered in rats that an old fear memory is recalled by a separate brain pathway from the one originally used to recall it when it was fresh.... Read more »

Penzo MA, Robert V, Tucciarone J, De Bundel D, Wang M, Van Aeist L, Varvas M, Parada LF, Palmiter R, He M, Huang ZJ, Li B. . (2015) The paraventricular thalamus controls a central amygdala fear circuit. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature13978  

  • January 18, 2015
  • 03:06 PM
  • 63 views

Stem cells derived from amniotic tissues have immunosuppressive properties

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Stem cells derived from human amnion have for some time been considered promising for cell therapies because of their ease of access, ability to differentiate, and absence of ethical issues. Now, a research team has found that stem cells derived from human female amnion also have immunosuppressive activity and that the addition of antibodies to specific factors can enhance their immunosuppressive potential.... Read more »

  • January 18, 2015
  • 08:29 AM
  • 79 views

Machine Learning: Exceeding Chance Level By Chance

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A simple statistical misunderstanding is leading many neuroscientists astray in their use of machine learning tools, according to a new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods: Exceeding chance level by chance.



As the authors, French neuroscientists Etienne Combrisson and Karim Jerbi, describe the issue:
Machine learning techniques are increasingly used in neuroscience to classify brain signals. Decoding performance is reflected by how much the classification results depart from the... Read more »

  • January 17, 2015
  • 04:00 PM
  • 9 views

On the Seven Sins of Memory with Daniel Schacter

by Waseem Akhtar in Bridging the Gaps,

What exactly is a memory? How much do we know about the processes that a human brain executes to store and retrieve a memory? An individual memory may contain different elements such as explicit information, one or many contexts, relevant emotions; does the brain pre-process all individual elements of a memory and then stores this processed memory as one single entity? Or, are different elements of an individual memory stored at different locations in the form of a connected structure or network........ Read more »

  • January 17, 2015
  • 02:18 PM
  • 78 views

Pythagoras theorem could improve patient care

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Triangles, few of us have ever thought of a relationship between health care and triangles. Most of us will remember Pythagoras theorem from our school days, but rarely have a reason to use it in day-to-day life. Well for Doctors that might change, a team of medical researchers has found the 2,500-year-old Pythagoras theorem could be the most effective way to identify the point at which a patient’s health begins to improve.... Read more »

  • January 16, 2015
  • 03:41 PM
  • 82 views

New genetic clues in fragile x syndrome

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists have gained new insight into fragile X syndrome — the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability — by studying the case of a person without the disorder, but with two of its classic symptoms.... Read more »

Myrick LK, Deng PY, Hashimoto H, Oh YM, Cho Y, Poidevin MJ, Suhl JA, Visootsak J, Cavalli V, Jin P.... (2015) Independent role for presynaptic FMRP revealed by an FMR1 missense mutation associated with intellectual disability and seizures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25561520  

  • January 15, 2015
  • 02:25 PM
  • 110 views

Scientists use the brain to direct fat burning

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Does it seem like no matter what you do, you still can’t shed the pounds? You know what to eat, how to eat and workout regularly, but the weight just won’t go away, well you may not be alone. There are many different medical conditions that limit your ability to lose weight, but thankfully science has now found how to use your brain to shed the weight.... Read more »

Dodd, G., Decherf, S., Loh, K., Simonds, S., Wiede, F., Balland, E., Merry, T., Münzberg, H., Zhang, Z., Kahn, B.... (2015) Leptin and Insulin Act on POMC Neurons to Promote the Browning of White Fat. Cell, 160(1-2), 88-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.12.022  

  • January 15, 2015
  • 05:10 AM
  • 92 views

Maternal thyroid autoantibody and offspring autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I have, on this blog, previously mentioned the paper by Alan Brown and colleagues [1] suggesting that: "The prevalence of maternal TPO-Ab+ [thyroid peroxidase antibody] was significantly increased in pregnancies giving rise to autism cases (6.15%) compared to controls (3.54%)." It was during some discussion on the suggested diagnosis of Down syndrome disintegrative disorder (see here) and the idea that some signs and symptoms of regressive autism (?) might overlap with TPO antibodies i........ Read more »

Brown, A., Surcel, H., Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki, S., Cheslack-Postava, K., Bao, Y., & Sourander, A. (2015) Maternal thyroid autoantibody and elevated risk of autism in a national birth cohort. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 86-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2014.10.010  

  • January 14, 2015
  • 03:54 PM
  • 103 views

The hidden neurological impact of explosions on military members

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

More bad news for war Veterans, the brains of some Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who survived blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and died later of other causes show a distinctive honeycomb pattern of broken and swollen nerve fibers throughout critical brain regions, including those that control executive function. The pattern is different from brain damage caused by car crashes, drug overdoses or collision sports, and may be the never-before-reported signature of blast injuri........ Read more »

Ryu J, Horkayne-Szakaly I, Xu L, Pletnikova O, Leri F, Eberhart C, Troncoso JC, & Koliatsos VE. (2014) The problem of axonal injury in the brains of veterans with histories of blast exposure. Acta neuropathologica communications, 2(1), 153. PMID: 25422066  

  • January 14, 2015
  • 05:11 AM
  • 86 views

Autism research in Jamaica

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

For the past couple of years I've been tracking some rather interesting publications coming out of data from Jamaica on the topic of autism / autism spectrum disorder (ASD) specifically looking at the possible overlap between genes and various environmental factors. I thought now would be a good time to bring this collection of papers to the blogging table and summarise their findings based on the analysis of data collected from The Jamaican Autism study. The fact that their latest res........ Read more »

Rahbar MH, Samms-Vaughan M, Loveland KA, Pearson DA, Bressler J, Chen Z, Ardjomand-Hessabi M, Shakespeare-Pellington S, Grove ML, Beecher C.... (2012) Maternal and paternal age are jointly associated with childhood autism in Jamaica. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 42(9), 1928-38. PMID: 22230961  

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