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  • December 18, 2015
  • 11:24 AM
  • 806 views

Beyond the headlines: clarifying the connection between healthy diets, resource use, and greenhouse gas emissions

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

A recent study looking at the impact of USDA-recommended diets on the environment has received significant media attention. Some of these reports have been a bit misleading, so read here to learn the details about this important study that should impact US dietary policy!... Read more »

  • December 17, 2015
  • 04:33 PM
  • 527 views

Scientists manipulate consciousness in rats

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists showed that they could alter brain activity of rats and either wake them up or put them in an unconscious state by changing the firing rates of neurons in the central thalamus, a region known to regulate arousal. The study was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health.... Read more »

Jia Liu, Hyun Joo Lee, Andrew J Weitz, Zhongnan Fang, Peter Lin, ManKin Choy, Robert Fisher, Vadim Pinskiy, Alexander Tolpygo, Partha Mitra, Nicholas Schiff, Jin Hyung Lee. (2015) Frequency-selective control of cortical and subcortical networks by central thalamus. eLife. DOI: http://dx.org/10.7554/eLife.09215#sthash.uNb2m4j3.dpuf  

  • December 16, 2015
  • 12:10 PM
  • 677 views

Openness and quality of a published article

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

Openness is a scientifically and societally relevant part of a published article's quality. It is time that openness is recognized as a most important element of the quality of a research publication and that those who judge researchers on their publications (e.g. tenure and promotion committees) take that into account. For the benefit of science and the benefit of society as a whole. … Read More →... Read more »

  • December 15, 2015
  • 03:56 PM
  • 748 views

‘Hydricity’ concept uses solar energy to produce power round-the-clock… really?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers are proposing a new "hydricity" concept aimed at creating a sustainable economy by not only generating electricity with solar energy but also producing and storing hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power production.... Read more »

Emre Gencer, Dharik S. Mallapragada, Francois Marechal, Mohit Tawarmalani. (2015) Round-the-clock power supply and a sustainable economy via synergistic integration of solar thermal power and hydrogen processes. Proceedings of the natural sciences academy of the United States of America. info:/http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/12/09/1513488112.abstract

  • December 14, 2015
  • 04:40 PM
  • 541 views

Emotion processing in the brain changes with tinnitus severity

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Tinnitus, otherwise known as ringing in the ears, affects nearly one-third of adults over age 65. The condition can develop as part of age-related hearing loss or from a traumatic injury. In either case, the resulting persistent noise causes varying amounts of disruption to everyday life. While some tinnitus patients adapt to the condition, many others are forced to limit daily activities as a direct result of their symptoms. A new study reveals that people who are less bothered by their tinnitus use different brain regions when processing emotional information.... Read more »

Fatima T. Husain et al. (2015) Increased frontal response may underlie decreased tinnitus severity. PLOS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0144419

  • December 14, 2015
  • 11:54 AM
  • 576 views

Why Are Cats Scared of Cucumbers?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Have you seen the video of cats’ terrified responses to cucumbers? No?! Then check this out:This hilarious video has led many people to try this on their own cats… to varying degrees of success. And it has led to some curious questions: Why are these cats so terrified of a cucumber? And why isn’t my cat?The fear of something specific (like a cucumber) can either be innate (as in, you’re born with it) or learned. For many animal species, it would make sense to be born with a natural fear of something that can kill you the first time you encounter it, like a steep drop, being submerged under water, or a venomous snake. Some of these things can be so dangerous that an animal with a fear of anything that even resembles it may have a higher chance of surviving long enough to produce its own fearful babies some day. So maybe these cats have an innate fear of snakes that has caused them to respond in this hilarious way to anything that resembles a snake… like a cucumber?But if cats have an innate fear of snakes, why don’t they all respond to cucumbers this way?Sometimes fears appear to be innate, when they are actually learned. For example, in 2009, researchers Judy DeLoache and Vanessa LoBue at the University of Virginia explored whether the fear of snakes is innate in human babies with a series of three experiments.In the first experiment, Judy and Vanessa showed 9- and 10-month old babies silent films of snakes and other animals and they measured how long the babies looked at each type of film. Presumably, a baby will be more vigilant of and spend more time looking at something they are scared of. They found that the babies responded exactly the same towards the snake films than to the films of other animals.Next, the experimenters showed the babies the films of either a snake or another animal again. However, this time they played the audio of a person sounding either happy or frightened along with the video. The babies looked at the non-snake animal videos the same amount regardless of whether the audio sounded happy or scared. However, the babies looked at the snake videos longer if the audio sounded scared than if the audio sounded happy. In the third experiment, the experimenters repeated this pairing of audio with visuals, but this time they used still pictures of snakes and non-snake animals instead of videos. This time, the babies did not react differently to the snake or non-snake animal pictures depending on if the audio sounded happy or scared.This shows that, at least for people, we don’t have an innate fear of snakes, but we do have an innate tendency to develop a fear of snakes if we are exposed to the right combination of hearing someone being afraid and seeing a moving snake. In other words, some fears are more contagious than others. And this isn’t just true for people: a study of rhesus monkeys found that baby monkeys raised by parents that were afraid of snakes only developed a fear of snakes themselves if they observed their parents acting fearful in the presence of a real or toy snake. So perhaps, the cats in this cucumber video saw or heard someone being fearful of something cucumber-like (or snake-like) when they were young... Or maybe they were just surprised by something sneaking up on them while they were eating.In any case, don’t be too bummed if this hasn’t worked on your cat… Maybe try it on your friends instead! Want to know more? Check these out:DeLoache, J., & LoBue, V. (2009). The narrow fellow in the grass: human infants associate snakes and fear Developmental Science, 12 (1), 201-207 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00753.x Mineka, S., Davidson, M., Cook, M., & Keir, R. (1984). Observational conditioning of snake fear in rhesus monkeys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93 (4), 355-372 DOI: 10.1037/0021-843X.93.4.355 ... Read more »

  • December 13, 2015
  • 03:34 PM
  • 519 views

The world’s smallest terrorist: Virus hijacks protein machine and then kills the host

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. The name originates from the Greek ‘phagos’ which means ‘to devour’. Bacteriophages were discovered 100 years ago because of their ability to replicate in a pathogenic bacterium, kill it and thereby cure the patient. As a small spaceship landing on the moon, the microscopic particles land on the surface of the bacteria where they inject their deadly genetic material.... Read more »

Gytz H, Mohr D, Seweryn P, Yoshimura Y, Kutlubaeva Z, Dolman F, Chelchessa B, Chetverin AB, Mulder FA, Brodersen DE.... (2015) Structural basis for RNA-genome recognition during bacteriophage Qβ replication. Nucleic acids research. PMID: 26578560  

  • December 12, 2015
  • 04:59 PM
  • 468 views

Discovery puts designer dopamine neurons within reach

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

For decades, the elusive holy grail in Parkinson’s disease research has been finding a way to repair faulty dopamine neurons and put them back into patients, where they will start producing dopamine again. Researchers have used fetal material, which is difficult to obtain and of variable quality. Embryonic stem cells represented a tremendous innovation, but making dopamine neurons from stem cells is a long process with a low yield.... Read more »

Jiang, H., Xu, Z., Zhong, P., Ren, Y., Liang, G., Schilling, H., Hu, Z., Zhang, Y., Wang, X., Chen, S.... (2015) Cell cycle and p53 gate the direct conversion of human fibroblasts to dopaminergic neurons. Nature Communications, 10100. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10100  

  • December 11, 2015
  • 02:58 PM
  • 490 views

Healthy or sick? Tiny cell bubbles may hold the answer

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Rutgers scientists have uncovered biological pathways in the roundworm that provide insight into how tiny bubbles released by cells can have beneficial health effects, like promoting tissue repair, or may play a diabolical role and carry disease signals for cancer or neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.... Read more »

Juan Wang, Rachel Kaletsky, Malan Silva, April Williams, Leonard A. Haas, Rebecca J. Androwski, Jessica N. Landis, Cory Patrick, Alina Rashid, Dianaliz Santiago-Martinez, Maria Gravato-Nobre, Jonathan Hodgkin, David H. Hall, Coleen T. Murphy, Maureen M. B. (2015) Cell-Specific Transcriptional Profiling of Ciliated Sensory Neurons Reveals Regulators of Behavior and Extracellular Vesicle Biogenesis. Current Biology. info:/10.1016/j.cub.2015.10.057

  • December 10, 2015
  • 08:36 PM
  • 834 views

LSD changes consciousness by reorganizing human brain networks

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

LSD is known to cause changes in consciousness, including “ego-dissolution”, or a loss of the sense of self. Despite a detailed knowledge of the action of LSD at specific serotonin receptors, it has not been understood how this these pharmacological effects can translate into such a profound effect on consciousness.... Read more »

Lebedev, A., Lövdén, M., Rosenthal, G., Feilding, A., Nutt, D., & Carhart-Harris, R. (2015) Finding the self by losing the self: Neural correlates of ego-dissolution under psilocybin. Human Brain Mapping, 36(8), 3137-3153. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.22833  

  • December 10, 2015
  • 03:22 PM
  • 670 views

Eyes on Environment: where fuel goes, water cannot follow

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Water and energy policy have long been separate despite the deep link between energy production and freshwater consumption. Here we discuss a new study examining this link with policy implications about how to prevent resource scarcity.... Read more »

Holland RA, Scott KA, Flörke M, Brown G, Ewers RM, Farmer E, Kapos V, Muggeridge A, Scharlemann JP, Taylor G.... (2015) Global impacts of energy demand on the freshwater resources of nations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(48). PMID: 26627262  

  • December 9, 2015
  • 03:38 PM
  • 831 views

Computing with time travel

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why send a message back in time, but lock it so that no one can ever read the contents? Because it may be the key to solving currently intractable problems. It turns out that an unopened message can be exceedingly useful. This is true if the experimenter entangles the message with some other system in the laboratory before sending it.... Read more »

Yuan, X., Assad, S., Thompson, J., Haw, J., Vedral, V., Ralph, T., Lam, P., Weedbrook, C., & Gu, M. (2015) Replicating the benefits of Deutschian closed timelike curves without breaking causality. npj Quantum Information, 15007. DOI: 10.1038/npjqi.2015.7  

  • December 8, 2015
  • 03:28 PM
  • 626 views

Self-consciousness: Beyond the looking-glass and what dogs found there

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

That man’s best friend has a conscience is what every owner would be willing to bet, without even thinking about it for a moment. This means that dogs have self-consciousness. But the problem in science is that ideas and assumptions must be demonstrated. It is not enough for someone to have an inkling of something for it to be considered a scientific fact. Self-awareness, or self-consciousness, has been studied mainly by examining the responses of animals and children to their reflection in the mirror.... Read more »

  • December 8, 2015
  • 01:50 PM
  • 581 views

Why is progress so slow in resuscitation research?

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

Why is progress so slow in resuscitation research? A lot of money and time went in to finding out which type of blood-letting ventilation works best – ignoring the absence of valid evidence that ventilation is better than no ventilation. Why not gamble with our patients?

In response to The Fatal Flaw in Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR,[1],[2] Kenny commented that –

there are many things in your blog that are not correct.[1]... Read more »

Nichol, G., Leroux, B., Wang, H., Callaway, C., Sopko, G., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Morrison, L., Aufderheide, T., Cheskes, S.... (2015) Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR. New England Journal of Medicine, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1509139  

  • December 8, 2015
  • 12:46 PM
  • 1,070 views

The Dire State of Science in the Muslim World

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Universities and the scientific infrastructures in Muslim-majority countries need to undergo radical reforms if they want to avoid falling by the wayside in a world characterized by major scientific and technological innovations. This is the conclusion reached by Nidhal Guessoum and Athar Osama in their recent commentary "Institutions: Revive universities of the Muslim world", published in the scientific journal Nature. The physics and astronomy professor Guessoum (American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates) and Osama, who is the founder of the Muslim World Science Initiative, use the commentary to summarize the key findings of the report "Science at Universities of the Muslim World" (PDF), which was released in October 2015 by a task force of policymakers, academic vice-chancellors, deans, professors and science communicators. This report is one of the most comprehensive analyses of the state of scientific education and research in the 57 countries with a Muslim-majority population, which are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).... Read more »

  • December 8, 2015
  • 11:05 AM
  • 648 views

Annotating the scholarly literature online

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

The Internet irreversibly changed the scholarly literature, the way it is published, assessed, disseminated, read, shared and cited. The peer review process has been evolving as a result of innovations facilitated by the Web. Among them, the post-publication review and open comments on online texts constitute a strong trend. Hypothes.is is an open source initiative that allows sharing openly – or privately – comments from researchers on scientific publications, contributing to their improvement. … Read More →... Read more »

Perkel, J. (2015) Annotating the scholarly web. Nature, 528(7580), 153-154. DOI: 10.1038/528153a  

  • December 7, 2015
  • 07:30 PM
  • 571 views

Seeing viruses in a new light

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Want to make a virus? It’s easy: combine one molecule of genomic nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, and a handful of proteins, shake, and in a fraction of a second you’ll have a fully-formed virus. While that may sound like the worst infomercial ever, in many cases making a virus really is that simple. Viruses such as influenza spread so effectively, and as a result can be so deadly to their hosts, because of their ability to spontaneously self-assemble in large numbers.... Read more »

  • December 6, 2015
  • 03:51 PM
  • 516 views

Certain herpes viruses can infect human neurons

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

For years, researchers have noted a tantalizing link between some neurologic conditions and certain species of the herpes virus. In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and cerebellar ataxia, among other neuropathies, the cerebrospinal fluid teems with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Yet, the nature of that link has remained unclear, as it has been assumed that EBV, as well as other viruses in the same sub-family, called gammaherpesviruses, cannot infect neurons.... Read more »

Jha, H., Mehta, D., Lu, J., El-Naccache, D., Shukla, S., Kovacsics, C., Kolson, D., & Robertson, E. (2015) Gammaherpesvirus Infection of Human Neuronal Cells. mBio, 6(6). DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01844-15  

  • December 5, 2015
  • 04:28 PM
  • 580 views

No two faces are the same

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

For the very first time, researchers have been able to show that the causes of congenital face blindness can be traced back to an early stage in the perceptual process. These findings are crucial, not just for our understanding of face recognition, but also because they allow us to understand the processes behind the recognition of any visually presented object.... Read more »

  • December 4, 2015
  • 10:20 PM
  • 559 views

How is a developing brain assembled?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

As far as biologists have come in understanding the brain, much remains to be revealed. One significant challenge is determining the formation of complex neuronal structures made up of billions of cells in the human brain. As with many biological challenges, researchers are first examining this question in simpler organisms, such as worms.... Read more »

Christensen RP, Bokinsky A, Santella A, Wu Y, Marquina-Solis J, Guo M, Kovacevic I, Kumar A, Winter PW, Tashakkori N.... (2015) Untwisting the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. eLife. PMID: 26633880  

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