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  • February 15, 2014
  • 06:47 PM

Gene Variant May Affect Intellectual Ability in Adolescents

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

4 days ago a study was released entitled "Single nucleotide polymorphism in the neuroplastin locus associates with cortical thickness and intellectual ability in adolescents." The study was conducted by Desrivières and a team of 36 other researches along with the IMAGEN Consortium, published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry. This post discusses the findings and implications of the study.... Read more »

  • February 14, 2014
  • 08:11 AM

Is It Possible To Have Excess Weight And Still Be Healthy?

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Is it possible to be overweight or obese and still be considered healthy? Most physicians advise their patients who are overweight or obese to lose weight because excess weight is a known risk factor for severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. However, in recent years, a controversy has arisen regarding the actual impact of increased weight on an individual’s life expectancy or risk of suffering from heart attacks. Some researchers argue that being overweight (body mass index between 25 and 30; calculate your body mass index here) or obese (body mass index greater than 30) primarily affects one’s metabolic health and it is the prolonged exposure to metabolic problems that in turn lead to cardiovascular disease or death.
... Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 07:47 PM

Scientific Approaches to Enriching the Lives of Sanctuary Wolves and Wolf-Dog “Hybrids”

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Julie and Mia, I wanted to update you on some unique but exciting research that I conducted while working toward my Ph.D. at the University of Florida’s Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab. This particular research focuses on the welfare of wolves and wolf-dog “hybrids” in private sanctuaries.The common use of the term “hybrid” is perhaps the first indication of how poorly we understand these animals. The term “hybrid” is technically inaccurate – as wolves and domestic dogs are considered taxonomically the same species, so “wolfdog” or “wolf-dog cross” is more accurate. It is estimated that there are 300,000-500,000 wolfdogs in the United States, but a solid census – as well as reliable means of identifying them – is sorely needed. Hundreds of wolfdogs are either euthanized or surrendered to sanctuaries - permanent residences for unwanted, abused and neglected wolves and wolfdogs that cannot be adopted out by shelters. Although typically filled to capacity, private sanctuaries have little funding opportunities, often relying only modest private donations and volunteers to keep the facility running and ensure that the animals’ needs adequately met. Consequently, the cost of implementing traditional enrichment items (e.g., toys, objects, scents) to keep the animals stimulated may neither address this goal or prove to be financially feasible. In many cases, the goal of enrichment for captive animals is not only to increase species-typical behaviors and activity levels, but to reduce or eliminate undesirable behaviors as well. Interaction with regular, experienced volunteers, however, is an alternative approach. Many animals arrive at sanctuaries with long histories of human interaction, having been obtained by their former owners from breeders at a young age and raised in an environment similar to our pet dogs. The ResearchWe observed three pairs of wolfdogs and one pair of wolves, all of which resided for at least six months at Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary in Green Cove Springs, Florida. For years, owners John and Debra Knight and their volunteers have prioritized daily human interaction sessions to their animals without the use of food-based reinforcers. This provided a unique opportunity for me to examine the effects of human interaction alone on the animals’ behavior. Was there any scientific merit to my observations, or did I simply just want to believe that these animals were responding positively to their new lives? This also seemed to be an ideal opportunity to investigate whether human interaction was a a legitimate enrichment strategy for a captive animal population. The FindingsFor all subjects, the levels of positive, species-typical affiliative behaviors increased, as did their overall increased activity levels. Remarkably, subjects spent significantly more time playing with the other animal in their enclosure when human interaction was provided. In this way, it appears that human interaction also enhances the behaviors between the paired animals.Three wolfdogs also exhibited pacing (widely considered a stereotypic behavior in captive animals) in initial baselines. The pacing was reduced substantially or eliminated for during a human interaction sessions.These findings, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, collectively support the notion that human interaction is in itself enriching for well-socialized wolves and wolfdogs. Needless to say, these results did not come as a surprise to volunteers at Big Oak (or the other sanctuaries I have worked with) – who have spent countless hours closely interacting with their animals. More data is certainly needed to determine if this effect is true for other wolves and wolfdogs at other sanctuaries, as well as the long-term effects of human interaction on behavioral welfare. Although the lack of scientific studies on wolfdog behavior leaves many opportunities to scientists interested in studying them, it poses a difficulty for the general public who seek objective, reliable information on wolfdogs. So, I think it’s worth ending with some recommendations for future reading.You will likely come to find that everyone has their own opinion on wolfdogs – and that is because no two wolfdogs are the same; nor are any of our experiences with them identical. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and I look forward to research that continues to examine ways of further improving the welfare of these wonderful – but often misunderstood – animals. Best,Lindsay R. MehrkamPh.D. CandidateCanine Cognition & Behavior LabUniversity of Florida  PS: Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary is in need of donations. Details here: Reading:... Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 05:00 AM

Research Blogging——学術研究の業績をブログで広めるためのプラットフォーム

by Yuichiro in The Midnight Seminar

Research Bloggingについてまとめた論文を紹介するとともに,Research Bloggingがどのような仕組みであるかを説明し,日本でも需要があり得るサービスであることを指摘.... Read more »

Fausto S, Machado FA, Bento LF, Iamarino A, Nahas TR, & Munger DS. (2012) Research blogging: indexing and registering the change in science 2.0. PloS one, 7(12). PMID: 23251358  

  • February 8, 2014
  • 12:06 PM

The Impact of TED Talks

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

With over a billion views, TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) talks are a huge business. There are two main TED conferences a year – the TED conference and the TEDGlobal, and a large number...

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  • February 6, 2014
  • 01:45 PM

Why blogging about research matters more than evah!

by Ragothamanyennamalli in Getting to know Structural Bioinformatics

ResearchBlogging.orgTwo nature news articles make this post. The first one is titled “Scientists may be reading a peak in reading habits”. Read the full news here. With the widespread reading turning towards online rather than the good old library hunting, this is not a shocker. The average time spent on reading is half an hour per article. ... Read more »

  • February 5, 2014
  • 03:06 PM

Emerging Influenza Viruses

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

Frequently media outlets are reporting the identification of a novel strain of Influenza and in recents years this includes the identification of novel strains of avian influenza. More often than not, novel strains are identified because they have shown to cause severe disease in humans infected. Following the conformation of a human case of Influenza A H7N9 in January of this year -and subsequent culling of chicken in Hongkong and a ban of poultry exports-, the Financial Times reported the identification of a "novel" Influenza virus, A/ H10N8 in a 73 years old female patient. The corresponding case study was published on February 5th 2014 in The Lancet and emphasizes that the virus isolated from this patient is genetically distinct from previous isolates from avian sources, thus potentially adapted to infect humans - so strictly speaking it is a virus which is already established in avian species and after crossing into the human population mutated to cause disease. Mind the words here - adapted to infect humans, which implies that so far human to human transmission has not been proven to occur. In fact, H10N8 is one of many avian Influenza viruses which have been shown the ability to infect humans. Some of them have been shown to be able to be transmitted between humans and thus have the potential to cause a worldwide pandemic. So far however this has not occurred and it may be that some of the potential viruses might have become attenuated during human to human transmission and/or that cross-immunity caused by circulating viruses might be sufficient to prevent disease. Indeed it is known that relatives from patients infected and hospitalized for "bird flu" are often seropositive for antibodies - whether they acquired the virus from the patient or from the environment is not entirely clear, but there are indications that they were infected by the same sources as the patient. I was delighted to read in the Financial Times that they interviewed a well known virologist and expert on Influenza from the Imperial College London, Wendy Barclay, who pointed out that we have to careful in the interpretation of the results. The caveat was indeed correctly stated in the Lancet article but might have been overlooked by less through investigation. Reading a well researched article in the press on a topic which can easily cause widespread fear in my opinion justifies why we should pay for newspapers instead turning to free news sites who are dependent on advertisers for funding. Further reading:Clinical and epidemiological characteristics of a fatal case of avian influenza A H10N8 virus infection: a descriptive studyTo KK, Chan JF, Chen H, Li L, & Yuen KY (2013). The emergence of influenza A H7N9 in human beings 16 years after influenza A H5N1: a tale of two cities. The Lancet infectious diseases, 13 (9), 809-21 PMID: 23969217 HaiYing Chen, Hui Yuan, Rongbao Gao, Jinxiang Zhang, Dayan Wang PhD, Ying Xiong, GuoYin Fan, Fan Yang, Xiaodan Li, Jianfang Zhou Shumei Zou, Lei Yang, Tao Chen, Libo Don (2014). Clinical and epidemiological characteristics of a fatal case of avian influenza A H10N8 virus infection: a descriptive study The Lancet DOI: 0.1016/S0140-6736(14)60111-2... Read more »

  • February 5, 2014
  • 12:00 PM

Resolving New Memories: Adult Neurogenesis

by knowingneurons in Knowing Neurons

When I was young, my family lived in an old farmhouse.  It was cozy and had a lot of character but, at over 150 years old, it showed its age. […]... Read more »

Eriksson Peter S., Perfilieva Ekaterina, Björk-Eriksson Thomas, Alborn Ann-Marie, Nordborg Claes, Peterson Daniel A., & Gage Fred H. (1998) Neurogenesis in the adult human hippocampus. Nature Medicine, 4(11), 1313-1317. DOI: 10.1038/3305  

Nakashiba Toshiaki, Cushman Jesse D., Pelkey Kenneth A., Renaudineau Sophie, Buhl Derek L., McHugh Thomas J., Barrera Vanessa Rodriguez, Chittajallu Ramesh, Iwamoto Keisuke S., & McBain Chris J. (2012) Young Dentate Granule Cells Mediate Pattern Separation, whereas Old Granule Cells Facilitate Pattern Completion. Cell, 149(1), 188-201. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.01.046  

  • February 4, 2014
  • 06:50 AM

Stereotypical dogs: repetitive and pointless?

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

"I'm a labrador" does not = "I'm hungry" (source)Hey Julie,it's great to get an updated view of what's on the canine science cards for you in 2014 - looks like we're both going to be keeping busy - and wouldn't have it any other way!I can't believe we're already into February, to be honest. There are so many great new publications coming out, it's quite exciting to be able to share them with you here! You know I'm always thinking about the welfare of kennelled dogs (because PhD!) and I noticed a new study from the University of Bristol titled Repetitive behaviour in kennelled domestic dog: Stereotypical or not? (reference given below). Now of course, you know we're not talking about "all labradors are greedy" or "all little dogs are yappy" kind of stereotypes here, we're talking about describing a specific type of behaviour.I know you're interested in stereotypical animal behaviour too, so I wanted to share this with you! As you know, stereotypical behaviours have traditionally be thought of as repetitive and invariant behaviour patterns with no obvious goal or function.  Typical stereotypies that many people would be familiar with, include elephants in zoos/circuses swinging their trunks and/or swaying side to side; horses 'weaving' in stables; and bears route tracing when in captivity:In these situations, it's generally understood that the behaviour is the result of the animal feeling frustrated, fearful, restrained, stressed or lacking stimulation and when seen frequently, is often considered an indicator of poor welfare. Determining whether such behaviours are 'without function' has proven difficult. Research over the past decade has shed more light on the reasons animals might develop these behaviour patterns, and suggests that performing the behaviour is not always without a function, but can actually serve a role in helping animals to cope. We have discovered that the animals showing frequent stereotypical behaviour may not be the individuals suffering the most (you know that old saying - it's the quiet ones you've got to watch!).   As such, a refined definition better separates 'abnormal repetitive behaviours' from 'stereotypical behaviours' (which are considered to be caused by inadequate housing that causes frustration and may be overcome with appropriate change of environment including social and/or environmental enrichment). Dog-focussed research in this area has shown that kennelled dogs kept in restricted environments (such as laboratories or rescue shelters) may show behaviour as pacing, circling, spinning, wall bouncing or barking:The new research from Bristol set out to investigate if every dog observed in a working dog facility showing repetitive behaviour could really be described as stereotypical (which would suggest they were experiencing compromised welfare). The researchers examined the behaviour and physiology (using the urine's cortisol/creatinine ratio) of 30 German Shepherd Police dogs. They saw repetitive behaviours in over 40% of the behavioural samples in response to ten deliberately arousing activities (such as a kennel staff member standing outside the kennel yard, clicking the clip of a leash - indicating exercise time; or a full food bowl being placed outside the front of the kennel enclosure; or a stranger walking through the kennel complex). Only two individual dogs were not observed performing any repetitive behaviour.The study confirmed that dogs housed in kennel facilities long-term commonly exhibit repetitive behaviours when presented with a variety of routine activities as stimuli; also showing that individual dogs differ in the way that they respond.Some dogs only engaged in repetitive behaviours only during husbandry events when a person was there. Most dogs showed more than one of: circle, spin, bounce, pace, generally in some kind of combination (the spin an... Read more »

  • February 1, 2014
  • 02:32 PM


by Ryan Sweet in Antisense Science

Thin layer chromatography, or TLC, is a technique used for the separation and analysis of molecules in a sample (Note- NOT DNA!). It can be used on amino acids1, although in my lab it has been used to analyze the degradation (or lack of!) of large polymeric sugars by whole metabolically inactivated cells or by simple enzymes. Because of this, I’ll be focusing on the analysis of saccharides (sugars).

So far, good stuff! But! How does it work, and what the HELL do these results mean!?!... Read more »

Bhawani SA, Albishri HM, Khan ZA, Mohamad Ibrahim MN, & Mohammad A. (2013) Surfactant Modified/Mediated Thin-Layer Chromatographic Systems for the Analysis of Amino Acids. Journal of analytical methods in chemistry, 973280. PMID: 24455427  

  • February 1, 2014
  • 10:40 AM

Medical Journal Apologizes “For The Distress Caused” By A Paper

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Anaesthesia and Intensive Care (AIC) is an Australian medical journal. The latest issue, just published online, contains a remarkable – and possibly even unique – pair of Letters. These letters take the form of apologies for the distress caused by the publication of an article – I do not know of any similar cases in […]The post Medical Journal Apologizes “For The Distress Caused” By A Paper appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • January 30, 2014
  • 01:44 PM

"Lewontin's Fallacy" and Race

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

Race is a hotly debated topic in both the sciences and politics. One contended issue is whether or not race, as a human classification, exists at a biological level. Richard Lewontin in 1972 argued that it is not so, but one famous paper by AWF Edwards contested his conclusions. So was Lewontin right? This post examines the arguments on both sides and comes to the conclusion, in the author's opinion, that race is not a valuable taxonomy for humans.... Read more »

Rosenberg, NA. (2002) Genetic structure of human populations. Science. info:/

  • January 29, 2014
  • 05:13 PM

Why do we need one?

by Olga Vovk in Milchstraße

I am often questions, like “What are you doing as a science writer?”, “Why do we need one?” or “Why our scientist cannot do the job?”... Read more »

  • January 29, 2014
  • 12:04 PM

The direction a dog’s tail wags says what it’s thinking

by Stuart Farrimond in Guru: Science Blog

In show business, they say that you should never work with animals or small children. The reasons are obvious: they are both unpredictable and you never know exactly what they are thinking. Children grow up and learn to communicate via […]The post The direction a dog’s tail wags says what it’s thinking appeared first on Guru Magazine.... Read more »

  • January 24, 2014
  • 07:26 PM

Exciting Science: Oncolytic Viruses (Review published in PLOS Pathogens)

by Kausik Datta in In Scientio Veritas

Science is awesome. But I expect you already knew that, dear readers o'mine. In science laboratories across the world, every day dedicated researchers are testing ideas, generating and evaluating hypotheses, critically analyzing observations, and thereby, making significant contribution to the humanity's attempts to understand in greater depth and detail the wonderful natural world that surrounds us, of which we, along with other living beings and non-living objects, form a part. Ho hum, you say? Not so fast, buster! During this... Read more... Read more »

  • January 24, 2014
  • 04:47 AM

Let’s Do Business:) How People Use Emoticons At Work

by Nura Rutten in United Academics

Researchers find three communicative functions of smileys... Read more »

Skovholt, K., Grønning, A., & Kankaanranta, A. (2014) The Communicative Functions of Emoticons in Workplace E-Mails: :). Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. DOI: 10.1111/jcc4.12063  

  • January 22, 2014
  • 03:52 PM

We Are Each A Community

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Lactobacillus (the purple rod-shaped things) is a common bacterial species in reproductive tracts. Image by Janice Carr from the CDC at Wikimedia Commons. In our world of antibacterial soaps, we have learned that bacteria are evil, dirty, sickness-causing agents to be eliminated at all costs. Although some bacteria can cause sickness, bacteria in general are actually a critical component of animal bodies. A human body has ten times as many bacterial cells as human cells and a hundred times as many bacterial genes as human genes, and this pattern is likely true for most animals. We animals have bacterial communities living on our skin, fur, feathers, scales and exoskeletons. We have bacteria in our guts, respiratory systems and reproductive tracts. And bacteria live in glands that are specialized for grooming or scent communication. These bacteria play critical roles not just in how our bodies work, but also in how we behave. This week at Accumulating Glitches I talk about how all animals (including ourselves) include a community of microbes, such as bacteria. Even more amazing is that many of these bacteria are critical for our health and behavior. Check it out here. And to learn more, check this out: Archie, E.A., & Theis, K.R. (2011). Animal behaviour meets microbial ecology Animal Behaviour, 82, 425-436 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.05.029 ... Read more »

Archie, E.A., & Theis, K.R. (2011) Animal behaviour meets microbial ecology. Animal Behaviour, 425-436. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.05.029  

  • January 19, 2014
  • 10:00 AM

Nanoscale Engineering of Lithiated Nanowires for Battery Electrodes

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

By coating germanium nanowires with a layer of silicon, Liu and colleagues show that lithium no longer wants to diffuse into the nanowire, known as lithiation, but rather creates a layer that grows along the axis of the nanowire. This could lead to a new architecture for battery electrodes and limit volume expansion.... Read more »

Liu Yang, Liu Xiao Hua, Nguyen Binh-Minh, Yoo Jinkyoung, Sullivan John P., Picraux S. Tom, Huang Jian Yu, & Dayeh Shadi A. (2013) Tailoring Lithiation Behavior by Interface and Bandgap Engineering at the Nanoscale. Nano Letters, 13(10), 4876-4883. DOI: 10.1021/nl4027549  

  • January 15, 2014
  • 06:43 AM

Why do women stop losing their hair when pregnant?

by Stuart Farrimond in Guru: Science Blog

Want thicker, shinier hair? Just try nature’s solution – get pregnant! During pregnancy, hair falls out less and many women say it looks incredible. The reason: hormones. When expecting, levels of the hormone oestrogen (US: estrogen) steadily increase. This, alongside […]The post Why do women stop losing their hair when pregnant? appeared first on Guru Magazine.... Read more »

  • January 14, 2014
  • 10:00 AM

NIH Grant Scores Are Poor Predictors Of Scientific Impact

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

A recent paper published in Circulation Research, a major cardiovascular research journal, challenges the assumption that the scores a grant application receives can reliably predict the future impact of the research.... Read more »

Narasimhan Danthi, Colin O Wu, Peibei Shi, & Michael S Lauer. (2014) Percentile Ranking and Citation Impact of a Large Cohort of NHLBI-Funded Cardiovascular R01 Grants. Circulation Research. info:/

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