It's not always the face that's the open book. When emotions are too strong we can better focus on body language.... Read more »
Aviezer, H., Trope, Y., & Todorov, A. (2012) Body Cues, Not Facial Expressions, Discriminate Between Intense Positive and Negative Emotions. Science, 338(6111), 1225-1229. DOI: 10.1126/science.1224313
The urge to survive remains strong is every living organism. In case you have any doubts, take ten seconds to watch this slime mold, Physarum polycephalum, solve a maze in a single pass, in order to get to food.... Read more »
Andrew Adamatzky. (2011) Slime mould solves maze in one pass .. assisted by gradient of chemo-attractants. IEEE Trans on NanoBioscience Volume: 11 , Issue: 2, 2012, Page(s): 131 - 134. arXiv: 1108.4956v1
Don't smile too much on your first date, you might end up in her 'friend zone'... Read more »
Tracy, J., & Beall, A. (2011) Happy guys finish last: The impact of emotion expressions on sexual attraction. Emotion, 11(6), 1379-1387. DOI: 10.1037/a0022902
There are hundreds of types of cancers. Almost all of them are classified by the organ in which they first appear. This system made it easy for surgeons to operate, but today, we know that cancers are largely caused by genetic disorders. Unfortunately, by the time most cancers are identified in an organ, it’s too late. ... Read more »
Leary, R., Sausen, M., Kinde, I., Papadopoulos, N., Carpten, J., Craig, D., O'Shaughnessy, J., Kinzler, K., Parmigiani, G., Vogelstein, B.... (2012) Detection of Chromosomal Alterations in the Circulation of Cancer Patients with Whole-Genome Sequencing. Science Translational Medicine, 4(162), 162-162. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004742
Dogs can hear sounds we can’t, and many other animals can see light beyond our human “visual spectrum,” such as ultraviolet light waves to find prey or avoid becoming prey. But until now, the near infrared spectrum was considered off limits to animals.
New research led by Dr. Sebastian Baldauf from the University of Bonn reports on the first known fish with infrared vision. The study appears in the October 21 online edition of NaturWissenschaften. The fish, called Pelvicachromis taeniatus, is a native of Africa and lives in shallow, murky streams. Usually, near infrared light signals are unsuitable for seeing because of ‘signal noise’ coming from heat.... Read more »
Meuthen, D., Rick, I., Thünken, T., & Baldauf, S. (2012) Visual prey detection by near-infrared cues in a fish. Naturwissenschaften, 99(12), 1063-1066. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-012-0980-7
You wouldn’t think that the sex life of the horseshoe crab would be that complicated, but you’d be wrong. Like every red blooded guy out there, horseshoe crabs have to think long and hard about the best way to attract a mate (even though horseshoe crab blood is actually blue). While human males have many options to choose, from say writing a romantic poem, or buying a lovely bunch of flowers for their sweetheart, crabs are generally limited to two different options.... Read more »
Smith, M., Schrank, H., & Brockmann, H. (2012) Measuring the costs of alternative reproductive tactics in horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus. Animal Behaviour. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.10.021
I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving Julie!(source)I’m not exactly sure what that means, as we don’t celebrate it in Australia, but I hope you had a great time with your family and friends all the same!Thanks for all those fantastic resources you included in your last blog post. It was also great to see some extras posted by readers in the comments section. (source)Last time I looked at ‘The Good’ of some the science surrounding children and dogs. This post, it’s time to cover some of the ‘The Bad’. What can possibly be bad about children and dogs? Well, dogs don’t live as long as us, for one.When dogs die(source)Having established last time that dogs can benefit kids’ confidence, self-belief, trust, respect and heaps of other positive attitudes and behaviours, I was left wondering how losing a pet dog impacts children. Loss of a companion animal can be a devastating event for people of any age.Humans don’t all experience grief equally.Our understanding of death is linked to our developmental state, but young children can still feel pain at the loss of a family dog. For many children, the death of a pet dog will be their first experience with this kind of loss and grief. Pet dogs can be almost-constant companions for children, and have been assigned a role in reflected appraisal similar to that of a best friend.Psychologists encourage parents/guardians to explain death to kids sensitively and with honesty. Adults should answer questions simply, using clear and accurate information and avoid the desire to ‘protect’ children from death by hiding the truth of a pet’s illness or euthanasia. This is because children with active imaginations may create scenarios about the death that are far worse than reality. Adults should allow children to express their grief (through verbal, artistic or written expression; reading stories about the death of pets, etc.), acknowledging the importance of the relationship lost (rather than trivializing the death or running to buy a new puppy) and helping children to understand that grief is a normal and natural emotion that helps us cope with death. ... Read more »
Gerwolls Marilyn K., & Labott Susan M. (1994) Adjustment to the Death of a Companion Animal. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 7(3), 172-187. DOI: 10.2752/089279394787001826
SERPELL JAMES A. (1981) CHILDHOOD PETS AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON ADULTS' ATTITUDES. Psychological Reports, 49(2), 651-654. DOI: 10.2466/pr0.19184.108.40.2061
Davis Janet Haggerty. (1987) Preadolescent Self-Concept Development and Pet Ownership. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 1(2), 90-94. DOI: 10.2752/089279388787058614
Van Houtte Beth A., & Jarvis Patricia A. (1995) The role of pets in preadolescent psychosocial development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 16(3), 463-479. DOI: 10.1016/0193-3973(95)90030-6
Bryant Brenda K. (1990) The Richness of the Child-Pet Relationship: A Consideration of Both Benefits and Costs of Pets to Children. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 3(4), 253-261. DOI: 10.2752/089279390787057469
Bonanno George A. (2004) Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience: Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive After Extremely Aversive Events?. American Psychologist, 59(1), 20-28. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.59.1.20
Bingham Glenda M., Budke Christine M., & Slater Margaret R. (2010) Knowledge and perceptions of dog-associated zoonoses: Brazos County, Texas, USA. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 93(2-3), 211-221. DOI: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2009.09.019
Stem cell research promises to revolutionize the available treatments for many neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. While the goal is to one day soon be able to replace damaged or dead brain cells with stem cells influenced to develop into healthy, functioning neurons, no one has been able to show that transplanted stem cells can integrate with existing brain circuits.... Read more »
Pina-Crespo, J., Talantova, M., Cho, E., Soussou, W., Dolatabadi, N., Ryan, S., Ambasudhan, R., McKercher, S., Deisseroth, K., & Lipton, S. (2012) High-Frequency Hippocampal Oscillations Activated by Optogenetic Stimulation of Transplanted Human ESC-Derived Neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(45), 15837-15842. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3735-12.2012
Scientists are marching through sequencing the genomes of living things, including mustard weed and humans. The latest on the list of genomes we know? Pigs.... Read more »
Groenen, M., Archibald, A., Uenishi, H., Tuggle, C., Takeuchi, Y., Rothschild, M., Rogel-Gaillard, C., Park, C., Milan, D., Megens, H.... (2012) Analyses of pig genomes provide insight into porcine demography and evolution. Nature, 491(7424), 393-398. DOI: 10.1038/nature11622
Numerous studies have demonstrated that inhaling tobacco smoke increases the risk on various cancers, heart complications, stroke and other health problems. Now new research adds another hazard, but this time it’s a mental one: smoking may damage memory, learning and reasoning capacities – if you’re older than 50.
Researchers at King’s College, London, asked 8,800 people over the age of 50 to perform cognitive, verbal-fluency and attention tests. They were all tested again after four and then eight years. They also collected data about their health and lifestyle.... Read more »
Dregan, A., Stewart, R., & Gulliford, M. (2012) Cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive decline in adults aged 50 and over: a population-based cohort study. Age and Ageing. DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afs166
We’ve all experienced it: after a particular meal, the bloating, pressure and eventually, the release of gas. Call it gas, flatus, flatulence, farts—or petard, as Shakespeare famously punned—it can be embarrassing, noisy and sometimes smelly.... Read more »
Suarez, F., Springfield, J., & Levitt, M. (1998) Identification of gases responsible for the odour of human flatus and evaluation of a device purported to reduce this odour. Gut, 43(1), 100-104. DOI: 10.1136/gut.43.1.100
Dogs learning words sometimes seem just as smart as two or three year old humans. But they actually develop their vocabulary in very different way, a new study shows. This sheds light on our own evolution. ... Read more »
Van der Zee, E, Zulch, H, & Mills, D. (2012) Word Generalization by a Dog (Canis familiaris): Is Shape Important?. PLoS One. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0049382
Boredom is more than just a temporary feeling. It can cause significant stress and is associated with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even compulsive gambling. Worse, boredom often leads to fatal accidents, even among highly trained and focused professionals like airline pilots or military personnel handling nuclear-powered equipment.
Yet despite boredom’s serious consequences, the mental state is not well studied, a Canadian research team discovered.... Read more »
Eastwood, J., Frischen, A., Fenske, M., & Smilek, D. (2012) The Unengaged Mind: Defining Boredom in Terms of Attention. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 482-495. DOI: 10.1177/1745691612456044
While yawning is not fully understood by science, a group of psychologists suggests that yawning is a universal human behavioral characteristic, as shown in this new ultrasound video.... Read more »
Reissland, N., Francis, B., & Mason, J. (2012) Development of Fetal Yawn Compared with Non-Yawn Mouth Openings from 24–36 Weeks Gestation. PLoS One. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0050569
Although history has often revealed itself to be cyclical, this is one cirsumstance humanity should hope to never repeat. A new paper presented last week at the Geological Society of America uncovered why plants and animals did not quickly recover from the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history.
The era passed 250 million years ago, but the culprit was a familiar offender: global warming.
The environmental impact of rising temperatures stagnated species recovery for 5 million years.... Read more »
Sedlacek, A. Saltzman, M. Algeo, TJ. Horace, M. Richoz, S. Brandner, R. . (2012) Coupled C and SR Isotope Stratigraphy of the Early Triassic of Zal, Iran: A Record of Increased Weathering. GSA 2012 Annual Meeting . info:/
The Otton frog, which lives only on a group of islands in southern Japan, adapted its extra thumb into a sharp, spike-like weapon. But Noriko Iwai of the University of Tokyo found that the weapon was once used for sex. ... Read more »
Iwai, N. (2012) Morphology, function and evolution of the pseudothumb in the Otton frog. Journal of Zoology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00971.x
The “$1,000 genome” is being hailed for ushering an age of personalized medicine, where we can get treatments tailored made for our genetic makeup. But the cheap genome scans (which aren’t quite exactly here yet) are also doing something else: stopping common, but nasty, hospital infections.... Read more »
Harris, S., Cartwright, E., Török, M., Holden, M., Brown, N., Ogilvy-Stuart, A., Ellington, M., Quail, M., Bentley, S., Parkhill, J.... (2012) Whole-genome sequencing for analysis of an outbreak of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a descriptive study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70268-2
This rare millipede, Illacme plenipes, has 750 legs and was recently rediscovered. ... Read more »
Marek PE, & Bond JE. (2006) Biodiversity hotspots: rediscovery of the world's leggiest animal. Nature, 441(7094), 707. PMID: 16760967
Antibacterial soap’s efficacy has been under scrutiny for the past several years. New research now points to the deleterious effect triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial soap, has on muscular, skeletal, and cardiac cells.... Read more »
Aiello, A., Larson, E., & Levy, S. (2007) Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky?. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 45(Supplement 2). DOI: 10.1086/519255
Cherednichenko G, Zhang R, Bannister RA, Timofeyev V, Li N, Fritsch EB, Feng W, Barrientos GC, Schebb NH, Hammock BD.... (2012) Triclosan impairs excitation-contraction coupling and Ca2 dynamics in striated muscle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(35), 14158-63. PMID: 22891308
I love that cute is good for us. All this talk of cute, a website and some observations at home got me thinking this week. I recently saw this image posted on Facebook and I don’t mind admitting that it tugged at my emotions. Around the same day, I was watching my two year old toddler (an unpublished and independent kawaii survey reports the toddler is somewhat cute) interacting with my dogs (they are cute, no survey required).(source)The toddler is currently learning (slowly) that the world is not 100% about the toddler. This involves me frequently coaching the toddler’s interactions with other people and children (“yes it’s very sweet that you love your friend and that you’re giving them a big hug, but now you’ve actually crash-tackled them to the floor and they’re crying, it might be time to give them space”) and more recently in a similar way with the dogs.These home observations and website images got me thinking about how important my pets, and in particular, my dogs, were to me while growing up. (source)It got me wondering - why do so many of us have enduring psychological attachment to our childhood dogs? And do our childhood experiences stay with us as firmly held attitudes into adulthood? I plan to spend my next posts looking at some of the science surrounding children and dogs: the good, the bad and the ugly.Why are dogs good for children?The biophilia hypothesis suggests that people are instinctively attracted to animals and nature. It proposes that our relationship with them may contribute on an intimate biological level to our sense of fulfilment and identity. In our current busy lifestyles, often lived in industrialised city environments removed from ‘nature’ in its purest form, dogs and other companion animals offer opportunities for these ‘biophilic’ relationships. These nurturing relationships with animals are considered particularly important during early and middle childhood. Some research suggests that humans have a higher degree of attachment to dogs than we do to other companion animals; however, this may be a flaw in the way such studies have assessed attachment.Dogs may promote respect and compassion for animals and nature by offering a child valuable opportunity to experience and learn about animals and the ‘facts of life’. Dogs can assist children to learn about responsibility. They can encourage trust, self-belief as well as caring attitudes and behaviour. They may promote exercise and healthy development, offer social support and provide companionship, security, comfort. Dogs can be an important source of fun and have demonstrated they can act a... Read more »
O'Haire Marguerite. (2010) Companion animals and human health: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(5), 226-234. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2010.02.002
Zasloff R.Lee. (1996) Measuring attachment to companion animals: a dog is not a cat is not a bird. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 47(1-2), 43-48. DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(95)01009-2
Holscher Bernd, Frye Christian, Wichmann H. -Erich, & Heinrich Joachim. (2002) Exposure to pets and allergies in children. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 13(5), 334-341. DOI: 10.1034/j.1399-3038.2002.02063.x
Anderson Katherine L., & Olson Myrna R. (2006) The value of a dog in a classroom of children with severe emotional disorders. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 19(1), 35-49. DOI: 10.2752/089279306785593919
Gee Nancy R., Harris Shelly L., & Johnson Kristina L. (2007) The Role of Therapy Dogs in Speed and Accuracy to Complete Motor Skills Tasks for Preschool Children. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 20(4), 375-386. DOI: 10.2752/089279307X245509
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