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  • August 13, 2013
  • 07:27 AM

Scientists Love Facebook: 8 Effects They Found

by Katja Keuchenius in United Academics

Blaming Facebook is a popular train of thought, also for scientists. They already conducted many studies on the, mostly negative, psychological effects of the social network. Here are 8 findings, some of them contradictive.... Read more »

Clayton RB, Nagurney A, & Smith JR. (2013) Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame?. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking. PMID: 23745615  

Nitzan U, Shoshan E, Lev-Ran S, & Fennig S. (2011) Internet-related psychosis−a sign of the times. The Israel journal of psychiatry and related sciences, 48(3), 207-11. PMID: 22141146  

  • August 13, 2013
  • 05:37 AM

Objectively Evaluating the Taste of Food – It’s Possible

by Guillaume Cote-Maurais in United Academics

Objective quantification of taste intensity would be extremely useful for product development and quality control in the food industry. The tastes of industrial food products in development are still usually discriminated by trained food panelists that sense and score the tastes of foods by tasting the products themselves. Therefore there is a limit number of products that can be evaluated in a single sitting, and this limitation poses a crucial disadvantage in the case of quality control in an industrial production area.... Read more »

  • August 12, 2013
  • 08:06 PM

Black Dog Syndrome: A Bad Rap?

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Mia & Julie – Firstly, thanks so much for letting me drop a verse in the rap song of your blog! I feel so awesome being featured. It’s like being Lil Wayne or something. Anyway…I’m just recently back from ISAZ 2013, where I had a most excellent time chatting with other anthrozoologist-y types. As you know, I just graduated from the Anthrozoology Master’s Program at Canisius College, so I was uber-excited to have a chance to share my research with colleagues in the field. ISAZ did not disappoint. Pauleen Bennett & Heather at ISAZ 2013Now I get to share with you two and it just gets better and better! :-)My master’s thesis research project (advised by the oh-so-awesome Christy Hoffman) looked to answer the question: “Does Black Dog Syndrome Exist?”Animal welfare folks are probably familiar with the concept of Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) that Julie introduced last week: it’s the idea that dogs with black coats have a harder time than other dogs getting adopted, and as a result, may face higher rates of euthanasia and longer stays in adoption programs. Popular media - but is it correct?A lot of popular media articles focus on this concept (like here, here, here and here) but the research results have been mixed: in a study published earlier this year, participants rated an image of a black dog as significantly less agreeable, less conscientious, and less emotionally stable than a yellow dog (Fratkin & Baker, 2013). Yet research into factors influencing shelter dogs’ lengths of stay (LOS) found that LOS was not significantly correlated with coat color (Brown, Davidson, & Zuefle, 2013; Protopopova, Gilmour, Weiss, Shen, & Wynne, 2012).To dig deeper into the questions of whether potential adopters discriminate against black dogs in a shelter and whether black dog discrimination is reflected in shelter stats, I conducted a two-part research project: Shelter Visitor Pilot Study – examined interaction between potential adopters and shelter dogs Shelter Data Analysis Study – investigated relationships between LOS and coat color, age, sex and breed, as well as the impact of these variables on likelihood of euthanasiaAnd what I found may surprise you. There was very little evidence to support the concept of Black Dog Syndrome! From Heather's ISAZ 2013 posterI know animal shelter workers are going “WHAT!?” right now – I know because I AM a shelter worker – but the truth is, even if many potential adopters come to the shelter with a negative bias toward black dogs, it’s not resulting in crazy-long shelter stays or greater risk of euthanasia for black dogs. In fact, according to analysis of shelter statistics, black dogs were adopted out faster than average at both shelters in my study. Black dogs were also less likely than expected to be euthanized (good news for black dogs, eh?).When shelter visitors video-recorded their walk through the adoption area, I found that they spent about equal amounts of time looking at every dog, regardless of coat color. Visitors also rarely made specific comments with regards to coat color, although one guy did say: “I like black. Black dogs ... Read more »

Fratkin Jamie L., & Baker Suzanne C. (2013) The Role of Coat Color and Ear Shape on the Perception of Personality in Dogs. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 26(1), 125-133. DOI: 10.2752/175303713X13534238631632  

Protopopova Alexandra, Gilmour Amanda Joy, Weiss Rebecca Hannah, Shen Jacqueline Yontsye, & Wynne Clive David Lawrence. (2012) The effects of social training and other factors on adoption success of shelter dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 142(1-2), 61-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.09.009  

  • August 11, 2013
  • 03:25 AM

Female Autism Could Be Widely Undetected because of Gender Bias

by Josephine Lethbridge in United Academics

Autism reveals itself in different ways in women than in men, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. And this has the potential to great advance our understanding of the condition.

Autism is estimated to affect 1% of the population and is believed to be more prevalent in males. As most studies have focused on this gender, this has led to a male-biased understanding of autism and, the Cambridge researchers say, the prevalence of female autism could be largely underestimated.... Read more »

Meng-Chuan Lai, Michael V. Lombardo, John Suckling, Amber N. V. Ruigrok, Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Christine Ecker, Sean C. L. Deoni, Michael C. Craig, Declan G. M. Murphy, Edward T. Bullmore, MRC AIMS Consortium, Simon Baron-Cohen. (2013) Biological sex affects the neurobiology of autism. Brain. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awt216  

  • August 9, 2013
  • 07:43 AM

Empathic Pooches Catch Yawns from Their Owners

by Dyani Lewis in United Academics

In humans, recent theories have suggested that contagious yawning is an indicator of empathy. When we yawn in response to someone else’s yawn, we are communicating that we empathise with them. Being the social creatures that we are, empathy is an important social emotion that can strengthen the bonds between people.

But what about when a dog yawns after seeing a human yawn? Is the dog being empathic, or is there some other explanation?... Read more »

  • August 8, 2013
  • 10:23 AM

Bacteria Could Shed Light on How Financial Markets Work

by Josephine Lethbridge in United Academics

What do bankers and bacteria have in common? Finite resources, quick decision-making and an appreciation of trade-offs, according to a study in Ecology Letters. So could bacterial modelling ever help us avoid another banking crash?... Read more »

Ram Maharjan1,Susanna Nilsson, Judy Sung, Ken Haynes, Robert E. Beardmore, Laurence D. Hurst, Tom Ferenci, Ivana Gudelj. (2013) The form of a trade-off determines the response to competition. Ecology Letters. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12159  

  • August 7, 2013
  • 02:30 PM

MicroRNAs reinforce heart disease damage

by Valerie Ashton in The Molecular Scribe

Practically everyone knows friends or family suffering from heart disease. Many sufferers have ischaemic heart disease, the most common type of heart disease worldwide. The World Health Organisation ranked ischaemic heart disease as the leading cause of death in 2004...... Read more »

Arbab-Zadeh A, Nakano M, Virmani R, & Fuster V. (2012) Acute coronary events. Circulation, 125(9), 1147-56. PMID: 22392862  

Chen LJ, Lim SH, Yeh YT, Lien SC, & Chiu JJ. (2012) Roles of microRNAs in atherosclerosis and restenosis. Journal of biomedical science, 19(1), 79. PMID: 22931291  

Madrigal-Matute J, Rotllan N, Aranda JF, & Fernández-Hernando C. (2013) MicroRNAs and atherosclerosis. Current atherosclerosis reports, 15(5), 322. PMID: 23512606  

Raitoharju E, Lyytikäinen LP, Levula M, Oksala N, Mennander A, Tarkka M, Klopp N, Illig T, Kähönen M, Karhunen PJ.... (2011) miR-21, miR-210, miR-34a, and miR-146a/b are up-regulated in human atherosclerotic plaques in the Tampere Vascular Study. Atherosclerosis, 219(1), 211-7. PMID: 21820659  

  • August 6, 2013
  • 10:11 AM

Biodiversity of Ecosystems Decrease in a High-CO2 Ocean

by Guillaume Cote-Maurais in United Academics

Climate change resulting from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases could also have other consequences.
Scientists are concerned that the absorption of atmospheric CO2 in the oceans could have an impact on marine ecosystems. This would result from absorption of atmospheric CO2, which causes a decrease in seawater pH and carbonate ion concentrations, while increasing CO2 and bicarbonate ion concentrations.... Read more »

Kroeker KJ, Gambi MC and Micheli F. (2013) Community dynamics and ecosystem simplification in a high-CO2 ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1216464110  

  • August 6, 2013
  • 05:51 AM

Just How Bad Are Rich People, Anyway?

by Patrick Meyer in United Academics

Professor Paul Piff at UC Berkeley recently conducted a study attempting to see if there was some type of correlation between a person’s socio-economic status and the way they conduct themselves morally and ethically. Piff felt compelled to disprove the popular conservative stereotype that people in lower socio-economic positions tend to act out of greed and personal benefit.... Read more »

Piff PK, Stancato DM, Côté S, Mendoza-Denton R, & Keltner D. (2012) Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(11), 4086-91. PMID: 22371585  

  • August 5, 2013
  • 10:27 AM

Genetic Adam and Eve May Have Walked on Earth at the Same Time

by Akshat Rathi in United Academics

All scientific evidence points to the fact that, if you go far enough back, all life on Earth is related through common ancestry. Turns out that applying the same sort of analysis shows that all humans alive today are descendants of one man and one woman who walked our planet thousands of years ago.

For several decades, there has been debate about when these ancestors, popularly known as Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve, existed. Two studies published this week find that there is a good chance Adam and Eve may have existed about the same time, evolutionarily speaking.... Read more »

  • August 2, 2013
  • 05:50 AM

Sensors for Rapid Detection of Proteins Developed

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

Could you ever imagine that one day testing a protein in your tiny sample would be so easy, just like performing a pregnancy strip test at home. Yes, this is made possible by a group of chemists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). They have developed a new method for multiple protein analysis that is, in principle, capable of identifying hundreds or even thousands of different proteins.... Read more »

Rosman C, Prasad J, Neiser A, Henkel A, Edgar J, & Sönnichsen C. (2013) Multiplexed Plasmon Sensor for Rapid Label-Free Analyte Detection. Nano letters. PMID: 23789876  

  • August 1, 2013
  • 01:44 PM

Model Scale Parameterization for MCMC Efficiency

by Michael Lindon in Lindon's Log

I recently came across a very interesting paper by Y. Yu and X. Meng[1] who present an interweaving strategy between different model parameterizations to improve mixing. It is well known that different model parameterizations can perform better than others under certain conditions. Papaspiliopoulos, Roberts and Sköld [2] present a general framework for how to parameterize […]The post Model Scale Parameterization for MCMC Efficiency appeared first on Lindons Log.... Read more »

  • July 31, 2013
  • 10:29 AM

Lightest Material on Earth Invented

by Simone Munao in United Academics

In China the lightest material on Earth has recently been invented. Its weight makes it so light that it can be sustained by a blade of grass or a stalk of a flower. It’s an aerogel that has the form of a paper sheet and has the width of a carbon atom. Thanks to its characteristic shape, the material can take on many forms and dimensions. Also, it has the remarkable capability of absorbing liquid substances up to 900 times its weight.... Read more »

  • July 31, 2013
  • 04:23 AM

The Forgotten Life of Plants

by Sedeer El Showk in United Academics

In Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alice wanders into a garden with flowers that can talk — the “garden of Live Flowers”. Of course, all plants are alive, but here the flowers are called “live” because they can talk. One of the greatest examples of human arrogance might be our attitude towards plants. We treat plants as objects, as part of the background, as mere things without any agency. We tend to forget that they’re dynamic, complex living creatures that react and respond to their environment — just in unfamiliar ways and on a different timescale.... Read more »

  • July 30, 2013
  • 06:45 AM

Why Mammals Prefer to Have Just One Sexual Partner

by Christopher Opie in United Academics

While people cheating on their partners is frowned upon in modern society, monogamy among mammals is something of an evolutionary puzzle. Some stick to one sexual partner for a lifetime. That is why the evolution of monogamy among mammals is hotly debated. Two studies published this week, including one I worked on, weigh in on the debate.

Evolution dictates that genes have the final say. And if there is one thing genes want, it is to spread as far and wide as possible. That is why monogamy is rare among mammals.

Females have to wait for a long gestation period to have a child, where as males could go and inseminate many other females in that time. Most male mammals behave in this manner, but some don’t, and are monogamous.... Read more »

Christopher Opiea, Quentin D. Atkinson, Robin I. M. Dunbarc, and Susanne Shultzd. (2013) Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1307903110  

  • July 30, 2013
  • 05:35 AM

Modifying the Human Genome with Ease

by Q Dragon in United Academics

Genetics is becoming a bigger and bigger part of modern medicine as our knowledge increases. From diagnostics, to research, and even potential treatments, advanced biotechnologies are becoming more common.

Each of these medical fields requires precise analysis and often manipulation of human DNA. Diagnostics may require mutating certain genes to see what the effect is, in the hopes of identifying disease risk. For research and drug testing scientists need to have cell cultures that mimic the genetic characteristics of various diseases. And for many conditions with a genetic component, gene therapy is being researched as a potential cure. The issue was that scientists didn’t have a standard tool for manipulating DNA in this way, until now.... Read more »

  • July 29, 2013
  • 07:59 AM

The Worm that Died in a Blaze of Blue Glory

by Luc Henry in United Academics

Never has “feeling blue” carried such a sense of finality. A new study has revealed the simple worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) meets its death in a flash of azure. And, according to researchers, the blue light shows that dying may be a coordinated process that could probably be delayed.

Scientists have known for many years that cells can die in two ways. Necrosis occurs when either the cell’s machinery breaks down with age, or exposure to trauma damages the cell beyond repair. Apoptosis is a programmed process triggered on demand, by which even healthy cells can undergo a series of changes resulting in an orderly death.... Read more »

  • July 29, 2013
  • 05:00 AM

The Future Will Bring Hurricanes to Europe

by Reindert Haarsma. in United Academics

Damaging hurricanes are familiar along the US east coast, with the recent hurricane Sandy a dramatic example. In Europe we are unused to such dramatic weather and the widespread destruction that hurricanes can, and do, cause. However, our new research suggests that this is likely to change as Earth’s climate warms over the next century.

Hurricanes are powered by warm sea water and characterised by heavy rainfall. The energy that is released during this rainfall is the thriving force of hurricanes. They originate during late summer in the western part of the tropical Atlantic where the sea water is sufficiently warm.... Read more »

Reindert J. Haarsma, Wilco Hazeleger, Camiel Severijns, Hylke de Vries, Andreas Sterl, Richard Bintanja, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Henk W. van den Brink. (2013) More hurricanes to hit western Europe due to global warming. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/grl.50360  

  • July 27, 2013
  • 11:00 AM

Fake Memory Implanted in Mice with a Beam of Light

by Jonathan Webb in United Academics

Researchers have been able to consistently create a “false memory”.... Read more »

Steve Ramirez, Xu Liu, Pei-Ann Lin, Junghyup Suh, Michele Pignatelli, Roger L. Redondo, Tomás J. Ryan, Susumu Tonegawa,. (2013) Creating a False Memory in the Hippocampus. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1239073  

  • July 26, 2013
  • 09:19 AM

Study Links Social Status to How We Comprehend Meaning

by Alexia Attwood in United Academics

A speaker’s social status can affect how we interpret their words, a study has found.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, involved researchers showing the study’s 18 German participants videotapes of a powerful politician (the German Federal Minister of Finance at the time of the experiment), and an unknown person, making both true and false statements.

Examples of true statements shown to the German participants included “Michael Jackson is a pop singer”, and “The chancellor advocates a later entry of the Ukraine into the NATO alliance.”... Read more »

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