From Siri answering our questions and Watson advising nurses to smart apps that aggregate information to help us out (or spy on us), artificial intelligence is transforming our world. Despite incredible advances, somehow these amazingly “intelligent” systems sometimes seem profoundly stupid. Hector Levesque, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto, likens them to savants. He was recently awarded the Research Excellence Award at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Beijing; he used his acceptance speech to highlight important questions about our approach to artificial intelligence and what it can tell us about ourselves.... Read more »
Rahman, Altaf and Ng, Vincent. (2013) Resolving Complex Cases of Definite Pronouns: The Winograd Schema Challenge. Proceedings of the 2012 Joint Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and Computational Natural Language Learning. info:/
With easy access to energy-rich junk food and modern living with a sedentary lifestyle, more and more people are becoming slaves to excessive fat consumption. Yet being a couch potato is dangerous for our health. Studies on the human genome variation show there are significant differences in the genome of bacteria that live in our intestine. A latest research published in Nature reveals that the bacterial population in the intestine varies significantly from obese to thin bodies. This indicates that people with fewer bacterial species in their intestine are more likely to develop complications, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.... Read more »
Emmanuelle Le Chatelier, Trine Nielsen, Junjie Qin, Edi Prifti, Falk Hildebrand, Gwen Falony, Mathieu Almeida, Manimozhiyan Arumugam, Jean-Michel Batto, Sean Kennedy, Pierre Leonard, Junhua Li, Kristoffer Burgdorf, Niels Grarup, Torben Jørgensen, Ivan Br. (2013) Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature12506
A recent study published by Italian researchers shows that adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet can offer protection against type 2 diabetes. The paper is just the latest in a long line of research pointing out the wonders of this diet – so what are we to take from these latest findings?... Read more »
Rossi, M, Turati, F, Lagiou, P, Trichopoulos, D, Augustin, LS, La Vecchia, C . (2013) Mediterranean diet and glycaemic load in relation to incidence of type 2 diabetes: results from the Greek cohort of the population-based European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Diabetologia. DOI: 10.1007/s00125-013-3013-y
So what do high school students do when they want to trust researchers but those researchers disagree with each other?... Read more »
Kolsto, S.D. (2001) ‘To trust or not to trust …’: Pupils’ ways of judging information encountered in a socio-scientific issue. International Journal of Science Education, 23(9), 877-901. DOI: 10.1080/09500690010016102
New research from the University of Helsinki suggests that humans begin to distinguish between sounds before they are even born. Eino Partanen and colleagues explored how prenatal experiences influence learning. “We wanted to find out what kind of material foetuses can learn in the womb, what kind of neural representations they form,” he said.... Read more »
Eino Partanen et al. (2013) Learning-induced neural plasticity of speech processing before birth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1302159110
Antioxidants are part of our daily diet in fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs, and their intake is the focus of increasing attention. More recently, designer foods have been enriched with antioxidants, and antioxidants are commonly taken as supplements. Here is five misconceptions about the benefits of antioxidants.... Read more »
Julie Julie Julie!How awesome was Heather's guest post about her black dog syndrome research in shelters? There's something extra fun about hearing about the latest research, straight from the researchers own fingers (well, mouth seemed wrong seeing she typed it?!).I'm keeping myself busy this week, organising everything ahead of the Working Dog Alliance's website going live (any day now, annnnny daaaaaay!). I'll be sure to put a link up on Facebook and Twitter when it does go live, or you can keep an eye out over at www.workingdogalliance.com.au. Here's a sneaky peek: There will be some exciting reveals about the first Australian working dog industry conference (4-5 November in Sydney if you want to come over?) once the website is up - fun times! Australia's National Science Week 2013 just wrapped up - there were so many things happening and going on - YAY SCIENCE! You should take a look over the website. Being a fan of citizen science, I think you'll really like Explore the Sea Floor - it's like Google Maps for the ocean floor all around Australia and you can help identify everything you see as a citizen scientist. Totally amazing! I'm getting my competitive scientist metaphorical lab coat on next week for Australia's I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here! Which is kind of a weird title, because I quite like being a scientist and think I'd like to stay here, actually. It's a science engagement activity with school children aged 10-18, who chat online with a bunch of scientists from different areas and ask questions, then get to vote us out one by one in an idol-style competition. The winning scientist will receive $1000 to use for science outreach - if I win, I'm thinking of a global citizen science project that students everywhere can participate in - of course, it will also involve DOGS! Only students from the registered schools can vote, so don't bother trying to stack the odds my way... I'm in a Zone with mixed scientific disciplines (there's also a Brain Zone and a Micro Zone in my competition). So I'm up against a wine chemist, an explosive chemist, a computer architect and an instrument scientist who builds bits for telescopes - it's going to be fun! I'm the only female scientist in my zone, so that's interesting - I think I also feel a little bit extra competitive, just because of that! So wish me luck!Here's a neat 60 sec video about #IAS from the UK version: I hope you had a fabulous birthday and look forward to hearing about your Summer break - what have you been up to? Mia Further reading:Laursen S., Liston C., Thiry H. & Graf J. (2007). What Good Is a Scientist in the Classroom? Participant Outcomes and Program Design Features for a Short-Duration Science Outreach Intervention in K-12 Classrooms, Cell Biology Education, 6 (1) 49-64. DOI: 10.1187/cbe.06-05-0165... Read more »
Laursen S., Liston C., Thiry H., & Graf J. (2007) What Good Is a Scientist in the Classroom? Participant Outcomes and Program Design Features for a Short-Duration Science Outreach Intervention in K-12 Classrooms. Cell Biology Education, 6(1), 49-64. DOI: 10.1187/cbe.06-05-0165
Ecklund Elaine Howard, James Sarah A., Lincoln Anne E., & Amaral Luís A. Nunes. (2012) How Academic Biologists and Physicists View Science Outreach. PLoS ONE, 7(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036240
n response to my recent post about the dynamic life of plants, reader tmso asked about whether plants can sense and respond to smoke. I still haven’t found anything about an immediate response to smoke, but I’ve learned quite a bit about how smoke and fire affect germination. ... Read more »
Flematti GR, Ghisalberti EL, Dixon KW, . (2004) A compound from smoke that promotes seed germination. . Science (New York, N.Y.), 305(5686). DOI: 10.3410/f.1020027.228427
Chiwoca, Sheila DS, Dixon, Kingsly W, Flematti, Gavin R, Ghisablerti, Emilio L, Merritt, David J, Nelson, David C, Riseborough, Julie-Anne M, Smith, Steven M, . (2009) Karrikins: A new family of plant growth regulators in smoke. Plant Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2009.06.007
Nelson, David C, Flematti, Gavin R, Ghisalberti, Emilio L, Dixon, Kingsley W, . (2012) Regulation of Seed Germination and Seedling Growth by Chemical Signals from Burning Vegetation. Annual Review of Plant Biology. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042811-105545
Guo Y, Zheng Z, La Clair JJ, Chory J, & Noel JP. (2013) Smoke-derived karrikin perception by the α/β-hydrolase KAI2 from Arabidopsis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(20), 8284-9. PMID: 23613584
It’s been seen in the wild and presented in zoos around the world, but yet, a mysterious creature has been victim of mistaken identity for over 100 years!... Read more »
Kristofer M. Helgen, C. Miguel Pinto , Roland Kays, Lauren E. Helgen, Mirian T. N. Tsuchiya, Aleta Quinn, Don E. Wilson . (2013) Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito. . Zoo Keys, 1-83. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.324.5827
Online social networks are rapidly changing the way human beings interact. Over a billion people have a Facebook account, and over half of them log in daily. Yet, no research has examined how interacting with Facebook influences subjective well-being over time.... Read more »
Kross E., Verduyn P., Demiralp E., Park J., Lee D.S., Lin N., Shablack H., Jonides J. . (2013) Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. Plos One, 8(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069841
What happens to our mood when our body is running low on glucose a.k.a. sugar? Researchers at the University of Kentucky were interested in the link between low glucose levels and aggressive behavior, so they designed a devious study to investigate the sugar-mood association.... Read more »
DeWall C.N., Deckman T., Gailliot M.T. . (2011) Sweetened blood cools hot tempers: physiological self-control and aggression. Agressive Behavior, 37(1). DOI: 10.1002/ab.20366
Passamonti L., Crockett M.J., Apergis-Schoute A.M., Clark L., Rowe J.B., Calder A.J. . (2011) Effects of acute tryptophan depletion on prefrontal-amygdala connectivity while viewing facial signals of aggression. Biological Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.07.033
Research shows microRNA based strategy to fight against viral pathogens.... Read more »
Langlois, RA, Albrecht, RA, Kimble, B, Sutton, T, Shapiro, JS, Finch, C, Angel, M, Chua, MA, Gonzalez-Reiche, AS, Xu, K.... (2013) MicroRNA-based strategy to mitigate the risk of gain-of-function influenza studies. . Nature Biotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2666
“I’ve heard stories that some modeling agents encourage girls to do speed and cocaine in order to speed up metabolism and eat less,” Russian model Kira Dikhtyar told Fox News.
It’s an alarming phenomenon that many models and socialites use cocaine to stay thin. And this is not just a lady thing. Nowadays, prevailing beauty standards also influence men in a way some opt to use the same method to lose weight.... Read more »
Ersche, KD, Stochl, J, Woodward, JM, & Fletcher, PC. (2013) The skinny on cocaine. Insights into eating behavior and body weight in cocaine-dependent men. Appetite. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.07.011
Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternative fuels being investigated. Not only because burning it only produces water but because it can act as a sort of chemical storage for more intermittent sources of energy. While there are many ways to chemically produce hydrogen gas, most involve expensive metals like platinum as a catalyst to make the process at all economical. Another approach borrows from biology, and in particular the enzyme hydrogenase. As with many things borrowed from nature it’s extremely good at what it does, the issue is extracting the enzyme from a living organism for use on its own. Fortunately some researchers from Germany (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) have managed to do the next best thing.... Read more »
Esselborn J, Lambertz C, Adamska-Venkatesh A, Simmons T, Berggren G, Noth J, Siebel J, Hemschemeier A, Artero V, Reijerse E.... (2013) Spontaneous activation of [FeFe]-hydrogenases by an inorganic [2Fe] active site mimic. Nature chemical biology. PMID: 23934246
The point of surgical procedures is to save or improve the quality of our lives, but things can and do go wrong because of system or human errors. In too many cases patients are failed because of so called “never events” – serious incidents that should never happen because they’re entirely preventable.
The official list of never events in surgery includes operating on the wrong part of the body, performing the wrong procedure, leaving instruments or swabs inside the body, or having the wrong prosthesis or medical device implanted.
Never events, such as having the wrong testicle removed, can be devastating, while others prove fatal.... Read more »
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 »
Fenne große Deters, & Matthias R. Mehl. (2013) Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment. Social Psychological and Personality Science . DOI: 10.1177/1948550612469233
Stephanie Tom Tong. (2012) Facebook Use During Relationship Termination: Uncertainty Reduction and Surveillance. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0549
Tara C. Marshall. (2012) Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0125
Clayton RB, Nagurney A, & Smith JR. (2013) Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame?. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking. PMID: 23745615
Chen W, & Lee KH. (2013) Sharing, Liking, Commenting, and Distressed? The Pathway Between Facebook Interaction and Psychological Distress. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking. PMID: 23745614
Gonzales AL, & Hancock JT. (2011) Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall: effects of exposure to Facebook on self-esteem. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 14(1-2), 79-83. PMID: 21329447
Chou HT, & Edge N. (2012) "They are happier and having better lives than I am": the impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others' lives. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 15(2), 117-21. PMID: 22165917
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 »
Misaka, T. (2013) Development of a Cultured Cell-Based Human-Taste Evaluation System. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem., 77(8). DOI: 10.1271/bbb.130288
Yarmolinsky, DA, Zuker, CS, & Ryba, NJP. (2009) Common sense about taste: from mammals to insects. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.10.001
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
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
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 »
Romero T, Konno A . (2013) Familiarity bias and physiological responses in contagious yawning by dogs support link to empathy. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071365
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