Post List

  • April 15, 2011
  • 09:14 AM

Regard thyself and put down the smoke stick

by dj in Neuropoly

As many a former smoker will probably attest, quitting cigarettes ranks high in the hard-to-kick category. I made several unsuccessful attempts before finally kicking the habit after a 10 year pack-a-day run. Ultimately what worked for me was to go cold turkey, but there were perhaps other alternatives which I might have tried. In a [...]... Read more »

Chua HF, Ho SS, Jasinska AJ, Polk TA, Welsh RC, Liberzon I, & Strecher VJ. (2011) Self-related neural response to tailored smoking-cessation messages predicts quitting. Nature neuroscience, 14(4), 426-7. PMID: 21358641  

SCHNEIDER, F., BERMPOHL, F., HEINZEL, A., ROTTE, M., WALTER, M., TEMPELMANN, C., WIEBKING, C., DOBROWOLNY, H., HEINZE, H., & NORTHOFF, G. (2008) The resting brain and our self: Self-relatedness modulates resting state neural activity in cortical midline structures. Neuroscience, 157(1), 120-131. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.08.014  

  • April 15, 2011
  • 09:01 AM

Hormonal therapy and cancer – the controversy rages on

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one of those subjects where many have a strong opinion either way and I suspect even if we have another dozen trials evaluating at the pros and cons, those opinions won’t change very much. That … Continue reading →
... Read more »

  • April 15, 2011
  • 09:00 AM

How Effective is Lifestyle Management of Obesity?

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

Perhaps one of the most overused (and many would say ‘useless’) pieces of advise is that obesity management requires a lifestyle change.
While this may be true - there is nothing special about obesity when it comes to this recommendation, because guess what: living with diabetes requires lifestyle change, living with high blood pressure requires lifestyle [...]... Read more »

  • April 15, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

FDA Supports Compounding of Off-Label Drug to Prevent Preterm Labor

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new drug Makena (17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate) for the prevention of preterm labor. This is the first FDA-approved drug for this indication, but the active ingredient in the drug has been a standard of care for preventing preterm labor for nearly a decade. Until now, it has [...]... Read more »

ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins--Obstetrics. (2003) ACOG practice bulletin. Management of preterm labor. Number 43, May 2003. International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 82(1), 127-35. PMID: 12834934  

Petrini JR, Callaghan WM, Klebanoff M, Green NS, Lackritz EM, Howse JL, Schwarz RH, & Damus K. (2005) Estimated effect of 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate on preterm birth in the United States. Obstetrics and gynecology, 105(2), 267-72. PMID: 15684150  

  • April 15, 2011
  • 07:10 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Tattoo you?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It was only a matter of time before tattoos hit our Simple Jury Persuasion series. We’ve written about when to hide your client’s tattoos; when tattoos might serve as a voir dire aid; tattoos as a way for you to assess juror morality; provided a tattoo location guide for quick ‘tattoo interpretations’; and given you [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: You lookin’ at me?
Simple Jury Persuasion: Human flaws bind us all
Simple Jury Persuasion: Are those folks in the jury box thinkers or feelers?
... Read more »

Wiseman DB. (2010) Perceptions of a tattooed college instructor. Psychological reports, 106(3), 845-50. PMID: 20712173  

  • April 15, 2011
  • 05:56 AM

Natural selection and saving

by Jason Collins in Evolving Economics

In the academic literature at the intersection of economics and evolutionary biology, evolution of time preference (patience) is one area that has received much attention. This makes some sense, as most economic models that consider decisions over time include time preference. Time preference is normally included in the model through a discount rate of a [...]... Read more »

Hansson, I., & Stuart, C. (1990) Malthusian Selection of Preferences. The American Economic Review, 80(3), 529-544. info:/

  • April 15, 2011
  • 05:17 AM

A role for chromatin modifications and DNA repair in renal cell carcinoma

by Danielle Stevenson in BHD Research Blog

Following on from the blog last week, which described the identification of PBRM1 mutations in clear-cell RCC (ccRCC), other sequencing studies are also finding new genes that are mutated in ccRCC. For example, Dalgliesh et al. (2010) have identified mutations … Continue reading →... Read more »

Dalgliesh, G., Furge, K., Greenman, C., Chen, L., Bignell, G., Butler, A., Davies, H., Edkins, S., Hardy, C., Latimer, C.... (2010) Systematic sequencing of renal carcinoma reveals inactivation of histone modifying genes. Nature, 463(7279), 360-363. DOI: 10.1038/nature08672  

Komori, K., Takagi, Y., Sanada, M., Lim, T., Nakatsu, Y., Tsuzuki, T., Sekiguchi, M., & Hidaka, M. (2009) A novel protein, MAPO1, that functions in apoptosis triggered by O6-methylguanine mispair in DNA. Oncogene, 28(8), 1142-1150. DOI: 10.1038/onc.2008.462  

van Haaften, G., Dalgliesh, G., Davies, H., Chen, L., Bignell, G., Greenman, C., Edkins, S., Hardy, C., O'Meara, S., Teague, J.... (2009) Somatic mutations of the histone H3K27 demethylase gene UTX in human cancer. Nature Genetics, 41(5), 521-523. DOI: 10.1038/ng.349  

  • April 15, 2011
  • 03:00 AM

Physical therapy started within the first 24 hours leads to better recovery for knee operation patients

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Benefits of starting rehabilitation within 24 hours of primary total knee arthroplasty: randomised clinical trial From Clinical Rehabilitation  Osteoarthritis is estimated to affect around three quarters of over 65s in developed countries, and when it affects the knees it can be intensely painful, affecting the gait and leading to deformity. As a result, replacing the [...]... Read more »

  • April 14, 2011
  • 07:00 PM

by Ida Salusky in ionpsych

Ever wonder what makes someone disclose the intimate details of their life to a relative stranger… and feel comfortable doing so? If you are a therapist, or an individual who one day might work with a clinical social worker, psychologist … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • April 14, 2011
  • 03:07 PM

Mountain Dwarfs & Earthquakes

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

Before there were materialist explanations of nature’s unpredictable fury, there were stories. These stories were not mere entertainment, but were attempts to make sense of that which was inexplicable. The world is of course an unpredictable place. We were powerfully reminded of this but one month ago, as an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan.
Modern Japanese [...]... Read more »

Cruikshank, Julie. (1992) Invention of Anthropology in British Columbia's Supreme Court: Oral Tradition as Evidence in Delgamuukw v. B.C. BC Studies, 25-42. info:other/

  • April 14, 2011
  • 02:28 PM

A rig by any other name, could it be an artificial reef?

by Southern Fried Scientist in Southern Fried Science

There are currently more than 7,500 offshore oil platforms actively probing the earth’s crust for black gold. Their relatively minimal appearance at the surface belies the shear magnitude of human construction beneath the waves. Oil platforms are among the world’s tallest man-made structures. Compliant tower platforms reach up to 900 meters in depth (in contrast, [...]... Read more »

Macreadie, P., Fowler, A., & Booth, D. (2011) Rigs-to-reefs: will the deep sea benefit from artificial habitat?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/100112  

  • April 14, 2011
  • 01:41 PM

One Foot in Front of the Other

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

There are few biological functions that we take for granted more than gait, the intricate symphony of motion that happens almost automatically when we walk or run. Gait is programmed deep into the nervous system of animals, an activity so robust that it is maintained even when large segments of brain are removed. Those crude, [...]... Read more »

Crone SA, Zhong G, Harris-Warrick R, & Sharma K. (2009) In mice lacking V2a interneurons, gait depends on speed of locomotion. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(21), 7098-109. PMID: 19474336  

McLean DL, Fan J, Higashijima S, Hale ME, & Fetcho JR. (2007) A topographic map of recruitment in spinal cord. Nature, 446(7131), 71-5. PMID: 17330042  

  • April 14, 2011
  • 12:00 PM

Detecting shape-shifting computer viruses

by David Bradley in Sciencetext

Researchers at a software company which makes antivirus and security products have developed a computer tool that can create shape-shifting viruses that elude detection by commercial virus scanners. The aim of the research, published in the current issue of the International Journal of Multimedia Intelligence and Security, is to try to stay one step ahead [...]Post from: David Bradley's Sciencetext Tech TalkDetecting shape-shifting computer viruses ... Read more »

Priti Desai, & Mark Stamp. (2011) A highly metamorphic virus generator. Int. J. Multimedia Intelligence and Security, 1(4), 402-407. info:/

  • April 14, 2011
  • 11:32 AM

Mitochondria and Hypertension

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, here's a new thing.
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This is based on a recent paper (citation below) where they identify a point mutation in the mitochondrial DNA that appears to result in hypertension.

So why is this interesting? Well, for me, as an evolutionary theorist who works on intragenomic conflict, it is interesting because the mitochondrial DNA is, in principle, subject to selection pressures different from the rest of the genome. For instance, mitochondrial genes present in a female would, in principle, benefit from skewing the sex ratio of the offspring of that female, since those genes can only be passed on to grandchildren through daughters. Furthermore, since mitochondria are maternally inherited, the intragenomic conflicts over inclusive fitness effects that underlie the phenomenon of genomic imprinting could potentially shape the evolution of mitochondrial genes as well.

Sadly (from the theory perspective), the scope of phenomena influenced by mitochondria is fairly limited, with a lot of the effects limited to core metabolism. That's not to say that core metabolism is not important. Obviously, core metabolism is important to the survival of the individual. In fact the importance of these genes to survival is exactly what tends to make them evolutionarily less interesting. By and large, core metabolism is unlikely to be a significant locus of intragenomic conflict because all of the genes in an individual need that individual to be able to do things like, e.g., make ATP.

From this perspective, then, this mutation is interesting in that it represents an example of a phenotype that can be quantitatively affected by the mtDNA. This particular mutation is likely best interpreted as a mildly deleterious one that happens to exist within a particular family in China. However, it opens up the possibility of mutations with subtler phenotypic effects, which could potentially be subject to divergent selective pressures for different parts of the genome. For instance, if elevated blood pressure during pregnancy results in a greater transfer of resources from mother to offspring, we would expect autosomal and mitochondrial genes to favor different optimal blood pressures.

The other thing that is interesting is the type of mutation it is. It is actually a point mutation in the gene that produces the mitochondrial Isoleucine tRNA. This mutation messes up a site that is cleaved as a part of the normal post-transcriptional processing. The result is that the steady-state level of mitochondrial Isoleucine tRNA is reduced by 46%. This, in turn, impacts the translation of other mitochondrial gene products with protein translation reduced by an average of 32%. So, basically what it does is just muck up mitochondrial function a little bit.

Wang, S., Li, R., Fettermann, A., Li, Z., Qian, Y., Liu, Y., Wang, X., Zhou, A., Mo, J., Yang, L., Jiang, P., Taschner, A., Rossmanith, W., & Guan, M. (2011). Maternally Inherited Essential Hypertension Is Associated With the Novel 4263AG Mutation in the Mitochondrial tRNAIle Gene in a Large Han Chinese Family Circulation Research, 108 (7), 862-870 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.110.231811

... Read more »

  • April 14, 2011
  • 11:02 AM

Origins of Life: General RNA Polymerases

by ogremkv in Cassandra's Tears

Yesterday, I discovered a new set of studies that I had not previously known about.  I may write about all of them, but I definitely want to talk about this particular study for two reasons.  The first reason is that … Continue reading →... Read more »

Wochner A, Attwater J, Coulson A, & Holliger P. (2011) Ribozyme-catalyzed transcription of an active ribozyme. Science (New York, N.Y.), 332(6026), 209-12. PMID: 21474753  

  • April 14, 2011
  • 11:01 AM

Birds Inherited Strong Sense of Smell From Dinosaurs

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking Feathers, air sacs, nesting behavior—the earliest birds owed a lot to their dinosaurian ancestors. The first birds also inherited a strong sense of smell. Modern birds have not been thought of as excellent scent-detectors, save for some super-smellers such as turkey vultures, which detect the scent of rotting carcasses. We typically think of avians [...]... Read more »

Zelenitsky, D., Therrien, F., Ridgely, R., McGee, A., & Witmer, L. (2011) Evolution of olfaction in non-avian theropod dinosaurs and birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0238  

  • April 14, 2011
  • 10:56 AM

Aim Your Product Warnings at "FYI" and Not Just "CYA"

by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator

A warning that calls attention to a product's potential danger is obviously an important part of a company's litigation prevention and defense. But according to one recent statistic, a substantial portion of the public, and potential jury pool, may be a bit cynical on the question of whether warnings are designed to educate or just provide cover. In a 2010 Decision Analysis Survey on attitudes toward products liability litigation, fully 70% shared the belief that product warnings exist to protect companies in the event of lawsuits rather than to protect the public from product risks. On the bright side, that means that if "CYA" truly is your motivation for consumer warnings, you won't be violating jurors' already-low expectations by admitting it. But on the even brighter side, it means that if you can convincingly reframe your own company's warning in the broader terms of public education, you may end up surprising jurors and gaining an important measure of credibility in the process. The best consumer warnings should be oriented toward "FYI" -- information, and not just defense.
... Read more »

Decision Analysis. (2010) National Survey on Jury Attitudes: Product Liability. Lawyers USA Online. info:/

  • April 14, 2011
  • 10:46 AM

Tales from the Intestinal Crypt

by Sanford- Burnham in Beaker

Doctors have noticed for decades that people with Down Syndrome seldom develop cancers. Down Syndrome results from an extra copy of chromosome 21, leading scientists to wonder if something about that particular piece of the genome could protect against cancer. A few years ago, researchers at Johns Hopkins University tested that hypothesis. They added several [...]... Read more »

Múnera, J., Ceceña, G., Jedlicka, P., Wankell, M., & Oshima, R. (2011) Ets2 Regulates Colonic Stem Cells and Sensitivity to Tumorigenesis. STEM CELLS, 29(3), 430-439. DOI: 10.1002/stem.599  

  • April 14, 2011
  • 10:15 AM

Is GameBike An Effective Way To Increase Physical Activity?

by Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP in Obesity Panacea

Image from
Active gaming (aka exer-gaming) is the term used for video games that involve some level of physical activity.  I’ve discussed active gaming on Obesity Panacea in the past, and while I don’t doubt that it can be an effective tool for promoting physical activity in certain specific situations (eg as a form of physiotherapy), I remain skeptical about it’s ability to increase physical activity levels for the vast majority of children.
Unfortunately for active gaming enthusiasts, a study recently published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism suggests that my skepticism may have been well-founded.  In this new study (available free to Canadians here) researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario examined the impact of the GameBike on exercise adherence, energy expenditure, aerobic fitness, and metabolic health in overweight and obese adolescents with at least one metabolic complication.
Briefly, the GameBike is an exercise bike that attaches to any video-game console and allows people to compete in racing games by pedaling the bike.  The faster you pedal, the better your score.  I haven’t played it myself, but I will admit that it does sound more fun that simply riding an exercise bike.
In this study, the authors compared the impact of the GameBike with the impact of simply listening to music (on the radio, a CD, or personal music player).  In both conditions, participants were asked to attend the lab twice a week for 10 weeks.  Each session lasted for 60 minutes, and while the participants had to remain in the lab for that time, the amount of time spent cycling was completely up to them.
What happened?
Somewhat surprisingly, listening to music was actually more effective than the GameBike in a number of important categories.  Participants in the music group missed fewer sessions (8% vs 14%), spent nearly twice as much time exercising at a vigorous intensity in each session (25 min vs 14 min), and cycled 2.3 kilometers (~1.5 miles) farther every session.  Both groups saw significant increases in fitness over the course of the intervention, while neither group saw changes in metabolic profile (although there was a reduction in total cholesterol when the groups were collapsed).
I will readily admit that this study doesn’t suggest that the GameBike is completely ineffective – but it does appear to be substantially less effective than simply listening to music. This is somewhat surprising given that the GameBike website claims immodestly that the GameBike:
…has changed the world as we know it.
And let’s not forget that listening to music is incredibly cheap, while the Game Bike costs $1500-2000.  Certainly not the most cost-effective strategy for promoting physical activity, and one more reason to think that active gaming may not be the panacea for the childhood inactivity crisis.
Adamo KB, Rutherford JA, & Goldfield GS (2010). Effects of interactive video game cycling on overweight and obese adolescent health. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 35 (6), 805-15 PMID: 21164552
... Read more »

Adamo KB, Rutherford JA, & Goldfield GS. (2010) Effects of interactive video game cycling on overweight and obese adolescent health. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism , 35(6), 805-15. PMID: 21164552  

  • April 14, 2011
  • 09:30 AM

Eptesicini: the serotines and their relatives (vesper bats part XIV)

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

A group of mostly mid-sized pipistrelle-like bats of Africa and the northern continents are known as the serotines (Eptesicus) [species shown here is the one generally known simply as the Serotine E. serotinus: photo by Mnolf, from wikipedia]. Here in Europe this is - along with pipistrelles, noctules and long-eared bats - one of the most familiar of vesper bat groups. As we'll see, this group is anything but boring: it includes some weird big-eared species as well as the only bats known to breed within the Arctic Circle and a 'giant' species that eats birds. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Roehrs, Z. P., Lack, J. B., & Van Den Bussche, R. A. (2010) Tribal phylogenetic relationships within Vespertilioninae (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) based on mitochondrial and nuclear sequence data. Journal of Mammalogy, 1073-1092. info:/

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