Post List

  • August 31, 2011
  • 03:56 AM

The Mystery of the Meat Sweat!

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

Another meal, another medical mystery… As I savoured the dying moments of the summer bank holiday, I was relishing the last few mouthfuls of a marvellous and hearty meaty meal. Then as the sun started to set, that dreaded line finally came: “Hey, I’ve got a question for your blog!” Now something of a running … Continue reading »... Read more »

Westerterp-Plantenga, M., Nieuwenhuizen, A., Tomé, D., Soenen, S., & Westerterp, K. (2009) Dietary Protein, Weight Loss, and Weight Maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 29(1), 21-41. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-080508-141056  

  • August 31, 2011
  • 01:34 AM

Advice to become a refined self-plagiarist. (Disclaimer: it is not ethical and will not help your career)

by Pablo Artal in Optics confidential

Some comments on self-plagiarism practices in science that will damage your career... sooner than later... Read more »

  • August 30, 2011
  • 06:15 PM

New Dogfish Species Found in Taiwanese Fish Market

by Chuck in Ya Like Dags?

The Order Squaliformes, home to the dogfish sharks, is one of the most diverse groups of sharks currently swimming the oceans, second only to the Carcharhiniformes in sheer number of species. Within that order is the Family Squalidae, made up of the very familiar spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias (the star of this blog) and a bunch of species that look pretty similar to it. New species tend to pop up in this group, since most of these sharks look pretty similar and the majority of them live in the deep sea. Recently one species was “rediscovered” in plain sight; the North Pacific spiny dogfish Squalus suckleyi had been considered a population of S. acanthias but has been restored to species status by genetic analysis. Now, researchers have found an entirely new Squalus species in the Tashi Fish Market in Taiwan. Say hello to Squalus formosus.... Read more »

White, W.T., & Iglesias, S.P. (2011) Squalus formosus, a new species of spurdog shark (Squaliformes: Squalidae), from the western North Pacific Ocean. Journal of Fish Biology. info:/doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2011.03068.x

  • August 30, 2011
  • 05:59 PM

Multimillennial Neanderthal occupation at La Cotte de St. Brelade

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

The BBC has a brief news story about some of the results of new excavations conducted at the site of La Cotte St. Brélade (Jersey, Channel Islands). The site is perhaps most famous for having yielded clear evidence for the systematic slaughter of mammoths and wooly rhinos by Neanderthals, which prompted a reevaluation of their hunting abilities (Scott 1980). That analysis, however, suggested that... Read more »

  • August 30, 2011
  • 02:59 PM

Obesity, Inflammation and Depression

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Obesity commonly occurs in the context of markers of inflammation.  Additionally, there is increasing evidence of a link between depression and systemic markers of inflammation such as the cytokine marker interleukin-6 (IL-6).  How these three conditions might tie together is an important research question.Capuron and colleagues from France recently published a manuscript that looked at a specific group with obesity--women who were severely or morbidly obese and were waiting for gastric obesity surgery. The study published in Psychological Medicine prospectively followed these women after gastric surgery and monitored serum markers of inflammation as well as psychological function.The research team focused on neuroticism as a key measure of personality as potentially related to systemic inflammation and potentially improved following bypass surgery.  Using the NEO-PI-R inventory, neuroticism can be broken down into components of anxiety, hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsiveness and vulnerability.Baseline obesity levels as measured by the body mass index (BMI) in the sample correlated with baseline inflammatory markers IL-6 and C-reactive proteins.  These inflammatory markers also correlated with anxiety and depression---the higher the level of these inflammatory markers, the higher the level of self-reported anxiety and depression. The women in the study lost approximately 30% of their body weight in the year following bypass surgery (mean weight reduction 47 kg = 103 pounds) with significant reductions in the blood markers of inflammation.  NEO-PI-R markers of depression and anxiety also dropped significantly over the one year following gastric surgery.  Reduction in C-reactive protein levels correlated with the reductions in the levels of anxiety.This type of study is a association and not a causation study.  Nevertheless, it suggests that severe obesity is a disorder associated with systemic inflammation.  This systemic inflammation may contribute to adverse affective symptoms such as depression and anxiety.  Reducing inflammation through reducing obesity (via methods such as bypass surgery) may have additional central nervous system benefits.  Psychological benefits of weight loss may also be at work through improved body and self-esteem.The role of inflammation in a variety of disorders including heart disease and diabetes is becoming better understood.  This study suggests inflammatory mechanisms should be explored for anxiety and depressive disorders, particularly in populations with obesity and diabetes mellitus.   Photo of Juno Beach sunrise through filter from the author's collection.Capuron, L., Poitou, C., Machaux-Tholliez, D., Frochot, V., Bouillot, J., Basdevant, A., Layé, S., & Clément, K. (2010). Relationship between adiposity, emotional status and eating behaviour in obese women: role of inflammation Psychological Medicine, 41 (07), 1517-1528 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291710001984... Read more »

Capuron, L., Poitou, C., Machaux-Tholliez, D., Frochot, V., Bouillot, J., Basdevant, A., Layé, S., & Clément, K. (2010) Relationship between adiposity, emotional status and eating behaviour in obese women: role of inflammation. Psychological Medicine, 41(07), 1517-1528. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291710001984  

  • August 30, 2011
  • 02:30 PM

Long Lost Relative of Ticks Pops Up Again

by Lucas in thoughtomics

The most precious fluid in the world isn’t black. It’s red. According to some estimates, there are over 14,000 species of insects and other crawlers that feed on blood. Every class and order seems to have its own blood loving family member. The most famous blood sucking arachnids, eight-legged animals such as mites, spiders and [...]

... Read more »

  • August 30, 2011
  • 02:05 PM

Climbing Mount Chernobyl

by Southern Fried Scientist in Southern Fried Science

Chernobyl Reactor 4, after the explosion In the last century, humans have made dramatic changes to both local and global ecosystems. Some of these changed have been subtle and remained unnoticed until very recently, while others have be so visible and so destructive that their names are indelibly etched into our collective consciousness. [...]... Read more »

Balonov MI. (2007) The Chernobyl Forum: major findings and recommendations. Journal of environmental radioactivity, 96(1-3), 6-12. PMID: 17493715  

Baker, Robert J., & Ronald K. Chesse. (2000) THE CHORNOBYL NUCLEAR DISASTER AND SUBSEQUENT CREATION OF A WILDLIFE PRESERVE. Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 1231-1232. info:/

Møller, A., Mousseau, T., de Lope, F., & Saino, N. (2008) Anecdotes and empirical research in Chernobyl. Biology Letters, 4(1), 65-66. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0528  

  • August 30, 2011
  • 12:41 PM

Grandmothers and Menopause in Cetaceans and Humans

by Paul Norris in AnimalWise

As single income families become rarer and aging baby boomers begin to play a greater role in caring for their grandchildren, people have increasingly come to appreciate how much help a doting grandmother can provide. In fact, interest in the … Continue reading →... Read more »

Lahdenperä, M., Lummaa, V., Helle, S., Tremblay, M., & Russell, A. (2004) Fitness benefits of prolonged post-reproductive lifespan in women. Nature, 428(6979), 178-181. DOI: 10.1038/nature02367  

Shanley, D., Sear, R., Mace, R., & Kirkwood, T. (2007) Testing evolutionary theories of menopause. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1628), 2943-2949. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1028  

Kachel, A., Premo, L., & Hublin, J. (2010) Grandmothering and natural selection. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1704), 384-391. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1247  

Johnstone, R., & Cant, M. (2010) The evolution of menopause in cetaceans and humans: the role of demography. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1701), 3765-3771. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0988  

  • August 30, 2011
  • 12:31 PM

The Embodiment of Time, Tenderness, and Weight

by Sam McNerney in Why We Reason

I’ve been hearing it for years now – the brain is “embodied“. It’s a strange concept. I understand that brains aren’t disembodied, and Descartes was horribly wrong to suggest that, “there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible.” But what [...]... Read more »

Jostmann, N., Lakens, D., & Schubert, T. (2009) Weight as an Embodiment of Importance. Psychological Science, 20(9), 1169-1174. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02426.x  

Miles, L., Nind, L., & Macrae, C. (2010) Moving Through Time. Psychological Science, 21(2), 222-223. DOI: 10.1177/0956797609359333  

Slepian, M., Weisbuch, M., Rule, N., & Ambady, N. (2010) Tough and Tender: Embodied Categorization of Gender. Psychological Science, 22(1), 26-28. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610390388  

  • August 30, 2011
  • 11:20 AM

Astonishing Results in Science (the magazine)

by Allison in Dormivigilia

Last week's issue of Science focused on education and social reform. In a series of baffling, yet informative original research reports, PIs uncovered substantial racial disparities in awarded NIH grants that severely disadvantage blacks and also that there is a research lesson to be learned from teaching as a graduate student. Finally, a recent study found a positive correlation between journal impact factors and the number of article retractions....which I guess isn't terribly shocking (more embarrassing, actually). ... Read more »

Ginther DK, Schaffer WT, Schnell J, Masimore B, Liu F, Haak LL, & Kington R. (2011) Race, ethnicity, and NIH research awards. Science (New York, N.Y.), 333(6045), 1015-9. PMID: 21852498  

Feldon DF, Peugh J, Timmerman BE, Maher MA, Hurst M, Strickland D, Gilmore JA, & Stiegelmeyer C. (2011) Graduate students' teaching experiences improve their methodological research skills. Science (New York, N.Y.), 333(6045), 1037-9. PMID: 21852504  

  • August 30, 2011
  • 11:13 AM

Why you need to fix your attitudes before you fix your job

by David Lurie in Setsights

A short post this week, as I want to make sure you all read it: as psychological ideas go this is as critical as they come to the goals of coaching. It’s a peculiarity of the way we exist that … Continue reading

Related posts:In search of the perfect job: The success vs happiness conundrum (originally published for @GuardianCareers)
Graduate job seeking: The rise of the ‘slasher’
Merry Christmas
The Slash: The Power of the Portfolio Career
Letting go may be the key to success in your career
... Read more »

  • August 30, 2011
  • 09:27 AM

An impressive slug

by Africa Gomez in BugBlog

A showery day, I come across this enormous Arion slug crossing the garden path. It must be close to 15 cm. Identification to species level is difficult to impossible as they are distinguishable by examination of internal genitalia characters - or molecular genetic analysis, and hybrids are common. British large Arion slugs are made of several species complexes, Arion ater/rufus A. lusitanicus and A. flagellus. Both groups are very polymorphic slugs, from almost white to black, including all shades of brown yellow red and orange. I have never found the the black morph in the garden, but a good representation of the others abound. The polymorphism of these slugs in the U.K., not only in colour, but also in genital characters, might stem from common hybridisation between several subspecies that colonised the British Isles from Europe, postglacially but also in more recent human introductions. Distribution changes might also come about due to expansions as a result of climate change. In addition, the slugs - except for A. flagellus - are able to self-fertilise and form relatively homogeneous populations, which might give the impression of being a separate species. Arion slugs had deep tubercles on their backs, and no keel. At the end tip is the mucus gland, producing an extremely sticky mucus. Unlike the yellow slug, which is strictly nocturnal, Arion slugs are active all around the day, provided that it is damp. When disturbed they show a characteristic behaviour: they contract their bodies into an almost round shape and retract their tentacles inside their mantle. Inspired by a post in Myrmecos, I set the photo vertically. I had to use a white plate - instead of bowl - and allow the slug to relax and start to crawl out. A very yellow specimenA disturbed ArionA selection of colours found in the gardenThe black morph of Arion sp.ReferencesNoble, L. R. Jones, C. S. (1996). A molecular and ecological investigation of the large arionid slugs of North-West Europe: the potential for new pests The ecology of agricultural pests: biochemical approaches Ed. William O. C. Symondson, Systematics Association, special volume. Clarendon Press., 53, 93-132EVANS, N. (1986). An investigation of the status of the terrestrial slugs Arion ater ater (L.) and Arion ater rufus (L.) (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Pulmonata) in Britain Zoologica Scripta, 15 (4), 313-322 DOI: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.1986.tb00232.xUPDATE 30/08/11: reference added and Arion ater in a photo caption changed to Arion sp.... Read more »

Noble, L. R. Jones, C. S. (1996) A molecular and ecological investigation of the large arionid slugs of North-West Europe: the potential for new pests. The ecology of agricultural pests: biochemical approaches Ed. William O. C. Symondson, Systematics Association, special volume. Clarendon Press., 93-132. info:/

  • August 30, 2011
  • 09:12 AM

New papers: “Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community” and “Geography of Twitter Networks”

by Anatoliy Gruzd in Social Media Lab

As part of our ongoing research on how Twitter is being used by scholars and the general public for networking and information dissemination, I am happy to announce the publication of two new papers which I co-authored with my collaborators at the University of Toronto, Dr. Barry Wellman and Dr. Yuri Takhteyev. Below are the [...]... Read more »

Gruzd, A., Wellman, B., & Takhteyev, Y. (2011) Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community. American Behavioral Scientist, 55(10), 1294-1318. DOI: 10.1177/0002764211409378  

Takhteyev, Y., Gruzd, A., & Wellman, B. (2011) Geography of Twitter networks. Social Networks. DOI: 10.1016/j.socnet.2011.05.006  

  • August 30, 2011
  • 07:30 AM

'Epoxy' for Your Arteries

by Nsikan Akpan in That's Basic Science

A new method for suturing blood vessels... Read more »

Chang, E., Galvez, M., Glotzbach, J., Hamou, C., El-ftesi, S., Rappleye, C., Sommer, K., Rajadas, J., Abilez, O., Fuller, G.... (2011) Vascular anastomosis using controlled phase transitions in poloxamer gels. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.2424  

  • August 30, 2011
  • 02:13 AM

Social Media and Surgery

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Buffer Surgeons not being the most social animals among doctors, I was surprised to see 7 editorials about surgery and social media. These seven editorials highlighted the use of social media and different settings for surgeons, from medical school all the way up to the American College of Surgeons. The most factual contribution was about [...]

No related posts.... Read more »

  • August 29, 2011
  • 11:17 PM

Did chaos theory kill the climatology star?

by csoeder in Topologic Oceans

Last time, we saw that some mathematical systems are so sensitive to initial conditions that even very small uncertainties in their initial state can snowball, causing even very similar states to evolve very differently. The equations describing fluid turbulence are examples of such a system; Lorenz’s discovery of extreme sensitivity to initial conditions ended hopes [...]... Read more »

Easterling, D., & Wehner, M. (2009) Is the climate warming or cooling?. Geophysical Research Letters, 36(8). DOI: 10.1029/2009GL037810  

Lorenz, Edward N. (1963) Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 20(2). info:/

  • August 29, 2011
  • 03:29 PM

Can the Flu Make You Narcoleptic?

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Narcolepsy doesn't strike at random. After studying the medical records of a large group of Chinese narcoleptics, researchers concluded that their symptoms--sudden naps, constant sleepiness, hallucinations--were most likely to have started in the month of April. In fact, each year's new cases of narcolepsy appeared in a cyclical pattern, following the seasons. Could narcolepsy be a delayed reaction to the flu?The brains of narcoleptics fail to produce enough hypocretin (also called orexin), a hormone that regulates wakefulness. It's a disorder that most often begins in childhood, and sometimes runs in families. In popular culture, narcolepsy sufferers have a tendency to fall asleep at comically inconvenient moments. But this view ignores narcolepsy's most ridiculous symptom, called cataplexy. Not all narcoleptics experience cataplexy, but those who do may lose all strength in their muscles during moments of strong emotion. A fit of anger or laughter can leave a person paralyzed on the floor for several minutes.Though it's not known what causes the onset of narcolepsy, one theory is that it's an autoimmune disorder: The immune system, overreacting to some trigger, attacks hypocretin-producing neurons in the brain. (Similarly, multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that damages neurons throughout the body.) In the event of an immune system uprising, certain people's genetics might guide the attack to the brain's hypocretin neurons. Eventually, enough neurons are damaged or lost that narcoleptic symptoms set in.After the H1N1 pandemic, there were suggestions that flu vaccinations might have triggered new cases of narcolepsy. To examine this claim, researchers from Beijing University People's Hospital and Stanford University examined the medical records of 906 narcoleptic patients who had been diagnosed in Beijing between 1998 and 2010. For 629 of the patients, researchers knew the month and year in which symptoms began. (These dates were reported after the fact, which could introduce error. But since most of the patients were young children when their symptoms began, the months and years in their records would have come from their parents, whom you'd expect to have a pretty accurate idea of when their child began falling asleep spontaneously in the middle of the day.)The researchers found that new narcolepsy cases followed a yearly cycle that peaked in April. The fewest new cases occurred in November. And it wasn't a small difference between the top and bottom of the cycle--nearly seven times as many new cases occurred in April as in November. They also saw a huge leap in narcolepsy cases in 2010, with three to four times as many new patients as normal.Comparing these trends to government data, the authors found that the narcolepsy cycle lagged about six months behind the seasonal cycle of influenza and colds. The spike in 2010 had come six months after the height of the H1N1 pandemic in China.There was no connection between new narcolepsy cases and flu vaccines, though. Researchers surveyed patients who had developed narcolepsy after the H1N1 pandemic, and found that only 5% had received a vaccine.Although the researchers couldn't test it directly, the results fit with the theory that infection by influenza can trigger narcolepsy in vulnerable individuals. The infection may set off an autoimmune reaction that, around six months later, has destroyed enough hypocretin neurons to bring on serious symptoms. Though the correlation between the flu cycle and narcolepsy cases could be circumstantial, the spike after the H1N1 pandemic adds some weight to the idea. Previous studies found a possible connection between narcolepsy and strep throat infections. The authors mention, too, that after the 1918 flu pandemic, there was an increase in cases of a brain-lesion disorder.Even if the infection theory is true, some questions remain. Is narcolepsy inevitable in individuals who develop it? When the disorder sets in during childhood, does it mean the brain was doomed from the start, and the child was one serious infection (or other trigger) away from becoming sick? Or can some narcolepsy cases be avoided? The Chinese data appear to show a slow but steady rise in new cases between 1998 and 2010, which might suggest that environmental factors are outweighing genetic ones. If the disorder is avoidable, further research may show us how to prevent narcolepsy, so that during the flu epidemics of the future we can protect our brains as well as our bodies.Han, F., Lin, L., Warby, S., Faraco, J., Li, J., Dong, S., An, P., Zhao, L., Wang, L., Li, Q., Yan, H., Gao, Z., Yuan, Y., Strohl, K., & Mignot, E. (2011). Narcolepsy onset is seasonal and increased following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in china Annals of Neurology DOI: 10.1002/ana.22587... Read more »

Han, F., Lin, L., Warby, S., Faraco, J., Li, J., Dong, S., An, P., Zhao, L., Wang, L., Li, Q.... (2011) Narcolepsy onset is seasonal and increased following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in china. Annals of Neurology. DOI: 10.1002/ana.22587  

  • August 29, 2011
  • 01:51 PM

Male Rape Victims: Let's Talk About the Men

by Stephanie Zvan in Almost Diamonds

Fewer men are the victims of rape than women (about 10% of rape victims), but the number is still not small. And we know there's at least one important difference when a rape victim is a man instead of a woman: Men are even less likely to report the crime. Aside from that, though, how well do women's descriptions of rape fit men's experience? Aside from not consistently naming men as victims, do women's discussions of rape do any disservice to male victims?... Read more »

Lipscomb, G., Muram, D., Speck, P., Mercer, B. (1992) Male victims of sexual assault. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 267(22), 3064-3066. DOI: 10.1001/jama.267.22.3064  

  • August 29, 2011
  • 12:08 PM

A spin glass model of cultural consensus

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

Does your social network determine your rational rationality? When trying to co-ordinate with a number of other people on a cultural feature, the locally rational thing to do is to go with the majority. However, in certain situations it might make sense to choose the minority feature. This means that learning multiple features might be rational in some situations, even if there is a pressure against redundancy. ... Read more »

STAUFFER, D., CASTELLO, X., EGUILUZ, V., & SANMIGUEL, M. (2007) Microscopic Abrams–Strogatz model of language competition. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 374(2), 835-842. DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2006.07.036  

Castelló, X., Loureiro, L., Eguíluz , V. M., & San Miguel, M. (2007) The fate of bilingualism in a model of language competition. Advancing Social Simulation: The First World Congress, 83-94. info:/

  • August 29, 2011
  • 11:48 AM

When Arguing Damages, "Drop Anchor" Even in Murky Waters

by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator

This blog frequently covers recent psychological or communications research bearing on legal persuasion, and an important question is how well results hold up when leaving the laboratory and entering the courtroom. One example is the phenomenon of damage "anchoring," or the advantage gained when one side offers an ad damnum number as a starting point for jury deliberations. In a long line of studies in laboratory settings, researchers have demonstrated the process of "anchor and adjust," meaning mock jurors will start with an anchor point, often a number recommended by one party or the other, and adjust up or down in order to arrive at a verdict. Based on the amount of influence exerted by the choice of the starting anchor, the common wisdom is for plaintiffs to ask high to raise the ultimate damages, and for defendants to recommend low in order to lower that number.

In the real world of trials, is the effect of an anchor as simple and automatic? Based on a recent analysis of the deliberation content of video-recorded trials in Arizona courts, the answer is "no, not so simple or automatic." The research (Diamond et al., 2011) shows while anchoring is a powerful force in deliberations, jurors are also very critical consumers of attorney recommendations, and the supposed biasing effect of damage anchors appears to be overstated. In this post, I take a look at these research findings, and provide practical recommendations for both plaintiffs and defendants arguing damages.

... Read more »

Shari Seidman Diamond, Beth Murphy, Mary R. Rose, & John B. Meixner. (2011) Damage Anchors on Real Juries . Social Science Research Network. info:/

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