Post List

  • October 18, 2010
  • 10:12 AM

Florida Panthers - Revived, with a Texan Twist

by Laura Klappenbach in About Animals / Wildlife

Florida panthers are healthier and fitter than they were fifteen years ago. They have higher genetic diversity, better immunity to disease, and fewer genetic abnormalities. They suffer fewer heart defects, enjoy higher fertility and are better able to climb trees. This is wonderful news for a population of panthers that was recently on the brink of extinction.

Like most populations of large carnivores, panther populations are divided between habitat islands and isolated in protected areas such as parks and reserves. Outside these protected lands, panthers face threats such as hunting, habitat destruction and lack of prey. As a result, there is little or no migration between the isolated sub-populations. When panther numbers in any one of the various habitat islands begins to dwindle, inbreeding becomes a concern. This was the case with the Florida panthers.

In the early 1990s, only 20 to 25 adult panthers remained in Florida. The genetic diversity of the population was very low and as a result the panthers suffered a variety of genetic defects and diseases. So in 1995, conservationists intervened. They moved eight female panthers from the Texas population to Florida. They hoped that such a transfer would inject much needed genetic diversity into the ailing Florida panther population.

Read Full PostFlorida Panthers - Revived, with a Texan Twist originally appeared on Animals / Wildlife on Monday, October 18th, 2010 at 14:12:26.Permalink | Comment | Email this... Read more »

Johnson, W., Onorato, D., Roelke, M., Land, E., Cunningham, M., Belden, R., McBride, R., Jansen, D., Lotz, M., Shindle, D.... (2010) Genetic Restoration of the Florida Panther. Science, 329(5999), 1641-1645. DOI: 10.1126/science.1192891  

Packer, C. (2010) A Bit of Texas in Florida. Science, 329(5999), 1606-1607. DOI: 10.1126/science.1196738  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 10:04 AM

Two DonorsChoose projects you must support: Girls are good at math, and Technology tools while pregnant

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A plea to fund DonorsChoose projects that highlights research on sexism in mathematics instruction.... Read more »

Alessandri SM, & Lewis M. (1993) Parental evaluation and its relation to shame and pride in young children. Sex Roles, 335-343. info:/

Fennema, E., Peterson, P., Carpenter, T., & Lubinski, C. (1990) Teachers attributions and beliefs about girls, boys, and mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 21(1), 55-69. DOI: 10.1007/BF00311015  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 09:49 AM

Alienated Youth More Likely to Lash Out

by APS Daily Observations in Daily Observations

Being rejected by their peers hurts all kids, but they vary in the way they react. Some kids deal with rejection by lashing out, which, taken to the extreme, can ... Read more »

Reijntjes, A., Thomaes, S., Bushman, B.J., Boelen, P.A., de Castro, B.O., & Telch, M.J. (2010) The outcast-lash-out effect in youth: alienation increases aggression following peer rejection. Psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science/ APS. PMID: 20739674  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 09:47 AM

Fifty percent (50%) of teens have experienced a psychiatric condition by their 18th birthday

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

Monday’s BRIEFS: Quick musings in child related research. Psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents I: Prevalence and sex differences Today is the first of a series of Brief posts about the results of the latest National Comorbidity Survey (NCS). The NCS is a large nationally representative study of over 10,000 adolescents aged 13 to 18. [...]... Read more »

Merikangas KR, He JP, Burstein M, Swanson SA, Avenevoli S, Cui L, Benjet C, Georgiades K, & Swendsen J. (2010) Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication--Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980-9. PMID: 20855043  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 09:46 AM

Tyrannosaurus the Cannibal

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

For a Tyrannosaurus rex, there was nothing more dangerous than another Tyrannosaurus rex. From a relatively young age these dinosaurs tussled by biting each other on the face—possibly spreading parasitic microorganisms as they did so—and a few fossil scraps have suggested that some tyrannosaurs may have killed or eaten members of their own kind. This [...]... Read more »

Longrich, N., Horner, J., Erickson, G., & Currie, P. (2010) Cannibalism in Tyrannosaurus rex. PLoS ONE, 5(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013419  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 09:40 AM

Is that my hand? Because it certainly feels like it!

by Psychology 379 bloggers in Cognition & the Arts

... Read more »

  • October 18, 2010
  • 09:21 AM

Colour my world

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

Colour does not exist. Not out in the world at any rate. All that exists in the world is a smooth continuum of light of different wavelengths. Colour is a construction of our brains. A lot is known about how the brain does this, beginning with complicated circuits in the retina itself. Thanks to a new paper from Greg Field and colleagues we now have an even more detailed picture of how retinal circuits are wired to enable light to be categorized into different colours. This study illustrates a dramatic and fundamental principle of brain wiring – namely that cells that fire together, wire together. Colour discrimination begins with the absorption of light of different wavelengths. This is accomplished by photopigment proteins, called opsins, which are expressed in cone photoreceptor cells in the retina. Humans have three opsin genes, which encode proteins that preferentially absorb light of different wavelengths: short (S, in what we perceive as the blue part of the spectrum), medium (M, green) and long (L, red). Each cone expresses only one of these opsin genes and is thus particularly sensitive to light of the corresponding wavelength. However, by itself the response of a single cone cell cannot be used to determine the colour (wavelength) of incoming light. The reason is that each cone is responsive to both the wavelength and the intensity of the light – so an M-cone would respond equally to a dim green light or a strong red light. Colour information only arises by comparing the responses of multiple cone cells. This is accomplished in two distinct channels – one which compares the inputs of L and M cones (the red-green channel) and one which compares the inputs of S cones to the combined inputs of L and M cones (the blue-yellow channel). The latter of these is the original, evolutionarily older system, dating back at least 500 million years. It is found in most mammals, in which there are only two opsin genes – an S opsin and one whose absorbance is midway between L and M. The L/M system evolved much more recently, due to a gene duplication that occurred in the lineage of Old World primates, probably around 40 million years ago. The duplication of the primordial L/M opsin gene allowed the two resultant genes to diverge from each other in sequence, generating proteins with different absorption spectra, which could then be compared. Something similar can actually be achieved even in species with only one copy of the L/M gene. This gene is on the X chromosome, so females will carry two copies of it. Due to the random inactivation of one X chromosome in each cell in females, each cone will express only one of the two copies of this opsin gene. If the two copies differ from each other, encoding proteins with alterations in the amino acid sequence that affect their light absorbance, then what will arise is a set of L cones and a set of M cones. All of this raises an important question – how are the inputs to these different cone cells compared? If the cells which express L and M cones are essentially the same, with the sole difference being that they express different opsin genes, then how is the wiring in the retina set up so that their inputs are distinguished, allowing their subsequent comparison? Cells in the retina are arranged in a series of layers. Cone cells connect, through bipolar and other cells, to retinal ganglion cells, which in turn convey visual information to the brain. Retinal ganglion cells integrate inputs from multiple cones, but in a very specialized way – some cones connect through ON bipolar cells (which are activated by light) and others through OFF bipolar cells (which are inactivated). Typically, one cone in the centre of an array of cells is connected to an ON bipolar cell, while surrounding cones connect to the same retinal ganglion cell target via OFF bipolar cells. The result is that the light signal hitting an array of cones is integrated – if the central cone is an L cell and the surrounding cones are M cells then the retinal ganglion cell will be most strongly activated by red light. This has been known for quite a long time now. What has not been clear is how this system gets wired up during development. S, M and L cones are distributed randomly across the retina. S cones, which are the least frequent, are molecularly distinct from L/M cones in many ways and connect to a dedicated set of S channel bipolar and retinal ganglion cells. The development of the wiring that carries out the comparison between S and L/M cones is thus molecularly specified. This cannot be the case for the comparison between L and M cones, which differ only in the opsin gene they express. The new study by Field and colleagues worked out in breathtaking detail the circuitry of the retina at a cellular level. Their results reveal the beauty and elegance of this circuitry but also resolve an important question relating to how L and M cone cells are wired. Each retinal ganglion cell in the centre of the retina receives ON inputs from a single cone and OFF inputs from the surrounding cones. In the periphery, however, the ON “centre” is composed of up to twelve cones. For the ganglion cell to discriminate colours there must be a bias in how many L or M cone cells wire up to it through the ON and OFF channels. Their results reveal exactly such a bias and further show that it cannot be explained simply by random clumping of L or M cones in the photoreceptor array. What this indicates is that there is some additional mechanism whereby inputs from just one type of cone are strengthened in each of the ON and OFF channels. In effect, the L and M cones are competing for inputs in each channel, presumably through so-called “Hebbian mechanisms” whereby inputs to a cell are strengthened if they fire at the same time and asynchronous inputs are actively weakened. Despite their being no molecular differences between these cone cells, the brain is thus primed to wire them into distinct channels based on their patterns of activity. A remarkable experiment performed a few years ago dramatically illustrates this principle. Mice are naturally dichromatic – they only have two opsin genes (S and L/M). Researchers in Jeremy Nathans’s group replaced one copy of the L/M gene with a version of the human L gene. This meant that female mice could be generated which carried one mouse opsin (L/M) and one human version (L). Cone cells could express one or the other of these genes. The result was astonishing – in visual tests, these mice could clearly distinguish between light of wavelengths which they were previously unable to discriminate. (They could now tell red from green). Despite normally having only two channels, their nervous system was clearly primed to perform this comparison. Amazingly, this may extend to humans as well. The opsin genes in humans can also be polymorphic – each one comes in several different versions. Females who carry one version of, say, the L gene on one X chromosome, and another on the other X chromosome, can effectively have four different channels of absorption: S, M, L and L’. If the retina is primed to compare inputs based on their patterns of activity then one would predict that such females would be tetrachromatic – they should be able to distinguish between more colours than trichromatic individuals (just as trichromats can distinguish more colours than dichromats – people with a mutation in one of the L or M opsin genes, who are red-green colourblind). This increased ability to discriminate colours is, apparently, indeed present in about 50% of females and can be revealed by a very simple test. Consider the picture of the colour spectrum shown below. If you print this out and mark on it with a pencil everywhere there seems to be a clear border between two distinct colours, then what you will find is that most trichromats mark out about 7 colour domains, while tetrachromats mark out between 9-10 (and dichromats about 5). So, where a man may just see “green”, a woman may see chartreuse or olive. Realising that people literally see things differently (and not just colours) could avoid needless argument. (That said, the woman is clearly more right, and it is usually best to concede graciously). ... Read more »

Field GD, Gauthier JL, Sher A, Greschner M, Machado TA, Jepson LH, Shlens J, Gunning DE, Mathieson K, Dabrowski W.... (2010) Functional connectivity in the retina at the resolution of photoreceptors. Nature, 467(7316), 673-7. PMID: 20930838  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 09:12 AM

Findings: Linguistic Universals in Pronoun Resolution

by gameswithwords in Games with Words

Unlike a proper name (Jane Austen), a pronoun (she) can refer to a different person just about every time it is uttered. While we occasionally get bogged down in conversation trying to interpret a pronoun (Wait! Who are you talking about?), for the most part we sail through sentences with pronouns, not even noticing the ambiguity.

I have been running a number of studies on pronoun understanding. One line of work looks at a peculiar contextual effect, originally discovered by Garvey and Caramazza in the mid-70s:

(1) Sally frightens Mary because she...
(2) Sally loves Mary because she...

Although the pronoun is ambiguous, most people guess that she refers to Sally in (1) but Mary in (2). That is, the verb used (frightens, loves) seems to affect pronoun resolution. Over the last 36 years, many thousands of undergraduates (and many more thousands of participants at have been put through pronoun-interpretation experiments in an attempt to figure out what is going on. While this is a relatively small problem in the Big World of Pronouns -- it applies only to a small number of sentences in which pronouns appear -- it is also a thorn in the side of many broader theories of pronoun processing. And so the interest.

One open question has been whether the same verbs show the same pronoun biases across different languages. That is, frighten is subject-biased and fear is object-biased (the presence of frightens in sentences like 1 and 2 causes people to resolve the pronoun to the subject, Sally, whereas the presence of loves pushes them towards the object, Mary). If this were the case, it would suggest that something about the literal meaning of the verb is what gives rise to the pronoun bias.

(What else could be causing the pronoun bias, you ask? There are lots of other possibilities. For instance, it might be that verbs have some lexical feature tagging them as subject- or object-biased -- not an obvious solution to me but no less unlikely than other proposals out there for other phenomena. Or people might have learned that certain verbs probabilistically predict that subsequent pronouns were be interpreted as referring to the previous subject or object -- that is, there is no real reason that frighten is subject-biased; it's a statistical fluke of our language and we all learn to talk/listen that way because everyone else talks/listens that way.)

random cheetah picture(couldn't find a picture about cross-linguistic studies of pronouns)
Over the last couple years, I ran a series of pronoun interpretation experiments in English, Russian and Mandarin. There is also a Japanese experiment, but the data for that one have been slow coming in. The English and Russian experiments were run through my website, and I ran the Mandarin one in Taiwan last Spring. I also analyzed Spanish data reported by Goikoetxea et al. (2008). Basically, in all the experiments participants were given sentences like (1) and (2) -- but in the relevant language -- and asked to identify who the pronoun referred to.

The results show a great deal of cross-linguistic regularity. Verbs that are subject-biased in one language are almost always subject-biased in the others, and the same is true for object-biased verbs. I am in the process of writing up the results (just finished Draft 3) and I will discuss these data in more detail in the future, answering questions like how I identify the same verb in different languages. For now, though, here is a little data.

Below is a table with four different verbs and the percentage of people who interpreted the pronoun as referring to the subject of the previous verb. It wasn't the case that the same verbs appeared in all four experiments, so where the experiment didn't include the relevant verb, I've put in an ellipsis.

                         Subject-Biases for Four Groups of Related Verbs in Four Languages                                                              Group 1                        Group 2                Group 3                        Group 4English            convinces 57%          forgives 45%      remembers 24%          understands 60%Spanish            …                                 …                          recordar 22%               comprender 63%Russian            ubezhdala 74%         izvinjala 33%     pomnila 47%               ponimala 60%Mandarin         shuofu 73%               baorong 37%      …                                    …

For some of these verbs, the numbers are closer than for others, but for all verbs, if the verb was subject-biased in one language (more than 50% of participants interpreted the pronoun as referring to the subject), it was subject-biased in all languages. If it was object-biased in one language, it was object-biased in the others.

For the most part, this is not how I analyze the data in the actual paper. In general, it is hard to identify translation-equivalent verbs (for instance, does the Russian nenavidet' mean hate, despise or detest?), so I employ some tricks to get around that. So this particular table actually just got jettisoned from Draft 3 of the paper, but I like it and feel it should get published somewhere. Now it is published on the blog.

BTW If anyone knows how to make bibligraphies in Chrome without getting funky ampersands (see below), please let me know.
Catherine Garvey, & Alfonso Caramazza (1974). Implicit causality in verbs Linguistic Inquiry, 5, 459-464

... Read more »

Catherine Garvey, & Alfonso Caramazza. (1974) Implicit causality in verbs. Linguistic Inquiry, 459-464. info:/

  • October 18, 2010
  • 08:32 AM

How sperm find their way

by Wellcome Trust in Wellcome Trust Blog

The life of a sea urchin sperm is a difficult one. Once ejaculated, the cells have to navigate turbulent seas, with their eddies and currents, to fertilise a sea urchin egg. So how do they know where to go? They follow their chemical ‘noses’, so to speak. In a series of recent papers, Adán Guerrero, from [...]... Read more »

Guerrero A, Wood CD, Nishigaki T, Carneiro J, & Darszon A. (2010) Tuning sperm chemotaxis. Biochemical Society transactions, 38(5), 1270-4. PMID: 20863297  

Guerrero A, Nishigaki T, Carneiro J, Yoshiro Tatsu, Wood CD, & Darszon A. (2010) Tuning sperm chemotaxis by calcium burst timing. Developmental biology, 344(1), 52-65. PMID: 20435032  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 08:23 AM

Outsmarting your biases & helping jurors outsmart theirs too

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Emily Pronin is a Psychology professor at Princeton. She studies how we tend to see ourselves as different than others and how that leads us to judge ourselves as better than others to our own detriment. Recently, Dr. Pronin did a brief interview with the Washington Post on how our self-awareness blind spots lead us [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: Countering jury decision-making biases

When identifying punishment—will jurors focus on intent or outcome?

A pinch of this and a dash of that... Read more »

Mandel, G. (2005) Unaware of Our Unawareness. Science. info:/

  • October 18, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

How Lack of Sleep Wrecks Your Diet

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

Regular readers will recall the many previous posts on the relationship between lack of sleep and weight gain. Now new evidence shows that lack of adequate sleep may be even more detrimental in anyone trying to lose weight.
In a study published in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Arlet Nedeltcheva and colleagues [...]... Read more »

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, & Penev PD. (2010) Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of internal medicine, 153(7), 435-41. PMID: 20921542  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 07:54 AM

Gimme Shelter

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Gimme shelter. If Africa’s threatened birds could talk, that might be their message in the wake of new study showing that very little of their essential habitat is covered by the continent’s protected areas.
Conservationists say parks, reserves and other kinds of protected areas (PAs) can play a key role in preventing habitat destruction and […] Read More »... Read more »

  • October 18, 2010
  • 05:11 AM

Mothers who attend baby signing classes are more stressed

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A survey of 178 mothers has found that those who take their children to Baby Signing classes are more stressed than those who don't. Baby Signing involves using gestures in an attempt to communicate with pre-verbal or minimally lingual infants. The idea is hugely popular. Tiny Talk, a UK company, runs over 400 classes each week.

One claim of Baby Signing classes is that it is beneficial to children's language development. The evidence for this is equivocal. Another claim is that by improving child-parent communication, the classes help relieve parental stress. It's this latter claim that Neil Howlett and his colleagues have examined in their study of mothers recruited via signing classes, internet sites, toddler groups and community organisations in the south east of England. Eighty-nine mothers who attended Baby Signing classes with their infants were compared with 89 mothers who did not.

Howlett's team used the 120-item self-report Parenting Stress Index (PSI) to measure the mothers' stress levels. Although mothers who attended signing classes reported being more stressed than those who didn't, the researchers didn't obtain baseline stress measures (prior to class attendance) so they have no way of knowing if the classes caused the increased stress or if stressed mothers are simply more likely to attend the classes. No evidence was found that more months spent signing with one's child was associated with even greater stress, so the idea that signing causes the stress looks unlikely.

Howlett's team think the signing mothers were probably more stressed in the first place and that's why they took their children to signing classes (a plausible suggestion given that the classes claim to help reduce stress). Consistent with this, the signing mothers recorded particularly high scores on the 'child domain' of the PSI, which indicates they were stressed about their child's behaviour. Moreover, the finding chimes with past research showing that mothers who enrol their preschool children in academic focused activities also have heightened anxiety.

'Gesture classes claim to reduce stress and create a better bond between child and mother,' the researchers concluded. 'Our results find no evidence for this and even suggest that the effect may be detrimental.'

Howlett, N., Kirk, E., and Pine, K. (2010). Does ‘Wanting the Best’ create more stress? The link between baby sign classes and maternal anxiety. Infant and Child Development DOI: 10.1002/icd.705

Link to Psychologist magazine article: 'The great baby signing debate'.

... Read more »

  • October 18, 2010
  • 05:03 AM

Sex with thee and the last woman

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

A quintessentially sexy topic in biology is the origin of sex. Not only are biologists interested in it, but so is the public. Of Matt Ridley’s older books it is predictable that The Red Queen has the highest rank on Amazon. We humans have a fixation on sex, both in our public norms and our [...]... Read more »

  • October 18, 2010
  • 03:36 AM

Nanodiamonds could revolutionize the current styrene synthesis industry

by Michael Berger in nanowerk

Catalytic dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene is one of the most important processes in the chemical industry world-wide. Styrene, for instance, is commonly produced using this process. The annual production of some 20 million metric tonnes of styrene is an important precursors in the plastics industry. Being able to develop a new metal-free, energy-saving, and efficient catalyst for alkane dehydrogenation would have a significant positive impact on the environment. Coke formation during the current industrial process is the main disadvantage of the metal-based catalysts now used. Steam is used as a protection agent to avoid coking and thus keep the catalysts active. The steam generation consumes massive amounts of energy. This is simply solved by using carbon as catalyst material. Even without steam, the catalyst is free from coke formation and shows long time stability. Researchers have now developed a new process for the dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene, using nanodiamonds as catalyst, that is oxygen-free and steam-free. ... Read more »

  • October 18, 2010
  • 02:28 AM

Otto Selz: The Pioneer of Cognitive Thought Decades Before the Cognitive Revolution

by John Wayland in The Darwin Tribune

Otto Selz isn't a name many psychology students will ever come across often. Unfortunately, it seems with such big names of the 20th Century, such as Freud, Skinner etc taking centre stage, that many other prominent psychologists don't make it into the textbooks. This isn't to suggest their contribution was any less meaningful. On the contrary, today's article focuses on Otto Selz's work and life in the hope that many psychology students will discover a name they might not come across in class.According to Joachim Hoffmann and Armin Stock, of the University of Wurzberg, Otto Selz was born on the 14th February 1881. Beginning his academic career he studied Philosophy, and completed his PhD 1909 entitled "Die psychologische Erkenntnistheorie und das Transzendentalproblem" or "The Psychological Epistemology  and the Transcendental Problem".Between 1910 and 1915, he investigated thought, developing his post-doctoral thesis, entitled "Uber die Gesetze des geordneten Denkverlaufs" or "On the Laws of the Ordered Thought Process". Following the First World War, Selz returned to work, working at the University of Bonn. Unfortunately, the development of anti-semitic propaganda brought about by Hitler and the Nazis saw Selz dismissed from his post, and eventually arrested and sent to Dachau. For a brief period, after escaping to Amsterdam, he lectured again. Yet again, he was arrested, and sent to Auschwitz. Sulz died on the 27th of August 1943 while in transportation to Auschwitz. Sadly, like so many of his generation, another intellectual flame was extinguished before its time.Essentially, Selz developed the following ideas:The unit of thought is the directed association.Understanding a problem involves forming a structure.Solving a problem involves testing for conditions.Many academics, such as Newell & Simon (1958) maintain that Selz was a significant figure. Specifically, Newell and Simon (1958) write:"Our position is that the appropriate way to describe a piece of problem-solving behavior is in terms of a program: a specification of what the organism will do under varying environmental circumstances in terms of certain elementary information processes it is capable of performing." "We can, in fact, find a number of attempts ... to explain behavior in terms of programs. One of the most interesting, because it comes close to the modern conception of a computer program is Adrian de Groot´s analysis of problem solving by chess players. The theory of de Groot is based on the thought psychology of Selz, a somewhat neglected successor to the Würzburg School." As well as this, ter Hark (2010) laments that it a shame Selz isn't a household name in the History of 20th Century Psychology. Despite this, in addition to Newell and Simon, ter Hark (2010) states that Selz is also referred to and admired by the likes of Woodworth (1938), Jean Piaget (1947) and Karl Popper. In underlining Selz's place as the pioneer of cognitive thought before the cognitive revolution occurred, George Humphreys devoted an entire chapter of his book "Logic Theorist" to Selz - a decade before the cognitive revolution. ter Hark (2010) goes into great depth regarding the theories and life of Selz, covering areas such Selz's Theory of Schematic Anticipations. According to ter Hark (2010) Selz's Theory of Schematic Anticipations was a general theory of thought that sought to explain the steps that led from constructing a problem to achieving a solution and to replace the dominant associationist explanation of thinking by means of substitution. As well as this, ter Hark (2010) assesses Selz's place within Gestalt Psychology (a branch of psychology that emphasized that in perception, the whole is more than the sum of its parts), noting Selz never conducted as much research as his contemporaries such as Buhler, Koffka and Kohler, but appeared to have the characteristics of a modern researcher nonetheless, and could build upon the theories of others. As well as this, ter Hark (2010) suggests Selz was every much his own person, moving away from Gestalt psychology by developing his theory of thinking at an exclusively at an intentional level.It is hoped that Selz will not fade into history but rather be remembered for his contribution and respected in such a capacity. The same is true for many Gestalt Psychologists of the early 20th Century.References:Newell A Simon HA (1958). Human Problem Solving Human Problem Solvingter Hark, M. (2010). The psychology of thinking before the cognitive revolution: Otto Selz on problems, schemas, and creativity. History of Psychology, 13 (1), 2-24 DOI: 10.1037/a0017442... Read more »

  • October 18, 2010
  • 02:00 AM

Virtual Psychiatric Ward Helpful for New Admissions?

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Most patients are admitted to our ward by direct referral from the psychiatric emergency service, a service delivered by Community Mental Health Centers. Some are referred by our own out patient clinic, often these patients are shown around the ward before admission but these patients are the exception to the rule of acute admittance. Most [...]

Related posts:Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Virtual Reality Becomes Real
... Read more »

  • October 17, 2010
  • 09:44 PM

Grassland diversity increases stability across multiple functions

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

As ecological systems are altered with cascading changes in diversity, the oft-asked question is: does diversity matter for ecosystem function? This question has been tested a multitude of times, with the results often supporting the idea that more diverse assemblages provide greater functioning (such as productivity, nutrient cycling, supporting greater pollinator abundance, etc.). Besides greater functioning, scientists have hypothesized that more diverse systems are inherently more stable. That is, the functions communities provide remain more constant over time compared with less diverse systems, which may be less reliable.While the relationship between diversity and stability has been tested for some functions, Proulx and colleagues examined the stability of 42 variables over 7 years across 82 experimental plots planted with either 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 or 60 plant species in Jena, Germany. They examined patterns of variation (and covariation) in the functions and found that many show lower variation over time in plots with more plant species. Greater stability was found at many different trophic levels including plant biomass production, the abundance and diversity of invertebrates and the abundance of parasitic wasps -which indicate more complex food webs. They also found greater stability in gas flux, such as carbon dioxide. Despite the greater stability in these measures of above-ground functions, below ground processes, such as earthworm abundance and soil nutrients, were not less variable in high diversity plots.How ecosystems function is of great concern; these results show that more diverse plant communities function more stably and reliably than less diverse ones. The next step for this type of research should be to address what kind of diversity matters. A greater number of species means more different kinds of species, with differing traits and functions. What aspect of such functional differences determine stability of ecosystem function?This is an exciting paper that continues to highlight the need to understand how community diversity drives ecosystem function.Proulx, R., Wirth, C., Voigt, W., Weigelt, A., Roscher, C., Attinger, S., Baade, J., Barnard, R., Buchmann, N., Buscot, F., Eisenhauer, N., Fischer, M., Gleixner, G., Halle, S., Hildebrandt, A., Kowalski, E., Kuu, A., Lange, M., Milcu, A., Niklaus, P., Oelmann, Y., Rosenkranz, S., Sabais, A., Scherber, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Scheu, S., Schulze, E., Schumacher, J., Schwichtenberg, G., Soussana, J., Temperton, V., Weisser, W., Wilcke, W., & Schmid, B. (2010). Diversity Promotes Temporal Stability across Levels of Ecosystem Organization in Experimental Grasslands PLoS ONE, 5 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013382... Read more »

Proulx, R., Wirth, C., Voigt, W., Weigelt, A., Roscher, C., Attinger, S., Baade, J., Barnard, R., Buchmann, N., Buscot, F.... (2010) Diversity Promotes Temporal Stability across Levels of Ecosystem Organization in Experimental Grasslands. PLoS ONE, 5(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013382  

  • October 17, 2010
  • 09:15 PM

A cautiously-optimistic call to arms in coral reef science

by Uncharted Atolls in Uncharted Atolls

Coral reef ecosystems are under assault from multiple stressors.  These range from local to global disturbances, some falling into the realm of naturally-induced. Some of these disturbances can be exacerbated through anthropogenic means.  Some of the most insidious threats to these … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 17, 2010
  • 06:01 PM

Six levels of risk management

by Jan Husdal in

In "Risk management in a dynamic society: a modelling problem" author Jens Rasmussen argues that risk management includes several levels ranging from legislators, over managers and work planners, to system operators. [ ... ]... Read more »

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