Post List

  • January 31, 2011
  • 06:48 AM

Seed dispersal: how far is far enough?

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

This barely merits the Research Blogging tag, because all I want to do here is raise a possibility, and a tenuous one at that. I confess that I was attracted in a high-speed scan of headlines, by this one: Leaving home ain’t easy: non-local seed dispersal is only evolutionarily stable in highly unpredictable environments. The [...]... Read more »

  • January 31, 2011
  • 06:00 AM

Article Review: Morbidity and Mortality Conferences in EM

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

Residency training programs are required to have Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) Conferences, as mandated by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). These conferences were originally designed to look at medical errors and unforeseen complications in patient care.Traditionally, Surgery programs focus on medical error and complications in their conferences. In contrast, Internal Medicine programs tend to focus more on cases because of their intrinsic learning value. Error is less the focus in their conferences. What are the practices of EM residency programs?This paper reviews a descriptive survey study of M&M Conferences in U.S. EM residency programs.  The response rate was 72% (89 of 128) for the 29-question survey. If you include all the active EM programs out there (n=135), the response rate was 66%.ResultsBottom Line: M&M conferences are varied in format, content, and timing.Some M&M conferences are alternatively called "Quality Improvement Conference" or "Interesting Case Conference"67% of programs hold M&M monthly, and 15% hold them weekly.33% of M&Ms are attended by nurses and EMS personnel.Some programs focus more on pediatrics, others more on trauma, and others primarily on cases where death or error was the outcome.79% of programs have a protocol in place when a medical error is identified.The authors note that the M&M Conferences are perfect venues to address key ACGME Core Competencies into resident education (especially Practice-Based Learning and Improvement and Systems Based Practice).The next step is to determine the best models for M&M Conferences and to try to standardize them across all programs.(click to open a larger image)For our program at UCSF-SFGH, discussion and suggestions for improvement are framed within the Vanderbilt Healthcare Matrix for improvement health care practices. The matrix includes a 6x6 table with the Institute of Medicine mandates on one axis and the ACGME competencies on the other. Download the Matrix from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) website.ReferenceSeigel T, McGillicuddy D, Barkin A, Rosen C. Morbidity and Mortality Conference in Emergency Medicine The Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2010, 38(4), 507-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.09.018.... Read more »

Seigel, T., McGillicuddy, D., Barkin, A., & Rosen, C. (2010) Morbidity and Mortality Conference in Emergency Medicine. The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 38(4), 507-511. DOI: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.09.018  

  • January 31, 2011
  • 03:35 AM

Closing our eyes affects our moral judgements

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

We experience emotion more intensely with our eyes closed
The simple act of closing our eyes has a significant effect on our moral judgement and behaviour. Eugene Caruso and Francesca Gino, who made the observation, think the effect has to do with mental simulation, whereby having our eyes closed causes us to simulate scenarios more vividly. In turn this triggers more intense emotion.

Throughout the study, Caruso and Gino concealed the true aim of the research from participants by telling them that part of the investigation was about judging the quality of head-phones. Participants were asked to listen to the rest of the study instructions through a pair of head-phones with a view to rating the sound quality. Crucially, half the participants were asked to listen to the different instructions and scenarios with their eyes closed - ostensibly to help their judgment of the sound quality - whilst the remainder listened with their eyes open.

Across the first three studies, the following effects were observed: participants with their eyes closed who heard a hypothetical scenario in which they deliberately over-estimated hours worked (so as to charge more) judged the act as more unethical than participants who heard the same scenario with their eyes open. Participants who heard the instructions for a simple financial game with their eyes closed subsequently shared money more fairly than participants who heard the instructions with their eyes open. And participants who listened to a hypothetical scenario with their eyes closed, in which nepotism and self-interest had biased a recruitment decision they'd made, judged that act as more unethical than did participants who heard the same scenario with their eyes open. Follow-up questions showed that the eyes-closed participants had visualised the scenario more vividly.

A fourth study was similar to the last except that some of the participants were given an explicit instruction to visualise the nepotism scenario as vividly as they could. This instruction led the eyes-open participants to judge the nepotistic act more harshly, similar to the eyes-closed participants. Overall, there was no evidence that the eyes-closed participants had simply paid more attention to the scenario than the eyes-open participants, but they did experience more negative, guilt-based emotion and it's this effect that probably underlies the study's central finding.

'Although scholars from different fields have provided important insights in understanding why people commonly cross ethical boundaries, little research has examined potential solutions that are easily implementable,' the researchers said. 'Here we identified a simple strategy: closing one's eyes, people are likely to simulate the decision they are facing more extensively and experience its emotional components more vividly. As a result ... people may be more sensitive to the ethical nature of their own and others' decisions, and perhaps behave more honestly as a result.'

Caruso, E., and Gino, F. (2011). Blind ethics: Closing one’s eyes polarizes moral judgments and discourages dishonest behavior. Cognition, 118 (2), 280-285 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2010.11.008

... Read more »

  • January 31, 2011
  • 01:02 AM

An unhealthy glow: Parasites may equip hosts with warning colors

by Neil Losin in Day's Edge

Earlier this month at ScienceOnline2011 (a professional meeting of science bloggers and others using the web to communicate about science), Brian Malow – aka. the Science Comedian – gave a wonderful impromptu performance. On the topic of viruses, Brian described a viral infection as “Your cells: Under new management.” It’s a clever but quite apt [...]... Read more »

  • January 31, 2011
  • 12:55 AM

Do fruit flies dream of electric bananas?

by Björn Brembs in

That's the title of my 'Thought Experiment' column in the next issue of 'The Scientist', due to appear on February 1. Sarah Greene from The Scientist approached me in my role as F1000 faculty member at this year's SfN annual meeting in San Diego and asked me if I didn't want to write something for The Scientist.The short article is about visualizing neuronal activity in small brains. I've recently applied for a starting grant at the European Research Council to develop a microscope which can record the activity in most of the Drosophila brain in 4D (space + time). This application is a revised version after the first one got good reviews but wasn't funded due to the technique being too risky. We have since tested the originally proposed technique and found that indeed it didn't work, as the reviewers assumed. Therefore, we are now proposing to develop a new kind of microscope, rather than just using an existing one.Interestingly, just around the time I was writing this article, a paper was published by colleagues from UCLA that used a related, but slightly different technique to record in 4D from mouse brains: "Simultaneous two-photon calcium imaging at different depths with spatiotemporal multiplexing" Their technique is not identical to what we have tried in flies, but similar. The authors are using multiple laser beams to excite molecules in the mouse brain that act as reporters of neural activity. If the neuron they are incorporated in is active, they fluoresce in one wavelength when hit by the laser, and in a different one when the neuron is inactive. Previous studies had just picked one plane in the brain and then recorded the activity of neurons in this plane. One of several reasons why it wasn't possible, until now, to record from more than one plane, was that the speed with which one could move the laser around was too slow. The authors of this study overcome this problem by using multiple beams at the same time. This allowed them to monitor 100-200 neurons in a ~400 × 400 μm cube of mouse cortex.While I'm not surprised that this technique works great in mice, there is one main reason why this method does not work in flies. In order to capture sufficient light in the much denser fly brain, we need dwelling times of around one microsecond per voxel (a 3D pixel). If we do this with more than one laser, the heat being transfered into the fly brain is just too great: the brain will literally boil (ask us how we know: this was exactly the method we suggested in the previous grant and tried out before applying again in this round). While this is obviously a lesser problem for the much larger mouse brain, where the heat can dissipate much more easily, I'd still like to know the temperature of the cube Cheng at al. were recording from. After all, we wouldn't want to interfere more than absolutely necessary with the object we're attempting to measure.Overall, this is the way microscopy is heading these days: after having increased the spatial resolution to below the optical diffraction limit, now researchers all over the world are turning towards increasing the temporal resolution. This will allow us to record 3D videos of brain activity, very similar to the way currently being done with fMRI in humans, but with ten times the temporal and many times the spatial resolution. This latest study (and hopefully our project, if the ERC funds it) is a great step in this direction. Hopefully, many more will follow.Attached at the end of my article in The Scientist is a 5min video where I'm giving a brief summary of our latest research on the Drosophila orthologue of the FOXP2 gene. This work was presented as a poster at the abovementioned SfN meeting and is also uploaded to the F1000 website.Cheng, A., Gonçalves, J., Golshani, P., Arisaka, K., & Portera-Cailliau, C. (2011). Simultaneous two-photon calcium imaging at different depths with spatiotemporal multiplexing Nature Methods, 8 (2), 139-142 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1552... Read more »

  • January 31, 2011
  • 12:37 AM

This is your Brain on Music

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

Sci will admit I spent most the time “preparing” for this post by listening to LOTS of music. This is your brain: (Source) Is this your brain on Music? (Source) Well, to be entirely honest…probably not. But music’s still nice. Let’s take a look at why. So, let’s start out with a little bit of [...]... Read more »

  • January 30, 2011
  • 11:44 PM

Egypt Week – Corruption and Cooperation

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, our next Egypt Week feature is a theoretical paper on a topic closely related to the last post. Once again, we are interested in understanding the mechanisms that are responsible for encouraging or enforcing cooperation, thereby facilitating collective action. Last time, we talked about a paper that found that "altruistic" or "third-party" punishment is common in large-scale, complex societies, but is rare in small-scale societies, while "spiteful" punishment is universal.

Many empirical and theoretical studies of cooperation focus on punishment as a mechanism for enforcing societal norms. Basically, you set up a situation where the group benefits if people cooperate, but each individual benefits by not cooperating. If mechanisms exist to punish people for not cooperating, you get cooperation. Which is to say that the existence of punishment changes the individuals' incentives. The benefits of not cooperating are outweighed by the cost of being punished. No big mystery there.

But what if punishment itself is costly? Punishment can stabilize cooperation, but what stabilizes punishment? Some models rely on an infinite succession of punishments, where people punish people who fail to punish people who fail to cooperate, and people punish people who fail to punish people who fail to punish people who fail to cooperate, and people punish ... well, you get the idea.

Today's paper asks if cooperation can be enforced by corrupt punishment. That is, while punishment is still treated as costly, punishers are not necessarily cooperators themselves, as is commonly assumed in models of this sort. Furthermore, the corrupt punishers ("policers") suffer a lower cost when punished than do non-punishers ("civilians").

A corrupt policer looks forward to a cushy retirement, thanks to his hypocritical enforcement of others' cooperation. Little does he suspect how a new, young partner, who colors outside the lines, but has a heart of gold, will turn his whole life upside-down, with hilarious consequences.
The model shows that in the presence of a modest power imbalance, cooperating civilians and corrupt policers can coexist. That is, a moderate level of corruption is consistent with, and can even stabilize cooperation. However, when the power imbalance becomes large, corrupt policers overrun the population, the system breaks down, and cooperation is lost.

The first part of the result is nice because it provides a degree of robustness to the "cooperation through punishment" paradigm, as it does not require the punishers to be acting altruistically themselves.

The second part of the result is perhaps more directly relevant to Egypt Week. Societies can function in the presence of a degree of inequality, and they can tolerate a certain amount of hypocrisy from their leaders. But too much hypocrisy and inequality is inconsistent with the type of collective action that governments are meant to facilitate.

It is heartening to see that when a less corrupt alternative presents itself, people are still capable of collective action on a massive scale.

Peace be upon you.

Úbeda, F., & Duéñez-Guzmán, E. (2010). POWER AND CORRUPTION Evolution DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01194.x [1] [2]


[1] This is an online, ahead-of-print publication, which is why there are no page numbers, but it should be findable through the DOI.

[2] Disclosure: The first author on this paper is a long-time friend and colleague, and we have worked together on issues of intragenomic conflict. Here is photographic evidence of our friendship, from when we were traveling around Lyon, France like Thelmo and Louis following the 2010 SMBE meeting:

On our way to the Palais de Justice, we accidentally activated our Wonder-Twin Powers. Francisco took the shape of an evolutionary biologist, and I took the form of a French trash can. Photo by Gleek.

... Read more »

Úbeda, F., & Duéñez-Guzmán, E. (2010) POWER AND CORRUPTION. Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01194.x  

  • January 30, 2011
  • 11:22 PM

From The Editor’s Desk: Giant Squid=Awesomesauce

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

In the following post I will enumerate the many ways in which current science repeatedly demonstrates that giant squids are awesomesauce.
Awesome: (adj) amazing, awe-inspiring, awful, awing (inspiring awe or admiration or wonder) “New York is an amazing city”; “the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring sight”; “the awesome complexity of the universe”; “this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of . . . → Read More: From The Editor’s Desk: Giant Squid=Awesomesauce... Read more »

K. S. BOLSTAD, & S. O’SHEA. (2004) Gut contents of a giant squid Architeuthis dux (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida) from New Zealand waters. Bolstad , 15-21. info:/

Roeleveld, M. (2000) Giant squid beaks: implications for systematics. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 80(1), 185-187. DOI: 10.1017/S0025315499001769  

  • January 30, 2011
  • 07:43 PM

When weeds are wanted

by CJA Bradshaw in ConservationBytes

And in keeping with the topic of bees… – I’ve just read a very, very cool paper in Ecology Letters about something I’ve wanted to do myself for some time. It’s a fairly specific piece of work, so it could easily be reproduced elsewhere with different species. My point though is that a hell of [...]... Read more »

Carvalheiro, L., Veldtman, R., Shenkute, A., Tesfay, G., Pirk, C., Donaldson, J., & Nicolson, S. (2011) Natural and within-farmland biodiversity enhances crop productivity. Ecology Letters. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01579.x  

  • January 30, 2011
  • 05:30 PM

Selection is random

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

When is the effect of a mutation neutral?

A mutation (by this I mean any change to the genotype/genome of an organism) is neutral when it does not change the fitness of the organism. This can happen in different ways:

1) A mutation (SNP) that changes one nucleotide in the protein coding sequence, but does not change the amino acid. These are known as synonymous substitutions, and (mostly*) do not affect fitness.
2) When the mutation does not change fitness, just because the genomic change makes no difference for how well the cell/organism functions.
3) ... (See comments?)... Read more »

Watson, R., Weinreich, D., & Wakeley, J. (2011) GENOME STRUCTURE AND THE BENEFIT OF SEX. Evolution, 65(2), 523-536. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01144.x  

  • January 30, 2011
  • 03:52 PM

Smoking and the Slave Trade

by Dirk Hanson in Addiction Inbox

To Africa and back again.

[Queen Nzinga (smoking a pipe) with Her Entourage, Kingdom of Kongo, 1670s]--------->

In the 17th Century, tobacco, the prototypical New World stimulant, was introduced to Africa by European traders. By 1607, tobacco was being cultivated in Sierra Leone, and in 1611 a Swiss doctor commented on how the soldiers of the “Kingdom of Kongo” fought hunger by grinding up tobacco leaves and setting them on fire, “so that a strong smoke is produced, which they inhale.”

It did not take long for the true motivations behind this botanical boon to be revealed. Tobacco served two crucial functions for the slave traders of the Middle Passage: Once Africans had acquired the smoking habit, tobacco could be used in lieu of cash as payment for purchasing slaves. In addition, tobacco was frequently handed out to slaves during the horrific Atlantic voyage. This was not done out of altruism, or common decency, of course. In an article for Slavery and Abolition Journal, Jerome S. Handler writes: “European slavers apparently believed that such measures were useful in their efforts to control their ‘cargo’ and avoid or minimize social unrest and revolts—or even put the enslaved in a better mood prior to their being sold or transshipped from one American port to another."

How did the slaves smoke the tobacco enroute? With clay pipes supplied by the slave traders. The Europeans had introduced an easily grown, highly addictive plant drug, so it was inevitable that white traders would use that addictive property to their advantage. And they were happy to create an additional market in paraphernalia.

Handler, writing in the African Diaspora Archaeology Network Newsletter, notes that, while Africans produced their own pipes, “white clay pipes of Europeans manufacture, particularly English and Dutch, were commonly used to purchase slaves…. In general it appears that European pipes were often preferred to African ones.” The pipes came in long and short versions, the long “elbow bend” pipes being preferred on shore, with the short pipe being preferred for use onboard. Jean Barbot, an agent for the French Royal African Company, reported that the slaves onboard were occasionally given “short pipes and tobacco to smoak upon deck by turns.”

However humane the practice might sound, the motivations of the traders “were the same as those which prompted them to distribute beads and allow African board games aboard the ships, that is, an attempt to mollify or placate the captives in situations that were always fraught with tension and possibilities of insurrection.” Presumably, it also diminished hunger and helped keep the slaves on their feet during auction in the New World.

Not every ship’s captain went along with the pipes. A French slave ship captain wrote that “for fear of fire, tobacco should be grated and given as a powder.”  Handler, a Senior Scholar at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, notes that “there are no data on whether the enslaved were allowed to keep the pipes they received aboard the slave ships. “

Probably not. “Chances are that pipes were collected by the ship’s crew after each use to be re-used at another time,” according to Handler. But it is likely enough that at least some pipes were successfully smuggled ashore. And while most of the white clay pipes found in African descendant archaeological sites in America were probably local in origin, “it may be that an occasional pipe was brought by some enslaved African via the Middle Passage.”

Handler, J. (2009). The Middle Passage and the Material Culture of Captive Africans Slavery and Abolition, 30 (1), 1-26 DOI: 10.1080/01440390802673773

Graphics Credit: Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library, Read more »

  • January 30, 2011
  • 11:46 AM

Painkillers, pregnancy and problems of procreation

by Elements Science in Elements Science

No pain no gain: mums told to grit their teeth if they want sons with balls. Djuke Veldhuis examines how expectant mothers use painkillers could affect their son... Read more »

Kristensen, D., Hass, U., Lesne, L., Lottrup, G., Jacobsen, P., Desdoits-Lethimonier, C., Boberg, J., Petersen, J., Toppari, J., Jensen, T.... (2010) Intrauterine exposure to mild analgesics is a risk factor for development of male reproductive disorders in human and rat. Human Reproduction, 26(1), 235-244. DOI: 10.1093/humrep/deq323  

  • January 30, 2011
  • 11:11 AM

Improving tuberculosis control in Ethiopia

by Bernt Lindtjorn in International Health Research

Ethiopia, with over 80 million people, is heavily affected by tuberculosis, complicated by poverty and HIV infection, limited access to the health service and shortage of health workers. We recently reviewed tuberculosis control programme in South Ethiopia. Although treatment success rates have improved during the last decade, low case notification rate, mainly because of inability [...]... Read more »

  • January 30, 2011
  • 09:05 AM

Writerly scientist derided scientist-writer?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

Following up on the recent discovery that novelist and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov correctly supposed that Polyommatus blue butterflies colonized the New World in stages, Jessica Palmer points out that none other than Stephen Jay Gould dismissed Nabokov's scientific work as not up to the same standards of genius exhibited in his novels. She suggests that Nabokov's work may have been dismissed by his contemporaries because his scientific papers were a little too colorfully written.Roger Vila, one of Pierce's co-authors, suggests that Nabokov's prose style (Wellsian time machine!) did his hypothesis no favors:The literary quality of his scientific writing, Vila says, may have led to his ideas being overlooked. "The way he explained it, using such poetry -- I think this is the reason that it was not taken seriously by scientists," Vila says. "They thought it was not 'hard science,' let's say. I think this is the reason that this hypothesis has been waiting for such a long time for somebody to vindicate it."That's a little harsh toward scientists, but it seems plausible: creativity in scientific writing is rarely rewarded.Hyperlink to quoted source sic.

Palmer's analysis is thoughtful and thorough, and you should read all of it. But she misses what (to me) seems like the best wrinkle in the whole business: Gould, alone of all the scientists, should have been sympathetic to the dangers of writing "too well" in a scientific context.

Stephen Jay Gould, one suspects, never murdered a single darling in a decades-long career of writing for scientific and popular venues. The iconoclastic 1979 paper "The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme" [PDF], coauthored with Richard Lewontin, is a case in point. Gould and Lewontin wanted to make the point that not all traits and behaviors of living species are necessarily adaptive—that is, evolved to perform a function that enhances survival and/or reproductive success. Today it is widely agreed that this point needed making. But Gould's writing undercut the success of his own argument, or at least gave his detractors a toehold for derision.

.flickr-photo { }.flickr-framewide { float: right; text-align: left; margin-left: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; width:100%;}.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } The Cathedral of San Marco in Venice, its structurally practical arches encrusted with Baroque decoration. A metaphor for Gould's metaphors? Photo by MorBCN.Gould and Lewontin developed their argument with references to architecture and to literature. They compared non-adaptive traits to mosaics decorating the spandrels of the Cathedral of San Marco in Venice. Spandrels being spaces created between arches, anything decorating them is clearly secondary to the architectural decision to build an arch. They also compared "adaptationist" biologists to the character of Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire's satire Candide, who claims that "all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds."

Pangloss is a fool, and biologists who felt Gould and Lewontin were critiquing them took the obvious inference. One of the most biting responses to "Spandrels" focused much more on the style than the substance of the paper. The author, David Queller, titled it "The spaniels of St. Marx and the Panglossian paradox: A critique of a rhetorical programme" [PDF], and the parody only continues from there.

Queller built an elaborate and unflattering image of Gould and Lewontin as Marxists focused on their political perspective like the dog in the old RCA ads fixated on a grammophone. He even referenced one of Gould's favorite cultural touchstones, the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, to tweak Gould as "the very model of a science intellectual." Queller manages to have his cake and decry it, too—he mocks Gould and Lewontin with overflown metaphors, then backs off to say that such tactics are irresponsible:So, how did I like my test drive in the supercharged rhetoric-mobile? It's certainly been fun ... but it's pretty hard to keep the damned thing on the road. ... my little parody of Gilbert and Sullivan's modern Major General, who knows about everything but matters military, might induce an uninformed reader to conclude that Gould knows about everything but matters biological. But this is exactly the complaint that many biologists would level at Spandrels—that colorful language can mislead as well as inform.So if Gould's reading of Nabokov's scientific achievement was predicated on the opinions of Nabokov's colleagues, who didn't care for elaborate prose in their scientific journals, well, I think that's what my English teachers called irony.


Gould, S., & Lewontin, R. (1979). The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: A critique of the adaptationist programme. Proc. Royal Soc. B, 205 (1161), 581-98 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1979.0086

Queller, D. (1995). The spaniels of St. Marx and the Panglossian paradox: A critique of a rhetorical programme. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 70 (4), 485-9 DOI: 10.1086/419174

Vila, R., Bell, C., Macniven, R., Goldman-Huertas, B., Ree, R., Marshall, C., Balint, Z., Johnson, K., Benyamini, D., & Pierce, N. (2011). Phylogeny and palaeoecology of Polyommatus blue butterflies show Beringia was a climate-regulated gateway to the New World. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2213... Read more »

  • January 30, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

Catch Some Zzz’s to Lose Some Pounds

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

The average length of a night of sleep for an adult in the United States has decreased by 2 hours in the last 50 years. Increasing evidence reports the damaging effects of sleep deprivation and restriction on hormone release, cardiovascular function, and glucose regulation. Now, in fact, evidence shows that sleep loss undermines dietary efforts [...]... Read more »

Copinschi G. (2005) Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essential psychopharmacology, 6(6), 341-7. PMID: 16459757  

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Kasza K, Schoeller DA, & Penev PD. (2009) Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 89(1), 126-33. PMID: 19056602  

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  

Van Cauter E, Spiegel K, Tasali E, & Leproult R. (2008) Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep medicine. PMID: 18929315  

  • January 30, 2011
  • 04:00 AM

Paleolithic Diet More Satisfying Than Mediterranean-Style

by Steve Parker, M.D. in Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Swedish researchers reported recently that a Paleolithic diet was more satiating than a Mediterranean-style diet, when compared on a calorie-for-calorie basis in heart patients.  Both groups of study subjects reported equal degrees of satiety, but the paleo dieters ended up eating 24% fewer calories over the 12-week study.
The main differences in the diets were that [...]... Read more »

  • January 30, 2011
  • 12:57 AM

Egypt Week – Spiteful versus Altruistic Punishment

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, welcome to the first Egypt Week edition of Lost in Transcription. We're going to kick it off with an anthropology paper that uses a cross-cultural approach to study the origins of human punishment and cooperation.

If you're not familiar with this vein of research, let me set the stage for you. The "problem" of cooperation when people talk about it in anthropology, biology, and economics is this. If you take a super naive view of natural selection, it would say that we should have evolved to ruthlessly pursue our own self interest. In particular, if we have an opportunity to cheat and get away with it, the logic of self interest suggests that we should. From this perspective, the whole idea of successfully engaging in collective action seems absurd.

Contrary to this naive expectation, we observe that people do forego opportunities to pursue their own narrow self interest, and the history of civilization is one of successful collective action on an enormous scale.
Read more »

... Read more »

Marlowe, F., Berbesque, J., Barrett, C., Bolyanatz, A., Gurven, M., & Tracer, D. (2010) The 'spiteful' origins of human cooperation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2342  

  • January 29, 2011
  • 09:00 PM

NOW That's What I Call Research, Volume 348: Perception of Musical Expression

by Luc Duval in The Pedagogic Verses

New, laudable research tries to answer, "To what extent do variations in timing and amplitude affect the perception of a performance?" I analyze it for you.... Read more »

Bhatara A, Tirovolas AK, Duan LM, Levy B, & Levitin DJ. (2011) Perception of emotional expression in musical performance. Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance. PMID: 21261418  

  • January 29, 2011
  • 08:44 PM

Radioactive decay of teaspoons in the workplace

by Captain Skellett in A Schooner of Science

Have you ever noticed a mysterious loss of teaspoons at your workplace? Maybe it’s not teaspoons, but some other cutlery item. At my old work it was forks, which dwindled even when I bought new replacement ones. At the Australian National University neither spoon nor fork were safe, causing some students to eat salad with [...]... Read more »

  • January 29, 2011
  • 04:03 PM

What, if anything, is a beaver?

by helikonios in The view from Helicon

The title of this post is a reference to this paper (only the first page is available for free, but only the first two paragraphs are relevent) and to a Stephen Jay Gould essay. Both address the question of whether the group of animals corresponding to a colloquial name is actually an evolutionary entity, a [...]... Read more »

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