Post List

  • September 2, 2010
  • 05:58 AM

Going under and coming to

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

PLoS One has a paper, A Conserved Behavioral State Barrier Impedes Transitions between Anesthetic-Induced Unconsciousness and Wakefulness: Evidence for Neural Inertia, by Friedman and others here.
The abstract:
One major unanswered question in neuroscience is how the brain transitions between conscious and unconscious states. General anesthetics offer a controllable means to study these [...]... Read more »

  • September 2, 2010
  • 05:30 AM

The consequences of accepting rape myths

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Oppression through acceptance? predicting rape myth acceptance and attitudes toward rape victims From Violence Against Women Rape myths such as ‘only bad women get raped’ and ‘women ask for it’ serve to blame the victim and exonerate the rapist. As reported rapes in the United States increased at unprecedented rates in the late 1960s and [...]... Read more »

  • September 2, 2010
  • 01:56 AM

Queen of the Hormones and the Challenge Hypothesis

by Michael Gutbrod in A Scientific Nature

Just imagine dozens of hormonally driven females all fighting to be the queen. Sounds sexy, right? Those of us males who enjoy the occasional ovary-charged confrontation (I believe the proper term is cat-fight), might want to head out to the backyard and hunt for a wasp’s nest (and if you are still in fantasy land [...]... Read more »

  • September 1, 2010
  • 09:00 PM

Amazingly Awesome, Circadian Innovation: The Hair Follicle

by Allison in Dormivigilia

Japanese researchers have brainstormed an innovative and noninvasive technique for measuring clock gene expression in living humans and how such expression is modified by lifestyle changes....the hair follicle!!!... Read more »

Akashi M, Soma H, Yamamoto T, Tsugitomi A, Yamashita S, Yamamoto T, Nishida E, Yasuda A, Liao JK, & Node K. (2010) Noninvasive method for assessing the human circadian clock using hair follicle cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20798039  

  • September 1, 2010
  • 08:59 PM

When Bipolar Patients Abuse Drugs – The Dual Diagnosis Dilemma

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Most people familiar with public health issues are aware of the challenges posed by “dual diagnosis” patients — those with both a psychiatric diagnosis and a substance abuse diagnosis. But the special case of addicted bipolar disorder patients is particularly problematic. Writing in the August issue of Current Psychiatry, Bryan K. Tolliver lists the severe [...]... Read more »

Cassidy F, Ahearn EP, & Carroll BJ. (2001) Substance abuse in bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorders, 3(4), 181-8. PMID: 11552957  

  • September 1, 2010
  • 08:41 PM

New land for agriculture coming mainly at the expense of tropical ecosystems

by Phil Camill in Global Change: Intersection of Nature and Culture

There have traditionally been two ways to produce more food for an increasing population:  Convert native ecosystems like forests and grasslands into agricultural fields (what we call “extensification”) or make the yields on existing croplands go up, through the use of things like machinery, fertilizers, irrigation, pesticides, and GMOs (what we call “intensification”).
Historically, these processes [...]... Read more »

H. K. Gibbs, A. S. Ruesch, F. Achard, M. K. Clayton, P. Holmgrene, N. Ramankutty, and J. A. Foley. (2010) Tropical forests were the primary sources of new agricultural land in the 1980s and 1990s. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/

  • September 1, 2010
  • 06:28 PM

HapMap 3: more people ~ more genetic variation

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Across the ~3 billion or so base pairs in the human genome there’s a fair amount of variation. That variation can be partitioned into different classes, somewhat artificial constructions of human categorization systems, but nevertheless mapping on to real demographic or life history events of particular importance. Some of the variation is specific to populations, [...]... Read more »

The International HapMap 3 Consortium. (2010) Integrating common and rare genetic variation in diverse human populations. Nature. info:/10.1038/nature09298

  • September 1, 2010
  • 03:17 PM

Self-Righteousness and Kink: Perfect Together?

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

Props to my colleague Lindsay Beyerstein for this great catch yesterday: Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle's campaign received a donation from someone who listed her employer as "husband" and her occupation as "slave." Maybe it's just a joke (boring). Or maybe this couple is in one of those Christian "submitted wife" relationships (unlikely, given that "slave" isn't the sort of rhetoric that culture promotes). But maybe this is an "out" dominant/submissive couple. That shouldn't be a surprise, if so. Contrary to stereotypes, there's good evidence that conservatives worldwide are more likely than liberals to have non-vanilla sex lives.
Obviously I'm not talking about high-profile Republican kink, like the $2000 the party spent at a bondage-themed strip club or the curious habits of some of its senators. We're looking at the rank and file. In this online survey, for instance, 81 percent of Republican respondents reported that they'd used blindfolds, handcuffs or other restraints during sex. Democrats came in at 77 percent on that one. Almost half the Republicans said they had filmed themselves during sex, compared to 38 percent of the Democrats.
Of course, the sample here was biased (it consisted of visitors to the website of Good Vibrations, the sex-toy store). A statistically sounder indicator is Benjamin Edelman's finding that in the United States, "red" states have the highest rates of subscription to online porn. You can read the paper, "Red Light States," in pdf form, here. Similarly, as P.Z. Myers showed last month, for Google searches of kinky pornographic terms ("horse sex," "rape video" and the like), the leading nations are officially cultural conservatives: Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Are these data signs of the allure of the forbidden? Maybe. Perhaps, though, they reflect what Chen-Bo Zhong and Katie Liljenquist call the "Macbeth effect," after Lady Macbeth's attempt to wash away her sins by scrubbing her hands. Some years ago, Zhong and Liljenquist found that people who'd been prompted to think about a past ethical lapse were more eager to wash their hands then were people who had been reminded of some virtuous act they'd done. The washing ritual had an effect on their behavior: Asked to give time for no pay to a desperate grad student's project, three-quarters of those who had not washed did volunteer. Of those who did wash, only 41 percent stepped forward to help.
Similarly, Simone Schnall and her colleagues have found that letting people wash has an effect on how they feel about using a kitten to get off sexually, taking money from a lost wallet, or other ethically dubious acts. Cleaning up, which makes people feel purer physically as well as morally, left them more accepting of the kitten-sex idea than were people who, not having washed, felt themselves to be a little dirtier.
We tend to think that a self-righteous sense of your own virtue makes you less accepting of "sin," however it's defined by your community. (Important caveat there: I'm not passing judgment on dom/sub couples or Pakistani "donkey sex" searches; rather, I'm focussing on the gap between ideology in the public square and whatever is whimpering, meowing or purring contentedly in one's private life). But maybe our expectations get it exactly backwards. Perhaps believing yourself to be the holiest, purest, most righteous and civic-minded paragon in the neighborhood is just the sort of mindset that makes a search for "camel sex," or "sub lifestyle," feel like no big deal.
Benjamin Edelman (2009). Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23 (1) DOI: 10.1257/jep.23.1.209
Zhong CB, & Liljenquist K (2006). Washing away your sins: threatened morality and physical cleansing. Science (New York, N.Y.), 313 (5792), 1451-2 PMID: 16960010
Schnall S, Benton J, & Harvey S (2008). With a clean conscience: cleanliness reduces the severity of moral judgments. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 19 (12), 1219-22 PMID: 19121126
... Read more »

Schnall S, Benton J, & Harvey S. (2008) With a clean conscience: cleanliness reduces the severity of moral judgments. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 19(12), 1219-22. PMID: 19121126  

  • September 1, 2010
  • 02:32 PM

Blood Flow and Fahraeus Effect

by Arunn in nOnoScience (a.k.a. Unruled Notebook)

... Read more »

  • September 1, 2010
  • 02:27 PM

LKB1 is a master kinase in cancer

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

"LKB1 is a master kinase" What a great subheader in a paper last year by Reuben Shaw (journal link below). Liver kinase B1 (LKB1) first got my attention at the AACR lung cancer meeting in San Diego earlier this year,...... Read more »

  • September 1, 2010
  • 02:13 PM

The Stress Symphony a Prelude to Neurogensis et Stress

by neurobites in Neurobites

Hi there! Been a long time eh? Not sure what happened there, but I blame Harry. Somehow, somewhere he was involved. So let’s just jump right into it Stress. Your reason for not calling your mother, a graduate student’s excuse for overeating, not sleeping, forgetting to hand in an abstract, walking into walls and lying [...]... Read more »

Bruce S. McEwen. (2007) Physiology and Neurobiology of Stress and Adaptation: Central Role of the Brain. Physiological Reviews, 873-904. info:/

  • September 1, 2010
  • 02:04 PM

Prairie Dogs: Small Creatures, Big Vocabulary

by Kari Kenefick in Promega Connections

It is summer, July already! Vacation time for kids and the people that love them. Though many years past, I recall fondly one of our first family trips to the Black Hills of South Dakota. While en route, we stopped in the Badlands National Park. Though the Badlands might appear a barren, treeless desert (and [...]... Read more »

Slobodchikoff CN, Paseka A, & Verdolin JL. (2009) Prairie dog alarm calls encode labels about predator colors. Animal cognition, 12(3), 435-9. PMID: 19116730  

  • September 1, 2010
  • 01:33 PM

Eat ‘til you can’t eat no more: Evolution of the pig-out

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Eating food is a wonderful activity. Without it, you’d die.

But have you ever gone overboard? Got to the end of a meal and thought:

“I ate too much.”

In the natural world, we’re so used to thinking of food as scarce for animals that we don’t often think about issues associated with animals that eat and eat and eat until they do not eat any more. It probably is fairly hard to hit that satiation point for many species.

On the other hand, some species are well known for infrequent but huge meals. They have to eat as much as they can when they can, because their food source is unpredictable. But how do you get to the ability to eat those large meals? We know the “I ate too much” sensation can be uncomfortable, but could it be costly in evolutionary terms?

Pruitt and Krauel decided to look at these issues of gorging in wolf spiders (Schizocosa ocreata). They collected many young female spiders in Tennessee, and reared them in the lab. To test how much the females could eat in one go, they fed them crickets.

A lot of crickets.

After the spiders were not taking any more crickets, they measured the just how much mass the females had taken on in all that feeding. The females varied quite a bit in how much food they could take on, and there is a clear advantage to doing so: their eggs developed faster and they had more of them.

As I alluded to before, Pruitt and Krauel mated their females. They took the offspring and measure how gluttonous they were compared to their mother, and it turns out that the winners of the eating contest tended to have daughters who could also wolf down a lot of food, too. Eating large meals is heritable.

Now we get to the coolest part.

The researcher took those spiders into the wild, and let them loose.

But they didn’t just turn them loose because the experiment was done, oh no. They let them out in to locations in the Tennessee forest. One was covered with nets so that birds – likely the major predators of these spiders – were unlikely to be able to get in.

All their released spiders were marked so they could be identified. Every day for two weeks, they tried to recapture the spiders they released.

When it was all over, they estimated that their eating champions were more likely to survive and have reproductive success but only in environments where the predators had been excluded. In the more naturalistic settings, where birds were free to zip down and conduct their own experiments in how much birds can eat, the heavy eaters suffered: they more likely to have been picked out of the population.

And the moral of the story is: Life is all about trade-offs. Sure, you can take in a lot of energy in one go... that will make you so slow that you can escape when you need to.

Swings and roundabouts, as they say.


Pruitt JN, & Krauel JJ. 2010. The adaptive value of gluttony: predators mediate the life history
trade-offs of satiation threshold Journal of Evolutionary Biology DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02070.x

Top photo by robstephaustralia on Flickr; bottom photo by dishevld on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.... Read more »

  • September 1, 2010
  • 01:20 PM

The Volokh, the slashdot and the NYT effects

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

Back in 2007, Paul Ohm, a law professor in the University of Colorado law school, guest-blogged in a popular law blog called The Volokh Conspiracy. He guest-blogged for one week about two of his papers: "The Analog Hole and the Price of Music: An Empirical Study" and "The Myth of the Superuser: Fear, Risk, and Harm Online." Being more computer-savvy than the average law professor (he has a B.Sc. in Computer Science) he wrote a script which checked the number of abstract views and downloads of his papers from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Both have gone up. Then his posts were linked to by Slashdot, and the numbers went up even more (graph taken from Professor Ohm's paper). Currently, "Superuser" has been downloaded 1,434 times and its abstract viewed 8,859 times. The "Analog" paper has been downloaded 412 times and its abstract viewed 2,942 times. According to Google Scholar, "Superuser" has been cited 29 times and "Analog" only five, so there is a certain correlation (which I admit I didn't calculate) between downloads and views in SSRN and citations (assuming GS' citation count is more-or-less accurate. Do that as your own risk). But that's not the entire story. Looking through Ohm's other papers, I've noticed that this paper: "Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization" has been downloaded 5,827 times and its abstract viewed 22,528 times, even though it was only published last year. A quick Google search brought up the possible reason: the paper has been mentioned in a New York Times blog, as well as in this site. It has also been cited at least 4 times (GS is a bit confusing because it presents two entries for this paper).Naturally, there are many more variants at work here (for example, the subject of the paper) but I think this is a demonstration of the power of central, as opposed to niche blogs and sites. Paul Ohm (2007). Do Blogs Influence SSRN Downloads? Empirically Testing the Volokh and Slashdot Effects U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper ... Read more »

Paul Ohm. (2007) Do Blogs Influence SSRN Downloads? Empirically Testing the Volokh and Slashdot Effects. U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper . info:other/

  • September 1, 2010
  • 01:20 PM

This (Long) Week in the Universe: August 24th – September 1st

by S.C. Kavassalis in The Language of Bad Physics

What have people been talking about this week in high energy physics, astrophysics, gravitation, general relativity and quantum gravity?... Read more »

Lisa J. Kewley, David Rupke, H. Jabran Zahid, Margaret J. Geller, & Elizabeth J. Barton. (2010) Metallicity Gradients and Gas Flows in Galaxy Pairs. arXiv. DOI: 1008.2204  

Mikhail Gorchtein, Stefano Profumo, & Lorenzo Ubaldi. (2010) Probing Dark Matter with AGN Jets. arXiv. arXiv: 1008.2230v1

J. K. Webb, J. A. King, M. T. Murphy, V. V. Flambaum, R. F. Carswell, & M. B. Bainbridge. (2010) Evidence for spatial variation of the fine structure constant. arXiv. arXiv: 1008.3907v1

Harold V. Parks, & James E. Faller. (2010) A Simple Pendulum Determination of the Gravitational Constant. Phys. Rev. Let. arXiv: 1008.3203v2

L. Borsten, D. Dahanayake, M. J. Duff, A. Marrani, & W. Rubens. (2010) Four-qubit entanglement from string theory. Physical Review Letters. arXiv: 1005.4915v2

  • September 1, 2010
  • 01:03 PM

The thing with graphene transistors

by Joerg Heber in All That Matters

Graphene is one of the hottest research areas in nanotechnology, and it may seem slightly surprising it took me a month to write my first blog post on the topic. That moment has now come, with the advance publication of a Nature paper that presents highly attractive graphene transistor, even though in my humble opinion [...]... Read more »

Liao, L., Lin, Y.-C., Bao, M., Cheng, R., Bai, J., Liu, Y., Qu, Y., Wang, K. L., Huang, Y., & Duan, X. (2010) High-speed graphene transistors with a self-aligned nanowire gate. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature09405  

  • September 1, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

The "Bad" Language of Physics

by S.C. Kavassalis in The Language of Bad Physics

One of the things I sometimes find myself writing about is the “bad” language used by physicists. Sometimes we say Riemannian when we really should say psuedo-Riemannian, sometimes we call something a metric when it really is a line element – the kind of nitpicky pet-peeves that practically everyone has about literature in their field. Today, I’m going to be talking about the bad language in physics in a totally different context however.... Read more »

Regge, T. (1961) General relativity without coordinates. Il Nuovo Cimento, 19(3), 558-571. DOI: 10.1007/BF02733251  

Galassi, M. (1993) Lapse and shift in Regge calculus. Physical Review D, 47(8), 3254-3264. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.47.3254  

Kheyfets A, LaFave NJ, & Miller WA. (1990) Null-strut calculus. II. Dynamics. Physical review D: Particles and fields, 41(12), 3637-3651. PMID: 10012308  

ALPER ÜNGÖR, & ALLA SHEFFER. (2002) PITCHING TENTS IN SPACE-TIME: MESH GENERATION FOR DISCONTINUOUS GALERKIN METHOD. International Journal of Foundations of Computer Science , 13(2). info:/10.1142/S0129054102001059

  • September 1, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

What Hurts Fitness More: 30 Years of Aging or 3 Weeks of Bed Rest?

by Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP in Obesity Panacea

I recently came across a very interesting study published in Circulation in 2001. In it, authors Darren McGuire and colleagues perform the 30-year follow-up on a group of 5 men who had taken part in the Dallas Bed Rest and Training Study (DBRTS). The DBRTS took place in 1966, when all 5 men were healthy 20 year-olds. They were assessed extensively at 3 different time points: baseline, following 3 months of bed rest, and following 8 weeks of physical training. In 1996 these same 5 men were assessed for a fourth time, allowing the researchers to compare the influence of 3 weeks of bed rest and 30 years of aging on markers of fitness.... Read more »

  • September 1, 2010
  • 12:42 PM


by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Nobody’s against cleaner, greener neighborhoods. But some social scientists have worried that cleaning up could end up clearing out the poor residents who often live around polluted sites. Now, a study from Portland, Oregon looks for a link between gentrification and environmental clean-up.
Researchers have long documented the impact of LULUs — “locally undesirable land […] Read More »... Read more »

  • September 1, 2010
  • 11:35 AM

Towards a new political economy of pensions? The implications for women

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

From Critical Social Policy Over recent years there has been concern about the future sustainability of UK pensions mainly linked with the increase in life expectancy of the general population. The government and pensions industry face the difficult challenge of satisfying two potentially contrasting demands: to ensure that government pension spending remains stable and also [...]... Read more »

Liam Foster. (2010) Towards a new political economy of pensions? The implications for women. Critical Social Policy, 30(1), 27-47. info:/10.1177/0261018309350807

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