Biologists discovered that bacteria–often viewed as lowly, solitary creatures–are actually quite sophisticated in their social interactions and communicate with one another through similar electrical signaling mechanisms as neurons in the human brain. In the study, scientists detail the manner by which bacteria living in communities communicate with one another electrically through proteins called “ion channels.”... Read more »
Prindle, A., Liu, J., Asally, M., Ly, S., Garcia-Ojalvo, J., & Süel, G. (2015) Ion channels enable electrical communication in bacterial communities. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature15709
Dealing what they say is a “mortal blow” to the interpretation of some creationists, a team of archaeologists has concluded that a panel of rock art in Utah portrays all manner of fantastic figures, but it does not, in fact, depict a pterosaur.
... Read more »
If you could meet yourself, would you always agree with yourself?
You might hope so. But according to a new study, many people will reject their own arguments - if they're tricked into thinking that other people proposed them.
The paper, published in Cognitive Science, is called The Selective Laziness of Reasoning and it's from cognitive scientists Emmanuel Trouche and colleagues. By "selective laziness", Trouche et al. are referring to our tendency to only bother scrutinizing arg... Read more »
Neuroscientists have mapped how the human brain experiences gratitude with help from an unexpected resource: Holocaust survivors’ testimonies. “In the midst of this awful tragedy, there were many acts of bravery and life-saving aid,” said lead author Glenn Fox, a post-doctoral researcher at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC who led the study. “With […]... Read more »
Babies born prematurely face an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric problems that may be due to weakened connections in brain networks linked to attention, communication and the processing of emotions, new research shows. Studying brain scans from premature and full-term babies, researchers zeroed in on differences in the brain that may underlie such problems.... Read more »
Rogers C, Herzmann C, Smyser T, Shimony J, Ackerman j, Neil J, & Smyser C. (2015) Impact of preterm birth on structural and functional connectivity in neonates. Society for Neuroscience Annual meeting. info:other/Link
A new study suggests that receiving rewards as you learn can help cement new facts and skills in your memory, particularly when combined with a daytime nap. The findings from the University of Geneva reveal that memories associated with a reward are preferentially reinforced by sleep. Even a short nap after a period of learning is beneficial.... Read more »
Igloi, K., Gaggioni, G., Sterpenich, V., & Schwartz, S. (2015) A nap to recap or how reward regulates hippocampal-prefrontal memory networks during daytime sleep in humans. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.07903
It's tempting to believe that people these days aren't getting enough sleep, living as we do in our well-lit houses with TVs blaring, cell phones buzzing, and a well-used coffee maker in every kitchen. But new evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 15 shows that three ancient groups of hunter-gatherers--living in different parts of the world without any of those trappings of modern life--don't get any more sleep than we do.... Read more »
Yetish et al. (2015) Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-industrial Societies. Current Biology. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.046
Why some people live much longer than others is an enduring mystery. Now, based on a study of a worm, scientists are getting one step closer to understanding longevity. They report that the metabolic profiles of the worms could accurately predict how long they would live and that middle age could be a key turning point.... Read more »
Sarah K. Davies, Jacob G. Bundy, & Armand M. Leroi. (2015) Metabolic Youth in Middle Age: Predicting Aging in Caenorhabditis elegans Using Metabolomics. Journal of proteome research. info:/10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00442
It's bad enough for the first kid when a new baby shows up to steal your thunder. But the injustice is compounded when you have to start wearing glasses while your little sibling stays as cute and non-four-eyed as ever. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone: firstborn kids are more likely to be nearsighted. Part of the reason might be that they get more education.
A study in the United Kingdom and Israel found that myopia—that's nearsightedness, if you're one of those lucky people w........ Read more »
Guggenheim JA, Williams C, & UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium. (2015) Role of Educational Exposure in the Association Between Myopia and Birth Order. JAMA ophthalmology, 1-7. PMID: 26448589
"It's empathy that makes us help other people. It's empathy that makes us moral." The economist Paul Zak casually makes this comment in his widely watched TED talk about the hormone oxytocin, which he dubs the "moral molecule". Zak quotes a number of behavioral studies to support his claim that oxytocin increases empathy and trust, which in turn increases moral behavior. If all humans regularly inhaled a few puffs of oxytocin through a nasal spray, we could become m........ Read more »
De Dreu, C., Greer, L., Van Kleef, G., Shalvi, S., & Handgraaf, M. (2011) Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(4), 1262-1266. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015316108
Xu X, Zuo X, Wang X, & Han S. (2009) Do you feel my pain? Racial group membership modulates empathic neural responses. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(26), 8525-9. PMID: 19571143
Using advanced brain imaging, researchers have matched certain behavioral symptoms of schizophrenia to features of the brain’s anatomy. The findings, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, could be a step toward improving diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia.... Read more »
Arnedo, J., Mamah, D., Baranger, D., Harms, M., Barch, D., Svrakic, D., de Erausquin, G., Cloninger, C., & Zwir, I. (2015) Decomposition of brain diffusion imaging data uncovers latent schizophrenias with distinct patterns of white matter anisotropy. NeuroImage, 43-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.06.083
Who benefits more from family policies: single-parent families or two-parent families? Laurie C. Maldonado and I answer this question with respect to poverty reduction, in a new publication in Community, Work & Family. We presented this at the 2014 Work and Family Researchers Network (in New York), and our paper was the runner up to the best junior scholar paper award.... Read more »
Maldonado, L., & Nieuwenhuis, R. (2015) Family policies and single parent poverty in 18 OECD countries, 1978–2008. Community, Work , 18(4), 395-415. DOI: 10.1080/13668803.2015.1080661
An estimated seven to ten million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), which is an incurable and progressive disease of the nervous system affecting movement and cognitive function. More than half of PD patients develop progressive disease showing signs of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s disease.... Read more »
Ejlerskov, P., Hultberg, J., Wang, J., Carlsson, R., Ambjørn, M., Kuss, M., Liu, Y., Porcu, G., Kolkova, K., Friis Rundsten, C.... (2015) Lack of Neuronal IFN-β-IFNAR Causes Lewy Body- and Parkinson’s Disease-like Dementia. Cell, 163(2), 324-339. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.069
In 2009, Google made available Google Books (also known as the Ngram corpus), a database that now includes over 8 million books from libraries around the world. The books comprise a collection of words (over 500 billion English words) and phrases and this dataset is freely available for research use. The Books corpus allows researchers to examine changes in the frequency of word use in books over time, dating back to 1800.
This has led a lot of striking findings. So for instance, it has b... Read more »
Pechenick EA, Danforth CM, & Dodds PS. (2015) Characterizing the Google Books Corpus: Strong Limits to Inferences of Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Evolution. PloS one, 10(10). PMID: 26445406
A thought-provoking new paper from Oxford neuroscientists Stephen Smith and colleagues reports a correlation between a certain pattern of brain activity and, well, a great many things.
The researchers took 461 resting state fMRI scans from the open Human Connectome Project (HCP) database. Associated with each scan is a set of 'meta-data' about the volunteer who had the scan. These 158 variables (listed here) cover everything from age and gender, to mental health status, income, and 'times use... Read more »
Smith SM, Nichols TE, Vidaurre D, Winkler AM, Behrens TE, Glasser MF, Ugurbil K, Barch DM, Van Essen DC, & Miller KL. (2015) A positive-negative mode of population covariation links brain connectivity, demographics and behavior. Nature Neuroscience. PMID: 26414616
Hormonal treatments administered as part of the procedures for sex reassignment have well-known and well-documented effects on the secondary sexual characteristics of the adult body, shifting a recipient’s physical appearance to that of the opposite sex. New research indicates that these hormonal treatments also alter brain chemistry.... Read more »
Kranz, G., Wadsak, W., Kaufmann, U., Savli, M., Baldinger, P., Gryglewski, G., Haeusler, D., Spies, M., Mitterhauser, M., Kasper, S.... (2015) High-Dose Testosterone Treatment Increases Serotonin Transporter Binding in Transgender People. Biological Psychiatry, 78(8), 525-533. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.09.010
It is now well-established that social class is positively related to mental health. However, researchers remain unclear about the specific processes that underlie the relation between social class and depression. In some recent research, we investigated the potential roles of parenting style and friendship in explaining the relationship between social class and mental health.... Read more »
Rubin, M., & Kelly, B. (2015) A cross-sectional investigation of parenting style and friendship as mediators of the relation between social class and mental health in a university community. International Journal for Equity in Health, 14(1), 1-11. DOI: 10.1186/s12939-015-0227-2
Parents who are more anxious and emotional can impact the amount of violent video games their children play, according to new consumer research from Iowa State University. Russell Laczniak, a professor of marketing and the John and Connie Stafford Professor in Business, says given the harmful effects of violent video games, he and his colleagues wanted to better understand how parents influence children’s behavior.... Read more »
Walker, D., Laczniak, R., Carlson, L., & Brocato, E. (2015) Parenting Orientations as Antecedents of Children's Violent Videogame Play. Journal of Consumer Affairs. DOI: 10.1111/joca.12096
Many years ago I worked a couple of seasons as a porter on the now-defunct hovercraft service across the English Channel. One of the old hands used to tell me regularly that “what you lose on the swings, you make up on the roundabouts” – a phrase that’s stuck with me ever since. What he [Read More...]... Read more »
Stroebe, K., Postmes, T., Täuber, S., Stegeman, A., & John, M. (2015) Belief in a Just What? Demystifying Just World Beliefs by Distinguishing Sources of Justice. PLOS ONE, 10(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120145
Some of the most striking images from the refugees who have been trekking across Europe are of families and children. Beyond the immediate perils of their journeys, migration inevitably changes families. As children are usually much quicker to learn new … Continue reading →... Read more »
Bauer, E. (2013) Reconstructing Moral Identities in Memories of Childhood Language Brokering Experiences. International Migration, 51(5), 205-218. DOI: 10.1111/imig.12030
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