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  • March 27, 2015
  • 06:22 PM
  • 9 views

What’s gnawing on Jane Austen’s hair?

by Megan Cartwright in Science-Based Writing

The years hadn’t been kind to the lonely lock of Jane Austen’s hair on display in a Hampshire museum. Light had bleached it to a straw color; only the shadowed underside remained its original brown. A few tiny flakes of … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 27, 2015
  • 12:42 PM
  • 10 views

Researchers find how body’s good fat talks to the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There are two types of fat we humans have — white and brown — unfortunately only one of them is “good fat” and it is unfortunately not the one we tend to produce. Well new research shows that brown fat tissue, the body’s “good fat,” communicates with the brain through sensory nerves, possibly sharing information that is important for fighting human obesity, such as how much fat we have and how much fat we’ve lost.... Read more »

  • March 27, 2015
  • 12:19 PM
  • 10 views

Research on medical abortion/miscarriage may change international routines

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Two scientific studies are expected to form the basis of new international recommendations for the treatment of medical abortions and miscarriages. One of the studies shows that it is possible to replace the clinical follow-up examinations recommended today with medical abortions that include a home pregnancy test. The other study shows that midwives can safely and effectively treat failed abortions and miscarriages in rural districts of Uganda.... Read more »

  • March 27, 2015
  • 12:16 PM
  • 13 views

The genetics of musical talent: an interview with Irma Järvelä

by Isabel Torres in Science in the clouds

Would Mozart have become a great composer had his family not encouraged his musical career? Irma Järvelä is a clinical geneticist at the University of Helsinki, Finland, who investigates the molecular genetics of musical traits. After devoting 25 years of her career to the identification of genes and mutations involved in human diseases, she now works in close collaboration with bioinformaticians and music educators to study the influence of genes and the cultural environment in music percepti........ Read more »

Kanduri Chakravarthi, Minna Ahvenainen, Anju K. Philips, Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti, Harri Lähdesmäki, & Irma Järvelä. (2015) The effect of listening to music on human transcriptome. PeerJ. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.830  

Kanduri Chakravarthi, Minna Ahvenainen, Anju K. Philips, Harri Lähdesmäki, & Irma Järvelä. (2015) The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians. Scientific Reports, 9506. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep09506  

  • March 27, 2015
  • 11:39 AM
  • 12 views

Music played by professionals activates genes for learning and memory

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from Tapiola Sinfonietta (a professional orchestra) and Sibelius-Academy (a music university).... Read more »

Kanduri, C., Kuusi, T., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A., Lähdesmäki, H., & Järvelä, I. (2015) The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians. Scientific Reports, 9506. DOI: 10.1038/srep09506  

  • March 27, 2015
  • 09:22 AM
  • 8 views

Understanding Images: Golden Retrievers Contribute to Cancer Research

by Guest Contributor in PLOS Biologue

This continues our series of blog posts from PLOS Genetics about our monthly issue images. Author Kerstin Lindblad-Toh discusses February’s issue image from Tonomura et al Author: Kerstin Lindblad-TOH, Professor Uppsala University, Co-Director SciLifeLab Sweden and Director of Vertebrate Genome Biology, … Continue reading »... Read more »

Tonomura, N., Elvers, I., Thomas, R., Megquier, K., Turner-Maier, J., Howald, C., Sarver, A., Swofford, R., Frantz, A., Ito, D.... (2015) Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Shared Risk Loci Common to Two Malignancies in Golden Retrievers. PLOS Genetics, 11(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004922  

  • March 27, 2015
  • 09:06 AM
  • 9 views

The ABCs of Alphabet-Magnet Synesthesia

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Is it cool or existentially disturbing to think that your personal brain quirks might come from the toys you played with as a toddler?

In a study published earlier this month, psychologists asked 6,588 American synesthetes what colors they associate with each letter of the alphabet. Then they compared these associations to a certain vintage set of Fisher-Price alphabet magnets. They found that at least 6% of their synesthetes had improbably close matches to the colors of the magnets.

T... Read more »

  • March 27, 2015
  • 06:02 AM
  • 19 views

Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "acute inflammation can lead to decreases in the ability to accurately and reliably comprehend emotional information from others."It comes from the article published by Mona Moieni and colleagues [1] who examined a concept familiar to many people with a connection to autism either personally or professionally: Theory of Mind (ToM). Rather interestingly, Moieni et al "examined whether exposure to an experimental inflammatory challenge led to changes in ToM." Inflammato........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 02:42 PM
  • 22 views

March 26, 2015

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

The actin cytoskeleton at the leading edge of a crawling cell has been a source of both scientific fascination and stunning images for biologists. Today’s image is from a paper that sheds light on how that complex structure is generated. The outermost region of a crawling cell’s cortex is called the lamellipodium, and it depends on a complex actin cytoskeleton for its structure and rapid dynamics. The generation of branched actin filaments at lamellipodia requires the activity of the ........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 02:20 PM
  • 39 views

High-fat diet causes brain inflammation and alters behavior

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

We hear in the media all the time, obesity is effecting our health. In most cases when we talk obesity we are talking about heart disease, sedentary activity, or chronic overeating. But what if a high-fat diet — regardless of obesity — has more than just an affect on your waistline? What if the consumption of fatty foods can change your behavior and your brain?... Read more »

Bruce-Keller, A., Salbaum, J., Luo, M., Blanchard, E., Taylor, C., Welsh, D., & Berthoud, H. (2015) Obese-type Gut Microbiota Induce Neurobehavioral Changes in the Absence of Obesity. Biological Psychiatry, 77(7), 607-615. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.07.012  

  • March 26, 2015
  • 09:41 AM
  • 26 views

What’s the Answer? (alignment editors)

by Mary in OpenHelix

This week’s highlighted question is from the Bioinformatics discussion area at Reddit. There are a range of topics discussed in that subreddit, and some of the tool-specific ones are very helpful in learning about new software. What are some of the best multiple alignment editors that allow for manual editing? Cross-platform/open-source would be preferred. –AtlasAnimated […]... Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 08:54 AM
  • 31 views

Angelina Jolie’s Preemptive Strike Against Cancer

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Actress Angelina Jolie has parts of her body surgically removed in an effort to avoid cancer. Brave or crazy?
... Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 07:50 AM
  • 39 views

Watching a paradigm shift in neuroscience

by Björn Brembs in bjoern.brembs.blog

When I finished my PhD 15 years ago, the neurosciences defined the main function of brains in terms of processing input to compute output: “brain function is ultimately best understood in terms of input/output transformations and how they are produced” […] ↓ Read the rest of this entry...... Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 07:39 AM
  • 34 views

Autism increases risk of nonaffective psychotic disorder and bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Published at the same time and in the same journal as the 'MoBa does bowel issues in autism' paper from Bresnahan and colleagues [1], the study results from Jean-Paul Selten et al [2] reporting that "A diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] is associated with a substantially increased risk for NAPD [nonaffective psychotic disorder] and BD [bipolar disorder]" has, at the time of writing this post, received little or no press attention in comparison despite ........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 07:00 AM
  • 36 views

http://www.united-academics.org/magazine/health-medicine/coffees-dirty-secret-like-carcinogens-with-that/

by Elisabeth Buhl Thubron in United Academics

Furans are coffee’s dirty little secret. Although we can thank them for the pleasant aroma and delicious flavour of freshly brewed coffee, furans have been labelled as a possible human carcinogen (cause of cancer) in disguise by food safety agencies. How many are in there
depends on how you like your cup of Joe.... Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 12:38 AM
  • 53 views

The Smell of Stress and Fear

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Can we recognize if people around us are stressed, anxious or fearful without observing their facial expressions, body language and actions or hearing their voice and messages? Can we understand if we are stressed ourselves without assessing our heart rate, blood pressure, noticing dry throat, sweating, drops or surges in energy? Yes, we can - by using our nose - as humans, too, recognize and transmit their emotions through chemical senses.When we are stressed or panic we become more sensit........ Read more »

Haegler, K., Zernecke, R., Kleemann, A., Albrecht, J., Pollatos, O., Brückmann, H., & Wiesmann, M. (2010) No fear no risk! Human risk behavior is affected by chemosensory anxiety signals. Neuropsychologia, 48(13), 3901-3908. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.09.019  

Prehn-Kristensen A, Wiesner C, Bergmann TO, Wolff S, Jansen O, Mehdorn HM, Ferstl R, & Pause BM. (2009) Induction of empathy by the smell of anxiety. PloS one, 4(6). PMID: 19551135  

  • March 25, 2015
  • 05:59 PM
  • 46 views

Immunotherapy, a promising new treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Alzheimer’s disease, it slowly takes things away from the person without giving anything back. Right now there is no cure and at best we can slow the progression in some cases. Time is always a factor and no two cases are the same. However, new treatments are in the works and a new study has revealed that a single dose of an immunotherapy reverses memory problems in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.... Read more »

  • March 25, 2015
  • 05:57 PM
  • 39 views

MoBa does bowel issues in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'MoBa' in the title of this post, refers to the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and a handy resource which has already impacted on autism research (see here for example).Now MoBa has turned its epidemiological clout to an issue which less and less is encountering scientific resistance: are gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of autism? Further, when do such bowel issues start to present?The answer, shown in the paper by Michaeline B........ Read more »

Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Schultz, A., Gunnes, N., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Roth, C., Schjølberg, S.... (2015) Association of Maternal Report of Infant and Toddler Gastrointestinal Symptoms With Autism. JAMA Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034  

  • March 25, 2015
  • 01:03 PM
  • 44 views

Cracking the blood-brain barrier with magnetic nanoparticles

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The blood-brain barrier, the thorn in the side of medicine. It makes using drugs directed for the brain ineffective at best and unusable at worst. This barrier runs inside almost all vessels in the brain and protects it from elements circulating in the blood that may be toxic to the brain. This barrier means that currently 98% of therapeutic molecules are also unable to cross to the brain. However, researchers now say magnetic nanoparticles can open the blood-brain barrier and deliver molecules ........ Read more »

  • March 25, 2015
  • 09:38 AM
  • 53 views

Video Tip of the Week: Protein structure information for public outreach. Really.

by Mary in OpenHelix

This week’s tip isn’t about a specific tool–but a really interesting look at how a tool was used in the context of some general public outreach messaging. Recently I posted about Aquaria, a new tool available to let biologists explore protein structures, mutations, and domains in user-friendly ways. But an interesting example of how the […]... Read more »

O'Donoghue Seán I, Maria Kalemanov, Christian Stolte, Benjamin Wellmann, Vivian Ho, Manfred Roos, Nelson Perdigão, Fabian A Buske, Julian Heinrich, & Burkhard Rost. (2015) Aquaria: simplifying discovery and insight from protein structures. Nature Methods, 12(2), 98-99. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.3258  

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