Last week a fascinating study appeared in PNAS on melody cognition in sparrows (Sturnus vulgaris). It provides an alternative interpretation to the widespread believe that songbirds have a strong bias to rely on absolute pitch (AP) for the recognition of melodies (e.g. Hulse et al., 1992).... Read more »
Hulse, S., Takeuchi, A., & Braaten, R. (1992) Perceptual Invariances in the Comparative Psychology of Music. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 10(2), 151-184. DOI: 10.2307/40285605
Bregman, M., Patel, A., & Gentner, T. (2016) Songbirds use spectral shape, not pitch, for sound pattern recognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201515380. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515380113
"The primary finding from the study was evidence of an improvement in several objective sleep parameters in participants in whom the increased colonization of lactic acid producing organisms was resolved after antibiotic treatment."Those were the words written by Melinda Jackson and colleagues  (open-access) who, during an open-label trial, looked at whether administration of an antibiotic (erythromycin 400 mg) over the course of 6 days might have some important effects on elements of sleep i........ Read more »
Jackson ML, Butt H, Ball M, Lewis DP, & Bruck D. (2015) Sleep quality and the treatment of intestinal microbiota imbalance in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A pilot study. Sleep Science (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 8(3), 124-33. PMID: 26779319
Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.
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Solan, M., Hauton, C., Godbold, J., Wood, C., Leighton, T., & White, P. (2016) Anthropogenic sources of underwater sound can modify how sediment-dwelling invertebrates mediate ecosystem properties. Scientific Reports, 20540. DOI: 10.1038/srep20540
Although lizards mostly scurry on all fours, certain species can run on two legs when the mood strikes. What's the benefit to this human-like running style? For one thing, it seems to let lizards get over obstacles without slowing down. They just have to make sure not to tip over.
Georgia Southern University biologist Lance McBrayer and graduate student Seth Parker studied running in a handsome little reptile called Sceloporus woodi, or the Florida scrub lizard. McBrayer says there's been... Read more »
Parker, S., & McBrayer, L. (2016) The effects of multiple obstacles on the locomotor behavior and performance of a terrestrial lizard. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.120451
Beat deafness, a recently documented form of congenital amusia, provides a unique window into functional specialization of neural circuitry for the processing of musical stimuli: Beat-deaf individuals exhibit deficits that are specific to the detection of a regular beat in music and the ability to move along with a beat.... Read more »
Phillips-Silver, J., Toiviainen, P., Gosselin, N., Piché, O., Nozaradan, S., Palmer, C., & Peretz, I. (2011) Born to dance but beat deaf: A new form of congenital amusia. Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.02.002
"Vitamin D deficiency might contribute to the aetiology of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Supplementation of vitamin D3, which is a safe and cost-effective form of treatment, may significantly improve the outcome of some children with ASD, especially younger children."More big words have appeared from a research group who seem to be particularly interested in how vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin/hormone) might have some important links to at least some cases of autism. The findings thi........ Read more »
Feng J, Shan L, Du L, Wang B, Li H, Wang W, Wang T, Dong H, Yue X, Xu Z.... (2016) Clinical improvement following vitamin D3 supplementation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nutritional neuroscience. PMID: 26783092
Genes could help in determining whether a person likes to rise early in the morning or not.
Researchers, in affiliation with 23andMe, Inc. recently worked on the DNA of 89,283 individuals, and found that genes could show some specific variations more frequently in the people, who self-identify themselves as early risers or morning people. They found 15 different spots in the genetic makeup that can vary between morning........ Read more »
Hu, Y., Shmygelska, A., Tran, D., Eriksson, N., Tung, J., & Hinds, D. (2016) GWAS of 89,283 individuals identifies genetic variants associated with self-reporting of being a morning person. Nature Communications, 10448. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10448
At the heart of the Great Lakes region of East Africa is Tanzania — a republic comprised of 30 mikoa, or provinces. Its border is marked off by the giant lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi. But the lake that interests me the most is an internal one: 200 km from the border with Kenya at […]... Read more »
Apicella, C.L., Marlowe, F.W., Fowler, J.H., & Christakis, N.A. (2012) Social networks and cooperation in hunter-gatherers. Nature, 481(7382), 497-501. PMID: 22281599
More than two million citizens have been Tased by police as Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the United States during the past decade. But what does that 50,000-volt shock do to a person's brain?
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Kane, R., & White, M. (2015) TASER Exposure and Cognitive Impairment: Implications for Valid Miranda Waivers and the Timing of Police Custodial Interrogations . Criminology . DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12173
The findings reported by Ciro Marangoni and colleagues  made for some interesting reading recently and their systematic review of longitudinal studies looking at the various environmental exposures put forward as possible risk factors pertinent to the development of bipolar disorder (BD).Trawling through the peer-reviewed material on this topic, the authors were able to 'clump' the various proposed risk factors into one of three categories: "neurodevelopment (maternal influenza during pr........ Read more »
Marangoni C, Hernandez M, & Faedda GL. (2016) The role of environmental exposures as risk factors for bipolar disorder: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Journal of affective disorders, 165-174. PMID: 26773919
Men who use mobile phone more frequently and place their phone close to their groin have higher chances of getting abnormal sperm concentration.
Reproductive BioMedicine Online
Researchers have reported that male infertility constitutes about 30% to 40% of all infertility cases. They also reported that studies are showing continuous decline in semen quality since the start of the last century. One of the potential contributing factors in th........ Read more »
Zilberlicht, A., Wiener-Megnazi, Z., Sheinfeld, Y., Grach, B., Lahav-Baratz, S., & Dirnfeld, M. (2015) Habits of cell phone usage and sperm quality – does it warrant attention?. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 31(3), 421-426. DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.06.006
Depression is a serious issue for expecting mothers. Left untreated, depression could have implications for a fetus’s health. But treating the disease during pregnancy may carry health risks for the developing fetus, which makes an expecting mother’s decision whether to take medication a very difficult one. To better understand how antidepressants affect fetuses during pregnancy, scientists studied exposure in mice.
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Velasquez, J., Goeden, N., Herod, S., & Bonnin, A. (2016) Maternal Pharmacokinetics and Fetal Disposition of (±)-Citalopram during Mouse Pregnancy. ACS Chemical Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00287
Variant viewers are very popular. As we get more and more sequence data, the challenge of looking across many samples only gets more and more important. So I always like to see how different groups are doing this. I’m still waiting for the killer app on this–the pan-genome graphs with all the paths along different […]... Read more »
Cherry, J., Hong, E., Amundsen, C., Balakrishnan, R., Binkley, G., Chan, E., Christie, K., Costanzo, M., Dwight, S., Engel, S.... (2011) Saccharomyces Genome Database: the genomics resource of budding yeast. Nucleic Acids Research, 40(D1). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkr1029
Zika. Ebola. MERS. HIV. Where Do “New” Viruses Come From?... Read more »
Forterre P. (2006) The origin of viruses and their possible roles in major evolutionary transitions. Virus research, 117(1), 5-16. PMID: 16476498
If you don't let your plants sleep at night, they die....really! Several species of plants fold their leaves up and reduce their activity at night, every night. If kept from doing that, they turn brown and shrivel up. It's called nyctinasty, and it is different from tropic movements that are directed against specifically positioned stimuli. And what directs their movements? Water! - plants are hydraulic machines.... Read more »
Ueda, M., & Nakamura, Y. (2006) Metabolites involved in plant movement and ?memory?: nyctinasty of legumes and trap movement in the Venus flytrap. Natural Product Reports, 23(4), 548. DOI: 10.1039/b515708k
"The average prevalence of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] was 35/10 000 children and was about 4-fold higher in males."I don't have too much to add to the findings reported by Karolina Skonieczna-Żydecka and colleagues  who estimated the prevalence of ASD in two regions of Poland: "West Pomeranian and Pomeranian regions." Based on the analysis of data from "Provincial Disability Services Commissions", researchers concluded that approximately 3 children in 1000 in those regions........ Read more »
Skonieczna-Żydecka K, Gorzkowska I, Pierzak-Sominka J, & Adler G. (2016) The Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in West Pomeranian and Pomeranian Regions of Poland. Journal of applied research in intellectual disabilities : JARID. PMID: 26771078
Between 1993 and 2015, cattle killed 13 people who were out for walks in the United Kingdom. Dozens more walkers received broken bones or other injuries from the animals.
Murderous cattle are an understudied phenomenon, say veterinarian Angharad Fraser-Williams and other researchers at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. So they scoured news articles and scientific literature to learn about cattle attacks over two decades. They turned up some advice for people wishing to av........ Read more »
Inflammation is a good thing, it helps the body fight disease, and without it we wouldn't survive. Unfortunately, when inflammation isn't kept under control it can wreak havoc on the body. From potentially causing alzheimer's to arthritis it seems that unchecked inflammation can cause all sorts of issues. In fact, a new study adds to the list of issues out of control inflammation causes in the body.
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Dowell, N., Cooper, E., Tibble, J., Voon, V., Critchley, H., Cercignani, M., & Harrison, N. (2016) Acute Changes in Striatal Microstructure Predict the Development of Interferon-Alpha Induced Fatigue. Biological Psychiatry, 79(4), 320-328. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.05.015
Within the ground beneath our feet lie dark cavities of various shapes and sizes. They're home to pale and eyeless creatures living a midnight existence. Natural holes in the ground, filled with air and/or water, can be roughly categorized into three types based on the particular habitat they provide for subterranean organisms:(1) Caves are large, deep, and tend not to contain much organic matter for organisms to munch on. They're often found in karst and volcanic areas prone to developing big h........ Read more »
Pipan T, Fišer C, Novak T, & Culver D. (2012) Fifty years of the hypotelminorheic: What have we learned?. Acta Carsologica, 41(2-3). DOI: 10.3986/ac.v41i2-3.564
Biophysical Journal has created a collection of papers that describe tools and software that can be routinely used in biological research. Editor Prof. Leslie Loew mentions that the full-text of articles in this collection will be freely available until February 25, 2016.... Read more »
Qi Y, Cheng X, Lee J, Vermaas JV, Pogorelov TV, Tajkhorshid E, Park S, Klauda JB, & Im W. (2015) CHARMM-GUI HMMM Builder for Membrane Simulations with the Highly Mobile Membrane-Mimetic Model. Biophysical journal, 109(10), 2012-22. PMID: 26588561
McGibbon RT, Beauchamp KA, Harrigan MP, Klein C, Swails JM, Hernández CX, Schwantes CR, Wang LP, Lane TJ, & Pande VS. (2015) MDTraj: A Modern Open Library for the Analysis of Molecular Dynamics Trajectories. Biophysical journal, 109(8), 1528-32. PMID: 26488642
Ribeiro AA, & Ortiz V. (2015) MDN: A Web Portal for Network Analysis of Molecular Dynamics Simulations. Biophysical journal, 109(6), 1110-6. PMID: 26143656
Hertig S, Goddard TD, Johnson GT, & Ferrin TE. (2015) Multidomain Assembler (MDA) Generates Models of Large Multidomain Proteins. Biophysical journal, 108(9), 2097-102. PMID: 25954868
Leonarski F, & Trylska J. (2015) RedMDStream: Parameterization and Simulation Toolbox for Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Models. Biophysical journal, 108(8), 1843-7. PMID: 25902423
de Vries SJ, Schindler CE, Chauvot de Beauchêne I, & Zacharias M. (2015) A web interface for easy flexible protein-protein docking with ATTRACT. Biophysical journal, 108(3), 462-5. PMID: 25650913
Biedermann J, Ullrich A, Schöneberg J, & Noé F. (2015) ReaDDyMM: Fast interacting particle reaction-diffusion simulations using graphical processing units. Biophysical journal, 108(3), 457-61. PMID: 25650912
Holmes WR, Mata MA, & Edelstein-Keshet L. (2015) Local perturbation analysis: a computational tool for biophysical reaction-diffusion models. Biophysical journal, 108(2), 230-6. PMID: 25606671
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