If you have experienced — or are experiencing — mood disorders like anxiety or depression, you know about SSRI’s and chances are they didn’t do much for you. In fact studies indicate that the majority of people with mood and anxiety disorders who receive Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) are not helped by these medications. Sadly, they are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant medications, this is because SSRIs are designed to increase serotonin levels, a ........ Read more »
Coplan, J., Fulton, S., Reiner, W., Jackowski, A., Panthangi, V., Perera, T., Gorman, J., Huang, Y., Tang, C., Hof, P.... (2014) Elevated cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in macaques following early life stress and inverse association with hippocampal volume: preliminary implications for serotonin-related function in mood and anxiety disorders. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00440
Coplan, J., Gopinath, S., Abdallah, C., & Berry, B. (2014) A Neurobiological Hypothesis of Treatment-Resistant Depression -- Mechanisms for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Non-Efficacy. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00189
A fellow who hides in his shell until danger has passed may not seem like the epitome of manliness. Yet among hermit crabs, the shyest males have the most to offer the ladies. It's all part of their evolutionary strategy. Crabs that are long on bravery, meanwhile, are short on sperm.
Mark Briffa, an animal behavior professor at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom, and his colleagues found the surprising connection between sperm and shyness while studying "life history" in crabs. To........ Read more »
Bridger D, Bonner SJ, & Briffa M. (2015) Individual quality and personality: bolder males are less fecund in the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 282(1803). PMID: 25673676
A promising area of transgenic plant research is focused on the use of RNA interference, or RNAi, to control insect pests. For any gene to be expressed, the DNA must first be read and converted into RNA. The RNA message is then decoded to produce a protein. Think of your cell as a house and the DNA as the master building plan for that house. Every time you need to make a repair, the general contractor consults the building plan and sends a message to the tradesperson to make the component that i........ Read more »
Zhang, J., Khan, S., Hasse, C., Ruf, S., Heckel, D., & Bock, R. (2015) Full crop protection from an insect pest by expression of long double-stranded RNAs in plastids. Science, 347(6225), 991-994. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261680
Wine connoisseurs, or oenophiles, possess a seemingly endless vocabulary for describing their tipples of choice. To the uninitiated, it may sound like they are describing an entire gourmet meal, or even a good friend, but this is not just make-believe: … Continue reading →... Read more »
Vigentini, I., De Lorenzis, G., Fabrizio, V., Valdetara, F., Faccincani, M., Panont, C., Picozzi, C., Imazio, S., Failla, O., & Foschino, R. (2014) The vintage effect overcomes the terroir effect: a three year survey on the wine yeast biodiversity in Franciacorta and Oltrepo Pavese, two northern Italian vine-growing areas. Microbiology, 161(Pt_2), 362-373. DOI: 10.1099/mic.0.000004
The systematic review and meta-analysis published by Brendon Stubbs and colleagues  provides some food for thought for healthcare providers and others looking at the wider implications following a diagnosis of schizophrenia. "People with schizophrenia are at significantly increased risk of fractures" was the conclusion reached based on the collected analysis of tens of thousands of people diagnosed with schizophrenia compared with nearly 4 million controls.My immediate thought (and tweet) whe........ Read more »
Stubbs B, Gaughran F, Mitchell AJ, De Hert M, Farmer R, Soundy A, Rosenbaum S, & Vancampfort D. (2015) Schizophrenia and the risk of fractures: a systematic review and comparative meta-analysis. General hospital psychiatry. PMID: 25666994
Genetically-modified mice resistant to frostbite - How a glycoprotein could improve organ transplant success (and ice-cream).... Read more »
Heisig, M., Mattessich, S., Rembisz, A., Acar, A., Shapiro, M., Booth, C., Neelakanta, G., & Fikrig, E. (2015) Frostbite Protection in Mice Expressing an Antifreeze Glycoprotein. PLOS ONE, 10(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116562
Nineteen Eighty — if I had to pick the year that computational modeling invaded evolutionary game theory then that would be it. In March, 1980 — exactly thirty-five years ago — was when Robert Axelrod, a professor of political science at University of Michigan, published the results of his first tournament for iterated prisoner’s dilemma […]... Read more »
Multiple sclerosis, unless you suffer from nerve damage it is a pain you (thankfully) will never have to feel. In most cases, treating the brutal pain caused by this (and other neurological diseases) is the only help that can be offered to people. The pain is caused by damage to myelin, the fatty insulator that enables communication between nerve cells, which characterizes multiple sclerosis (MS) and other devastating neurological diseases.... Read more »
Abiraman, K., Pol, S., O'Bara, M., Chen, G., Khaku, Z., Wang, J., Thorn, D., Vedia, B., Ekwegbalu, E., Li, J.... (2015) Anti-Muscarinic Adjunct Therapy Accelerates Functional Human Oligodendrocyte Repair. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(8), 3676-3688. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3510-14.2015
Ecologists have long tried to understand what animals get up to when they’re not being observed. GPS technologies have enabled unprecedented remote-tracking, but some behaviours – such as diet – are a little more tricky to track. In this post James Grecian (@JamesGrecian), a marine ecologist at the Institute, discusses a technique he uses to track the diet of marine seabirds across some of the world’s […]
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Stauss, C., Bearhop, S., Bodey, T., Garthe, S., Gunn, C., Grecian, W., Inger, R., Knight, M., Newton, J., Patrick, S.... (2012) Sex-specific foraging behaviour in northern gannets Morus bassanus: incidence and implications. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 151-162. DOI: 10.3354/meps09734
Grecian, W., McGill, R., Phillips, R., Ryan, P., & Furness, R. (2015) Quantifying variation in δ 13C and δ 15N isotopes within and between feathers and individuals: Is one sample enough?. Marine Biology. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-015-2618-8
Today my friend Nicholas Sansbury Smith releases Extinction Edge, the sequel to Extinction Horizon, a sci-fi thriller where humanity is driven to extinction by a lethal virus. I posted an interview with Nick for the release of his first book, but today I wanted to talk about the science behind his premise: can a virus induce epigenetic changes?In a way, Nick's premise is similar to the premise I used in Chimeras: a large part of our DNA is made of pseudogenes, which are ancient genes that are no........ Read more »
Birdwell CE, Queen KJ, Kilgore PC, Rollyson P, Trutschl M, Cvek U, & Scott RS. (2014) Genome-wide DNA methylation as an epigenetic consequence of Epstein-Barr virus infection of immortalized keratinocytes. Journal of virology, 88(19), 11442-58. PMID: 25056883
Tian Y, Yang W, Song J, Wu Y, & Ni B. (2013) Hepatitis B virus X protein-induced aberrant epigenetic modifications contributing to human hepatocellular carcinoma pathogenesis. Molecular and cellular biology, 33(15), 2810-6. PMID: 23716588
Rongrui L, Na H, Zongfang L, Fanpu J, & Shiwen J. (2014) Epigenetic mechanism involved in the HBV/HCV-related hepatocellular carcinoma tumorigenesis. Current pharmaceutical design, 20(11), 1715-25. PMID: 23888939
Mbonye U, & Karn J. (2011) Control of HIV latency by epigenetic and non-epigenetic mechanisms. Current HIV research, 9(8), 554-67. PMID: 22211660
The paper from Katarina Babinská and colleagues  (open-access here) presents an interesting, if preliminary take on two potentially important issues linked to at least some cases of autism: gastrointestinal (GI) issues and inflammation (see here and see here respectively).Detailing the examination of plasma levels of a compound called high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1), a protein which has the apparent ability to 'bend DNA' and has some pretty potent immune effects  (one paper........ Read more »
Babinská K, Bucová M, Ďurmanová V, Lakatošová S, Jánošíková D, Bakoš J, Hlavatá A, & Ostatníková D. (2015) Increased plasma levels of the high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) are associated with a higher score of gastrointestinal dysfunction in individuals with autism. Physiological research / Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca. PMID: 25669692
Multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) is an increasingly popular approach for analyzing the results of fMRI scanning experiments that measure brain activity. MVPA searches for patterns of activation that correlate with a particular mental state. This is called 'decoding' neural activity.
Now a new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience from Caltech neuroscientists Julien Dubois et al. reports that MVPA is unable to decode certain kinds of information, even though single-unit recordings confirm th... Read more »
Dubois J, de Berker AO, & Tsao DY. (2015) Single-Unit Recordings in the Macaque Face Patch System Reveal Limitations of fMRI MVPA. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 35(6), 2791-802. PMID: 25673866
Many Cambrian fossils are simply spines and sclerites unassociated with any body. Few of the exceptionally-preserved Cambrian freaks come with spines attached, and some of the most prominent of these are the chancelloriids. Originally described as sponges by Charles Doolittle Walcott back in 1920 (Walcott, 1920), modern researchers have found that the spines are very similar to those […]
The post Chancelloriids Revised appeared first on Teaching Biology.
... Read more »
Stefan Bengtson, & Desmond Collins. (2015) Chancelloriids of the Cambrian Burgess Shale. Palaeontologia Electronica. info:other/
Think of it as interval training for the dinner table. Proponents of fasting style diets will be first to tell you there are health benefits, heck we've even covered some of the science here at the labs. Well new research shows that putting people on a intermittent fasting (or IF) diet may mimic some of the benefits of actual fasting, and that (ironically enough given their popularity) adding antioxidant supplements counteracts those benefits.... Read more »
Wegman, M., Guo, M., Bennion, D., Shankar, M., Chrzanowski, S., Goldberg, L., Xu, J., Williams, T., Lu, X., Hsu, S.... (2014) Practicality of Intermittent Fasting in Humans and its Effect on Oxidative Stress and Genes Related to Aging and Metabolism. Rejuvenation Research, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1089/rej.2014.1624
I want to bring the paper from Tea Skaaby and colleagues  to your attention for today's brief blog post and their observation that there may be: "a possible protective role of a higher vitamin D status on autoimmune disease". Autoimmune disease by the way, reflects a breakdown in communication and tolerance of 'self' whereby the body attacks healthy tissue.Their findings, based on an analysis of "a total of 12,555 individuals from three population-based studies with measurements of vitam........ Read more »
Skaaby T, Husemoen LL, Thuesen BH, & Linneberg A. (2015) Prospective population-based study of the association between vitamin D status and incidence of autoimmune disease. Endocrine. PMID: 25666936
In my last post I started writing about the next step a coding student can take after learning the basics. This next step is of course learning not just to code, but to code responsibly. Last time I talked about using version control to keep track of code changes as you work through a project. For this next post, I want to take the conversation further by discussing...... Read more »
Life as we know it, when we peer deep into the vastness of space we look for someone — or something — that resembles ourselves. Carbon based, needs water lifeforms, but what if we’re being narrow-minded? A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of researchers suggests we are being too closed minded about life.... Read more »
James Stevenson,, Jonathan Lunine,, & Paulette Clancy. (2015) Membrane alternatives in worlds without oxygen: Creation of an azotosome. Science Advances. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400067
In an interesting short paper just published in Trends in Cognitive Science, Caltech neuroscientist Ralph Adolphs offers his thoughts on The Unsolved Problems of Neuroscience.
Here's Adolphs' list of the top 23 questions (including 3 "meta" issues), which, he says, was inspired by Hilbert's famous set of 23 mathematical problems:
Problems that are solved, or soon will be:
I. How do single neurons compute?
II. What is the connectome of a small nervous system, like that of Caenorhabi... Read more »
"Scientists discover robust evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome is a biological illness" went the title of the press release for the study by Mady Hornig and colleagues  (open-access) detailing an immune 'signature' and also possible staging of the illness.I couldn't help but wince at some of the media headlines reporting on this study as 'proof' that chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a real illness. As I've indicated before on this blog (see here) anyon........ Read more »
Mady Hornig, José G. Montoya, Nancy G. Klimas, Susan Levine, Donna Felsenstein, Lucinda Bateman, Daniel L. Peterson, C. Gunnar Gottschalk, Andrew F. Schultz, Xiaoyu Che.... (2015) Distinct plasma immune signatures in ME/CFS are present early in the course of illness. Science Advances, 1(1). info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400121
Autoimmune diseases are tough to live with, frankly we don’t really understand the reasons they start at all, how to treat them, or even where to start in forming a cure. Well there might be some good news — as far as a treatment goes anyway — a newly characterized group of pharmacological compounds block both the inflammation and nerve cell damage seen in mouse models of multiple sclerosis.... Read more »
Haines, J., Herbin, O., de la Hera, B., Vidaurre, O., Moy, G., Sun, Q., Fung, H., Albrecht, S., Alexandropoulos, K., McCauley, D.... (2015) Nuclear export inhibitors avert progression in preclinical models of inflammatory demyelination. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3953
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