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  • December 11, 2014
  • 07:00 AM
  • 76 views

Without it no music?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

A short entry to announce a theme issue on Musicality in Philosophical Transactions B, to be out in February 2015... the year when the worlds first journal dedicated to science will celebrate its 350th anniversary.... Read more »

Honing H, ten Cate C, Peretz I, & Trehub SE. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. info:/10.1098/rstb.2014.0088

  • December 11, 2014
  • 05:09 AM
  • 67 views

Low bone mineral density and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"An elevated frequency of bone mass loss in NCWS [non-celiac wheat sensitivity] patients was found; this was related to low BMI [body mass index] and was more frequent in patients with NCWS associated with other food sensitivity".There is no Easter Bunny. There is no Tooth Fairy. There is no Queen of England.That was the conclusion reached by Antonio Carroccio and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at a small group of participants diagnosed with something which seems to fall into a growing spectrum of gluten-related conditions (gluten being the protein found in various cereal crops). The eagle-eyed out there will have spotted how the authors talk about non-celiac 'wheat' sensitivity over and above non-celiac gluten sensitivity as per the idea that: "it is not known what component of wheat causes the symptoms in NCGS patients".Whilst interesting results, I was actually more intrigued at their possible implications for something like parts of the autism spectrum, on the back of other peer-reviewed research on a possible link with gluten/wheat. I'll take you back to the paper by Ludvigsson and colleagues [2] - discussed in this post - as a starting point and the idea that something not-quite-coeliac-disease (the archetypal autoimmune gluten related condition) might be linked to some cases of autism. The paper by Caio and colleagues [3] (see this post) then suggested that for those presenting with anti-gliadin antibodies as part of NCGS, the use of a gluten-free diet might help dissipate said antibodies, which although not specific to such a scenario with autism in mind, was potentially 'transferable' in light of gluten antibodies being reported in some autism.Low bone mineral density talked about in the Carroccio paper as being potentially linked to NCWS (or NCGS if you so wish) is also something that has been discussed with autism in mind down the years. I've covered a few papers in this area on this blog, most notably the paper from Hediger and colleagues [4] (see here for the blogpost) and the paper by Neumeyer and colleagues [5] (see here for my take) which indicated that bone mineral density might be lower in cases of autism. Although the gluten (and casein) free diets have been 'blamed' for these results, it appears that nutritional deficiency related to such dietary interventions might not be as serious as some would lead us to expect. If you don't believe me, take a look at my discussion of some peer-reviewed work in this area. The idea also that vitamin D might be lower in quite a few cases of autism is also worthwhile mentioning too bearing in mind the connection between calcium, vitamin and 'strong bones'. Exercise as also playing a role in good bone health also comes into view with autism too.Marrying the two area together - NCGS and low bone mineral density - with a perspective on at least some autism, may then not seems as outlandish as you might think. Carroccio et al suggest "the role of malnutrition seems very important in our study group" based on their BMI findings. Further they suggest that: "Dietary support should be strongly recommended at the time of NCWS diagnosis, whatever is its pathogenesis." BMI is a bit of mixed bag when it comes to autism as per some of my own work in this area [6] but I'd struggle to argue with their suggestion of appropriate dietary support as and when something like NCGS (or NCWS) is detected on top of a diagnosis of autism.And then there's gut permeability issues to also consider...Music: Katie Melua - The Flood.----------[1] Carroccio A. et al. Risk of low bone mineral density and low body mass index in patients with non-celiac wheat-sensitivity: a prospective observation study. BMC Med. 2014 Nov 28;12(1):230.[2] Ludvigsson JF. et al. A Nationwide Study of the Association Between Celiac Disease and the Risk of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013. Sept 25.[3] Caio G. et al. Effect of gluten free diet on immune response to gliadin in patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014 Feb 13;14(1):26.[4] Hediger ML. et al. Reduced bone cortical thickness in boys with autism or autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 May;38(5):848-56.[5] Neumeyer AM. et al. Bone density in peripubertal boys with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Jul;43(7):1623-9.[6] Whiteley P. et al. Body mass index of children from the United Kingdom diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorders. Pediatr Int. 2004 Oct;46(5):531-3.----------Carroccio A, Soresi M, D Alcamo A, Sciumè C, Iacono G, Geraci G, Brusca I, Seidita A, Adragna F, Carta M, & Mansueto P (2014). Risk of low bone mineral density and low body mass index in patients with non-celiac wheat-sensitivity: a prospective observation study. BMC medicine, 12 (1) PMID: 25430806... Read more »

  • December 10, 2014
  • 04:51 PM
  • 72 views

Worms’ “mental GPS” could help improve mental health

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Imagine this, you’ve misplaced your cell phone. You start by scanning where you remember leaving it: on your bureau. You check and double-check the bureau before expanding your search around and below the bureau. Eventually, you switch from this local area to a more global one, widening your search to the rest of your room and beyond.... Read more »

Adam J Calhoun, Sreekanth H Chalasani, Tatyana O Sharpee. (2014) Maximally informative foraging by Caenorhabditis elegans. eLife. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04220#sthash.lVQ5aANV.dpuf

  • December 10, 2014
  • 03:54 PM
  • 89 views

Depressed? Laughing gas might help

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has shown early promise as a potential treatment for severe depression in patients whose symptoms don’t respond to standard therapies. In other words, it might actually live up to it’s name and as they say laughter is the best medicine. The pilot study is believed to be the first research in which patients with depression were given laughing gas.... Read more »

Nagele P, Duma A, Kopec M, Gebara MA, Parsoei A, Walker M, Janski A, Pahagopoulos VN, Cristancho P, Miller JP, Zorumski CF, Conway C . (2014) Nitrous oxide for treatment-resistant major depression: a proof-of-concept trial. Biological Psychiatry. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.11.016  

  • December 10, 2014
  • 09:38 AM
  • 75 views

Video Tip of the Week: “Virtually Immune” computational immune system modeling

by Mary in OpenHelix

This week’s video tip of the week is the next in a series. It began when I took a look at GeneFriends, and their option to output the data for use in BioLayout Express3D. So of course we had to then take a look at BioLayout. While I was exploring BioLayout, I came across Virtually […]... Read more »

  • December 10, 2014
  • 08:59 AM
  • 67 views

Pacific barreleye: Weird Fish with Transparent Head

by beredim in Strange Animals



Pacific barreleye fish
By Isa2014 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0],
via Wikimedia Commons

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Argentiniformes
Family: Opisthoproctidae
Genus: Macropinna
Species: Macropinna microstoma
Common Name(s): Pacific barreleye




The Pacific barreleye fish is one the weirdest creatures lurking deep in the ocean. Named after its eyes that are ... Read more »

  • December 10, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 71 views

Christmas Trees Have Trouble Seeing The Light

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Evergreens maintain chlorophyll all year round so that they can carryout photosynthesis in the winter and be symbols of enduring life for Christmas. No… not really. Sunlight in the winter can actually kill evergreens. You won’t believe the lengths to which they must go in order to avoid photodamage caused by light harvesting by chlorophyll in the winter. So why do they stay green?... Read more »

Ottander C, Campbell D, Öquist G. (1995) Seasonal changes in photosystem II organization and pigment composition in Pinus sylvestris. . Planta , 176-183. info:/

  • December 10, 2014
  • 07:39 AM
  • 70 views

The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication

by Alice Breda in genome ecology evolution etc

Oryza glaberrima is an African species of rice that is not of the same origin as the Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and was independently domesticated from the progenitor Oryza barthii about 3,000 years ago.In this study recently published by Nature … Continue reading →... Read more »

Wang, M., Yu, Y., Haberer, G., Marri, P., Fan, C., Goicoechea, J., Zuccolo, A., Song, X., Kudrna, D., Ammiraju, J.... (2014) The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication. Nature Genetics, 46(9), 982-988. DOI: 10.1038/ng.3044  

  • December 10, 2014
  • 05:44 AM
  • 84 views

Maternal smoking during pregnancy and offspring autism: no measurable association but...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Oh. Yes sir. How doth the little bumblebee improve each..."We found no evidence to support a measurable association between maternal prenatal smoking and ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in offspring."That was the conclusion reached in the meta-analysis published by Brittany Rosen and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-review literature examining any correlation between maternal tobacco smoking during pregnancy and risk of offspring receipt of a diagnosis of autism or ASD. Based on a review of 15 studies in this area, researchers concluded that there was very little to see when it came to any association: "summary OR [odds ratio] 1.02, 95 % CI [confidence intervals] 0.93–1.12".I think most people nowadays have probably seen or heard of the messages about the potential dangers of smoking during pregnancy and the benefits of abstaining/quitting to both mother and unborn child. That's not to say however that every mum-to-be has understood the risks as per the findings from Cnattingius [2]. Indeed without being judgemental, even at rare visits to my own local hospital, I have seen heavily pregnant women puffing away outside the maternity unit and can't help wondering why, particularly when so many alternatives or quitting aids (with caveats) are available these days.Insofar as the various investigations into smoking with offspring autism in mind, there is quite a bank of research in this area. That's not to say that the evidence is all one-way when it comes to smoking during pregnancy and offspring risk of autism as per studies like the one from Phuong Lien Tran and colleagues [3] (open-access) who concluded that smoking during the whole of pregnancy might have a modest impact on autism risk, at least in Finland. The findings reported by Visser and colleagues [4] on smoking during pregnancy appearing to "contribute more to broadly defined (PDD-NOS) than to narrowly defined ASD (AD)" are also worthwhile including in these days of phenotypes and plural autisms. Indeed, the report from Amy Kalkbrenner and colleagues [5] (open-access) continues the theme: "The possibility of an association with a higher-functioning ASD subgroup was suggested, and warrants further study."On the basis of these studies and others [6], I'd be minded to suggest that whilst the Rosen findings are reassuring for the more general concept of risk (i.e. autism overall) the message about quitting smoking before and during pregnancy as potentially affecting offspring autism risk, is not yet settled when it comes to specific types of autism or specific places on the autism spectrum being implicated. I say this not to add to any further burden about this or that 'causing autism' as per examinations on things like maternal infection during pregnancy (see here) or C-sections (see here) or maternal diabetes (see here) for example, but rather using science as a potential informer in raising awareness of this possible outcome. Indeed, if one is to assume that the [preliminary] evidence on air pollution and genetics mixing might also impact on autism risk (see here), the question of whether direct inhalation of several thousand pollutants can impact on foetal outcomes becomes rather more compelling including whether risk of certain comorbidity appearing alongside autism might also be influenced [7].Oh, and father's tobacco habits might also be important [8]...Music, and something quiet from Henry Rollins (not)...----------[1] Rosen BN. et al. Maternal Smoking and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-analysis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2014. November 29.[2] Cnattingius S. The epidemiology of smoking during pregnancy: smoking prevalence, maternal characteristics, and pregnancy outcomes. Nicotine Tob Res. 2004 Apr;6 Suppl 2:S125-40.[3] Tran PL. et al. Smoking during pregnancy and risk of autism spectrum disorder in a Finnish National Birth Cohort. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2013 May;27(3):266-74.[4] Visser JC. et al. Narrowly versus broadly defined autism spectrum disorders: differences in pre- and perinatal risk factors. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Jul;43(7):1505-16.[5] Kalkbrenner AE. et al. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, using data from the autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Jul;120(7):1042-8.[6] Habek D. & Kovačević M. Adverse pregnancy outcomes and long-term morbidity after early fetal hypokinesia in maternal smoking pregnancies. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2011 Mar;283(3):491-5.[7] Kovess V. et al. Maternal smoking and offspring inattention and hyperactivity: results from a cross-national European survey. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014 Nov 21.[8] Laubenthal J. et al. Cigarette smoke-induced transgenerational alterations in genome stability in cord blood of human F1 offspring. FASEB J. 2012 Oct;26(10):3946-56.----------Rosen BN, Lee BK, Lee NL, Yang Y, & Burstyn I (2014). Maternal Smoking and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-analysis. Journal of autism and developmental disorders PMID: 25432101... Read more »

Rosen BN, Lee BK, Lee NL, Yang Y, & Burstyn I. (2014) Maternal Smoking and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-analysis. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 25432101  

  • December 10, 2014
  • 04:46 AM
  • 66 views

Seeds of change?

by Isabel Torres in Science in the clouds

Plant science is probably one of the least appreciated fields of life sciences, and yet, perhaps no other research area has produced as many technological advances beneficial for society. In an open letterreleased last month, 21 out of the 27 most cited plant scientists in Europe pledged decision makers to back plant research, which they feel is currently threatened by lack of funding and global public and political opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “In comparison for instance with biomedicine and fields with technical applications, plant science is not well funded, and that’s particularly true when it comes to funding from Horizon 2020”, says Stefan Jansson of Umea University (Sweden), who coordinated the letter. Credit: © chaiyon021 - Fotolia.comIn the open letter the scientists recall the fundamental role of curiosity-driven plant research for a sustainable society and to “deepen our understanding of nature”, and they warn decision makers that without their support—financial and political—the Horizon2020 goals to “tackle societal challenges” and “to ensure Europe produces world-class science” will not be met.  Besides asking for funding to be maintained or, if possible, increased, they demand that plant scientists must be allowed to perform field experiments with GM plant varieties, and that Europe must “promptly” authorise new GM crops that have been found safe by the European Food Safe Authority (EFSA). They claim that in most European countries, “permits to perform field experiments with transgenic plants are blocked, not on scientific but on political grounds”. And the few field experiments that do go ahead are often vandalised, wasting years of work and public funding.  To make matters worse, the scientists say in the letter, the ongoing de facto ban on approvals for new GM plant varieties in Europe has not only been damaging for applied plant science, but it has also increased the competitive advantage of agrochemical corporation giants like Monsanto; publicly funded scientists and small companies just don’t have the means to go through expensive, and sometimes decade-long, approval procedures. “Every approval of a [GM plant] variety is enormously expensive, complicated and unpredictable, so no one ever tries nowadays”, says Jansson.GMOs in EuropeThis opposition to GMOs can safely be called epidemic. Lobbying by environmentalists and widespread popular resistance to GMOs has held back the use of GM plants in agriculture globally, but only in Europe the situation seems hopeless. A single GM plant is currently commercially cultivated in the EU— the MON810 maze produced by Monsanto that carries resistance to European corn borer, and which is cultivated in Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia. A de facto ban on GMO approvals has kept GM plants off the fields and out of our fridges for over 10 years. Environmental activists often associate GM crops with the ‘big bad wolf’ agrochemical companies, but in fact Monsanto and Syngenta have pulled out from the European market all together, so effectively the only people affected by this ban are farmers and plant scientists. (March agains Monsanto, Vancouver, Canada, 2013. Credit: wikipedia)“European agriculture is lagging behind when it comes to development, yields and so on. So every year the rest of the world is improving more than we’re doing here”, Jansson says “Unfortunately it’s because we’re not allowed to use the right technologies”.The extreme position of FranceThis anti-GMO fever has changed the face of plant research in some European countries. France is an extreme example. It’s a national joke in France to say that all political parties, from far left to far right, agree on one thing: they’re religiously against GMOs. The radical resistance to GMOs in France began in the late 1990s amidst a growing anti-GMO mood that was quickly spreading worldwide. Ironically, back in those days France was at the forefront of the plant biotechnology field, and large consortium initiatives such as GENIUS and GISBiotechnologiesVertes(formerly known as Génoplante) received generous public funding. In fact, the first ever field experiment with a GM plant variety was performed in France in 1986, and for a decade, France ranked second only to the United States in the number of these experiments with GM crops, and they triggered no public protests. However, in just a few years the number of field trials in France plunged from over a thousand (in 1998) to only 48 (in 2004), and over half of these were eventually destroyed by activists. So what happened?As the mad-cow disease and beef hormones scandals shocked the world in the mid 1990s, people began to become very sensitive about what was in their food. And exactly around this time, the Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans controversy exploded. Not surprisingly, this promising new GM technology didn’t go down that well with the public. As Greenpeace promptly launched its first campaign against GMOs in 1996, a very influential French environmental activist named José Bové started a strong anti-GMO movement that conquered the French public opinion: from Parisian “bobos”, to journalists and even scientists, everyone seemed to hate GMOs, and politicians just followed the trend. ... Read more »

  • December 10, 2014
  • 03:59 AM
  • 28 views

Reuse, recycle, repurpose …. how evolution makes do

by Humeandroid in The Art of World-Making

One well-known metaphor for the process of biological evolution is ‘tinkering.’ First proposed by François Jacob in 1977 in a now-famous paper in the journal Science, the idea captures two facets of evolution: the fact that new things must be developed from pre-existing things, and the apparent fact that evolution does not proceed with guidance. The […]... Read more »

Childers, W., Xu, Q., Mann, T., Mathews, I., Blair, J., Deacon, A., & Shapiro, L. (2014) Cell Fate Regulation Governed by a Repurposed Bacterial Histidine Kinase. PLoS Biology, 12(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001979  

  • December 9, 2014
  • 09:30 PM
  • 69 views

The Bat with the Identity Crisis

by Andrew Harrington in Denise O'Meara

There is a misfortunate bat species that is going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. This poor creature is Natterer’s bat, or Myotis nattereri to give it its formal name (named after the distinguished 19th Century Austrian naturalist Johann Natterer, not because it makes a lot of noise, as I have sometimes been asked). Natterer’s bat is distributed across Europe and north-west Africa, and is mainly considered to be a woodland species- in other words, it has specialised in hunting for insects in areas of woodland and scrub. It tends to hunt in the canopy of woodlands, flying slowly along woodland paths and rides, or through the branches and leaves where it often picks insects and other invertebrates right off their hiding places on the leaves of trees- apparently it is even manoeuvrable enough to be capable of picking spiders right off their webs! In Ireland it is widespread but generally regarded as fairly uncommon- quite understandably, as woodland covers quite a low percentage of the land here compared with most other European countries.... Read more »

Barratt, E., Deaville, R., Burland, T., Bruford, M., Jones, G., Racey, P., & Wayne, R. (1997) DNA answers the call of pipistrelle bat species. Nature, 387(6629), 138-139. DOI: 10.1038/387138b0  

  • December 9, 2014
  • 05:00 PM
  • 57 views

Irony on the Galapagos Islands

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

The Galapagos have become a model system for speciation research. But recently, several cases of speciation reversal have been documented. Quite ironic!... Read more »

Garrick, R., Benavides, E., Russello, M., Hyseni, C., Edwards, D., Gibbs, J., Tapia, W., Ciofi, C., & Caccone, A. (2014) Lineage fusion in Galápagos giant tortoises. Molecular Ecology, 23(21), 5276-5290. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12919  

Kleindorfer, S., O’Connor, J., Dudaniec, R., Myers, S., Robertson, J., & Sulloway, F. (2014) Species Collapse via Hybridization in Darwin’s Tree Finches. The American Naturalist, 183(3), 325-341. DOI: 10.1086/674899  

  • December 9, 2014
  • 04:34 PM
  • 61 views

Parents with a Strong Bond Hatch Fearless Chicks

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Personality is written not just in the genes, but in the egg yolk. It can even come from the kind of relationship that exists between an animal’s parents. Researchers found new evidence for this when they played matchmaker for several dozen quail. Even though the eggs were taken from their parents before hatching, bird couples in committed relationships had chicks with markedly different behaviors than couples who only dated.

It’s not hard to forge a bond between Japanese quail (Coturnix ... Read more »

Le Bot O, Lumineau S, de Margerie E, Pittet F, Trabalon M, & Houdelier C. (2014) Long-life partners or sex friends? Impact of parental pair bond on offspring personality. The Journal of experimental biology, 217(Pt 23), 4184-92. PMID: 25359936  

  • December 9, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 66 views

Winter Gives Me The Shakes

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Your body has several mechanisms to protect you from the cold – and some are just plain weird. You can trap air next to your body just like when your cat hisses and all his fur stands on end. Adults can shiver, but babies can generate heat without shivering. What’s more, adults can learn to act like babies - it will help them stay warm and lose weight!... Read more »

Torkamani, N., Jones, L., Rufaut, N., & Sinclair, R. (2014) Beyond goosebumps: Does the arrector pili muscle have a role in hair loss?. International Journal of Trichology, 6(3), 88. DOI: 10.4103/0974-7753.139077  

Jiménez-Aranda, A., Fernández-Vázquez, G., Campos, D., Tassi, M., Velasco-Perez, L., Tan, D., Reiter, R., & Agil, A. (2013) Melatonin induces browning of inguinal white adipose tissue in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. Journal of Pineal Research. DOI: 10.1111/jpi.12089  

Lim, S., Honek, J., Xue, Y., Seki, T., Cao, Z., Andersson, P., Yang, X., Hosaka, K., & Cao, Y. (2012) Cold-induced activation of brown adipose tissue and adipose angiogenesis in mice. Nature Protocols, 7(3), 606-615. DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2012.013  

Bi, S., & Li, L. (2013) Browning of white adipose tissue: role of hypothalamic signaling. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1302(1), 30-34. DOI: 10.1111/nyas.12258  

  • December 9, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 60 views

Winter Gives Me The Shakes

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Your body has several mechanisms to protect you from the cold – and some are just plain weird. You can trap air next to your body just like when your cat hisses and all his fur stands on end. Adults can shiver, but babies can generate heat without shivering. What’s more, adults can learn to act like babies - it will help them stay warm and lose weight!... Read more »

Torkamani, N., Jones, L., Rufaut, N., & Sinclair, R. (2014) Beyond goosebumps: Does the arrector pili muscle have a role in hair loss?. International Journal of Trichology, 6(3), 88. DOI: 10.4103/0974-7753.139077  

Jiménez-Aranda, A., Fernández-Vázquez, G., Campos, D., Tassi, M., Velasco-Perez, L., Tan, D., Reiter, R., & Agil, A. (2013) Melatonin induces browning of inguinal white adipose tissue in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. Journal of Pineal Research. DOI: 10.1111/jpi.12089  

Lim, S., Honek, J., Xue, Y., Seki, T., Cao, Z., Andersson, P., Yang, X., Hosaka, K., & Cao, Y. (2012) Cold-induced activation of brown adipose tissue and adipose angiogenesis in mice. Nature Protocols, 7(3), 606-615. DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2012.013  

Bi, S., & Li, L. (2013) Browning of white adipose tissue: role of hypothalamic signaling. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1302(1), 30-34. DOI: 10.1111/nyas.12258  

  • December 9, 2014
  • 06:36 AM
  • 64 views

Anti-Toxoplasma gondii IgM Antibodies in Acute Psychosis

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A very brief post today to bring to your attention once again the paper by Joel Monroe and colleagues [1] which concluded that there was: "An increased seroprevalence of T. gondii [Toxoplasma gondii] IgM in patients with acute psychosis". I had touched upon this study in a previous post not-so-long-ago covering T. gondii infection and schizophrenia (see here) which also covered some of the various background research history on this topic.Looks like his optometrist has a sense of humor.What's more to say? Well, not much more aside from another choice quote from Monroe et al about how their meta-analysis: "complements and extends previous findings, suggesting that infections may be relevant to the etiopathophysiology of relapse in some patients with schizophrenia" as a function of those IgM antibodies. Indeed, the very interesting connection between infection, immune response to infection and psychiatric symptoms seems to be going further and faster than I'd ever envisaged [2].Next stop: mechanisms of effect, and how about the paper from Parlog and colleagues [3] for starters, followed by a little more discussion about how we might reduce exposure to the bloody gondii [4]...Spandau Ballet: Gold.----------[1] Monroe JM. et al. Meta-Analysis of Anti-Toxoplasma gondii IgM Antibodies in Acute Psychosis. Schizophr Bull. 2014 Nov 9. pii: sbu159.[2] Krause DL. et al. Infectious Agents are Associated with Psychiatric Diseases. Ment Illn. 2012 Jul 11;4(1):e10.[3] Parlog A. et al. Toxoplasma gondii induced neuronal alterations. Parasite Immunol. 2014 Nov 6. doi: 10.1111/pim.12157.[4] Opsteegh M. et al. Intervention Strategies to Reduce Human Toxoplasma gondii Disease Burden. Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Sep 15. pii: ciu721.----------Monroe JM, Buckley PF, & Miller BJ (2014). Meta-Analysis of Anti-Toxoplasma gondii IgM Antibodies in Acute Psychosis. Schizophrenia bulletin PMID: 25385789... Read more »

  • December 8, 2014
  • 06:50 PM
  • 72 views

Don't miss out! Dogs Science from November

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Catch up! Participate! Plan your conferences for 2015! Check out all the latest in canine science from November here, thanks to the magic of Storify (if you don't see a beautiful array of handy snippets below, please click this link to view)[View the story "Do You Believe in Dog? [01-30 November 2014]" on Storify]Further reading: Cobb M., Paul McGreevy, Alan Lill & Pauleen Bennett (2014). The advent of canine performance science: Offering a sustainable future for working dogs, Behavioural Processes, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2014.10.012 Hecht J. (2014). Citizen science: A new direction in canine behavior research, Behavioural Processes, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2014.10.014Bradshaw J.W.S. & Rachel A. Casey (2009). Dominance in domestic dogs—useful construct or bad habit?, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 4 (3) 135-144. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2008.08.004Gosling S.D. & Oliver P. John (2003). A Dog's Got Personality: A Cross-Species Comparative Approach to Personality Judgments in Dogs and Humans., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85 (6) 1161-1169. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.85.6.1161© Do You Believe in Dog? 2014... Read more »

  • December 8, 2014
  • 04:46 PM
  • 58 views

Electroreception in Mammals

by beredim in Strange Animals



The duck-billed platypis is one of the handful
mammals with the ability to sense electrical fields
By TwoWings, via Wikimedia Commons

Electroreception is the biological ability to perceive natural electrical stimuli or in simpler words, the ability to perceive the world via electricity.



Electroreception is quite common in aquatic or amphibious animals, since water is a much better conductor... Read more »

Scheich, H., Langner, G., Tidemann, C., Coles, R., & Guppy, A. (1986) Electroreception and electrolocation in platypus. Nature, 319(6052), 401-402. DOI: 10.1038/319401a0  

Pettigrew JD. (1999) Electroreception in monotremes. The Journal of experimental biology, 202(Pt 10), 1447-54. PMID: 10210685  

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  • December 8, 2014
  • 03:13 PM
  • 84 views

Scientists find a hormone that makes you fatter

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Our waistlines are expanding, it’s no secret that around the world despite rampant hunger people are also getting fatter. While there are many things that are contributing to this — our increased food security, the cost of food, fast food, the increasing sugar supplied in food, etc — there are other theories as to why we are getting so heavy. Scientists have pointed towards bacteria, gut microbiota, and many other causes for our increased weight, now add to that list a common hormone that we all produce.... Read more »

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