If you were born in the 1960′s and if you happen to do The Twist with your partner your heart would of course be racing! Thanks to G protein-coupled inwardly-rectifying potassium channels (GIRKs) your heart can beat back to normal levels. Ironically, the protein does a “twist” to slow down the heart. Go Figure!
GIRK is basically a potassium ion-transporter and found in cardiac cells. It regulates the membrane voltage after the GPCR activated G-beta and G-gamma bind to the transporter.
In this groundbreaking work, three structures were used to understand the dynamics of the transporter.... Read more »
Whorton, M., & MacKinnon, R. (2013) X-ray structure of the mammalian GIRK2–βγ G-protein complex. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature12241
This month, the Women's Business Council released a report revealing that underuse of women's workplace potential costs the economy £160 billion.As well as structural issues, such as inadequate workplace childcare, psychological factors can also provide obstacles to an unrestricted workplace. A recent paper by Leah Sheppard and Karl Aquino suggests one may be the tendency to overstate the consequences of female-female workplace conflict. There is a pedigree of research into female-female conflict, sometimes framed in terms of the 'Queen Bee', and the data is explained through plausible psychological mechanisms. For instance, social identity theory predicts that when a group has a low status in its social environment its members will partly inherit that status, unless they distance themselves from the group and define themselves by other means.Men tend to hold higher status roles in organisations, so women are incentivised to minimise identification with their gender, focusing on their non-feminine attributes and distancing themselves from other women. When in a position of power, these attributes are often described in the literature as hallmarks of a 'Queen Bee', and there is interesting research (reported by our Research Digest) on how such an attitude can be the consequence of workplace conditions.However, Sheppard and Aquino highlight that there is very little data showing behavioural consequences - that women in power are more likely to actually deny positions to other women, for instance. In fact, data from a related field points the opposite way: female mentors with female proteges tend to put in more mentoring effort than men with male ones. And this points to a second critique: the lack of attention to whether male same-sex conflict has a similar incidence or severity. On an evolutionary account, same-sex competition is likely to be more commonplace for either sex. But it is specifically tensions between women that get communicated as a phenomena, possibly because it is in violation of gender norms – women are supposed to be nurturers – and hence both more salient and judged as more negative.Sheppard and Aquino looked at this systematically through an online experiment, where an even mix of male and female participants were presented with a single account of a fictional conflict between either two men, two women, or one party of each gender. In their feedback, the 152 participants in the various conditions saw the conflict as comparably bad for the organisation, long-term. However, those in the female-female condition believed it was less likely that the parties would reconcile, and that the personal consequences for each - in terms of satisfaction, emotional identification with the organisation and willingness to stay in role - were also worse. Both effects were statistically significant.Such perceptions have implications: as the authors note, 'a manager might decide against assigning two female subordinates to a task that requires them to work together if he or she suspects that they cannot set their interpersonal difficulties aside'. The message to take away is that scientific findings matter, but baselines do too. Research in a vacuum can be counterproductive to understanding the true nature of things, and as things stand it's not clear whether workplace conflict between women deserves a special status in public perception. Most of all, we need research that goes beyond attitudes to what actually happens in the workplace, in all-male relationships as well as all-female.Sheppard, L., & Aquino, K. (2012). Much Ado About Nothing? Observers' Problematization of Women's Same-Sex Conflict at Work Academy of Management Perspectives, 27 (1), 52-62 DOI: 10.5465/amp.2012.0005Further reading:Epstein, C. F. (1980). Women’s attitudes toward other women: Myths and their consequences. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 34(3), 322–333. ... Read more »
Sheppard, L., & Aquino, K. (2012) Much Ado About Nothing? Observers' Problematization of Women's Same-Sex Conflict at Work. Academy of Management Perspectives, 27(1), 52-62. DOI: 10.5465/amp.2012.0005
A property known as «entanglement» is a fundamental characteristic of quantum mechanics. Physicists and mathematicians at ETH Zurich show now how different forms of this phenomenon can be efficiently and systematically classified into categories. The method should help to fully exploit the potential of novel quantum technologies.... Read more »
Andreas Trabesinger. (2013) Spooky action put to order. ETH Life. info:/
Modern apes eat mostly fruits and leaves in heavily wooded forests. Until recently, scientists believed that early human ancestors shared this diet. But a series of studies from the University of Utah found that our ancestors expanded their culinary tastes to grasses and grains, as much as 3.5 million years ago.... Read more »
Cerling TE, Manthi FK, Mbua EN, Leakey LN, Leakey MG, Leakey RE, Brown FH, Grine FE, Hart JA, Kaleme P.... (2013) Stable isotope-based diet reconstructions of Turkana Basin hominins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23733966
Wynn JG, Sponheimer M, Kimbel WH, Alemseged Z, Reed K, Bedaso ZK, & Wilson JN. (2013) Diet of Australopithecus afarensis from the Pliocene Hadar Formation, Ethiopia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23733965
Emotionally intelligent lawyers know that wanting to feel bad, mad, or angry may serve a useful purpose. Emotion regulation can help you achieve important goals. New research has explored the link between emotion regulation and emotional intelligence (EI). People with higher EI harness their emotions, even negative ones, manage them better, and achieve important [...]The post The [Lawyer’s] Smart Use of Unpleasant Emotions–Emotionally Intelligent Emotion Regulation appeared first on Psycholawlogy.... Read more »
Ford BQ, & Tamir M. (2012) When getting angry is smart: emotional preferences and emotional intelligence. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 12(4), 685-9. PMID: 22309721
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
Most of us likely think taking the time to build rapport in an interview setting makes sense. You want the interviewee to trust you and feel comfortable sharing information. But what about in a crime interview? Is it worth it? Specifically, does it accomplish anything other than making the eyewitness feel good? If even that? [...]
Helping jurors ‘see’ what eye witnesses said they saw
The Jury Expert: Umami, your financial bottom line & your iPad
Eyewitness testimony: It’s how you talk and who I think you are
... Read more »
Vallano, J., & Compo, N. (2011) A comfortable witness is a good witness: rapport-building and susceptibility to misinformation in an investigative mock-crime interview. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25(6), 960-970. DOI: 10.1002/acp.1789
Development is, literally, the journey of a life time, and it is a trip still as mysterious as it is remarkable. Despite new methods to probe how an animal or plant forms from a single cell, biologists have much to learn about the unimaginably complex process. To identify some of the field’s persistent riddles, Senior Editors Beverly Purnell and Stella Hurtley and the news staff of Science have consulted with developmental biologists on our Board of Reviewing Editors and elsewhere. The mysteries offered here are a humbling reminder that our knowledge of development remains to a great extent embryonic.... Read more »
Vogel, G. (2013) How Do Organs Know When They Have Reached the Right Size?. Science, 340(6137), 1156-1157. DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6137.1156-b
I'm proud of my quite 'unusual' area of autism research interest focused primarily on whether diet might, in some way, shape or form, be linked to or impact on some cases of the autisms. It's not been a particularly popular area of research down the years it has to be said. Most of which I've put down to its links to areas far outside of the behavioural dyad (as its known these days). That and all the gastrointestinal (GI) baggage inevitably associated with diets like the gluten- and casein-free (GFCF) diet: leaky gut, gut bacteria, etc. which have been allied with other 'factors' leading to a sort of scientific death-by-association in some quarters.Penfold @Wikipedia Outside of the considerable politics, there is an evidence base to diet and autism. It's not a particularly strong scientific base it has to be said, but there are a few randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to be found, and in agreement with Tim Buie's latest take on gluten-free dietary intervention and autism* "There may be a subgroup of patients who might benefit from a gluten-free diet". Though we still don't know who.Dr Buie, by the way, has also talked about things like lactose (the sugar in milk) intolerance and gut dysbiosis in cases of autism extending the potential of a dietary link. Assuming you adhere to the notion of the autisms - with all their heterogeneity and comorbidity - you might be inclined to also think that autism might not just be a condition of the grey-pink matter floating in the skull. Or maybe not....Hopefully not being too 'me, me, me', I'm actually involved in writing a book about the area of diet and autism as we speak. It's been an interesting journey and allowed me to dig deep into the available science behind diet including some gems such as per this paper**. Outside of just GFCF diets, a variety of other food changes have also been on the research menu with autism in mind, including the ketogenic diet.I've talked about the ketogenic diet before - what it is and how it is starting to enter mainstream medicine when it comes to managing certain types of epilepsy. Briefly, it's all about high fat (no, not that Hai Fat) and low carbohydrates and putting the body into a state known as ketosis. Indeed how this state seems to affect seizure patterns for some people. Yes, I know a similar sort of diet, sorry nutritional approach, has also been suggested as a weight loss measure but I'm not really that interested in that sort of thing on this blog.With autism in mind and outside of any seizure-linked effect, there has been a suggestion, a small suggestion, that a ketogenic diet might also be able to affect certain behaviours linked to autism too as per the paper by Evangeliou and colleagues***. In a more case-study fashion, I'll also draw your attention to my fairly recent discussions on the paper by Martha Herbert and Julie Buckley (see here) on similar things. Other than that, we've got a bit of a scientific black hole when it comes to the question of whether such a very restrictive dietary intervention could 'help' where autism is present and who might be best responders.The paper by David Ruskin and colleagues**** (open-access) which I'm finally getting to after quite a long-winded introduction, represents an addition to that autism-ketogenic diet literature and their observations of the BTBR 'Dangermouse' when on a ketogenic diet. OK I've exaggerated slightly. The BTBR mouse model of autism is not really Dangermouse; just a name I've assigned from my mis-spent youth watching far too much TV (see this post). But it is still quite a good mouse model of autism despite some recent criticism.The Ruskin paper is open-access so I'm not going to go over the top with any description. It went something like: take several BTBR mice. House them with other mice (C57Bl/6). At 5 weeks of age, feed some of the mixed caged mice a ketogenic diet (KD) and others a control diet. Test mouse behaviour at 3-5 weeks of diet. Report results.The results: well, the KD mice were certainly showing signs of ketosis as per some blood chemistry results including some much lower blood glucose levels (interesting!*****). There were also some interesting differences recorded to elements of mouse behaviour as a function of the use of the KD or not and mouse strain: "the KD did not affect behavior in C57Bl/6 mice". Importantly "the beneficial behavioral effects of the KD are not secondary to its well-known efficacy against epilepsy and seizure activity".OK, it's another study of mouse behaviour and making the quite considerable leap from a proposed mouse model of autism to real-life autism. Mouse behaviour is not human behaviour (he says cleaning his whiskers). I'm no expert on how one goes about examining and testing mouse behaviour so I'll have to assume that the authors knew what they were doing and did it to the best of their abilities. I'm not necessarily expecting the Ruskin study to mark any substantial shift in opinion on how people view the research area of diet and autism it has to be said.What this study does offer though, is another potentially fascinating glimpse into how diet might be related to some cases of autism. Indeed, whether the whole or facets of the intervention are worthy of much greater study. For example, I earlier mentioned Tim Buie's work on carbs and autism. The question is whether the lower carbohydrate load attached to a ketogenic diet might be the more important variable over and above fat, bearing in mind that there might be issues there too? Similarly, the authors ask whether the ketogenic diet might be something to consider where autism and certain types of epilepsy exist; as per another quote: "a KD could offer dual benefits in this difficult clinical population". Bear in mind however, I offer nothing like medical or clinical evidence by suggesting all this. Just speculating.To close and paying homage to the era of Dangermouse (1980s), here's Neneh and Buffalo Stance.. ("know wot I mean?")----------* Buie T. The relationship of autism and gluten. Clin Ther. 2013; 35: 578-583.** Asperger H. Psychopathology of children with coeliac disease. Ann Paediatr. 1961; 197: 346-351.*** Evangeliou A. et al. Application of a ketogenic diet in children with autistic behavior: pilot study. J Child Neurol. 2003; 18: 113-118.**** Ruskin DN. et al. Ketogenic diet improves core symptoms of autism in BTBR mice. PLoS ONE. 2013; 8: e65021.****... Read more »
Ruskin, D., Svedova, J., Cote, J., Sandau, U., Rho, J., Kawamura, M., Boison, D., & Masino, S. (2013) Ketogenic Diet Improves Core Symptoms of Autism in BTBR Mice. PLoS ONE, 8(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065021
This video shows a demonstration flight of a new helicopter. But the helicopter isn’t new; the way it’s controlled is. The entire flight was managed by the thoughts of a man wearing a cap with electrodes. The researchers think that if a helicopter can be piloted by detachable electrodes, then these electrodes could be used to make non-invasive limbs for the disabled.... Read more »
Lafleur K, Cassady K, Doud A, Shades K, Rogin E, & He B. (2013) Quadcopter control in three-dimensional space using a noninvasive motor imagery-based brain-computer interface. Journal of neural engineering, 10(4), 46003. PMID: 23735712
Last summer, Nookala et al., published the structure of the C-terminus of the FLCN protein, and showed that this portion of FLCN formed a divergent DENN domain. DENN domain proteins have Guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) activity towards Rab GTPases, … Continue reading →... Read more »
Zhang D, Iyer LM, He F, & Aravind L. (2012) Discovery of Novel DENN Proteins: Implications for the Evolution of Eukaryotic Intracellular Membrane Structures and Human Disease. Frontiers in genetics, 283. PMID: 23248642
What should you do if you run an ANOVA and get a significant result you did not anticipate?
a) Describe this as my main effect of interest, revising my hypothesis to argue for a site-specific sex effect
b) Describe the result as an exploratory finding in need of replication
c) Ignore the result as it was not predicted and is likely to be a false positive
In this post I discuss how unexpected results are very likely to arise by chance, especially in designs with 3 or more factors. The scientific literature is awash with non-replicable results because of a failure to appreciate this point.... Read more »
A quick look on what science has told us about how dogs imitate models. Turns out, dogs are copy cats.... Read more »
Range, F., Heucke, S., Gruber, C., Konz, A., Huber, L., & Virányi, Z. (2009) The effect of ostensive cues on dogs’ performance in a manipulative social learning task. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 120(3-4), 170-178. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.05.012
Virányi, Z., & Range, F. (2009) How does ostensive communication influence social learning in dogs?. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 4(2), 47. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2008.10.023
The first time I was started thinking about dental imaging from a different point of view was when I heard in a talk the speaker saying: "These are statistics about medical imaging, without dental imaging.". I wondered "Why are dental imaging statistics not included?"... Read more »
Vandenberghe B, Jacobs R, & Bosmans H. (2010) Modern dental imaging: a review of the current technology and clinical applications in dental practice. European radiology, 20(11), 2637-55. PMID: 20544352
I am an air force brat. My father and my father-in-law enlisted in the German and US Air Forces, respectively. They served during the Cold War when I was born in 1961 a few month after the Berlin Wall went … Continue reading →... Read more »
Elwood, N.J. and J.W. Gaithwaite. (2007) Perpetuating a Pier. Civil Engineering, 77(5), 62-67. info:/
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have designed a new type of nanostructured-carbon-based catalyst that could pave the way for reliable, economical next-generation batteries and alkaline fuel cells, providing for practical use of wind- and solar-powered electricity, as well as enhanced hybrid electric vehicles.... Read more »
Chung, H., Won, J., & Zelenay, P. (2013) Active and stable carbon nanotube/nanoparticle composite electrocatalyst for oxygen reduction. Nature Communications, 1922. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2944
Much have been made in the media recently, of a February 2013 paper, published by a German group in the Annals of Internal Medicine, claiming that acupuncture may help relieve seasonal allergies. Always interested in examining the bold claims of efficacy by various forms of pseudoscientific, wannabe-medicine modalities (such as homeopathy, naturopathy, and so forth), I elected to go to the source; the paper was behind an annoying paywall, but thankfully, I had institutional access, and dove in. The paper... Read more... Read more »
Brinkhaus, B. (2013) Acupuncture in Patients With Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 158(4), 225. DOI: 10.7326/0003-4819-158-4-201302190-00002
Why do we connect and collaborate, deciding to "walk in the light of creative altruism" instead of the "darkness of destructive selfishness"? Is it because of subtle behavioral clues that make us "click" and consider the other person a part of the group? Or is it because it smells like team spirit? It very well might be. We (literally) smell love, victory, fear, along with chemicals that motivate us to cooperate. As was recently shown in double-blind placebo-controlled studies that quantitatively measured generosity and cooperation. Androstadienone, a rather unpleasant smelling molecule abundant in male sweat could make us more cooperative and more likely to think of the other person as "one of us". This molecule, created from male sex hormone testosterone possibly with the help of coryneform bacteria living under arms, was previously shown to have an effect on women - depending on social context and the time in their menstrual cycle. Even though androstadienone does not smell particularly plaasant - rather musky, with subtle urine-like and alcohol notes - merely smelling it is sufficient to maintain high levels of energy-boosting hormone cortisol - possibly by inhibiting an enzyme (the 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 aka 11β-HSD1) responsible for its reactivation from cortisone.AndrostadienoneAndrostadienone is related to another steroid estratetraenol found in the urine of pregnant women. Both molecules in large concentrations can affect mood - improving it in females (also increasing their feeling of being focused and sensitivity to pain) while suppressing males. High testosterone males might even get depressed. So it might not be a good idea to sweat too much, but the right amount of sweating is actually helpful. If you are a male. When it comes to men deciding to cooperate with women, chemistry alone is less helpful. As in the old monkey experiment (Michael and Zumpe, 1982) where the best female strategy was to block male's access to other female monkeys. So, don't sweat it ladies. Just be dominant.REFERENCESHuoviala P, & Rantala MJ (2013). A Putative Human Pheromone, Androstadienone, Increases Cooperation between Men. PloS one, 8 (5) PMID: 23717389Lundström JN, Hummel T, & Olsson MJ (2003). Individual differences in sensitivity to the odor of 4,16-androstadien-3-one. Chemical senses, 28 (7), 643-50 PMID: 14578126 Michael RP, Zumpe D. (1982) Influence of olfactory signals on the reproductive behaviour of social groups of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). J Endocrinol. 95(2):189-205. PMID: 7175415... Read more »
Huoviala P, & Rantala MJ. (2013) A Putative Human Pheromone, Androstadienone, Increases Cooperation between Men. PloS one, 8(5). PMID: 23717389
Lundström JN, Hummel T, & Olsson MJ. (2003) Individual differences in sensitivity to the odor of 4,16-androstadien-3-one. Chemical senses, 28(7), 643-50. PMID: 14578126
A paper came out in today’s Nature about glacial melting and its contribution to sea level rise. This paper does not present new research, but rather summarizes and evaluates the last several years of research on modeling and measuring contiental glaciers and their dynamics. From the Abstract: Since the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…... Read more »
The most commercially popular negative electrode material used in lithium-ion batteries is graphite. While silicone could be a much more efficient choice, all silicon-based designs have a major flaw—these structures tend to crack or break easily when they are used repeatedly.... Read more »
Wu, H., Yu, G., Pan, L., Liu, N., McDowell, M., Bao, Z., & Cui, Y. (2013) Stable Li-ion battery anodes by in-situ polymerization of conducting hydrogel to conformally coat silicon nanoparticles. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2941
Current drug treatment approaches for insomnia have significant limitations. Benzodiazepine receptor drugs have clinical effectiveness but may contribute to morning sedation and cognitive impairment.One promising drug development target is the orexin receptor. The effect of orexin-A on arousal and sleep has been extensively studied in rat models. Injection of orexin-A into the brain in rats results in increased firing of the locus coeruleus, increased physical activity, reduced sleep time, reduced REM sleep and reduced slow wave or deep sleep.These effects have led to studies of orexin receptor antagonist drugs in both animals and human trials. Paolo Bettica and colleagues in Italy and Germany recently published a study of an orexin antagonist drug in a series of men with primary insomnia.The key elements of the design of this study included:Subjects: 52 males with a diagnosis of primary insomnia confirmed by two baseline nights of polysomnography (sleep lab study) that demonstrated less the 7 hours sleep per night, sleep latency 30 minutes or more and an average time awake after sleep onset of 30 minutes or moreStudy drug: orexin receptor antagonist SB-649868 administered at 10, 30 or 60 mg 90 minutes before bedtime compared to placeboStudy design: multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover designPrimary outcome measures: polysomnography measures of sleep latency, wake after sleep onset and total sleep timeAdverse effects measures: morning cognitive function testing including the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) and Verbal Learning Memory TestStatistics: Mixed effect modeling with period and treatment assignment as fixed effects and subjects as random effect. The main findings from the study were:Sleep latency: significant dose-dependent reduction in sleep latency times-55 minutes placebo, 29 minutes 10 mg dose, 22 minutes 30 mg dose and 11 minutes 60 mg dosePercentage of time in REM sleep: significant effects at 30 and 60 mg dose (23%, 25% versus 21% for placebo)Wake time after sleep onset: significant reductions in time awake after onset of sleep was noted for the 30 and 60 mg dose (45 minutes and 35 minutes versus 64 minutes for placebo)Total sleep time: significant dose-dependent increase in total sleep time-368 minutes placebo, 390 minutes 10 mg dose, 418 minutes 30 mg dose, 438 minutes 60 mg doseCognitive testing: 10 mg dose was associated with improved DSST scores, study drug administration was associated with a slight reduction in verbal memory performanceAdverse effects: increased study drug dose was associated with increased ratings of dry mouthStudy drug serum levels were analyzed with a consistent relationship between serum drug levels and improved sleep parameters.The authors noted a primary limitation of their study was restriction to a male sample only. This was done as the authors noted at the time of the study no data on reproductive toxicology in women had been completed. The study only focused on acute effects and does not provide any information on long-term effects of the drug on sleep.This study is an important study and will likely lead to additional clinical trials of orexin receptor antagonist drugs in insomnia. In the U.S., a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee recently recommended approval of the orexin receptor antagonist suvorexant for the treatment of insomnia. This signals that this class of agent may soon be available for clinical use.Photo of yellow crowned night heron from the authors files. Bettica P, Squassante L, Zamuner S, Nucci G, Danker-Hopfe H, & Ratti E (2012). The orexin antagonist SB-649868 promotes and maintains sleep in men with primary insomnia. Sleep, 35 (8), 1097-104 PMID: 22851805... Read more »
Bettica P, Squassante L, Zamuner S, Nucci G, Danker-Hopfe H, & Ratti E. (2012) The orexin antagonist SB-649868 promotes and maintains sleep in men with primary insomnia. Sleep, 35(8), 1097-104. PMID: 22851805
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