Hedgerows are important habitat features in the Irish landscape, and the Irish law protects hedgerows from cutting between March 31st and August 31st to coincide with the bird nesting season. However, exceptions are allowed in cases of health and safety. This blog gives recent examples of how these clauses are being used by some government bodies. ... Read more »
E.J.Lindquist,, R. D’Annunzio, A. Gerrand, K. MacDicken, F. Achard, R. Beuchle, A. Brink, H.D. Eva,, & P. Mayaux, J. San-Miguel-Ayanz . (2012) Global forest land-use change 1990–2005. . Stibig. FAO Forestry Paper No. 169. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and European Commission Joint Research Centre. Rome, FAO. info:/
Communication between cells takes many forms. There could be communication by direct contact, by sending out free molecules (like hormones) or by special structures (e.g. synapses). But how can parasites, that dwell inside their host cell, communicate with one another? … Continue reading →... Read more »
Regev-Rudzki N, Wilson DW, Carvalho TG, Sisquella X, Coleman BM, Rug M, Bursac D, Angrisano F, Gee M, Hill AF.... (2013) Cell-Cell Communication between Malaria-Infected Red Blood Cells via Exosome-like Vesicles. Cell, 153(5), 1120-33. PMID: 23683579
New research by UChicago neurobiologist Sliman Bensmaia shows that the nervous system reproduces the vibrations produced by the sense of touch in the nerves, and all the way to the brain.... Read more »
Harvey MA, Saal HP, Dammann JF 3rd, & Bensmaia SJ. (2013) Multiplexing Stimulus Information through Rate and Temporal Codes in Primate Somatosensory Cortex. PLoS biology, 11(5). PMID: 23667327
Australian researchers at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) just reported that after 5 years of hard work, they have developed a test, the first of its kind, to identify the safety of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).Read More... Read more »
Carlos Polanco J, Ho MS, Wang B, Zhou Q, Wolvetang E, Mason E, Wells CA, Kolle G, Grimmond SM, Bertoncello I.... (2013) Identification of Unsafe Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Lines Using a Robust Surrogate Assay for Pluripotency. Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio). PMID: 23728894
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh announced yesterday that they have taken a "vital step" towards understanding how cells harvested from skin tissue can be reprogrammed to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), saying their study could aid in understanding and treating several diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple sclerosis and muscular degeneration.Read More... Read more »
O'Malley J, Skylaki S, Iwabuchi KA, Chantzoura E, Ruetz T, Johnsson A, Tomlinson SR, Linnarsson S, & Kaji K. (2013) High-resolution analysis with novel cell-surface markers identifies routes to iPS cells. Nature. PMID: 23728301
Like diamond or graphite, graphene is a structural modification (an allotrope) of carbon, that has many special properties that make it a very useful material with great potential for application in technology. In essence, graphene is an isolated atomic plane of graphite, which is very light (1-square-meter sheet weighing only 0.77 milligrams) and at the same time very strong (graphene has a breaking strength over 100 times greater than a hypothetical steel film of the same thickness). The electrical properties of this novel material are being extensively researched for the wide range of potential graphene applications.... Read more »
Chen, R., Das, S., Jeong, C., Khan, M., Janes, D., & Alam, M. (2013) Co-Percolating Graphene-Wrapped Silver Nanowire Network for High Performance, Highly Stable, Transparent Conducting Electrodes. Advanced Functional Materials. DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201300124
Connolly, M., Chiu, K., Giblin, S., Kataoka, M., Fletcher, J., Chua, C., Griffiths, J., Jones, G., Fal'ko, V., Smith, C.... (2013) Gigahertz quantized charge pumping in graphene quantum dots. Nature Nanotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2013.73
Britnell, L., Ribeiro, R., Eckmann, A., Jalil, R., Belle, B., Mishchenko, A., Kim, Y., Gorbachev, R., Georgiou, T., Morozov, S.... (2013) Strong Light-Matter Interactions in Heterostructures of Atomically Thin Films. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1235547
Global Warming is the increase in the Earth’s temperature owing to the greenhouse effects of the release of CO2 and other gasses into the atmosphere, mainly by humans burning fossil fuel, but also by the release of Methane from oil wells and melting of Arctic permafrost, natural gas from leaky pipes, and so on. This…... Read more »
Petoukhov, V., Rahmstorf, S., Petri, S., & Schellnhuber, H. (2013) Quasiresonant amplification of planetary waves and recent Northern Hemisphere weather extremes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(14), 5336-5341. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222000110
Molecular Model of MelatoninInsomnia is a common problem in the general population and is linked to greater health care utilization and increased mortality risk.Primary sleep disorder including primary insomnia are conditions that are not explained by a medical, substance use or mental disorder. Treatment options for primary sleep disorders include psychological interventions and medications. Melatonin is a commonly used drug that is available over the counter in the United States.The effectiveness of melatonin in the treatment of sleep disorders has received significant attention in multiple clinical trials in adults and children. Eduardo Ferracioli-Oda from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil along with U.S. colleagues recently published a meta-analysis of melatonin clinical trials in the journal PLOS One.In the literature review the authors identified 19 studies that met criteria for inclusion of:Diagnosis: primary sleep disorder by DSM-IV criteriaDesign: randomized placebo controlled trials with at least 10 subjects (5 subjects if design was crossover)Study drug: primary study drug was melatoninResults published in EnglishUsing this approach, the authors were able to examine the effect of melatonin in a total of 1683 subjects with a primary sleep disorder. The summary of their analysis included the following key points:Dosage: melatonin dosage ranged from 0.5 mg to 5 mg in the studiesEffect on sleep latency (time to fall asleep): using all available data the effect of melatonin on sleep latency was a 7.1 minute reduction in time to fall asleep (95% confidence interval of 4.4 to 9.8 min)Effect on total sleep time: melatonin increased total sleep time by and estimated 8.3 minutes (95% confidence interval of 1.8 to 14.8 minutes)Effect on sleep efficacy (percent of time asleep while in bed): standardized mean difference of .22 (95% confidence interval of .13 to .32)The authors note in the discussion, that their analysis generally supports the effectiveness of melatonin in the treatment of primary sleep disorders including insomnia. They note the reduction in sleep latency seen with melatonin is somewhat less that with prescription hypnotic drugs in the benzodiazepine class. Studies of prescription hypnotics typically find a 10 to 20 minute reduction in sleep latency.Nevertheless, I agree with the author's conclusions that melatonin has a role to play in insomnia treatment due to it's relatively safe side effect profile, low cost and lack of long-term risk for tolerance and dependence.Although available without a prescription, individuals with significant sleep complaints should have a medical assessment to rule out a primary medical or mental disorder. Then an informed discussion of the options for treatment of primary sleep problems can be reviewed with a clinician.Molecular model of the chemical melatonin is from a Wikipedia Commons file authored by sbrools.Individuals with more interest in this meta-analysis of melatonin can access the full free-text article by clicking on the link below.Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, & Bloch MH (2013). Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders. PloS one, 8 (5) PMID: 23691095... Read more »
Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, & Bloch MH. (2013) Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders. PloS one, 8(5). PMID: 23691095
Over the past four days, I was fotunate to be a part of the Linked Ancient World Data Institute (#LAWDI). The purpose was to discuss, share and explore linked data and open access as applied to Ancient World and Classical material. The attendees selected included a range of faculty and students from around the world, … Continue reading »... Read more »
Roberts, C., & Mays, S. (2011) Study and restudy of curated skeletal collections in bioarchaeology: A perspective on the UK and the implications for future curation of human remains. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 21(5), 626-630. DOI: 10.1002/oa.1175
XVIII papes on lactation energetics... Read more »
Zhao ZJ, Song DG, Su ZC, Wei WB, Liu XB, & Speakman JR. (2013) Limits to sustained energy intake. XVIII. Energy intake and reproductive output during lactation in Swiss mice raising small litters. The Journal of experimental biology, 216(Pt 12), 2349-58. PMID: 23720804
A new study in Consciousness and Cognition demonstrates technology may be able to offer part of the solution: donning the skin of a dark-skinned avatar significantly decreased an individual’s racial biases.... Read more »
Peck, T., Seinfeld, S., Aglioti, S., & Slater, M. (2013) Putting yourself in the skin of a black avatar reduces implicit racial bias. Consciousness and Cognition, 22(3), 779-787. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2013.04.016
Surgeons still find it tricky to quickly and reliably stick a wet, slippery organ back together during invasive procedures. The currently available selection of ‘stick-you-together’ products – staples and chemical glues – do a decent job, but make a bit … Continue reading →... Read more »
Yang SY, O'Cearbhaill ED, Sisk GC, Park KM, Cho WK, Villiger M, Bouma BE, Pomahac B, & Karp JM. (2013) A bio-inspired swellable microneedle adhesive for mechanical interlocking with tissue. Nature communications, 1702. PMID: 23591869
When the Heritage Foundation published its controversial anti-immigration policy paper last month people from all corners of the internet swiftly banded together to debunk the paper’s claims about Hispanics having lower intelligence. Zack Beauchamp had the definitive takedown of co-author Jason Richwine’s Harvard dissertation, which laid out many of the Heritage paper’s arguments in more detail, but [...]... Read more »
Johnson, I., & Fujita, K. (2012) Change We Can Believe In: Using Perceptions of Changeability to Promote System-Change Motives Over System-Justification Motives in Information Search. Psychological Science, 23(2), 133-140. DOI: 10.1177/0956797611423670
Laurin, K., Gaucher, D., & Kay, A. (2013) Stability and the justification of social inequality. European Journal of Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.1949
Ten years ago, scientists released a map of our genetic blueprint. But, as Eric D. Green explains, there are many more mysteries left to unravel... Read more »
Elizabeth Quill. (2013) The Work Is Only Beginning on Understanding the Human Genome. Smithsonian Magazine. info:/
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvaniahave determined the role of a key growth factor, found in skin cells of limited quantities in humans, which helps hair follicles form and regenerate during the wound healing process. When this growth factor, called Fgf9, was overexpressed in a mouse model, there was a two- to three-fold increase in the number of new hair follicles produced. Researchers believe that this growth factor could be used therapeutically for people with various hair and scalp disorders. The study appears in an advance online publication of Nature Medicine.... Read more »
Kim Menard. (2013) Growth Factor Responsible for Triggering Hair Follicle Generation During Wound Healing Identified, Found in Cells of Short Supply in Humans. Penn Medicine. info:/
Braggarts who hype their own achievements while derogating those around them can fare well in a new situation. Their confidence appeals and they may achieve high status at first. But over the longer term evidence suggests that narcissists are harmful to themselves and others. They alienate people and their work performance is scored poorly by bosses. So why do they persist? Do they have insight into their narcissism? Do they realise what other people think of them? A new study aimed to find out.
Erika Carlson surveyed two samples. One was made up of 86 undergrads, who answered questions about themselves and also provided contacts for five informers - friends, partners and family - they too answered questions about the participants' personalities and behaviour. The second sample of 234 participants was recruited online via Amazon's Mechanical Turk (a network of volunteers who are paid for their time online) and they answered questions about their personality, behaviour and reputation.
Carlson found that participants who scored more highly on a narcissism questionnaire also tended to describe themselves as condescending and disagreeable and as people who criticise and brag. They also realised that other people see them this way. The narcissists recognised that their traits and behaviour weren't good for other people but they believed they were good for themselves.
In other words, narcissists are arrogant and they know it, but they don't care. In fact many said they aspired to be more narcissistic. "Narcissists do have genuine insight into their narcissism," said Carlson. "[They] seem to perceive narcissism as a 'get ahead' trait that brings them personal gain ... a personal strength, and justify their narcissism in terms of the benefits it has for them."
It's an intriguing finding but there are some limitations in the study. It's important to note this was a subclinical sample - overall levels of narcissism were not that high and it's not clear if the results would apply to people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Also, I found myself wishing for some kind of comparison. How did the narcissists' insight compare with high scorers on other personality traits? Are they unusually insightful and honest? Might that honesty be a hidden virtue of the narcissistic personality type?
Carlson, E. (2013). Honestly Arrogant or Simply Misunderstood? Narcissists' Awareness of their Narcissism. Self and Identity, 12 (3), 259-277 DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2012.659427
For group creativity, two narcissists are better than one
A deadly sin for modern times - Narcissistic myopia.
A psychopath, a narcissist & a Machiavellian enter a room, who was perceived more favourably? (journal abstract)
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.
... Read more »
Carlson, E. (2013) Honestly Arrogant or Simply Misunderstood? Narcissists' Awareness of their Narcissism. Self and Identity, 12(3), 259-277. DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2012.659427
Whilst grazing, as one does, on the plains of the Internet savanna, I stumbled across an interesting article by Williams and colleagues* (open-access) describing a protocol for a study looking at toe walking. As what normally happens with me, memories of autism research times gone by started to flood back, culminating with the question: what ever happened to research looking at toe walking in cases of autism?En Pointe @ Wikipedia Going back quite a few years now, I remembered one occasion when I had research reasons to be in contact with the family of a young girl diagnosed with autism. I quite vividly remember this youngster because of her almost ballet-like gait, hoisting her body weight (which it has to be said was only a very slender frame) on the front portion of her feet; her heels almost never touching the ground for the duration of my visit. The parents I recall, described how she would spend literally hours toe walking; her gait intertwined with various stereotypies depending on her mood and disposition at the time.Most people will know about the links suggested between autism and issues with gait as per studies like the one from Fournier and colleagues** and the one from Green and colleagues***. Indeed just flicking through an old copy of the ADI (Autism Diagnostic Interview) which I have to hand, I note that in the general behaviours section there is an entry under gait and the words 'up on toes' and 'toe-walking' detailed as part and parcel of the schedule, even if not part of the diagnostic algorithm.So what evidence is there for toe walking being linked to cases of autism?I was actually quite taken aback as to how few references there were for toe walking research in relation to autism as listed in PubMed. One the more important studies seems to be this one from Barrow and colleagues**** which was also discussed on a SFARI entry (see here). Barrow et al suggested that toe walking might be a facet of quite a few cases of autism - during childhood - and raised "the possibility of a secondary orthopedic deformity" to be present. Barrow also reported a disparity in results between the autisms (autism vs. Asperger syndrome) which might also tie into the various research looking at toe walking from a language point of view (see here) or the possibility of a cognitive developmental issue (see here).The possibility that toe walking might be a 'red flag' for the presentation of autism had been previously discussed as exemplified by the paper from Mandell and colleagues***** (open-access). As a parcel of behavioural presentations including 'hand flapping' and 'sustained odd play', they suggested that toe walking was associated with a decrease in the age of diagnosis. Someone it seems, has been taking its presence quite seriously.The paper by McDougle and colleagues****** (who is talking about some very interesting concepts these days) on tryptophan depletion in cases of autism offers some interesting links between everyone's favourite aromatic amino acid and behaviours such as toe walking. Their results, based on the very complicated area of tryptophan and serotonin chemistry in relation to autism, might have some connection back to more recent mouse model results (see here).Of course there are other papers looking at toe walking and autism (even with a potential mitochondrial slant to them) but I'm not going to bore you with all the details. Obviously one has to keep in mind that toe walking is not an exclusively autism-linked trait and that some children can present with such a behaviour without presenting with other features linked to a diagnosis of autism or anything else.I do wonder about a few things based on this collected work: whether we should, following Barrow's suggestion, be screening for orthopaedic issues where sustained toe walking presents in cases of autism, and indeed whether this heralds any link (or not) to things like joint hypermobility (see this post). Whether also toe walking might correlate with other signs and symptoms around either comorbidity (such as cerebral palsy) or even other slightly less well-defined motor-related behaviours are important questions too. That also, for the most part, examination of toe walking in cases of autism has tended to concentrate on the early years of childhood, leaves quite a wide gap into how far maturity acts on such behaviours, and indeed the extent to which toe walking persists into adulthood in cases of autism.To close, I don't do advice on this blog. But if you really want some life advice, then how about listening to this chap and starting with wearing sunscreen.... (dancing is also a good idea).----------* Williams CM. et al. Do external stimuli impact the gait of children with idiopathic toe walking? A study protocol for a within-subject randomised control trial. BMJ Open. 2013; 3: e002389.** Fournier KA. et al. Motor coordination in autism spectrum disorders: a synthesis and meta-analysis. J Autism Dev Disord. 2010; 40: 1227-1240.*** Green D. et al. The severity and nature of motor impairment in Asperger's syndrome: a comparison with specific developmental disorder of motor function. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2002; 43: 655-668.**** Barrow WJ. et al. Persistent toe walking in autism. J Child Neurol. 2011; 26: 619-621.***** Mandell DS. et al. Factors associated with age of diagnosis among children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2005; 116: 1480–1486.****** McDougle CJ. et al. Effects of tryptophan depletion in drug-free adults with autistic disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1996; 53: 993-1000.---------Barrow WJ, Jaworski M, & Accardo PJ (2011). Persistent toe walking in autism. Journal of child neurology, 26 (5), 619-21 PMID: 21285033... Read more »
Imagine if Miss Frizzle, science teacher extraordinaire, and the Magic School Bus really existed. We could all shrink down to the size of microscopic particles, fly up someone’s nose and enter their brain to investigate the inner workings of the mind – all in IRB-approved fashion of course. It certainly would help us in our attempt achieve the primary goal of biological sciences, which is to understand organisms in their most natural state of function. Karl Deisseroth and his team at Stanford realized that if lipids could be removed they could achieve higher quality images of brain tissue and thus pioneered a new technique they named CLARITY.... Read more »
Chung K, Wallace J, Kim SY, Kalyanasundaram S, Andalman AS, Davidson TJ, Mirzabekov JJ, Zalocusky KA, Mattis J, Denisin AK.... (2013) Structural and molecular interrogation of intact biological systems. Nature, 497(7449), 332-7. PMID: 23575631
As a means of humble-bragging, I like to tell people that I have been rejected from many prestigious universities; the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Yale are all on that list. Also on that list happens to be the University … Continue reading →... Read more »
Tetlock, P., Kristel, O., Elson, S., Green, M., & Lerner, J. (2000) The psychology of the unthinkable: Taboo trade-offs, forbidden base rates, and heretical counterfactuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(5), 853-870. DOI: 10.1037//0022-35188.8.131.523
Researchers identify compounds that help liver cells grow outside the body.... Read more »
Anne Trafton. (2013) A step closer to artificial livers. MIT News Office. info:/
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