Craig Venter is on a quest to find the Minimal bacterial genome. It seems the task is 70% complete now. We still don’t understand 30% of the minimum viable organism that we are able to build today, which means that, although we cannot understand what we cannot build, we need not necessarily understand what we can build.... Read more »
Hutchison, C., Chuang, R., Noskov, V., Assad-Garcia, N., Deerinck, T., Ellisman, M., Gill, J., Kannan, K., Karas, B., Ma, L.... (2016) Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome. Science, 351(6280). DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6253
Tardigrades, they are cute and cuddly — okay maybe not cuddly — but they have earned their nicknames, such as as moss piglets or water bears. Mostly because they look like, well bears (although I don’t see a piglet personally). These guys are eight-legged microscopic animals that have long fascinated scientists for their ability to survive extremes of temperature, pressure, lack of oxygen, and even radiation exposure. Talk about a thrill seeker they can even survive in space, without a sui........ Read more »
Georgios Koutsovoulosa, Sujai Kumara, Dominik R. Laetsch, Lewis Stevens, Jennifer Daub Claire Conlon, Habib Maroon, Fran Thomasa, Aziz A. Aboobakerc, and Mark Blaxter. (2016) No evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer in the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini. PNAS. DOI: 10.1101/033464
When doing pretrial research we have occasionally had mock jurors show up who were inebriated or high (yes, even at 7:45am), hostile or disruptive, confused more than the average person or obviously hearing voices or responding to companions no one else could see. Yes. Occasionally people with obviously serious psychiatric disorders make it through the […]
Narcissists and Pronouns: “I”, “me”, “mine”
What’s that book you’re reading as you wait to be impane........ Read more »
Vilhauer, R. (2015) Inner reading voices: An overlooked form of inner speech. Psychosis, 8(1), 37-47. DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2015.1028972
I'd like to start by making one thing abundantly clear about today's post: I am not insinuating that self-injurious behaviour (SIB) accompanying autism is solely under genetic (or epigenetic) control.As I've discussed before on this blog, there are potentially many, many reasons why SIB under the umbrella of the so-called 'challenging behaviours' occurs (see here). As and when it does happen, the onus is on those significant others to turn detective before anyone immediately reaches for somethin........ Read more »
Shirley, M., Frelin, L., López, J., Jedlicka, A., Dziedzic, A., Frank-Crawford, M., Silverman, W., Hagopian, L., & Pevsner, J. (2016) Copy Number Variants Associated with 14 Cases of Self-Injurious Behavior. PLOS ONE, 11(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149646
A novel clinical risk score developed for the acutely concussed pediatric population has a modest ability to discriminate between those at low, medium, or high risk for persistent postconcussion symptoms at 28 days.... Read more »
Zemek R, Barrowman N, Freedman SB, Gravel J, Gagnon I, McGahern C, Aglipay M, Sangha G, Boutis K, Beer D.... (2016) Clinical Risk Score for Persistent Postconcussion Symptoms Among Children With Acute Concussion in the ED. JAMA, 315(10), 1014-25. PMID: 26954410
Dopamine is love. Dopamine is reward. Dopamine is addiction.Neuroscientists have a love/hate relationship with how this monoamine neurotransmitter is portrayed in the popular press.wwlp.comthestranger.com[The claim of vagus nerve-stimulating headphones is worth a post in its own right.]observer.com“You can fold your laundry, but you can’t fold your dopamine.”- James Cole Abrams, M.A. (in Contemplative Psychotherapy)The word dopamine has become a shorthand for positive reinforcement, whethe........ Read more »
Zalocusky, K., Ramakrishnan, C., Lerner, T., Davidson, T., Knutson, B., & Deisseroth, K. (2016) Nucleus accumbens D2R cells signal prior outcomes and control risky decision-making. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature17400
When most of us think maggots, we probably don’t think anything good, but maybe we should start. In a proof-of-concept study, researchers have shown that genetically engineered green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) larvae can produce and secrete a human growth factor – a molecule that helps promote cell growth and wound healing.
... Read more »
Linger, R., Belikoff, E., Yan, Y., Li, F., Wantuch, H., Fitzsimons, H., & Scott, M. (2016) Towards next generation maggot debridement therapy: transgenic Lucilia sericata larvae that produce and secrete a human growth factor. BMC Biotechnology, 16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12896-016-0263-z
Do you haet typos? If you spot a grammo (a grammatical error), does your blood boil?
Some people are more offended by these kinds of linguistic errors than others, but why? Ann Arbor psychologists Julie E. Boland and Robin Queen examine this in a new PLOS ONE paper called If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages
The authors recruited 83 volunteers (on MTurk) and asked them to imagine that they'd placed an... Read more »
Boland JE, & Queen R. (2016) If You're House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages. PloS one, 11(3). PMID: 26959823
No matter how much I like modeling for the sake of modeling, or science for the sake of science, working in a hospital adds some constraints. At some point people look over at you measuring games in the Petri dish and ask “why are you doing this?” They expect an answer that involves something that […]... Read more »
Gatenby, R.A., & Gawlinski, E.T. (2003) The glycolytic phenotype in carcinogenesis and tumor invasion: insights through mathematical models. Cancer Research, 63(14), 3847-54. PMID: 12873971
Last month, we spoke of our vision of the future of humanity here at the lab. It makes sense that humanity would one-day step away from the static, non-living computer constructs we have designed. Moving us instead towards an organic alternative, one that can be readily repaired, replaced, or changed. While we cannot pretend to know what the future may hold, a new discovery helps bolster the stance we presented.
... Read more »
Lampa-Pastirk, S., Veazey, J., Walsh, K., Feliciano, G., Steidl, R., Tessmer, S., & Reguera, G. (2016) Thermally activated charge transport in microbial protein nanowires. Scientific Reports, 23517. DOI: 10.1038/srep23517
'The disrupted connectivity hypothesis of autism spectrum disorders: Time for the next phase in research' went the title of the paper by Roma Vasa and colleagues .Disrupted connectivity by the way, refers to the idea that "deficiencies in the way the brain coordinates and synchronizes activity amongst different regions may account for the clinical symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorders]." Picture if you will, the brain as a serious of telephone wires all connecting different parts of........ Read more »
Vasa, R., Mostofsky, S., & Ewen, J. (2016) The disrupted connectivity hypothesis of autism spectrum disorders: Time for the next phase in research. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2016.02.003
In today’s lexicon, the term mental illness is used pretty widely. It can be used to describe someone suffering from depression, to PTSD, to even someone suicidal. In fact, today it is sort of a catch all term for anyone who is involved in a mass shooting here in the US. We are getting off […]... Read more »
Elkington, K., Teplin, L., Abram, K., Jakubowski, J., Dulcan, M., & Welty, L. (2015) Psychiatric Disorders and Violence: A Study of Delinquent Youth After Detention. Journal of the American Academy of Child , 54(4), 302-31200000. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.01.002
Su, J., Chen, J., Lippold, K., Monavarfeshani, A., Carrillo, G., Jenkins, R., & Fox, M. (2016) Collagen-derived matricryptins promote inhibitory nerve terminal formation in the developing neocortex. The Journal of Cell Biology, 212(6), 721-736. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201509085
Jacobs, R., Barba, A., Gowins, J., Klumpp, H., Jenkins, L., Mickey, B., Ajilore, O., Peciña, M., Sikora, M., Ryan, K.... (2016) Decoupling of the amygdala to other salience network regions in adolescent-onset recurrent major depressive disorder. Psychological Medicine, 1-13. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291715002615
Dowell, N., Cooper, E., Tibble, J., Voon, V., Critchley, H., Cercignani, M., & Harrison, N. (2016) Acute Changes in Striatal Microstructure Predict the Development of Interferon-Alpha Induced Fatigue. Biological Psychiatry, 79(4), 320-328. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.05.015
Li, W., Lai, T., Bohon, C., Loo, S., McCurdy, D., Strober, M., Bookheimer, S., & Feusner, J. (2015) Anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder are associated with abnormalities in processing visual information. Psychological Medicine, 1-12. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291715000045
Vita, A., De Peri, L., Deste, G., Barlati, S., & Sacchetti, E. (2015) The Effect of Antipsychotic Treatment on Cortical Gray Matter Changes in Schizophrenia: Does the Class Matter? A Meta-analysis and Meta-regression of Longitudinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies. Biological Psychiatry, 78(6), 403-412. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.02.008
Viruses that infect bacteria are among the most abundant life forms on Earth. Indeed, our oceans, soils and potentially even our bodies would be overrun with bacteria were it not for bacteria-eating viruses, called bacteriophages, that keep the microbial balance of ecological niches in check. Now, a new study suggests that bacteriophages made of RNA — a close chemical cousin of DNA — likely play a much larger role in shaping the bacterial makeup of worldwide habitats than previously ........ Read more »
Drug Discovery, Part II
This posts talks about the next stages of Drug Discovery. How is an initial hit first found? And why is it like Lego?... Read more »
Harvey, A., Edrada-Ebel, R., & Quinn, R. (2015) The re-emergence of natural products for drug discovery in the genomics era. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 14(2), 111-129. DOI: 10.1038/nrd4510
AG McCluskey. (2016) Blocks . Zongo's Cancer Diaries. info:/
I'm a fan of the idea that the categorical labelling system currently used in psychiatric and psychological circles probably isn't fit for purpose these days. Y'know, the idea that compartmentalising people into diagnostic boxes with an overarching title whilst useful for general identity and statistical classification, does little to inform about individual experiences or the important cross-over in presentation between and across different labels. Don't even get me started on how the use of su........ Read more »
Musliner, K., Munk-Olsen, T., Laursen, T., Eaton, W., Zandi, P., & Mortensen, P. (2016) Heterogeneity in 10-Year Course Trajectories of Moderate to Severe Major Depressive Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3365
Just as people throughout history have been subject to prejudice and persecution because of their religious beliefs, recent evidence suggests that atheists today are discriminated against because of their lack of faith. For instance, in a 2012 study, nearly one in two atheists and agnostics reported having experienced discrimination at work, in the family and elsewhere. Another US study that asked respondents to imagine their children marrying people from different social groups found that parti........ Read more »
Giddings, L., & Dunn, T. (2015) The Robustness of Anti-Atheist Prejudice as Measured by Way of Cognitive Errors. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 26(2), 124-135. DOI: 10.1080/10508619.2015.1006487
I believe we all have already experienced this: The same concept can sometimes be defined in very different ways by different authors. Conceptual clarity would certainly be great, but how can we achieve it? Think, for example, about concepts such as trust, integration or dependence. So, what do we really mean when we are talking […]... Read more »
Podsakoff, P., MacKenzie, S., & Podsakoff, N. (2016) Recommendations for Creating Better Concept Definitions in the Organizational, Behavioral, and Social Sciences. Organizational Research Methods, 19(2), 159-203. DOI: 10.1177/1094428115624965
"Mental disorders have become the most common cause of receiving benefits, with the number of claimants rising by 103% from 1995 to 1.1 million in 2014. Claimants with other conditions fell by 35%."The findings reported by Sebastião Viola & Joanna Moncrieff  (open-access) provide stark evidence of both how prevalent mental illness is these days, and the financial implications of such illness to both the individual and more generally society.Set within the context of some pretty infl........ Read more »
Viola, S., & Moncrieff, J. (2016) Claims for sickness and disability benefits owing to mental disorders in the UK: trends from 1995 to 2014. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 2(1), 18-24. DOI: 10.1192/bjpo.bp.115.002246
We know homologs are genes related by common ancestry. But throw complex evolutionary events into the mix and things can get little dicey. Under the umbrella of homologs exist many different categories: orthologs, paralogs, ohnologs, xenologs, co-ortholog, in-paralogs, out-paralogs, paleologs, among others. All of these —log terms have a specific meaning (see my previous blog post on orthology and paralogy), but now we will focus on one in particular: homoeologs.
But before we get into ........ Read more »
Glover, N., Redestig, H., & Dessimoz, C. (2016) Homoeologs: What Are They and How Do We Infer Them?. Trends in Plant Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.02.005
Most mammals are solitary. How did monogamy evolve? I discuss some possible hypotheses.... Read more »
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