Post List

  • January 3, 2015
  • 05:17 AM
  • 157 views

Anti-epileptic meds and pediatric serum vitamin D levels

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

No, I am not becoming obsessed with the sunshine vitamin/hormone despite us being only a few days into 2015 and this being my second post on vitamin D. It's just the way that the research posts fall; although regular readers will probably have noticed I do enjoy reading the various research on all-things vitamin D.There has been an awakening...The research fodder for today's post is the paper by Yun-Jin Lee and colleagues [1] who measured 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels (in serum) for quit........ Read more »

  • January 2, 2015
  • 08:38 PM
  • 136 views

The Futility of Progesterone for Traumatic Brain Injury (but hope for the future)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem that affects about 1.5 million people per year in the US, with direct and indirect medical costs of over $50 billion. Rapid intervention to reduce the risk of death and disability is crucial. The diagnosis and treatment of TBI is an area of active preclinical and clinical research funded by NIH and other federal agencies. But during the White House BRAIN Conference, a leading neurosurgeon painted a pessimistic picture of current tre........ Read more »

Skolnick, B., Maas, A., Narayan, R., van der Hoop, R., MacAllister, T., Ward, J., Nelson, N., & Stocchetti, N. (2014) A Clinical Trial of Progesterone for Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(26), 2467-2476. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1411090  

Wright, D., Yeatts, S., Silbergleit, R., Palesch, Y., Hertzberg, V., Frankel, M., Goldstein, F., Caveney, A., Howlett-Smith, H., Bengelink, E.... (2014) Very Early Administration of Progesterone for Acute Traumatic Brain Injury. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(26), 2457-2466. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1404304  

  • January 2, 2015
  • 02:28 PM
  • 156 views

HIV vaccines may make things worse

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Despite what conspiracy theorists say, there is no cure for HIV. Not that people aren’t feverously working hard to find one, it is just really hard to do. To illustrate that point researchers have found that vaccines designed to protect against HIV can backfire and lead to increased rates of infection. This unfortunate effect has been seen in more than one vaccine clinical trial.... Read more »

Carnathan DG, Wetzel KS, Yu J, Lee ST, Johnson BA, Paiardini M, Yan J, Morrow MP, Sardesai NY, Weiner DB.... (2014) Activated CD4 CCR5 T cells in the rectum predict increased SIV acquisition in SIVGag/Tat-vaccinated rhesus macaques. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25550504  

  • January 2, 2015
  • 10:32 AM
  • 158 views

Raindrops Are like Tiny Asteroid Strikes

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Rainshowers are a lot more dramatic if you imagine every drop is a tiny asteroid imperiling miniature dinosaurs or sending little astronaut Ben Afflecks into space. It turns out your fantasy wouldn't be that far off, aside from that last part. Researchers have found startling similarities between asteroid craters and the fleeting indentations left by raindrops on sand.

At the University of Minnesota, physicist Xiang Cheng and three undergraduate students scrutinized what happens when a dr... Read more »

Runchen Zhao, Qianyun Zhang, Hendro Tjugito, & Xiang Cheng. (2014) Granular impact cratering by liquid drops: Understanding raindrop imprints through an analogy to asteroid strikes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. arXiv: 1407.7420v2

  • January 2, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 141 views

New Year’s Special: Flies in Space (and other news from 2014)

by Bethany Christmann in Fly on the Wall

Fruit fly researchers published thousands of papers in 2014, and several of them were picked up by the media. I even reviewed a couple of these popular stories on this blog. In April, the Seghal lab published a paper showing that sleep loss in young flies led to abnormal brain development and behavioral deficits in […]... Read more »

Taylor Katherine, Michael D. George, Rachel Morgan, Tangi Smallwood, Ann S. Hammonds, Patrick M. Fuller, Perot Saelao, Jeff Alley, Charles A. Fuller, & Deborah A. Kimbrell. (2014) Toll Mediated Infection Response Is Altered by Gravity and Spaceflight in Drosophila. PLoS ONE, 9(1). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086485  

  • January 2, 2015
  • 06:43 AM
  • 55 views

Psychologists explore a new reason why quitting smoking is so difficult

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

When a cigarette smoker attempts to quit, not only do they crave their usual nicotine hit, they also experience an unpleasant inability to enjoy other pleasures in life - a state known as "anhedonia".Jessica Cook and her colleagues studied over a thousand smokers enrolled on a quitting programme in the US. The participants (mostly White, 58.3 per cent were female) were placed on a range of nicotine replacement therapies or they were given placebo. The participants also kept an evening diary from........ Read more »

Cook, J., Piper, M., Leventhal, A., Schlam, T., Fiore, M., & Baker, T. (2014) Anhedonia as a Component of the Tobacco Withdrawal Syndrome. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/abn0000016  

  • January 2, 2015
  • 03:19 AM
  • 160 views

Vitamin D and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Hello again and a very warm welcome back to Questioning Answers in 2015. The year, according to a popular sequel, we were all supposed to be benefiting from hoverboards and wearing self-drying clothes. It didn't quite work out like that (although there are still 52 weeks left for such dreams to come to fruition).When we got adopted by a bald guy, I thought this would be more like Annie.We start the new blogging year with a few comments on a rather interesting, if disappointing, set of results pu........ Read more »

  • January 1, 2015
  • 01:27 PM
  • 163 views

New cancer treatment targets telomeres

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Cancer, right now we don’t have much to fight it besides the standard surgery or chemo, neither of which is a great option. Well now scientists have targeted telomeres with a small molecule called 6-thiodG that takes advantage of the cell’s ‘biological clock’ to kill cancer cells and shrink tumor growth. Ideally this new technique will help eliminate the need for nasty drugs like those used in chemotherapy.... Read more »

  • January 1, 2015
  • 11:56 AM
  • 200 views

Why are unfalsifiable beliefs so attractive?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Recently, Dr. John Wentworth, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argued that regardless of future advances, science will likely never discover whether the supernatural exists. He said,”almost always, our research raises more questions than it answers, therefore the question of God’s existence just isn’t scientifically testable.” If you are religious, how does [Read More...]... Read more »

  • January 1, 2015
  • 09:00 AM
  • 20 views

For your new year’s resolution, get more grit

by Katharine Blackwell in Contemplating Cognition

Once again, the thoughts of the nation are turning toward New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthy, save money. Statistically speaking, about a third of people are going to slip up on those resolutions before the end of the month (and anecdotally speaking, I will be one of them). So once again, the psychologist’s mind turns to the question of what qualities help people succeed at what they set out to do.... Read more »

Duckworth, A., & Gross, J. (2014) Self-Control and Grit: Related but Separable Determinants of Success. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 319-325. DOI: 10.1177/0963721414541462  

  • December 31, 2014
  • 01:48 PM
  • 211 views

A surprising discovery about fast food portion sizes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Since the noticeable expansion of most of the worlds waistlines, people have come to lay the blame (amongst other things) almost squarely on fast food and ever increasing portion sizes. While the world and it’s leaders are dealing with this mysterious problem by trying to help push fast food chains in the direction of change, it might be surprising to know that according to new research, fast food portion sizes have changed little since 1996.... Read more »

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE and Lichtenstein AH. (2014) Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurant Energy, Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content in the United States, 1996-2013. Preventing Chronic Disease . info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140202

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE, Lichtenstein AH,. (2014) Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content Per 1,000 Kilocalories: Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurants, United States, 2000-2013. Preventing Chronic Disease . info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140335

  • December 31, 2014
  • 09:23 AM
  • 142 views

The Pine Marten of the Mourne Mountains

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

O’Mahony’s data indicated that the pine marten population in this part of Ireland is quite low, with as few as only nine estimated breeding females in the area. The analysis also showed that pine marten only bred in some of the sampled woodlots. O’Mahony warns of the possibility of local population extinctions due to the small number of breeding females, especially as some of the woodlots are small and isolated which may hamper movement of animals across the entire landscape.
........ Read more »

  • December 31, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 168 views

It May Be A New Year, But It’s The Same Old Brain

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Habit formation is the key to keeping New Years resolutions. The brain has complex mechanisms for learning habits, but more importantly, the brain actually inhibits the changing of habits. Evolution says – if it hasn’t killed you yet, it’s a habit worth keeping – not so great for bad habits that kill you slowly.... Read more »

Wang, L., Li, F., Wang, D., Xie, K., Wang, D., Shen, X., & Tsien, J. (2011) NMDA Receptors in Dopaminergic Neurons Are Crucial for Habit Learning. Neuron, 72(6), 1055-1066. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.10.019  

Wang, W., Dever, D., Lowe, J., Storey, G., Bhansali, A., Eck, E., Nitulescu, I., Weimer, J., & Bamford, N. (2012) Regulation of prefrontal excitatory neurotransmission by dopamine in the nucleus accumbens core. The Journal of Physiology, 590(16), 3743-3769. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.235200  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 11:00 PM
  • 148 views

Education-Ish Research

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Veteran education researcher Deborah Ball (along with co-author Francesca Forzani) provide some measure of validation for many educators' frustrations, disappointments, and disaffections with education research. In a paper titled "What Makes Education Research 'Educational'?" published in December 2007, Ball and Forzani point to education research's tendency to focus on "phenomena related to education," rather than "inside educational transactions&quo........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2014
  • 05:50 PM
  • 161 views

Severe Lyme arthritis: Gagging on GAGs

by Microbe Fan in Spirochetes Unwound

Janis Weis' group has been mapping genetic variants that make laboratory mice prone to severe Lyme arthritis.  One of these variants is described in a paper that appeared in The Journal of Clinical Investigation earlier this year.  The affected gene encodes the enzyme β-glucuronidase, which carries out a critical function in the lysosome. β-glucuronidase cooperates with other degradative enzymes in the lysosome to break down glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) into their individual sugar units........ Read more »

Bramwell KK, Ma Y, Weis JH, Chen X, Zachary JF, Teuscher C, & Weis JJ. (2014) Lysosomal β-glucuronidase regulates Lyme and rheumatoid arthritis severity. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(1), 311-320. PMID: 24334460  

Pancewicz S, Popko J, Rutkowski R, Knaś M, Grygorczuk S, Guszczyn T, Bruczko M, Szajda S, Zajkowska J, Kondrusik M.... (2009) Activity of lysosomal exoglycosidases in serum and synovial fluid in patients with chronic Lyme and rheumatoid arthritis. Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 41(8), 584-589. PMID: 19513935  

Jiang D, Liang J, Fan J, Yu S, Chen S, Luo Y, Prestwich GD, Mascarenhas MM, Garg HG, Quinn DA.... (2005) Regulation of lung injury and repair by Toll-like receptors and hyaluronan. Nature Medicine, 11(11), 1173-1179. PMID: 16244651  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 01:07 PM
  • 224 views

Steak raises cancer risk and now we know why

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Some of you may remember a recent study showing why red meat is bad for the heart, while now there is a study showing why steak — or in particular red meats — raise the risk of cancer. To be clear, I am still very much a red meat eater and this is no way intended to change anyones opinions on steak consumption, but it is nice to understand the science behind what we put in our mouths.... Read more »

Samraj, A., Pearce, O., Läubli, H., Crittenden, A., Bergfeld, A., Banda, K., Gregg, C., Bingman, A., Secrest, P., Diaz, S.... (2014) A red meat-derived glycan promotes inflammation and cancer progression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201417508. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1417508112  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 12:04 PM
  • 171 views

Margaret Oakley Dayhoff, going on #ThatOtherShirt.

by Mary in OpenHelix

I’ve been a fan of Margaret Oakley Dayhoff for a long time. One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one linked in this tweet below. I can tell when students have been assigned a project to read up on her, because suddenly I see an influx of hits to the page. […]... Read more »

  • December 30, 2014
  • 10:53 AM
  • 160 views

Time in the Hive Makes Bees Exhausted

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Facing a whole hive of bees at once can be overwhelming—even for a bee. Young honeybees sleep more after spending time in the hive than after being by themselves. They need the extra nap time, it seems, to build and maintain their learning brains.

The first surprising thing about this might be that insects sleep at all. "Since around the 1980s there is good evidence that insects show...characteristics of sleep," says Guy Bloch, who studies bee behavior at the Hebrew University of Jerusa........ Read more »

Eban-Rothschild A, & Bloch G. (2014) The colony environment modulates sleep in honey bee workers. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 25524987  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 10:46 AM
  • 180 views

Text Coherence and Self-Explanation

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

The authors of the paper (full text) I will discuss here, Ainsworth and Burcham, follow the lead of many researchers, including Danielle McNamara (2001) (full text), in conceiving of text coherence as "the extent to which the relationships between the ideas in a text are explicit." In addition to this conceptualization, the authors also adopt guidelines from McNamara, et al. (1996) to improve the coherence of the text used in their experiment—a text about the human circulatory system. ... Read more »

Ainsworth, S., & Burcham, S. (2007) The impact of text coherence on learning by self- explanation. Learning and Instruction, 17(3), 286-303. info:doi /10.1016/j.learninstruc.2007.02.004

  • December 30, 2014
  • 10:21 AM
  • 160 views

9 Weird and Interesting Facts about Caecilians

by beredim in Strange Animals

There are about 200 species of caecilians (pronounced ‘seh-SILL-yuns’) but it's highly unlikely you have or will ever encounter one.  Why? Because they live underground, burrowing through loose soil and ground litter with their long, snake-like bodies.


Read on to learn 9 weird and interesting facts about these unusual creatures.



Bombay caecilian (Ichthyophis bombayensis)
Credit - Wikicommons... Read more »

Kupfer, A., Müller, H., Antoniazzi, M., Jared, C., Greven, H., Nussbaum, R., & Wilkinson, M. (2006) Parental investment by skin feeding in a caecilian amphibian. Nature, 440(7086), 926-929. DOI: 10.1038/nature04403  

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