While Health Canada continues to ignore its own task force's recommendations to ban trans-fats, New York is off an running.A recent report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that since their regulation in 2006 98% of restaurants are trans-fat free and that it has been a "cost neutral" shift.What's more interesting is that preliminary studies suggest that while indeed the shift from trans-fats have increased the use of saturated fats, it also increased the use of unsaturated fa........ Read more »
Angell SY, Silver LD, Goldstein GP, Johnson CM, Deitcher DR, Frieden TR, Bassett MT. (2009) Cholesterol control beyond the clinic: New York City's trans fat restriction. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151(2), 129-134. DOI: 19620165
Slightly tangential to my normal topics, I located this article today on a placebo procedure that may work for acupuncture.
Many people will be aware that in acupuncture, it’s really difficult to truly conduct a double-blind trial where both the person receiving and the person giving the treatment are unaware of which is the ‘active’ treatment. [...]... Read more »
Miyazaki S, Hagihara A, Kanda R, Mukaino Y, & Nobutomo K. (2009) Applicability of press needles to a double-blind trial: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Clinical journal of pain, 25(5), 438-44. PMID: 19454879
A recent study by Goodrich-Hunsaker and Hopkins showed that amnesic patients with hippocampal damage performed above the recommended cutoff scores on immediate and delayed recognition of the Word Memory Test (WMT), but were significantly impaired on the multiple-choice, paired associate, and free-recall subtests. The authors suggest that the hippocampal damage may be the culprit for such impairment. So how do they explain the above cutoff scores on the immediate and delayed recognition subtests?........ Read more »
Goodrich-Hunsaker NJ, & Hopkins RO. (2009) Word memory test performance in amnesic patients with hippocampal damage. Neuropsychology, 23(4), 529-34. PMID: 19586216
An interesting study by Xu et al. over at Peking University has further demonstrated an aspect of evolutionary development that we are trying so hard to escape in the present day world. Racial exclusion, especially when it comes to empathy, can negatively impact our attitudes and behaviors towards outgroups whether we're aware of it or not. Here is their abstract.The pain matrix including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) mediates not only first person pain experience but also empathy for othe........ Read more »
Xu X, Zuo X, Wang X, & Han S. (2009) Do you feel my pain? Racial group membership modulates empathic neural responses. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(26), 8525-9. PMID: 19571143
Very cool study by Karlsson and Frank showing that rats' reactivate stored representations of remote experiences during waking replay in the hippocampus. But why is it only with remote rather than local replay? They suggest that novel experiences may play a role in which long lasting neuronal excitability and coordination for the cells during those experiences are generated.In the discussions section they make mention of the probable dysynchronized neocortical state during awake replay constrast........ Read more »
Karlsson MP, & Frank LM. (2009) Awake replay of remote experiences in the hippocampus. Nature neuroscience, 12(7), 913-8. PMID: 19525943
Stress typically indicates a demand to adapt to challenges found in everyday life. However, when the stress is uncontrollable, unpredictable, and chronic it can increase the brain's vulnerability to disease.Dagyte et al. over at the University of Groningen investigated the effects of acute and chronic foot-shock stress on neural plasticity by using hippocampal cell proliferation and neurogenesis data collected from rats. They found that repeated, but not acute exposure to foot-shock stress cause........ Read more »
Dagyte G, Van der Zee EA, Postema F, Luiten PG, Den Boer JA, Trentani A, & Meerlo P. (2009) Chronic but not acute foot-shock stress leads to temporary suppression of cell proliferation in rat hippocampus. Neuroscience, 162(4), 904-13. PMID: 19482059
Audiences differ. Talk to one person and your words are welcomed by a smile and nod of acknowledgment. Speak to another, less winsome listener and your words are confronted by a frown and folded arms. According to Camiel Beukeboom, these different responses systematically alter your use of language. Speak to a positive listener and you'll likely use more abstractions and subjective impressions, whilst if you talk to a negative listener you'll probably find yourself sheltering in the security of ........ Read more »
Beukeboom, C. (2009) When words feel right: How affective expressions of listeners change a speaker's language use. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39(5), 747-756. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.572
In a paper which shows that women in Chile raised in a non-religious environment are less likely to be a victim of so called 'intimate partner' violence, the authors conclude that there is evidence that a moderate dose of religion actually protects against it! How can that be? And, more importantly, are they right? Let me take you on a short journey into the dark side of statistics...'Cross-sectional' studies are ones that measure a whole bunch of stats about a group of people, and then see whic........ Read more »
Lehrer, E., Lehrer, V., & Krauss, R. (2009) Religion and intimate partner violence in Chile: Macro- and micro-level influences. Social Science Research, 38(3), 635-643. DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2009.03.001
Rees, TJ. (2009) Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief?. Journal of Religion and Society. DOI: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2009/2009-17.html
Pollen is key to letting plants live on land. It packages up plants’ sperm so that wind or animals can transport them to the female part of a plant, without requiring water. Ferns, which don’t have pollen, can only grow where there’s enough moisture for sperm to swim to meet eggs.
Before pollen is released, it’s [...]... Read more »
Mao, Y., & Huang, S. (2009) Pollen resistance to water in 80 angiosperm species: flower structures protect rain-susceptible pollen. New Phytologist, 183(3), 892-899. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02925.x
Paul de Figueiredo, Arum Han, and coworkers at Texan A and M University have improved the prospects of harvesting bacteria for energy production. This news feature was written on August 9, 2009.... Read more »
Hou, H., Li, L., Cho, Y., de Figueiredo, P., & Han, A. (2009) Microfabricated Microbial Fuel Cell Arrays Reveal Electrochemically Active Microbes. PLoS ONE, 4(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006570
A study conducted by Popescu, Popa, and Pare investigated the underlying mechanism driving amygdalostriatal interactions during memory formation. The impetus for this study came from an interest in studies implicating the basolateral amygdala (BLA) activity in the facilitation of striatal-dependent memories in emotional arousal. They measured unit and local field potential recordings from the BLA, striatum, auditory cortex, and intralaminar thalamus of cats trained on a stimulus-response task w........ Read more »
Popescu AT, Popa D, & Paré D. (2009) Coherent gamma oscillations couple the amygdala and striatum during learning. Nature neuroscience. PMID: 19430471
Sybil Geldart (2008) has found that taller people prefer faces with longer foreheads and shorter people prefer faces with longer chins. She had subjects place facial features (brows, eyes, nose, and mouth) inside the outlines of their respective faces, and found that taller subjects placed the features lower in the face while shorter subjects placed [...]... Read more »
Robert Linhardt (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York) and coworkers have developed a small-scale device that can be utilized to probe the function of cellular enzymes, rapidly and in parallel. This news feature was written on August 8, 2009.... Read more »
Martin, J. G., Gupta, M., Xu, Y., Akella, S., Liu, J., Dordick, J. S., & Linhardt, R. J. (2009) Toward an Artificial Golgi: Redesigning the Biological Activities of Heparan Sulfate on a Digital Microfluidic Chip. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 131(31), 11041-11048. DOI: 10.1021/ja903038d
I photographed this “spring peeper” a few nights ago following a fairly impressive thunderstorm. The squall dumped a substantial amount of rain and provided Pseudacris crucifer with the perfect opportunity to talk-up the local ladies. His easily distinguished high pitched “peep –like” call is what brought him to my attention; though distinguished as it was, he certainly had his work cut out for him on this particular night because the yard was alive with the choru........ Read more »
EIGENBROD, F., HECNAR, S., & FAHRIG, L. (2008) The relative effects of road traffic and forest cover on anuran populations. Biological Conservation, 141(1), 35-46. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.08.025
This week the Ecological Society of America is having their annual meeting, and several papers of entomological interest have been presented. One found that increased pollution in urban streams leads to increased mosquito populations:
“Luis Fernando Chaves, a post-doctoral researcher at Emory University, and his team discovered mosquitoes in abundance in a sewage-contaminated stream in Atlanta, [...]... Read more »
McLellan, S., Hollis, E., Depas, M., Van Dyke, M., Harris, J., & Scopel, C. (2007) Distribution and Fate of Escherichia coli in Lake Michigan Following Contamination with Urban Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 33(3), 566. DOI: 10.3394/0380-1330(2007)33[566:DAFOEC]2.0.CO;2
Tracie M. Jenkins, Troy M. Scott, Mechelle R. Morgan and Joan B. Rose. (2005) Occurrence of Alternative Fecal Indicators and Enteric Viruses in Michigan Rivers . Journal of Great Lakes Research, 31(1), 22-31. info:/doi:10.1016/S0380-1330(05)70235-5
Medical mysteries pop up every now and then that are either misdiagnosed or dismissed as either a psychosomatic or a psychological disorder. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is one of these mysteries and identification of a cause, or even whether the disease actually exists, continues to elude scientists. My previous post focused upon my own personal [...]... Read more »
Floris P. de Langea, Joke S. Kalkmanb, Gijs Bleijenbergb, Peter Hagoorta, Jos W.M. van der Meerc, & Ivan Tonia. (2005) Gray matter volume reduction in the chronic fatigue syndrome. NeuroImage, 26(3), 777-781. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.02.037
Cthonian planets are an interesting little concept. I’m not talking about the planet Vhoorl, either, despite any similarities to the name of a certain “Great Old One”. Instead, cthonian planets (a name coined by the authors of this paper) bear their name in reference to ancient greek gods who came from the hot infernal underground, and the origins of these worlds are no less hellish. Former gas giants which ventured too close to their star, these are planets whose atmosphere ha........ Read more »
G. Hébrard, A. Lecavelier des Étangs, A. Vidal-Madjar, J. -M. Désert, & R. Ferlet. (2003) Evaporation rate of hot Jupiters and formation of Chthonian planets. Extrasolar Planets: Today and Tomorrow, ASP Conference Proceedings. arXiv: astro-ph/0312384v1
Short answer: We don't know. Despite the title of a recent paper by Riikka Mottonen and Kate Watkins' in The Journal of Neuroscience, Motor Representations of Articulators Contribute to Categorical Perception of Speech Sounds, the data reported are, unfortunately, uninterpretable. Here's the long answer: Mottonen and Watkins asked subjects to perform syllable identification (which of two syllables did you hear?) and syllable discrimination (are the two syllables you just heard same or differe........ Read more »
Mottonen, R., & Watkins, K. (2009) Motor Representations of Articulators Contribute to Categorical Perception of Speech Sounds. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(31), 9819-9825. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6018-08.2009
The Evolution of Spite is the Evil Twin of Altruism
Someone walks into a crowded restaurant, looks about the diners calmly, and blows themselves up as well as everyone nearby. Why? This is a scenario that forces us to explain the dark side of human nature. Why do humans have a capacity for such hate that they'll take their own lives in order to destroy others?
A study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on chimpanzee behavior suggests that humans may be alone in this way: a........ Read more »
An interesting article was published earlier this week on the website of the journal Medical Hypotheses, suggesting that the current obesity epidemic may be caused by salt addiction. The article is provocatively titled "Salted Food Addiction Hypothesis may explain overeating and the obesity epidemic" and as you might expect given the journal that published it, it is wildly speculative. Now I'm just going to say this upfront - I think the authors are probably wrong. But it can be........ Read more »
Cocores, J., & Gold, M. (2009) The Salted Food Addiction Hypothesis may explain overeating and the obesity epidemic. Medical Hypotheses. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.06.049
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