Post List

  • November 24, 2009
  • 04:19 PM

What your Facebook page says about who you "really" are

by Dave Munger in Cognitive Daily

Recently a woman had her sick leave benefits based on a diagnosis of clinical depression terminated because of a few pictures she posted on her Facebook page showing her smiling at a birthday party and enjoying a trip to the beach. Was this a fair assessment of her medical condition? Probably not--people with clinical depression can have moments of genuine joy or elation, and even sad people can fake a smile for a photo.

But regardless of whether a few photos posted online are sufficient eviden........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2009
  • 02:45 PM

Cannabis and cancer cachexia

by PalMD in White Coat Underground

One of the most frightening symptoms of advanced cancer is "cachexia", or severe, unintentional weight-loss and wasting. It's a terrible prognostic sign, and the only truly effective treatment is removal of the cancer. Treatment of this syndrome has the potential to improve quality of life in patients with advanced cancers. Various types of medications, including antidepressants, hormones, and cannabis derivatives have been tried with little effect. Treating the symptoms of incurable cancers........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2009
  • 02:09 PM

Why didn't Darwin discover Mendel's laws?

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

Perhaps we are all subject to falling into the trap of what I call the Hydraulic Theory of Everything. If you eat more you will be bigger, if you eat less you will be smaller. Emotional states are the continuously varying outcome of different levels of a set of hormones, forming "happy" or "stressy" or "angry" cocktails. Your brain is a vessel into which life pours various elixirs. Too much of one thing, and there will not be enough room for something else. Even political arguments are hydra........ Read more »

Jonathan C Howard. (2009) Why didn't Darwin discover Mendel's laws?. Journal of Biology, 8(2), 15. DOI: 10.1186/jbiol123  

  • November 24, 2009
  • 12:00 PM

The D225G change in 2009 H1N1 influenza virus is not a concern

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recently identified a mutation in 2009 H1N1 influenza virus isolated from two patients who died and one with severe disease. It has been suggested that this mutation, which causes a change from the amino acid aspartic acid to glycine at position 225 of the viral HA protein (D225G), could make the virus more likely to infect deeper in the airways and cause more severe disease. What is the basis for this concern and does it have merit?... Read more »

  • November 24, 2009
  • 09:51 AM

The prion protein’s role in neurotransmission

by Brian Appleby in CJD Blogger

As mentioned in a prior post, the exact mechanism of neurotoxicity in prion diseases in unknown.  Two possibilities, which are not mutually exclusive, include a loss-of-function of the native prion protein and an acquired neurotoxic effect of the pathologic prion protein.  PRNP knockout mice have previously exhibited memory impairment, disruption in circadian rhythms and sleep, behavioral, and neurotransmission changes.  Also, excitatory glutamatergic, GABAa receptor-mediated fast........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2009
  • 08:30 AM

Blending economics and ecology to protect bird habitat in the tropics

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

An innovative program uses mitigation money from New York and a planning tool based on economics to protect habitat for the Bicknell's thrush in the Caribbean...... Read more »

  • November 24, 2009
  • 08:10 AM

Studying Anti-Vaccination Activists on the World Wide Web

by Martin Robbins in The Lay Scientist

The paper I'm about to present was written in 2002, and in the fast-paced world of the internet may seem out of date - after all, Youtube hadn't even been invented then, and Wikipedia and Google were shiny new businesses. But in fact, Davies et al's study of anti-vaccination websites is as relevant today as it was then - perhaps even more so [1].
"The internet has provided antivaccinationists with unprecedented opportunities for exposure. In the USA, 55% of adults with internet access use it ........ Read more »

Davies, P. (2002) Antivaccination activists on the world wide web. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 87(1), 22-25. DOI: 10.1136/adc.87.1.22  

  • November 24, 2009
  • 04:30 AM

You told me that already! Why we're so poor at remembering to whom we told what

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It can take some bottle to share an anecdote, so it's somewhat harsh when your friend shoots you down with an impatient accusation that you've told them this story before. You'd think they'd be more understanding - most of us seem to be far better at remembering who's told us what compared with to whom we've told what. Psychologists characterise this as a distinction between "source memory" and "destination memory", and according to Nigel Gopie and Colin MacLeod, the latter form is surprisingly ........ Read more »

Gopie N, & Macleod CM. (2009) Destination Memory: Stop Me if I've Told You This Before. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS. PMID: 19891750  

  • November 24, 2009
  • 12:57 AM

Does Morphine Stimulate Cancer Growth?

by Eric Widera in GeriPal

A review of the literature connecting morphine and cancer growth in clinical trials.... Read more »

  • November 23, 2009
  • 11:43 PM

Emergency Logistics

by Jan Husdal in

Can commercial logistics’ ideas and solutions work in humanitarian supply chains? Well, perhaps they could work, but in most cases they won’t, simply because there is a profound lack of technical logistics knowledge in many aid agencies and even more so, very few experienced logisticians working in the Humanitarian Aid community. This scarcity of qualified logistics know-how impacts directly on the functioning of the relief effort.
... Read more »

  • November 23, 2009
  • 07:53 PM

Genes Don't Make You Racist

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

In conditioning experiments, humans learn the fear of snakes more easily than they learn to be afraid flowers., and there is an evolutionary story to be told for this.
In a similar experiment, participants show strong outgroup bias in learning fear responses based on other people's skin color; which has sometimes been cited as support for the innateness of negative predispositions towards people who are "different" from ourselves. Luckily, a scientifically more appealing, explanations exist........... Read more »

Tiago V. Maia. (2009) Fear Conditioning and Social Groups: Statistics, Not Genetics. Cognitive Science, 33(7), 1232-1251. info:/10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01054.x

  • November 23, 2009
  • 07:09 PM

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice?

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

If we are what we eat, then we might expect children who eat a lot of candy to be sweet and lovable. Quite the opposite, according to recent research. Authors of a study published in a recent issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry claim that children who eat a lot of confectionery treats are [...]... Read more »

  • November 23, 2009
  • 06:30 PM

Semantic Web Applications and Tools for the Life Sciences (SWAT4LS) 2009, Amsterdam

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

Last Friday, the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam hosted a workshop Semantic Web Applications and Tools for the Life Sciences (SWAT4LS) 2009.
Following on from last year [1], the workshop proceedings will be published at and in a special issue of the Journal of Biomedical Semantics, but if you want to find out [...]... Read more »

  • November 23, 2009
  • 05:13 PM

Looking for planets? It’s all about the lithium!

by Invader Xan in Supernova Condensate

I have a lot of respect for planet hunters. It’s not an easy job. Discovering and confirming the existence of a planet requires a lot of patience, and I’d imagine it must be frustrating at times. So I’m sure a few planet hunters are rejoicing at the news that knowing which stars to look at just became a lot easier. All you have to do is look for lithium.... Read more »

Israelian, G., Mena, E., Santos, N., Sousa, S., Mayor, M., Udry, S., Cerdeña, C., Rebolo, R., & Randich, S. (2009) Enhanced lithium depletion in Sun-like stars with orbiting planets. Nature, 462(7270), 189-191. DOI: 10.1038/nature08483  

  • November 23, 2009
  • 03:38 PM

Sex and death: a model of density-dependent virulence

by Devin Drown in Coevolvers

Providing evidence that supports the role of parasites driving the maintenance of sex (i.e. the Red Queen hypothesis) has been a challenge ever since it was proposed. Both theoreticians and empiricists have tackled this hypothesis with vigor to mixed results. This week we read Lively (2009) which focuses on a singular effect to help build a theoretical argument for the Red Queen, density-dependent virulence. Here virulence is defined as the effect of the parasite on the host population growth........ Read more »

  • November 23, 2009
  • 02:24 PM

Brain Damage, Pedophilia, and the Law

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

An intriguing and tragic story of brain damage is reported in the latest issue of Neurocase: Klüver-Bucy syndrome, hypersexuality, and the law.The authors are Devinsky, Sacks, and Devinsky - Sacks being neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks. Their anonymous patient, a 51 year old married American man, is currently serving a jail sentence for downloading child pornography. But he's not your average pedophile.The man's problems began at the age of 19 when he -first suffered attacks of déjà vu........ Read more »

Devinsky J, Sacks O, & Devinsky O. (2009) Kluver-Bucy syndrome, hypersexuality, and the law. Neurocase : case studies in neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, and behavioural neurology, 1-6. PMID: 19927260  

  • November 23, 2009
  • 01:51 PM

Crossbow: NGS Informatics in the Cloud

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

Just online at Genome Biology is a new paper from the Steven Salzberg lab (UMD) on searching for SNPs with cloud computing.  Using $85 of computing time rented from Amazon’s EC2, Langmead et al processed an entire human genome - 3.3 billion reads totaling 38x coverage - in three hours.

The “Cloud” Can Be Nebulous
Cloud computing [...]... Read more »

Ben Langmead, Michael C. Schatz, Jimmy Lin, Mihai Pop and Steven L. Salzberg. (2009) Searching for SNPs with cloud computing. Genome Biology, 10(R134). info:/doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-11-r134

  • November 23, 2009
  • 11:01 AM

Natural selection among us: The Kuru epidemic

by Brian Appleby in CJD Blogger

Kuru is an acquired prion disease, transmitted through ritualistic cannibalism, that reached epidemic proportions in the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea.  In a previous post, I presented an article by John Collinge’s group on the selection process of heterozygosity at codon 129 of the prion protein gene (PRNP).  The research group has gone a step further by recently describing a new polymorphism of the PRNP gene, G129V. The authors performed PRNP genotyping of 3,000 individuals from ........ Read more »

Mead S, Whitfield J, Poulter M, Shah P, Uphill J, Campbell T, Al-Dujaily H, Hummerich H, Beck J, Mein CA.... (2009) A Novel Protective Prion Protein Variant that Colocalizes with Kuru Exposure. The New England journal of medicine, 361(21), 2056-2065. PMID: 19923577  

  • November 23, 2009
  • 10:20 AM

The ‘negatome’ – a database of negative information…

by Jim Caryl in mental indigestion

WE researchers often joke that no-one ever publishes negative results, but that doesn’t mean to say that negative results aren’t extremely useful. One one level, knowledge of such negative results can prevent you repeating the same mistakes that countless other researchers, in other labs, have undoubtedly made over the years. On the other hand, they [...]... Read more »

Smialowski, P., Pagel, P., Wong, P., Brauner, B., Dunger, I., Fobo, G., Frishman, G., Montrone, C., Rattei, T., Frishman, D.... (2009) The Negatome database: a reference set of non-interacting protein pairs. Nucleic Acids Research. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkp1026  

Stumpf, M., Thorne, T., de Silva, E., Stewart, R., An, H., Lappe, M., & Wiuf, C. (2008) From the Cover: Estimating the size of the human interactome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(19), 6959-6964. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0708078105  

Venkatesan, K., Rual, J., Vazquez, A., Stelzl, U., Lemmens, I., Hirozane-Kishikawa, T., Hao, T., Zenkner, M., Xin, X., Goh, K.... (2008) An empirical framework for binary interactome mapping. Nature Methods, 6(1), 83-90. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1280  

  • November 23, 2009
  • 09:05 AM

Aphid-tending ants cull the sick from the herd

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

Just released online at Biology Letters: aphid-tending ants have been observed to selectively remove sick members of their "herd" [$-a].

Most aphid species produce some sort of sweet honeydew as waste while feeding on their host plants; ant-attended aphid species use this honeydew to attract ants. In many cases, the ants "milk" the aphids by stroking them to prompt release of the honeydew. While exploiting a colony of aphids, ants defend it as a food resource, protecting the aphids from predato........ Read more »

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