Post List

  • January 6, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

Inferential Models of Bilingualism

by Sean Roberts in The Adventures of Auck

Inferential models of language learning specify how perceptual maps can be divided up to be labelled with words. However, no models currently allow bilingualism. Some proposals are made as to how to achieve this.... Read more »

DEBOER, B. (2000) Self-organization in vowel systems. Journal of Phonetics, 28(4), 441-465. DOI: 10.1006/jpho.2000.0125  

Healey, E. and Scarabela, B. (2009) Are children willing to accept two labels for one object?. Proceedings of the Child Language Seminar. University of Reading. info:/

  • January 6, 2010
  • 10:00 AM

Four Scary Words: Cancer-Specific Chimeric Transcripts

by Rick Scavetta in DNA Dude

Studying the genetics of cancer often involves looking specifically at cancerous cells (that is, tumor cells) and asking what is different about those cells than the regular cells they were before.
For example, what mutations are present in the DNA of a cancer cell, that could be the cause of the cancer? Also… different genes could [...]... Read more »

  • January 6, 2010
  • 09:46 AM

How could vaccinia virus block T helpers?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Smallpox pustules
(R. Carswell, 1831)

In contrast to the many viruses that block antigen presentation by MHC class I, only a handful appear to block presentation by MHC class II.  I don’t understand why any would try to block MHC class II in the first place, but another example of it has just been published.
A little [...]... Read more »

  • January 6, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

Gut disorders and autism: A new consensus statement

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

One of the key claims of the "autism biomedical" movement is that something about autism derives from or is exacerbated by the gut; i.e., that there is some sort of link between GI problems, particularly inflammatory diseases of the GI tract, and autism. Although I may not be as versed in the history of this claim as I could be, as far as I can tell, even if this idea didn't originate with Andrew Wakefield, he certainly did a lot to popularize it. Indeed, a common misconception about his misbego........ Read more »

Buie, T., Campbell, D., Fuchs, G., Furuta, G., Levy, J., VandeWater, J., Whitaker, A., Atkins, D., Bauman, M., Beaudet, A.... (2010) Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report. PEDIATRICS, 125(Supplement). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-1878C  

  • January 6, 2010
  • 08:17 AM

Ask an Entomologist: Snow Fleas

by bug_girl in Bug Girl's Blog

What? Fleas in Winter???
If you’ve seen a tiny assortment of purple, bouncing specks in your snow, you might be looking at springtails.  Don’t worry, they aren’t real fleas–they just bounce around in a similar way.
Also, they are probably the cutest dang little things you’ve ever seen! Their tiny size is why you probably don’t know [...]... Read more »

  • January 6, 2010
  • 07:59 AM

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in "not caused by single virus" shock!

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Late last year, Science published a bombshell - Lombardi et al's Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. This paper reported the presence of a recently-discovered virus in 67% of the blood samples from 101 people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).The question of whether people with CFS are suffering from an organic illness, or whether their condition is partially or entirely psychological in nature, is the Israel vs. Palestine........ Read more »

Erlwein, O., Kaye, S., McClure, M., Weber, J., Wills, G., Collier, D., Wessely, S., & Cleare, A. (2010) Failure to Detect the Novel Retrovirus XMRV in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008519  

Lombardi VC, Ruscetti FW, Das Gupta J, Pfost MA, Hagen KS, Peterson DL, Ruscetti SK, Bagni RK, Petrow-Sadowski C, Gold B.... (2009) Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Science (New York, N.Y.), 326(5952), 585-9. PMID: 19815723  

  • January 6, 2010
  • 07:52 AM

Astronomical Units

by Brian Koberlein in Upon Reflection

Figure 1: Aristarchus measured the angle between the Sun and the Moon when the moon was half full, then used trigonometry to measure the distance to the Sun. (Source: Wikipedia) In an earlier post I wrote about how astronomers can...... Read more »

  • January 6, 2010
  • 07:50 AM

Rumours of War

by Richard Grant in Faculty of 1000

In all the Christmas festivities, snow-induced transport chaos, knicker-bombers and New Year-induced academic slackness you might have missed a new report on a forgotten but important conflict in Sumatra (published in Cambridge University Press’s Oryx; your Athens login should get you in).
Turns out that humans and pachyderms are locked in a deadly struggle for survival, [...]... Read more »

  • January 6, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

The impact of beach grooming on coastal habitat

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

A new study from Southern California affirms that the long-standing management practice of beach grooming is contributing to the loss of coastal strand habitat. Coastal strand plant communities grow along the edge of the high tide line and are comprised largely of endemic species adapted to grow in the dynamic, environment of loose, shifting sand...... Read more »

  • January 6, 2010
  • 04:43 AM

What do young children know about managing fear?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The recent film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things are prompted much debate about whether it's appropriate to subject children to material which they could find frightening. It's rather topical then that a new research paper has looked at young children's understanding of fear reduction strategies, finding them to be more precocious than previously realised. Liat Sayfan and Kirsten Lagattuta presented 48 children aged between 4 and 7 years with picture-based short stories. The ........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2010
  • 09:00 PM

Blood Barrier

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Galapagos finches build immune defenses against parasites

... Read more »

Huber, S. et al. (2009) Ecoimmunity in Darwin's finches: Invasive parasites trigger acquired immunity in the medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis). PLoS ONE. info:/

  • January 5, 2010
  • 06:55 PM

How hard can a tuatara bite?

by hilaryml in Chicken or Egg blog

As a geneticist, I’m only rarely let out of the lab to chase after my study animal, the tuatara.  I count these occasions as a gift, where I get to feel like a “real” biologist and learn to talk knowledgably about the ecology and habits of tuatara (which, lets face it, are generally of more interest to [...]... Read more »

Marc E. H. Jones, & A. Kristopher Lappin. (2009) Bite-force performance of the last rhynchocephalian. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(3), 71-83. info:/

  • January 5, 2010
  • 06:26 PM

Reducing speed really does save lives

by geekheartsscience in geek!

Traffic speed zones of 20 mph reduce road injuries and deaths according to research by Grundy and colleagues published in the British Medical Journal.

Road traffic accidents (RTA) are a significant, but often neglected, cause of injury and death worldwide. The WHO estimates that 1.2 million people are killed worldwide in road crashes and up [...]... Read more »

  • January 5, 2010
  • 05:30 PM

Further evidence to suggest we should learn something novel every decade

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

I remember sitting my folks down and sternly counselling them to make sure they learnt a completely novel skill once per decade, to ensure that their brain doesn’t turn to mush.  There is plenty of evidence to support such advice (well, aside from the ‘mush’ bit), but here is a new finding that adds to [...]... Read more »

Lorimer Moseley. (2010) Further evidence to suggest we should learn something novel every decade. BodyinMind. info:/

  • January 5, 2010
  • 12:50 PM

Predicting invader success requires integrating ecological and land use patterns.

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Disclaimer, this was modified from an editorial I wrote for the Journal of Applied Ecology.In the quest to understand species invasions, we often try to link the abundance and distribution of invaders to underlying ecological processes. For example, oft-studied are the links between exotic diversity and native richness or environmental heterogeneity. Seemingly independently, research into how specific land use or management activities affect invasion dynamics is also fairly common. While both re........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2010
  • 10:46 AM

The Neuroscience of MySpace

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

How does popularity affect how we judge music?We tend to say we like what other people like. No-one wants to stand out and risk ridicule by saying they don't enjoy universally loved bands, like The Beatles... unless they're trying to fit into a subculture where everyone hates The Beatles.But do people just pretend to like what others like, or can perceived popularity actually change musical preferences? Do The Beatles actually sound better because we know everyone loves them? An amusing Neuroima........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2010
  • 10:06 AM

Early "Baleen Whale" Was a Tooth-Bearing Mud-Grubber

by Laelaps in Laelaps

A restoration of Mammalodon by Brian Choo (published in Fitzgerald, 2009).

In the introduction to his 1883 lecture on whales, the English anatomist William Henry Flower said;

Few natural groups present so many remarkable, very obvious, and easily appreciated illustrations of several of the most important general laws which appear to have determined the structure of animal bodies, as that selected for my lecture this evening. We shall find the effects of the two opposing forces--that of he........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

Adding trout to mountain lakes disrupts food supply for birds

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • January 5, 2010
  • 04:00 AM

Prioritizing land preservation: a GIS approach

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

For organizations that protect land by purchasing property (or the underlying development rights), a simple but harsh reality reins: Land is expensive. Money is limited. So you have to spend wisely. In this regard, a new study may help land conservationists identify the highest priority properties for preservation...... Read more »

  • January 5, 2010
  • 01:23 AM

Anticipating reward improves learning during sleep

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Rocking out on the guitar is by far one of my most cherished pastimes. At the angst ridden age of 15 I picked up a cheap Ibanez strat and learned my very first Nirvana song, "Teen Spirit". Little did I know a good night's rest would play such a crucial role in my learning those simple power chords. Furthermore, who would've thought my desire to become the next grunge icon would determine the rate at which I learned during those quiet nights of sleep. According to a study by Fischer and Born, pub........ Read more »

Fischer S, & Born J. (2009) Anticipated reward enhances offline learning during sleep. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 35(6), 1586-93. PMID: 19857029  

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