“Our ancient countess was refused her desires will To bathe in pure fresh blood She’d peasant virgins killed Elizabeth, in the chasm where was my soul Forever young, Elizabeth Bathorii in the castle of your death You’re still alive, Elizabeth” -“Elizabeth”, Ghost As folklore has it, Elizabeth Bathorii, Countess of Hungary, often bathed in […]... Read more »
Villeda SA, Luo J, Mosher KI, Zou B, Britschgi M, Bieri G, Stan TM, Fainberg N, Ding Z, Eggel A.... (2011) The ageing systemic milieu negatively regulates neurogenesis and cognitive function. Nature, 477(7362), 90-4. PMID: 21886162
Loffredo FS, Steinhauser ML, Jay SM, Gannon J, Pancoast JR, Yalamanchi P, Sinha M, Dall'osso C, Khong D, Shadrach JL.... (2013) Growth Differentiation Factor 11 Is a Circulating Factor that Reverses Age-Related Cardiac Hypertrophy. Cell, 153(4), 828-39. PMID: 23663781
Zhang G, Li J, Purkayastha S, Tang Y, Zhang H, Yin Y, Li B, Liu G, & Cai D. (2013) Hypothalamic programming of systemic ageing involving IKK-β, NF-κB and GnRH. Nature, 497(7448), 211-6. PMID: 23636330
Today, I am passing through New York City on my way to Princeton’s Center for Computational Intractability for a workshop on Natural Algorithms and the Sciences (NA&S). The two day meeting will cover everything from molecular algorithms for learning and experiments on artificial cells to bounded rationality in decision-making and the effects of network topology […]... Read more »
The geology of diamonds is fascinating in itself, but they also give insights into wider geological processes and history. Up until 1725, diamonds were only known from India. That all changed when Brazilians panning river sediments for gold, instead found diamonds. Recent … Continue reading →... Read more »
Harte, B., & Richardson, S. (2012) Mineral inclusions in diamonds track the evolution of a Mesozoic subducted slab beneath West Gondwanaland. Gondwana Research, 21(1), 236-245. DOI: 10.1016/j.gr.2011.07.001
Harte, B., & Cayzer, N. (2007) Decompression and unmixing of crystals included in diamonds from the mantle transition zone. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, 34(9), 647-656. DOI: 10.1007/s00269-007-0178-2
Erin on the side of a river somewhere in western NC, hard at work study obviously.
Erin Abernethy is a Master’s student in the Odum
School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, where she is studying
scavenging ecology in Hawaii. Before coming to Athens, Erin lived in North
Carolina earning her BS in Biology at Appalachian State. For that degree,... Read more »
Guillette Jr., L., Pickford, D., Crain, D., Rooney, A., & Percival, H. (1996) Reduction in Penis Size and Plasma Testosterone Concentrations in Juvenile Alligators Living in a Contaminated Environment. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 101(1), 32-42. DOI: 10.1006/gcen.1996.0005
A new study by Saoirse Leonard and co-authors from the Institute of Zoology, London and the University of Liverpool model the potential survival of brown bears in an Irish glacial refugium. The study has just been published in Biology Letters, and is free to read.
The study examines the presence of the now extinct brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Ireland during the Last Glacial Maximum (between 15,000 and 24,000 years ago) and aims to address the possibility that bears survived in Ireland during this period. The question has arisen because there is still lengthy debate as to whether Ireland remained partially ice free during the last glaciation, and if so, how many species, if any, survived in this ice free refugium?... Read more »
Leonard, S., Risley, C., & Turvey, S. (2013) Could brown bears (Ursus arctos) have survived in Ireland during the Last Glacial Maximum?. Biology Letters, 9(4), 20130281-20130281. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0281
Edwards, C., Suchard, M., Lemey, P., Welch, J., Barnes, I., Fulton, T., Barnett, R., O'Connell, T., Coxon, P., Monaghan, N.... (2011) Ancient Hybridization and an Irish Origin for the Modern Polar Bear Matriline. Current Biology, 21(15), 1251-1258. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.058
Human infants require a lot of care, and our evolution owes a lot of how well, and how long we take, to raise our offspring. So, it’s very important that not only parents pay close attention to their young children, it’s also evolutionary important that extended family members (grandparents, siblings, even friends) can give their attention to another person’s child... Read more »
Cárdenas, R., Harris, L., & Becker, M. (2013) Sex differences in visual attention toward infant faces. Evolution and Human Behavior. DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.04.001
Is 'cloning' appropriate terminology for somatic cell nuclear transfer derivation of human embryonic stem cells?... Read more »
Tachibana, M., Amato, P., Sparman, M., Gutierrez, N., Tippner-Hedges, R., Ma, H., Kang, E., Fulati, A., Lee, H., Sritanaudomchai, H.... (2013) Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.006
In two recent posts, I have referenced a relatively-average psychologist (again, this psychologist need not bear any resemblance to any particular person, living or dead). I found this relatively-average psychologist to be severely handicapped in their ability to think about … Continue reading →... Read more »
Smallegange, R., van Gemert, G., van de Vegte-Bolmer, M., Gezan, S., Takken, W., Sauerwein, R., & Logan, J. (2013) Malaria Infected Mosquitoes Express Enhanced Attraction to Human Odor. PLoS ONE, 8(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063602
Synapses, the connections between neurons can strengthen and weaken depending on the specific activity at that synapse. This is called synaptic plasticity, and we've talked about it a lot on this blog (here, here, here and here).the strengthening and weakening of synaptic connections corresponds to the spine growing or shrinking (Matsuzaki 2007)However, there is another kind of plasticity that can occur at synapses. This is called homeostatic plasticity. And instead of the synapse strengthening or weakening depending on the specific activity at that synapse, the synapses strengthen and weaken in homeostatic plasticity depending on the activity of the whole cell. To drastically simplify, each cell 'wants' to fire about a certain amount, if it suddenly starts to fire a lot less, it will take steps to strengthen its connections or make itself more 'excitable' so it can get back to its preferred amount of firing. Similarly if the cell starts to fire a lot more than normal, it will take steps to make itself less excitable and to weaken its connections until it reaches the right amount of firing. Thorny Excrescences from Lee et al., (2013)A recent paper from the Pak lab explains how in some specific neurons in the hippocampus (CA3 pyramidal cells), the activity of the whole cell is strongly controlled by a some very peculiar synapses. These synapses are close to the cell body, and are on these HUGE weirdly shaped spines (see above) called "Thorny Excrescences". For comparison 'normal' spines look more like this:Spines from Lee et al. (2013)The Thorny Excrescences (TEs) are massive spines that contain many separate synapses on them, but connect to the dendrite through 1 neck. 'Normal' spines, on the other hand, usually have 1 synapse at the spine head, and connect to the dendrite through 1 neck.The size of the TEs, and their proximity to the soma makes them an extremely powerful way to control the signals that the soma receives. Lee et al (2013) shows that when you drastically reduce activity by blocking action potentials (using TTX), you get massive growth of these TEs, but the normal spines further away from the soma stay the same.They test 3 things to determine whether the TEs have undergone homeostatic plasticity. They look at the morphology (they are bigger), the activity (the electrical signals from them are bigger) and the molecular signatures (the molecules indicative of new synapses are more plentiful). The paper is a really nice complete story showing that these TEs have a lot of control over the general activity of the cell.It also solves an important problem with homeostatic plasticity. That is, how can the general activity of the cell be modulated without the specific differences between synapses being erased, and consequently the memories or pieces of information they encode? If homeostatic plasticity occurs at spines dedicated to it, then the other spines can still encode specific signals while the activity of the cell as a whole changes. © TheCellularScaleLee KJ, Queenan BN, Rozeboom AM, Bellmore R, Lim ST, Vicini S, & Pak DT (2013). Mossy fiber-CA3 synapses mediate homeostatic plasticity in mature hippocampal neurons. Neuron, 77 (1), 99-114 PMID: 23312519 ... Read more »
Lee KJ, Queenan BN, Rozeboom AM, Bellmore R, Lim ST, Vicini S, & Pak DT. (2013) Mossy fiber-CA3 synapses mediate homeostatic plasticity in mature hippocampal neurons. Neuron, 77(1), 99-114. PMID: 23312519
The first evidence that climate change has affected fishing catches, revealed by William Cheung from the University of British Columbia and his team, shows tropical countries are set to be hardest hit.... Read more »
Cheung, W., Watson, R., & Pauly, D. (2013) Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch. Nature, 497(7449), 365-368. DOI: 10.1038/nature12156
-Scientific studies done with the “PAPER” array, one of the world-class scientific instruments in South Africa’s Karoo Radio Astronomy Reserve, is producing ground-breaking science and spectacular cosmic images, resulting in several important articles in top astronomy journals.
-The first scientific paper based on observations performed with South Africa’s new KAT-7 radio telescope, has been accepted for publication by the prestigious journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomy Society.
“This is a significant milestone for South Africa’s SKA project, proving that our engineers are able to deliver a cutting-edge scientific instrument, and that our scientists are able to use it for frontier science,” says Derek Hanekom, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology. “It bodes well for the delivery of our 64-dish MeerKAT telescope, currently under construction in the Karoo, and for our ability to play a key role in building and commissioning thousands of SKA antennas over the next ten years.”... Read more »
SKA SA Project Office. (2013) Ground-breaking science and spectacular cosmic images from the PAPER instrument in the Karoo. SKA Africa . info:/
Blue Harvest @ Wikipedia @ Family GuyI need to create a suitable atmosphere for this post, so try this music for size and think Blue Harvest...Right. The wait is over. The discussions / arguments / objections / agreements are all confined to history. Drum roll, spotlight centre-stage... enter DSM-5 and into unknown territory we all go, particularly with autism, sorry.. autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in mind.As you can see from the link above to the new diagnostic guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) the diagnosis of autism has, as was widely anticipated, changed somewhat to encompass quite a few adaptations (see this previous post).I'm not saying too much more on this at the present time, bearing in mind 'spectrum' is a word which seems to get more of a mention in this revision of the DSM; and not just with autism in mind (see here and here*).Obviously things aren't going to just change overnight with DSM-5 as it is eventally rolled out. Clinicians will need to learn some new diagnostic brushstrokes. Remember too that DSM is only one part of the diagnostic manuals currently in use (although even ICD is subject to revision in coming years already mentioning something called Social Reciprocity Disorder?). That being said, the implications of DSM-5 on issues like the autism numbers game - same as what happened across previous versions - are probably going to be subject to some pretty intense scrutiny over the coming years.Don't also be under any disillusion that the new changes are going to herald any giant leaps forward in autism research anytime soon. Interestingly, Dr Tom Insel, head of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was recently quoted as saying that "NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories", reported also by other authors** (open-access). In other words, even with the fresh smell of new DSM in the air, a new 'nosology' is already planned.To close, Peter 'Han Solo' Griffin on TIE fighters... dan-dan-da-dan, da-da-dan-dan-dan...---------* Adam D. Mental health: on the spectrum. Nature. 2013; 496: 416-418.** Lai M-C. et al. Subgrouping the autism “spectrum": reflections on DSM-5. PLoS Biol. 2013; 11: e1001544.----------Lai M-C, Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, & Baron-Cohen S (2013). Subgrouping the Autism “Spectrum": Reflections on DSM-5 PLoS Biology... Read more »
Lai M-C, Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, & Baron-Cohen S. (2013) Subgrouping the Autism “Spectrum": Reflections on DSM-5. PLoS Biology. info:/
by Thomas Shultz in Evolutionary Games Group
Artem Kaznatcheev and I presented a poster on May 4th at the University of British Columbia to a highly interdisciplinary conference on religion. The conference acronym is CERC, which translates as Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium. Most of the 60-some attendees are religion scholars and social scientists from North American and European universities. Many […]... Read more »
Kaznatcheev, Artem, & Shultz, Thomas R. (2011) Ethnocentrism maintains cooperation, but keeping one’s children close fuels it. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 3174-3179. info:/
The Global Positioning System has completely revolutionised how geologists study the deformation of the Earth. If you leave a GPS receiver in a fixed location for days, months and years, it is precise enough to measure motions on the millimetre … Continue reading →... Read more »
Corne ́ Kreemer, Geoffrey Blewitt, William C. Hammond, & Hans-Peter Plag. (2006) Global deformation from the great 2004 Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake observed by GPS: Implications for rupture process and global reference fram. Earth, Planets, Space, 58(2), 141-148. info:other/
Tregoning, P., Burgette, R., McClusky, S., Lejeune, S., Watson, C., & McQueen, H. (2013) A decade of horizontal deformation from great earthquakes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. DOI: 10.1002/jgrb.50154
How do viruses translate their mRNA in the presence of cellular mRNA? Rotavirus finds a way.... Read more »
Rubio, R., Mora, S., Romero, P., Arias, C., & Lopez, S. (2013) Rotavirus Prevents the Expression of Host Responses by Blocking the Nucleocytoplasmic Transport of Polyadenylated mRNAs. Journal of Virology, 87(11), 6336-6345. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00361-13
Piron, M. (1998) Rotavirus RNA-binding protein NSP3 interacts with eIF4GI and evicts the poly(A) binding protein from eIF4F. The EMBO Journal, 17(19), 5811-5821. DOI: 10.1093/emboj/17.19.5811
Preferred Foot Strike Pattern and Soft Tissue Vibration... Read more »
Enders H, von Tscharner V, & Nigg BM. (2013) The effects of preferred and non-preferred running strike patterns on tissue vibration properties. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia. PMID: 23642961
When you are buying a car you always look at official miles per gallon figures to find out how much fuel it will use. At the same time, most people have only a vague idea about how much energy their houses consume, even though home energy expenditures often account for a larger share of the household budget.... Read more »
N.A. McNabb. (2013) Strategies to Achieve Net-Zero Energy Homes: A Framework for Future Guidelines Workshop Summary Report. NIST Special Publication. DOI: 10.6028/NIST.SP.1140
A new genetic study by Mondol et al. 2013 examines the contemporary and historical genetic diversity of Indian tigers. They have found that the large reduction in the population has also wiped out many of the mitochondrial DNA haplotypes that were historically present, and the remaining populations are becoming more isolated and at greater risk for future extinctions. Mondol et al. 2013 is currently freely available!... Read more »
Mondol S, Bruford MW, & Ramakrishnan U. (2013) Demographic loss, genetic structure and the conservation implications for Indian tigers. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 280(1762), 20130496. PMID: 23677341
Photosynthetic oxidation of water is one of the central processes of life on Earth, but it is still not completely understood. Now, a German-American team of scientists has set out to observe the intermediate stages of this complex catalytic reaction using ultrashort snap shots taken at light sources including BESSY II in Berlin and the Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford.... Read more »
Kern, J., Alonso-Mori, R., Hellmich, J., Tran, R., Hattne, J., Laksmono, H., Glockner, C., Echols, N., Sierra, R., Sellberg, J.... (2012) Room temperature femtosecond X-ray diffraction of photosystem II microcrystals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(25), 9721-9726. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204598109
When a large outlet glacier of North Greenland (Petermann Gletscher) discharged an ice island four times the size of Manhattan in August of 2010, the United States’ Congress held formal inquiries on its cause within days of the event. Congressmen, … Continue reading →... Read more »
Johnson, H., Münchow, A., Falkner, K., & Melling, H. (2011) Ocean circulation and properties in Petermann Fjord, Greenland. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116(C1). DOI: 10.1029/2010JC006519
Münchow, A., Falkner, K., Melling, H., Rabe, B., & Johnson, H. (2011) Ocean Warming of Nares Strait Bottom Waters oﬀ Northwest Greenland, 2003–2009. Oceanography, 24(3), 114-123. DOI: 10.5670/oceanog.2011.62
Reeh, N., H. H. Thomsen, A. K. Higgins, and A. Weidick. (2001) Sea ice and the stability of north and northeast Greenland ﬂoating glaciers. Annals of Glaciology, 474-480. info:/
Rignot, E., & Steffen, K. (2008) Channelized bottom melting and stability of floating ice shelves. Geophysical Research Letters, 35(2). DOI: 10.1029/2007GL031765
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