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  • 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
  • 169 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
  • 225 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
  • 172 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
  • 161 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  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 180 views

Turning New Year’s On Its Head

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

The popular phrase is, “It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.” Many organisms get to have both. We can learn a lot from studying old organisms, but perhaps the biggest question to answer is what constitutes a single life. Many living things seem to cheat; they have more than one life.... Read more »

  • December 30, 2014
  • 05:54 AM
  • 76 views

More On The Mystery of "Quantum Resonance Spectrometry"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Back in April, I blogged about a paper published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (JNMD) claiming that a little-known technique called ‘quantum resonance spectrometry’ (QRS) was able to diagnose mental health problems. I expressed surprise that the paper didn't explain what QRS actually is, how it works, or what it measures.





Now, eight months later, a Letter to the Editor has been published in the JNMD: Methodological Queries Regarding "Exploratory Quantum Resonance Spectr... Read more »

  • December 30, 2014
  • 04:42 AM
  • 169 views

2014 autism research review on Questioning Answers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I like warm hugs...Time flies doesn't it? And here we are yet again at the end of another research year and a time to reflect on the blogging highlights of 2014 on Questioning Answers. Once again the question is: are we any further forward when it comes to the autism spectrum, it's aetiology, nature and improving quality of life for those on the spectrum?Once again, I'm going to be optimistic and say 'yes' in some respects we are, as autism research continues at a pace. The caveat being tha........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2014
  • 12:05 AM
  • 131 views

Can Establishing a Baseline Presence of Pain in Baseball Players Aid Injury Prevention?

by Laura McDonald in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Healthy youth baseball players, despite actively competing in a summer league, reported arm pain and fatigue that resulted in a decline of enjoyment in the game and feeling encouraged to continue playing despite experiencing pain.... Read more »

Makhni, E., Morrow, Z., Luchetti, T., Mishra-Kalyani, P., Gualtieri, A., Lee, R., & Ahmad, C. (2014) Arm Pain in Youth Baseball Players: A Survey of Healthy Players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. DOI: 10.1177/0363546514555506  

  • December 29, 2014
  • 11:00 PM
  • 129 views

Inference Calls in Text

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Britton and Gülgöz (1991) conducted a study to test whether removing "inference calls" from text would improve retention of the material. Inference calls are locations in text that demand inference from the reader. One simple example from the text used in the study is below:... Read more »

  • December 29, 2014
  • 04:49 PM
  • 134 views

Coronavirus PLP2 and p53: inactivation by MDM2 and implications for apoptosis

by theloenvirologist in Virology Tidbits

Various viral proteins localise to the ER and modulate the ER stress response, including inducing the expression of ER resident chaperones and proteins involved in autophagy thus promoting cell survival. Briefly, the accumulation of unfolded proteins in the ER lumen sequentially activates three pathways by activating three sensors -PERK, ATF6, and IRE1- each of which induce the expression of chaperones and other enzymes involved in the folding of proteins as well as activating autophagy by depho........ Read more »

Li M, Brooks CL, Kon N, & Gu W. (2004) A dynamic role of HAUSP in the p53-Mdm2 pathway. Molecular cell, 13(6), 879-86. PMID: 15053880  

Kon N, Kobayashi Y, Li M, Brooks CL, Ludwig T, & Gu W. (2010) Inactivation of HAUSP in vivo modulates p53 function. Oncogene, 29(9), 1270-9. PMID: 19946331  

Brooks CL, & Gu W. (2004) Dynamics in the p53-Mdm2 ubiquitination pathway. Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.), 3(7), 895-9. PMID: 15254415  

Cottam EM, Maier HJ, Manifava M, Vaux LC, Chandra-Schoenfelder P, Gerner W, Britton P, Ktistakis NT, & Wileman T. (2011) Coronavirus nsp6 proteins generate autophagosomes from the endoplasmic reticulum via an omegasome intermediate. Autophagy, 7(11), 1335-47. PMID: 21799305  

DeDiego ML, Nieto-Torres JL, Regla-Nava JA, Jimenez-Guardeño JM, Fernandez-Delgado R, Fett C, Castaño-Rodriguez C, Perlman S, & Enjuanes L. (2014) Inhibition of NF-κB-mediated inflammation in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-infected mice increases survival. Journal of virology, 88(2), 913-24. PMID: 24198408  

Yuan L, Chen Z, Song S, Wang S, Tian C, Xing G, Chen X, Xiao ZX, He F, & Zhang L. (2014) p53 Degradation by a Coronavirus Papain-like Protease Suppresses Type I Interferon Signaling. The Journal of biological chemistry. PMID: 25505178  

  • December 29, 2014
  • 01:27 PM
  • 142 views

Estrogen worsens allergic reactions

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Are you a woman? Do you find yourself allergic to everything, but water (and sometimes that is up for debate)? Worse, does your husband, boyfriend, or male friend seem to be impervious to any sort of allergy? Well I have good news and bad news, the good news is it isn’t you — or him. The bad news is it’s your hormones.... Read more »

  • December 29, 2014
  • 01:11 PM
  • 141 views

Smartphone Apps for the Treatment of Eating Disorders

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders

As of January 2014, over 50% of adults in the United States own a smartphone; unsurprisingly, there has been a growth in the number of mobile applications (apps) aimed at providing health care services for various mental (and physical) health problems, including eating disorders. The purpose of mobile health technologies is to utilize the functionality of smartphones to deliver a wide range of health services, including providing psychoeducation, treatment services and/or recovery support.
... Read more »

Juarascio AS, Manasse SM, Goldstein SP, Forman EM, & Butryn ML. (2014) Review of Smartphone Applications for the Treatment of Eating Disorders. European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association. PMID: 25303148  

  • December 29, 2014
  • 12:10 PM
  • 128 views

8 Weird Animal Penises

by beredim in Strange Animals

Penis, the primary sexual organ that male and hermaphrodite animals use to inseminate sexually receptive mates (usually females and hermaphrodites respectively) during sex. Almost all species use some variation of the organ to transfer sperm into females' eggs in order to create more offsprings.

However, thanks to evolution, some species have come up with some really remarkable and weird ... Read more »

  • December 29, 2014
  • 10:42 AM
  • 143 views

Echo-location in humans

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

We can echo-locate but it is only possible to master well if blind. This is because, to be well done, echolocation uses parts of the visual cortex. A few years ago Thaler et al published the details (see citation below). Here is their description of this natural ability. “The enormous potential of this ‘natural’ echolocation […]... Read more »

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