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Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum
While mass media was busy misquoting Stephen Hawking and arguing about black holes, astrophysicists have been hard at work trying to solve still unanswered questions about them. Now a team has not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn’t supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door […]

Thomas J. Whalen, Ryan C. Hickox, Amy E. Reines, Jenny E. Greene, Gregory R. Sivakoff, Kelsey E. Johnson, David M. Alexander & Andy D. Goulding (2015). Variable Hard X-ray Emission from the Candidate Accreting Black Hole in Dwarf Galaxy Henize 2-10, The Astrophysical journal , arXiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/1504.03331v1

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Tics are common in adults with autism
The title of this post comes from a quote included in the paper by Ursula Kahl and colleagues [1] based on their study of the "phenomenology and characteristics" of tics in adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with a small control group of adults with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). A tic by the way, is a "sudden, fast, repeated movement or sound."This is not the first time that tics have been examined with the autism spectrum in mind. The paper from […]

Kahl, U., Schunke, O., Schöttle, D., David, N., Brandt, V., Bäumer, T., Roessner, V., Münchau, A. & Ganos, C. (2015). Tic Phenomenology and Tic Awareness in Adults With Autism, Movement Disorders Clinical Practice, DOI: 10.1002/mdc3.12154

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Males Are Here To Stay: Sex Enhances Egg Production And Colony Fitness
To us humans, it seems extremely unnatural that other animals can reproduce without having sex. Yet with the passing of time, evolution has endowed females of several species of amphibians, insects, reptiles and fish the ability to asexually produce offsprings without "help" from males. Now, researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) say that in

Miyakawa MO & Mikheyev AS (2015). Males are here to stay: fertilization enhances viable egg production by clonal queens of the little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata)., Die Naturwissenschaften, 102 (3-4) 15. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25801787

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Botox makes unnerving journey into our nervous system
New research might bring a frown to even the most heavily botoxed faces, with scientists finding how some of the potent toxin used for cosmetic surgery escapes into the central nervous system. Researchers have shown how Botox – also known as Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A – is transported via our nerves back to the central nervous […]

Wang, T., Martin, S., Papadopulos, A., Harper, C., Mavlyutov, T., Niranjan, D., Glass, N., Cooper-White, J., Sibarita, J., Choquet, D. & Davletov, B. (2015). Control of Autophagosome Axonal Retrograde Flux by Presynaptic Activity Unveiled Using Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A, Journal of Neuroscience, 35 (15) 6179-6194. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3757-14.2015

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Introducing Lassa-VSV, a hybrid virus that kills brain tumours
Last month, I wrote about using Salmonella to deliver anti-cancer compounds to tumours. Today, I’m sharing with you a paper on cancer-fighting viruses. Why the recent focus on microbiology and cancer? Because they’re much more interconnected than you would think and because they’re both so cool! (And maybe also because I’m a microbiologist and my […]

Wollmann G, Drokhlyansky E, Cepko C & van den Pol AN (2015). Lassa-VSV chimeric virus safely destroys brain tumors., Journal of virology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25878115

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Kids with ADHD must squirm to learn
For decades, frustrated parents and teachers have barked at fidgety children with ADHD to “Sit still and concentrate!” But new research shows that if you want ADHD kids to learn, you have to let them squirm. The foot-tapping, leg-swinging and chair-scooting movements of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are actually vital to how they remember information and […]

Sarver, D., Rapport, M., Kofler, M., Raiker, J. & Friedman, L. (2015). Hyperactivity in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Impairing Deficit or Compensatory Behavior?, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, DOI: 10.1007/s10802-015-0011-1

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La discriminación en Yucatán: Una radiografía
El Enero del presente año (2015), la Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Yucatán emitió una edición especial con los resultados de la Encuesta Estatal sobre Discriminación, la cual es la primera en su tipo en el estado. Se llevó a cabo en dos etapas: la primera en los municipios del interior del estado y la segunda en las colonias y comisarías de la ciudad.La investigación tuvo como objetivo la medición de las nociones […]

Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Yucatán. (2015). Encuesta Estatal de Discriminación., Sentido Humano: Número Especial., 10-31. Other:

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Is There Signal in the fMRI Noise?
A new paper in Neuroimage suggests that methods for removing head motion and physiological noise from fMRI data might be inadvertently excluding real signal as well. The authors, Molly G. Bright and Kevin Murphy of Cardiff, studied the technique called nuisance regression. It's a popular approach for removing fMRI noise. Noise reduction is important because factors such as head movement, the heart beat, and breathing, can contaminate the fMRI signal and lead to biased results. Nuisance regres

Bright MG & Murphy K (2015). Is fMRI "noise" really noise? Resting state nuisance regressors remove variance with network structure., NeuroImage, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25862264

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Autistic traits in adult-onset psychiatric disorders?
"To conclude, the presentation of ALTs [autistic-like traits/symptoms] at the sub-threshold or threshold level may be closely associated with BPD [bipolar disorder] and SZ [schizophrenia]."That was the conclusion reached in the paper by Junko Matsuo and colleagues [1] (open-access here) based on their analysis of nearly 300 adults aged between 25-59 years including those diagnosed with "MDD [major depressive disorder], n=125; bipolar disorder, n=56; […]

Matsuo J, Kamio Y, Takahashi H, Ota M, Teraishi T, Hori H, Nagashima A, Takei R, Higuchi T, Motohashi N & Kunugi H (2015). Autistic-Like Traits in Adult Patients with Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia., PloS one, 10 (4) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25838109

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Study links brain anatomy, academic achievement, and family income
Many years of research have shown that for students from lower-income families, standardized test scores and other measures of academic success tend to lag behind those of wealthier students. Well now a new study offers another dimension to this so-called “achievement gap”After imaging the brains of high- and low-income students, they found that the higher-income students […]

Allyson Mackey et al. (2015). Students’ Family Income Linked With Brain Anatomy, Academic Achievement, Psychological Science,

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