Posts

July 27, 2014

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2:49 AM | Don’t like to go searching for gut viruses? Use a computer instead, they are much cleaner
The Neuroscience Information Framework often gets questions about what types of things can be found in the data about brains presumably because people would rather poke in brains than data. However, some of our bioinformatics colleagues from the other side of town (at SDSU) that really didn’t want to go searching though their gut contents […]
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12:50 AM | Probiotics To Fight Obesity?
A probiotic that prevents obesity could be on the horizon, at least if an animal model translates to humans. Bacteria that produce a therapeutic compound in the gut inhibit weight gain, insulin resistance and other adverse effects of a high-fat diet in mice, Vanderbilt University investigators say. A lot would have to happen before this could move to human studies - regulatory hurdles and raising millions of dollars in venture capital, but the findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation […]

July 26, 2014

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10:44 PM | Unrelated to all that, 7/26 edition
The limits of animal life on Tatooine This anecdote about filming a sci fi movie in the pre-CGI era becomes a lot more important if you’re trying to take Star Wars semi-literally, as an accounting of alien worlds and the animals and sentient beings that live there. From this perspective, there are at least 15 […]
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10:41 PM | Don’t know why, but the price of the Kindle version of The First Brain is reduced!
Don’t know why but the price of the Kindle version of The First Brain is reduced! Not my doing; I do not control it… (:-) TFB is available as an ebook (Kindle, Nook, as well as in iTunes). The hardcover is available at Amazon and at the Oxford University Press’ website.  There’s even a 20% discount …
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9:15 PM | Older California Cultures Used Fire For Ecological Manipulation
Before the European colonial era, the people who lived on the land now called California used fire to control growth and make sure they had food, fuel, tools, and objects for ritual. read more
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8:24 PM | 2-Minute Neuroscience: Membrane potential and action potential
In these two videos, I discuss membrane potential and the action potential. Membrane potential refers to the difference in charge between the inside and outside of a neuron, which is created due to the unequal distribution of ions on both sides of the cell. The term action potential refers to the electrical signaling that occurs within neurons. This electrical signaling leads the release of neurotransmitters, and therefore is important to the chemical communication that occurs between […]
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6:34 PM | Awaiting a theory of neural weather
In a recent New York Times editorial, psychologist Gary Marcus noted that neuroscience is still awaiting a ‘bridging’ theory that elegantly connects neuroscience with psychology. This reflects a common belief in cognitive science that there is a ‘missing law’ to be discovered that will tell us how mind and brain are linked – but it […]
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5:18 PM | Save the Neurons: Fighting the Effects of Parkinsons
Possibly one of the most famous cases of parkinson’s is Michael J. Fox. More than just the “shakes” parkinson’s can cause a whole host of other problems mentally and physically […]

Barnum CJ, Chen X, Chung J, Chang J, Williams M, Grigoryan N, Tesi RJ & Tansey MG (2014). Peripheral Administration of the Selective Inhibitor of Soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) XPro1595 Attenuates Nigral Cell Loss and Glial Activation in 6-OHDA Hemiparkinsonian Rats., Journal of Parkinson's disease, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25061061

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4:08 PM | If You Care About The Organic Revolution, Disavow Mike Adams
Revolutions are messy business, they require participation by a type of personality that is not very savory; militant, bombastic, a little crazy. read more
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3:35 PM | Collecting Just The Right Data
Much artificial-intelligence research addresses the problem of making predictions based on large data sets. An obvious example is the recommendation engines at retail sites like Amazon and Netflix. But some types of data are harder to collect than online click histories —information about geological formations thousands of feet underground, for instance. And in other applications — such as trying to predict the path of a storm — there may just not be enough time to crunch all […]
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3:31 PM | Look At The Biosaline Patterns Formed By E. Coli In Salt
Researchers have detected a previously unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water and left to dry, bacteria manipulate the sodium chloride crystallisation to create biomineralogical biosaline 3D morphologically complex formations, where they hibernate. Afterwards, by rehydrating the material, bacteria are revived. The discovery was made by chance with a home microscope but made the cover of Astrobiology because […]
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2:27 PM | Getting Spiced
Synthetic cannabis is stronger than it used to be.First published 10/07/2013 I wish I could stop writing blog posts about Spice, as the family of synthetic cannabinoids has become known. I wish young people would stop taking these drugs, and stick to genuine marijuana, which is far safer. I wish that politicians and proponents of the Drug War would lean in a bit and help, by knocking off the testing for marijuana in most circumstances, so the difficulty of detecting Spice products isn’t a […]
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12:03 PM | A Useful Approximation For The Tail Of A Gaussian
This is just a short post to report about a useful paper I found by preparing for a talk I will be giving next week at the 3rd International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics, in the pleasant setting of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, near Kolympari.My talk will be titled "Extraordinary Claims: the 0.000029% Solution", making reference to the 5-sigma "discovery threshold" that has become a well-known standard for reporting the observation of new effects or particles in high-energy physics […]
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11:55 AM | Out on a limb too many
Two neuropsychologists have written a fascinating review article about the desire to amputate a perfectly healthy limb known variously as apotemnophilia, xenomelia or body integrity identity disorder The article is published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment although some who have these desires would probably disagree that it is a disease or disorder […]
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11:15 AM | Robo rehab | Mo Costandi
Robot-assisted rehabilitation is gaining traction in hospital stroke units, but exoskeleton-type devices may actually discourage patients from performing their exercises.Hundreds of millions of people tuned in to the World Cup Opening Ceremony in São Paulo last month, to watch artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Shakira perform before the first match kicked off. But the real highlight - which was apparently ignored by most of the media outlets covering the event - was a one-minute […]
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7:30 AM | Link feast
Our pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week:Getting Over ProcrastinationMaria Konnikova with an overview of some fascinating genetic research.The End of ‘Genius’"[T]he lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness" writes Joshua Shenk.Do You Need a Mental Health First Aider in The Office?Mental health "first aider" Charlotte Walker explains her role.Won’t They Help?Dwyer Gunn for Aeon magazine looks at new programmes that are using […]
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3:25 AM | Neonicotinoids Found In Nine Midwest Rivers -- USGS Study
Insecticides that behave like nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, became popular in the late 1990s as replacements for more toxic products. They have been effective but like all products there is concern about ongoing environmental effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified all neonicotinoids as safe for humans.read more

July 25, 2014

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10:45 PM | Scalp Tickets If You Want A Better Return
Concert promoters and sports teams have long insisted that scalping - private ticket sales outside a venue - hurts their revenue and forces fans to pay exorbitant prices for tickets. Not so, according to a new analysis which concludes that resale markets can add value to tickets sold by concert venues and Ticketmaster. Suppose you are interested in a Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams concert that is three months away. You're not 100 percent sure you'll be able to make it because you  have […]
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8:40 PM | Many Species Or One?
I’ve often wondered about the Scopes trial, and wanted to read a good account of it.  I was recommended the account by Edward J. Larson in When Science and Christianity Meet, edited by DC Lindberg and RL Numbers (ISBN 0226482162).  .  It’s a very informative book, and wide-ranging too: out of 12 chapters, only one on Galileo and one on Darwin. read more
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7:53 PM | Why I can't talk: Mechanism underlying speech fluency circa 1849
From the Scientific American archives, 1849, Vol. 4, p. 174:The common fluency of speech, in many men and women, is owing to a scarcity of words, for whoever is master of language, and hath a mind full of ideas, will be apt in speaking, to hesitate upon the choice of both; whereas, common speakers have only one set of ideas, and one set of words to clothe them in, and these are always ready; so people come faster out of church when it is nearly empty, than when a crowd is at the door. […]
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6:51 PM | US Nuclear Energy Is Safe - Will The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Listen?
A new National Academy of Sciences (NAS) assessment examining the causes of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident affirms the culture of safety adhered to by the U.S. nuclear industry.Core findings from the NAS study, “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving the Safety of U.S. Nuclear Plants,” validate the actions that the nuclear industry has initiated in recent years to be ready to manage plants if extreme natural events occur that may exceed a […]
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6:14 PM | Climate Change May Slow Down The Agriculture Boom
It's no secret that the last few decades have seen a whirlwind of improvements in agricultural science. Where the world once feared the future of Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren, with mass starvations and forced sterilization, we now have so much food the US government wants to mandate food stamps for farmer's markets, so poor people will have to consume fewer calories. The food curve shows no signs of going anywhere but up, yet a new paper says climate change may impact the one the thing that […]
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5:47 PM | Fighting the Obesity Epidemic with X-box [No, not that one]
Despite all the efforts, people are losing the war on obesity. There is probably a number of factors involved, genetics, underlying medical problems, most of all diet, but in any […]

Williams KW, Liu T, Kong X, Fukuda M, Deng Y, Berglund ED, Deng Z, Gao Y, Liu T, Sohn JW & Jia L (2014). Xbp1s in Pomc Neurons Connects ER Stress with Energy Balance and Glucose Homeostasis., Cell metabolism, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25017942

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5:08 PM | The Amazing Festival of Curiousity
The Festival of Curiosity is just super! Public engagement and public enthusiasm for science on a grand scale. @smomara1 awesome @festofcuriosity who knew you could stop yourself from gagging… And sneezing— Lynn Scarff (@lscarff) July 24, 2014 Have a blast @joeboating @shanedbergin … Continue reading →
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5:06 PM | Anti-inflammatory drug prevents neuron loss in Parkinson’s model
Promising research recently published in Journal of Parkinson's Disease The post Anti-inflammatory drug prevents neuron loss in Parkinson’s model appeared first on Lab Land.
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5:00 PM | Genetic Modification May Lead To Mildew Resistant Barley
In Australia, annual barley production is second only to wheat, with 7-8 million tons grown per year. Powdery mildew is one of the most important diseases of barley and a new project has opened the way for the development of new lines of barley with resistance to powdery mildew. University of Adelaide Senior Research Scientist Dr. Alan Little and colleagues have discovered the composition of special growths on the cell walls of barley plants that block the penetration of the fungus into the […]
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4:17 PM | Matmo: Taiwan's Typhoon Deluge
When Typhoon Matmo crossed over the island nation of Taiwan it left tremendous amounts of rainfall in its wake. read more
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4:01 PM | 100,000 Amps: New Magnets Boost Fusion Energy
Assembling yttrium-based high-temperature superconducting tapes in order to fabricate a large-scale magnet conductor has led to the National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) in Japan  achieving an electrical current of 100,000 amperes, by far the highest in the world.read more
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3:12 PM | Spotted at last: “Homo economicus”?
Are we selfish? Economists like to say that, to a first approximation, we are. In other words, that we tend to seek to maximize our own rewards, in a more or less rational manner. The trouble is that this theory (at least, a straightforward interpretation of it) doesn’t describe how people behave in many situations. […]The post Spotted at last: “Homo economicus”? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.

Yamagishi T, Li Y, Takagishi H, Matsumoto Y & Kiyonari T (2014). In Search of Homo economicus., Psychological science, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25037961

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3:02 PM | Risk Factors For Sleep Disturbance After Traumatic Brain Injury
Sleep disturbance following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common clinical challenge.Hypersomnia and insomnia can both been seen in the TBI population.The risk factors related to TBI-related sleep disturbance are not well known. Identification of risk factors can provide insight into clinical assessment and management.Lijun Hou and colleagues recently examined risk factors related to subjective sleep complaints in a series of 98 TBI subjects.The study sample include adults admitted to a […]
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