Posts

March 30, 2015

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3:32 PM | Gut Feelings
This boy may be influencing who he will marry when he grows up. Photo by Orrling at Wikimedia Commons.Animals (including humans) are swarming with microorganisms both on and in our bodies. Humans harbor so many different microorganisms that we have over 150 times more microbial genes than mammalian genes, and it is reasonable to suspect that this scenario is similar for most animals. But before you run to soak in a tub of hand sanitizer, you should realize that many of these microorganisms are […]

Cryan, J. & Dinan, T. (2015). More than a Gut Feeling: the Microbiota Regulates Neurodevelopment and Behavior, Neuropsychopharmacology, 40 (1) 241-242. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2014.224

Ezenwa, V., Gerardo, N., Inouye, D., Medina, M. & Xavier, J. (2012). Animal Behavior and the Microbiome, Science, 338 (6104) 198-199. DOI: 10.1126/science.1227412

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7:20 AM | Asthma and ADHD (again)
"Asthmatic children had a higher risk of also having ADHD."That was the conclusion reached by Kirsten Holmberg and colleagues [1] based on their analysis of rates of ADHD, and other variables found "through the Swedish Twin Register, linked to the Swedish Medical Birth Register, the National Patient Register and the Prescribed Drug Register." Said data came from over 20,000 twins who's parents were questioned when children were aged 9 or 12 years.For those unfamiliar with the proposed […]

Holmberg K, Lundholm C, Anckarsäter H, Larsson H & Almqvist C (2015). Impact of asthma medication and familial factors on the association between childhood asthma and ADHD A combined twin- and register-based study., Clinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25772649

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12:05 AM | UK Researchers find parental perception of child’s weight is skewed
Childhood obesity affects more than double the amount of children it did 30 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). To figure out why the rate is increasing researchers studied the relationship between parents and their obese children to determine how to improve pediatric health. The study actually reveals how poorly parents rate their […]

Black et al (2015). Child obesity cut-offs as derived from parental perceptions: cross-sectional questionnaire, British Journal of General Practice, Other:

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March 29, 2015

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9:31 PM | A novel method makes gene therapy safer
  An international team of researchers have validated a method for identifying human insulator genes that dampen the over-activity of therapeutic genes delivered during gene therapy.1   The goal of gene therapy is to cure a disease by introducing therapeutic genes. For example, a non-infectious virus could be used to insert therapeutic genes into human […]

Liu M, Maurano MT, Wang H, Qi H, Song CZ, Navas PA, Emery DW, Stamatoyannopoulos JA & Stamatoyannopoulos G (2015). Genomic discovery of potent chromatin insulators for human gene therapy., Nature biotechnology, 33 (2) 198-203. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25580597

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6:43 PM | Biofuel, good for the environment if you’re eating less
When the government first changed policy to require ethanol in gasoline, we were told it would reduce our carbon footprint. Then food prices rose significantly and corn in particular saw the largest price rise. This was because corn is a staple in production of almost any other food from eggs to beef, but the policy made […]

Searchinger, T., Edwards, R., Mulligan, D., Heimlich, R. & Plevin, R. (2015). Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?, Science, 347 (6229) 1420-1422. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261221

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2:40 PM | Accelerated loss: western Antarctic ice shelf melting at faster pace within last decade
We know that the Antarctic ice shelves are melting, however the pace of this loss and its cause are still uncertain.  A new study from the Scripps Institute in San Diego has provided better resolution in both time and space to … Continue reading →

Paolo, F., Fricker, H. & Padman, L. (2015). Volume loss from Antarctic ice shelves is accelerating, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0940

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1:28 PM | Music affects on the brain
A recent paper identified genes that changed their expression as a result of music performance in trained musicians. (see citation below). There were a surprising number of affected genes, 51 genes had increased and 22 had decreased expression, compared to controls who were also trained musicians but were not involved in making or listening to […]

Kanduri, C., Kuusi, T., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A., Lähdesmäki, H. & Järvelä, I. (2015). The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians, Scientific Reports, 5 9506. DOI: 10.1038/srep09506

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8:39 AM | Sera from children with autism inducing autistic features in rats?
"The autism sera injected rats demonstrated developmental delay and deficits in social communication, interaction, and novelty."That was one of the findings reported in the paper by Syed Faraz Kazim and colleagues [1] (open-access) who, among other things, injected intracerebroventricularly sera collected from children with autism into newborn rats and examined behavioural effects compared with injections of sera from asymptomatic controls. Actually, that was only one part of the […]

Kazim, S., Cardenas-Aguayo, M., Arif, M., Blanchard, J., Fayyaz, F., Grundke-Iqbal, I. & Iqbal, K. (2015). Sera from Children with Autism Induce Autistic Features Which Can Be Rescued with a CNTF Small Peptide Mimetic in Rats, PLOS ONE, 10 (3) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118627

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March 28, 2015

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5:46 PM | Too much attention can be a deficit
Sometimes being too focused on a task is not a good thing. During tasks that require our attention, we might become so engrossed in what we are doing that we fail to notice there is a better way to get the job done. For example, let’s say you are coming out of a New York City […]

Nicolas W. Schuck, Robert Gaschler, Dorit Wenke, Jakob Heinzle, Peter A. Frensch, John-Dylan Haynes & Carlo Reverberi (2015). Medial Prefrontal Cortex Predicts Internally Driven Strategy Shifts, Neuron, Other:

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3:00 PM | Misbeliefs, evolution and games: a positive case
A recurrent theme here in TheEGG is the limits and reliability of knowledge. These get explored from many directions: on epistemological grounds, from the philosophy of science angle, but also formally, through game theory and simulations. In this post, I will explore the topic of misbeliefs as adaptations. Misbeliefs will be intended as ideas about […]

Kaznatcheev, A., Montrey, M. & Shultz, T.R. (2014). Evolving useful delusions: Subjectively rational selfishness leads to objectively irrational cooperation., Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society, arXiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.0041v1

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8:27 AM | Screening for autism in preterm infants
"A positive screen on the M-CHAT [Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers] occurs more commonly in very preterm infants than those born at term."So said the study by Peter Gray and colleagues [1] as the topic of preterm status - that is, babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy - potentially being linked to a greater risk of autism or at least, increased risk of screening positive for autism, crops up yet again on this blog (see here).Gray et al examined a cohort of children […]

Gray PH, Edwards DM, O'Callaghan MJ & Gibbons K (2015). Screening for autism spectrum disorder in very preterm infants during early childhood., Early human development, 91 (4) 271-276. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25766314

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March 27, 2015

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10:22 PM | What’s gnawing on Jane Austen’s hair?
The years hadn’t been kind to the lonely lock of Jane Austen’s hair on display in a Hampshire museum. Light had bleached it to a straw color; only the shadowed underside remained its original brown. A few tiny flakes of … Continue reading →

Swift JA (1972). Scanning electron microscope study of Jane Austen's hair., Nature, 238 (5360) 161-2. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4558459

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4:42 PM | Researchers find how body’s good fat talks to the brain
There are two types of fat we humans have — white and brown — unfortunately only one of them is “good fat” and it is unfortunately not the one we tend to produce. Well new research shows that brown fat tissue, the body’s “good fat,” communicates with the brain through sensory nerves, possibly sharing information that […]

Garretson JT, Teubner BJ, Grove KL, Vazdarjanova A, Ryu V & Bartness TJ (2015). Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor γ Controls Ingestive Behavior, Agouti-Related Protein, and Neuropeptide Y mRNA in the Arcuate Hypothalamus., The Journal of neuroscience, 35 (11) 4571-81. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25788674

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4:17 PM | Research on medical abortion/miscarriage may change international routines
Two scientific studies are expected to form the basis of new international recommendations for the treatment of medical abortions and miscarriages. One of the studies shows that it is possible to replace the clinical follow-up examinations recommended today with medical abortions that include a home pregnancy test. The other study shows that midwives can safely and […]

Oppegaard, K., Qvigstad, E., Fiala, C., Heikinheimo, O., Benson, L. & Gemzell-Danielsson, K. (2015). Clinical follow-up compared with self-assessment of outcome after medical abortion: a multicentre, non-inferiority, randomised, controlled trial, The Lancet, 385 (9969) 698-704. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61054-0

Dr Marie Klingberg-Allvin, PhD, Amanda Cleeve, MSc, Susan Atuhairwe, MSc, Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye, PhD, Prof Elisabeth Faxelid, PhD, Josaphat Byamugisha, PhD & Prof Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, PhD (2015). Comparison of treatment of incomplete abortion with misoprostol by physicians and midwives at district level in Uganda: a randomised controlled equivalence trial, The Lancet, DOI: http://dx..org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61935-8

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4:16 PM | The genetics of musical talent: an interview with Irma Järvelä
Would Mozart have become a great composer had his family not encouraged his musical career? Irma Järvelä is a clinical geneticist at the University of Helsinki, Finland, who investigates the molecular genetics of musical traits. After devoting 25 years of her career to the identification of genes and mutations involved in human diseases, she now works in close collaboration with bioinformaticians and music educators to study the influence of genes and the cultural environment in music […]

Kanduri C., Minna Ahvenainen, Anju K. Philips, Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti, Harri Lähdesmäki & Irma Järvelä (2015). The effect of listening to music on human transcriptome, PeerJ, 3 e830. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.830

Kanduri C., Minna Ahvenainen, Anju K. Philips, Harri Lähdesmäki & Irma Järvelä (2015). The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians, Scientific Reports, 5 9506. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep09506

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3:39 PM | Music played by professionals activates genes for learning and memory
Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from […]

Kanduri, C., Kuusi, T., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A., Lähdesmäki, H. & Järvelä, I. (2015). The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians, Scientific Reports, 5 9506. DOI: 10.1038/srep09506

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10:02 AM | Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing
A quote to begin: "acute inflammation can lead to decreases in the ability to accurately and reliably comprehend emotional information from others."It comes from the article published by Mona Moieni and colleagues [1] who examined a concept familiar to many people with a connection to autism either personally or professionally: Theory of Mind (ToM). Rather interestingly, Moieni et al "examined whether exposure to an experimental inflammatory challenge led to changes in ToM." […]

Moieni M, Irwin MR, Jevtic I, Breen EC & Eisenberger NI (2015). Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing: a randomized controlled trial of endotoxin., Brain, behavior, and immunity, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25770082

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5:18 AM | Is a trauma focus truly needed in PTSD treatment?
Last month Joris Haagen shared Part 1 of a saga around the question whether a trauma focus is truly necessary in trauma treatment. Based on a meta-analysis, Benish, Wampold and their colleagues concluded that the answer is No. Their analysis, … Continue reading →

Barlow DH, Bullis JR, Comer JS & Ametaj AA (2013). Evidence-based psychological treatments: an update and a way forward., Annual review of clinical psychology, 9 1-27. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23245338

Gerger, H., Munder, T., Gemperli, A., Nüesch, E., Trelle, S., Jüni, P. & Barth, J. (2014). Integrating fragmented evidence by network meta-analysis: relative effectiveness of psychological interventions for adults with post-traumatic stress disorder, Psychological Medicine, 44 3151-3164. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291714000853

Schnurr PP (2007). The rocks and hard places in psychotherapy outcome research., Journal of traumatic stress, 20 779-92. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17955539

Watts BV, Schnurr PP, Mayo L, Young-Xu Y, Weeks WB & Friedman MJ (2013). Meta-analysis of the efficacy of treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder., The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 74 50. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23842024

Wampold BE, Imel ZE, Laska KM, Benish S, Miller SD, Flückiger C, Del Re AC, Baardseth TP & Budge S (2010). Determining what works in the treatment of PTSD., Clinical psychology review, 30 923-33. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20638168

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March 26, 2015

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10:27 PM | Stereotype lowers math performance in women, no one noticed
Stereotypes about people can affect how we look at a person, but sometimes it causes other problems. Gender stereotypes about women’s ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men and women wrongly believe those stereotypes will not undermine women’s math performance — but instead motivate them to perform better. […]

Boucher, K., Rydell, R. & Murphy, M. (2015). Forecasting the experience of stereotype threat for others, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 58 56-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2015.01.002

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6:20 PM | High-fat diet causes brain inflammation and alters behavior
We hear in the media all the time, obesity is effecting our health. In most cases when we talk obesity we are talking about heart disease, sedentary activity, or chronic overeating. But what if a high-fat diet — regardless of obesity — has more than just an affect on your waistline? What if the consumption of fatty […]

Bruce-Keller, A., Salbaum, J., Luo, M., Blanchard, E., Taylor, C., Welsh, D. & Berthoud, H. (2015). Obese-type Gut Microbiota Induce Neurobehavioral Changes in the Absence of Obesity, Biological Psychiatry, 77 (7) 607-615. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.07.012

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1:41 PM | What’s the Answer? (alignment editors)
This week’s highlighted question is from the Bioinformatics discussion area at Reddit. There are a range of topics discussed in that subreddit, and some of the tool-specific ones are very helpful in learning about new software. What are some of the best multiple alignment editors that allow for manual editing? Cross-platform/open-source would be preferred. –AtlasAnimated […]

Larsson A. (2014). AliView: a fast and lightweight alignment viewer and editor for large datasets, Bioinformatics, 30 (22) 3276-3278. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btu531

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11:50 AM | Watching a paradigm shift in neuroscience
When I finished my PhD 15 years ago, the neurosciences defined the main function of brains in terms of processing input to compute output: “brain function is ultimately best understood in terms of input/output transformations and how they are produced” […] ↓ Read the rest of this entry...

Gordus, A., Pokala, N., Levy, S., Flavell, S. & Bargmann, C. (2015). Feedback from Network States Generates Variability in a Probabilistic Olfactory Circuit, Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.018

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11:39 AM | Autism increases risk of nonaffective psychotic disorder and bipolar disorder
Published at the same time and in the same journal as the 'MoBa does bowel issues in autism' paper from Bresnahan and colleagues [1], the study results from Jean-Paul Selten et al [2] reporting that "A diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] is associated with a substantially increased risk for NAPD [nonaffective psychotic disorder] and BD [bipolar disorder]" has, at the time of writing this post, received little or no press attention in comparison despite […]

Selten JP, Lundberg M, Rai D & Magnusson C (2015). Risks for Nonaffective Psychotic Disorder and Bipolar Disorder in Young People With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Study., JAMA psychiatry, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25806797

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March 25, 2015

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10:04 PM | Was early crocodile a top predator among dinosaurs?
It’s widely-accepted that dinosaur ruled the Earth (unless you believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and magically sprang into existence). For around 200 million, roarin’, stompin’, Jeff Goldblum-chasin’ years they were the unquestionable tyrants of the land. Or were they? Scientists from the US claim to have found an early ancestor of…

Zanno LE, Drymala S, Nesbitt SJ & Schneider VP (2015). Early crocodylomorph increases top tier predator diversity during rise of dinosaurs., Scientific reports, 5 9276. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25787306

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9:59 PM | Immunotherapy, a promising new treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease, it slowly takes things away from the person without giving anything back. Right now there is no cure and at best we can slow the progression in some cases. Time is always a factor and no two cases are the same. However, new treatments are in the works and a new study has […]

Castillo-Carranza, D., Guerrero-Munoz, M., Sengupta, U., Hernandez, C., Barrett, A., Dineley, K. & Kayed, R. (2015). Tau Immunotherapy Modulates Both Pathological Tau and Upstream Amyloid Pathology in an Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model, Journal of Neuroscience, 35 (12) 4857-4868. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4989-14.2015

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9:57 PM | MoBa does bowel issues in autism
'MoBa' in the title of this post, refers to the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and a handy resource which has already impacted on autism research (see here for example).Now MoBa has turned its epidemiological clout to an issue which less and less is encountering scientific resistance: are gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of autism? Further, when do such bowel issues start to present?The answer, shown in the paper by Michaeline […]

Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Schultz, A., Gunnes, N., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Roth, C., Schjølberg, S. & Stoltenberg, C. (2015). Association of Maternal Report of Infant and Toddler Gastrointestinal Symptoms With Autism, JAMA Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034

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5:03 PM | Cracking the blood-brain barrier with magnetic nanoparticles
The blood-brain barrier, the thorn in the side of medicine. It makes using drugs directed for the brain ineffective at best and unusable at worst. This barrier runs inside almost all vessels in the brain and protects it from elements circulating in the blood that may be toxic to the brain. This barrier means that […]

Tabatabaei, S., Girouard, H., Carret, A. & Martel, S. (2015). Remote control of the permeability of the blood–brain barrier by magnetic heating of nanoparticles: A proof of concept for brain drug delivery, Journal of Controlled Release, 206 49-57. DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2015.02.027

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1:38 PM | Video Tip of the Week: Protein structure information for public outreach. Really.
This week’s tip isn’t about a specific tool–but a really interesting look at how a tool was used in the context of some general public outreach messaging. Recently I posted about Aquaria, a new tool available to let biologists explore protein structures, mutations, and domains in user-friendly ways. But an interesting example of how the […]

O'Donoghue S.I., Maria Kalemanov, Christian Stolte, Benjamin Wellmann, Vivian Ho, Manfred Roos, Nelson Perdigão, Fabian A Buske, Julian Heinrich & Burkhard Rost & (2015). Aquaria: simplifying discovery and insight from protein structures, Nature Methods, 12 (2) 98-99. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.3258

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12:30 PM | Can Street Dogs Become Good Pets?
From free-ranging dog to new home. It sounds like a fairy-tale, but how does it work out?A recent survey by Yasemin Salgiri Demirbas (Ankara University) et al investigates how well free-roaming urban dogs fit into a family home once they are adopted. The results show the dogs adapt well to their new homes.The scientists say, “Every year in Turkey, thousands of free-ranging dogs are brought to dog shelters. These dogs are mongrel dogs with stray origins.” There is often a bias […]

Blackwell, E., Twells, C., Seawright, A. & Casey, R. (2008). The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 3 (5) 207-217. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2007.10.008

Salgirli Demirbas, Y., Emre, B. & Kockaya, M. (2014). Integration ability of urban free-ranging dogs into adoptive families' environment, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 9 (5) 222-227. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2014.04.006

Lord, L., Reider, L., Herron, M. & Graszak, K. (2008). Health and behavior problems in dogs and cats one week and one month after adoption from animal shelters, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 233 (11) 1715-1722. DOI: 10.2460/javma.233.11.1715

McMillan, F., Duffy, D. & Serpell, J. (2011). Mental health of dogs formerly used as ‘breeding stock’ in commercial breeding establishments, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 135 (1-2) 86-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.09.006

Sherman, B. & Mills, D. (2008). Canine Anxieties and Phobias: An Update on Separation Anxiety and Noise Aversions, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 38 (5) 1081-1106. DOI: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2008.04.012

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12:00 PM | This Nose Knows
Biology concepts – evolution, asymmetry, bilateral symmetry, phonic lips, whales, echolocation, encephalization quotient, densityThis picture gives you a good idea of just how big a spermaceti whale is. Captain Ahab wanted to take this guy on mano y mano. He was nuts.Captain Ahab had an obsession for the white whale in Moby Dick. It was a killer, but not a killer whale. It swamped boats, rammed ships, and generally made a nuisance of itself. But it seemed to be intelligent as well, the […]

Ridgway, S. & Hanson, A. (2014). Sperm Whales and Killer Whales with the Largest Brains of All Toothed Whales Show Extreme Differences in Cerebellum, Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 83 (4) 266-274. DOI: 10.1159/000360519

Oliveira, C., Wahlberg, M., Johnson, M., Miller, P. & Madsen, P. (2013). The function of male sperm whale slow clicks in a high latitude habitat: Communication, echolocation, or prey debilitation?, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133 (5) 3135. DOI: 10.1121/1.4795798

BODDY, A., McGOWEN, M., SHERWOOD, C., GROSSMAN, L., GOODMAN, M. & WILDMAN, D. (2012). Comparative analysis of encephalization in mammals reveals relaxed constraints on anthropoid primate and cetacean brain scaling, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25 (5) 981-994. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02491.x

Montgomery, S., Geisler, J., McGowen, M., Fox, C., Marino, L. & Gatesy, J. (2013). THE EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF CETACEAN BRAIN AND BODY SIZE, Evolution, 67 (11) 3339-3353. DOI: 10.1111/evo.12197

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