Posts

December 09, 2014

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9:25 PM | Depressed? Laughing gas might help
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has shown early promise as a potential treatment for severe depression in patients whose symptoms don’t respond to standard therapies. In other words, it might […]

Nagele P, Duma A, Kopec M, Gebara MA, Parsoei A, Walker M, Janski A, Pahagopoulos VN, Cristancho P, Miller JP, Zorumski CF, Conway C (2014). Nitrous oxide for treatment-resistant major depression: a proof-of-concept trial, Biological Psychiatry, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.11.016

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December 08, 2014

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11:47 PM | Don't miss out! Dogs + Science from November
Catch up! Participate! Plan your conferences for 2015! Check out all the latest in canine science from November here, thanks to the magic of Storify (if you don't see a beautiful array of handy snippets below, please click this link to view)[View the story "Do You Believe in Dog? [01-30 November 2014]" on Storify]Further reading: Cobb M., Paul McGreevy, Alan Lill & Pauleen Bennett (2014). The advent of canine performance science: Offering a sustainable future for working […]

Bradshaw J.W.S. & Rachel A. Casey (2009). Dominance in domestic dogs—useful construct or bad habit?, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 4 (3) 135-144. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2008.08.004

Gosling S.D. & Oliver P. John (2003). A Dog's Got Personality: A Cross-Species Comparative Approach to Personality Judgments in Dogs and Humans., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85 (6) 1161-1169. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.85.6.1161

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9:46 PM | Electroreception in Mammals
The duck-billed platypis is one of the handful mammals with the ability to sense electrical fields By TwoWings, via Wikimedia Commons Electroreception is the biological ability to perceive natural electrical stimuli or in simpler words, the ability to perceive the world via electricity. Electroreception is quite common in aquatic or amphibious animals, since water is a much better conductor

Scheich, H., Langner, G., Tidemann, C., Coles, R. & Guppy, A. (1986). Electroreception and electrolocation in platypus, Nature, 319 (6052) 401-402. DOI: 10.1038/319401a0

Pettigrew JD (1999). Electroreception in monotremes., The Journal of experimental biology, 202 (Pt 10) 1447-54. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10210685

Czech-Damal NU, Liebschner A, Miersch L, Klauer G, Hanke FD, Marshall C, Dehnhardt G & Hanke W (2012). Electroreception in the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis)., Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 279 (1729) 663-8. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21795271

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8:13 PM | Scientists find a hormone that makes you fatter
Our waistlines are expanding, it’s no secret that around the world despite rampant hunger people are also getting fatter. While there are many things that are contributing to this — […]

Crane, J., Palanivel, R., Mottillo, E., Bujak, A., Wang, H., Ford, R., Collins, A., Blümer, R., Fullerton, M., Yabut, J. & Kim, J. (2014). Inhibiting peripheral serotonin synthesis reduces obesity and metabolic dysfunction by promoting brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.3766

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7:57 AM | Estimates of Anthropogenic Nitrogen in the Ocean May Be High
Inundation of nitrogen into the atmosphere and terrestrial environments, through fossil fuel combustion and extensive fertilization, has risen tenfold since preindustrial times according to research published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Excess nitrogen can infiltrate water tables and can trigger extensive algal blooms that deplete aquatic environments of oxygen, among other damaging effects. Although scientists have […] The post Estimates of Anthropogenic Nitrogen in the Ocean May […]

Altieri, K., Hastings, M., Peters, A., Oleynik, S. & Sigman, D. (2014). Isotopic evidence for a marine ammonium source in rainwater at Bermuda, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, DOI: 10.1002/2014GB004809

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December 07, 2014

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6:16 PM | Study suggests lefties actually earn less
Much has been thrown at left-handed people—they are quick to anger, quickly scared and, with the exception of heads of state, are more or less life’s losers. There was even […]

Goodman, J. (2014). The Wages of Sinistrality: Handedness, Brain Structure, and Human Capital Accumulation, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28 (4) 193-212. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2020437

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December 06, 2014

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7:14 PM | Mapping the spinal circuitry to fight phantom pain
Pain typically has a clear cause–but not always. When a person touches something hot or bumps into a sharp object, it’s no surprise that it hurts. But for people with […]

Duan B, Cheng L, Bourane S, Britz O, Padilla C, Garcia-Campmany L, Krashes M, Knowlton W, Velasquez T, Ren X & Ross SE (2014). Identification of Spinal Circuits Transmitting and Gating Mechanical Pain., Cell, 159 (6) 1417-1432. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25467445

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8:31 AM | Risk of cancer associated with autism: small but present
Whilst understanding the power that headlines can have, alongside the way that statistics can sometimes mislead and/or be misrepresented, I don't want to shy away from the findings presented by Huey-Ling Chiang and colleagues [1] reporting that: "patients with autistic disorder have an increased risk of cancer."Curiosity often leads to trouble.Based yet again on data derived from the fantastic resource that is the Taiwan National Health Insurance database (see here for some other research […]

Chiang, H., Liu, C., Hu, Y., Chen, S., Hu, L., Shen, C., Yeh, C., Chen, T. & Gau, S. (2014). Risk of Cancer in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults with Autistic Disorder, The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.10.029

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December 05, 2014

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8:58 PM | Move over solar pannels, introducing spray-on solar cells
Solar panels, they are big, heavy, cannot flex, and are still very inefficient. While efficiency isn’t the big issue, flexibility has relegated solar panels to rooftops and solar farms. Well […]

Kramer, I., Moreno-Bautista, G., Minor, J., Kopilovic, D. & Sargent, E. (2014). Colloidal quantum dot solar cells on curved and flexible substrates, Applied Physics Letters, 105 (16) 163902. DOI: 10.1063/1.4898635

Carey GH, Kramer IJ, Kanjanaboos P, Moreno-Bautista G, Voznyy O, Rollny L, Tang JA, Hoogland S & Sargent EH (2014). Electronically active impurities in colloidal quantum dot solids., ACS nano, 8 (11) 11763-9. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25376698

Kramer, I., Minor, J., Moreno-Bautista, G., Rollny, L., Kanjanaboos, P., Kopilovic, D., Thon, S., Carey, G., Chou, K., Zhitomirsky, D. & Amassian, A. (2014). Efficient Spray-Coated Colloidal Quantum Dot Solar Cells, Advanced Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201403281

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Editor's Pick
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1:00 PM | Breaking Research: Glycogen build-up in the brain contributes to aging
Total brain volume decreases as we age. Image modified from brainpowerrelease. Why is the aging process accompanied by progressive cognitive decline such as impaired memory, decreased focus, and slowed reaction time? Although we don’t fully know what causes it, researchers have found that aging visibly affects the brain, most strikingly as a decrease in total […]

Sinadinos C., Laura Boulan, Estel Solsona, Maria F. Tevy, Mercedes Marquez, Jordi Duran, Carmen Lopez-Iglesias, Joaquim Calbó, Marco Milan & Joan J. Guinovart & (2014). Neuronal glycogen synthesis contributes to physiological aging, Aging Cell, n/a-n/a. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acel.12254

Cavanagh J.B. (1999). Corpora-amylacea and the family of polyglucosan diseases, Brain Research Reviews, 29 (2-3) 265-295. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0165-0173(99)00003-x

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12:56 PM | Reading patterns
There is a paper (citation below) that takes a different look at language. It attempts to examine what happens in the brain when we read a story. There is the act of reading, the processing of the language, and the engagement in the story, all going on at the same time. “One of the main […]

Wehbe, L., Murphy, B., Talukdar, P., Fyshe, A., Ramdas, A. & Mitchell, T. (2014). Simultaneously Uncovering the Patterns of Brain Regions Involved in Different Story Reading Subprocesses, PLoS ONE, 9 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112575

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9:48 AM | Probiotics degrading gluten peptides?
Probiotics again on this blog?OK, consider this a micropost if you will, as I draw your attention to the paper by Duar and colleagues [1] and their study results suggested to provide: "a basis for the selection of Lactobacillus strains for probiotic applications aimed to reduce epitope-containing gluten peptides before reaching the epithelium of the small intestine of celiac patients." What the Duar findings translate into is a possible gluten peptide degrading role for certain strains of […]

Duar RM, Clark K, Patil PB, Hernández C, Brüning S, Burkey TE, Madayiputhiya N, Taylor SL & Walter J (2014). Identification and characterization of intestinal lactobacilli strains capable of degrading immunotoxic peptides present in gluten., Journal of applied microbiology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25376327

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12:24 AM | Non-Echolocating Bats Actually Echolocate Using Wing Clicks
Spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus)A non-echolocating speciesCredit: MnolfContrary to what most people think, bats are not blind. The truth is that all one-thousand something bat species can see. Most people also think that since bats are blind they rely on their echolocation to get around. Again a mistake, since many bats don't possess echolocation.For example, most species of Megabats [Suborder: Megachiroptera] have to rely exclusively on their vision. Or that's what we thought up […]

Boonman, A., Bumrungsri, S. & Yovel, Y. (2014). Nonecholocating Fruit Bats Produce Biosonar Clicks with Their Wings, Current Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.10.077

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December 04, 2014

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9:39 PM | Psychiatry: End of the Road for “Endophenotypes”?
An important new study could undermine the concept of ‘endophenotypes’ – and thus derail one of the most promising lines of research in neuroscience and psychiatry. The findings are out now in Psychophysiology. Unusually, an entire special issue of the journal is devoted to presenting the various results of the study, along with commentary, but […] The post Psychiatry: End of the Road for “Endophenotypes”? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.

Iacono WG, Vaidyanathan U, Vrieze SI & Malone SM (2014). Knowns and unknowns for psychophysiological endophenotypes: Integration and response to commentaries., Psychophysiology, 51 (12) 1339-1347. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25387720

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Editor's Pick
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9:30 PM | Finding the real cost of climate change
  How much does global warming really cost the world? Determining the Social Cost of Carbon helps put a actual dollar value on the climate damages per ton of CO2 released, […]

Pizer, W., Adler, M., Aldy, J., Anthoff, D., Cropper, M., Gillingham, K., Greenstone, M., Murray, B., Newell, R., Richels, R. & Rowell, A. (2014). Using and improving the social cost of carbon, Science, 346 (6214) 1189-1190. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259774

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3:58 PM | No-Exercise Routine: Squirrels Build Muscle While Hibernating
You may be physically fit right now, but if you spent all winter snoozing and starving, you’d emerge looking a lot more “pool noodle” than “beach body.” Yet mammals that hibernate don’t have that problem. Rather than stumbling out of their dens on atrophied legs, they hop right into hunting for food and dodging predators. How they manage this is […] The post No-Exercise Routine: Squirrels Build Muscle While Hibernating appeared […]

Hindle AG, Otis JP, Epperson LE, Hornberger TA, Goodman CA, Carey HV & Martin SL (2014). Prioritization of skeletal muscle growth for emergence from hibernation., The Journal of experimental biology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25452506

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1:51 PM | Journal Club: Do pufferfishes hold their breath when inflated?
SUMMARY: A newly-published study by a team of Australian scientists reveals that inflated pufferfish do not hold their breath, that they continue to obtain oxygen across their gills as usual. The researchers also found that even though inflated pufferfish consume as much as five times more oxygen than when they are resting, they do not compensate for their increased energetic demands by absorbing oxygen through their skin. Bloat, the porcupine pufferfish from the 2003 comedy, Finding Nemo When […]

McGee G.E. & Clark T.D. (2014). All puffed out: do pufferfish hold their breath while inflated?, Biology Latters, 10 (12) DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0823

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9:47 AM | Gut dysbiosis in treated coeliac disease: time for a probiotic or worse?
"Our findings indicate that dysbiosis of microbiota is associated with persistent gastrointestinal symptoms in treated celiac disease patients and open new possibilities to treat this subgroup of patients."That was the summary of the paper published by Pirjo Wacklin and colleagues [1] who looked at the bacterial constitution of the duodenal microbiota [the bacteria which inhabit us] in a small group of participants diagnosed with coeliac (celiac) disease who "had been following a strict […]

Wacklin, P., Laurikka, P., Lindfors, K., Collin, P., Salmi, T., Lähdeaho, M., Saavalainen, P., Mäki, M., Mättö, J., Kurppa, K. & Kaukinen, K. (2014). Altered Duodenal Microbiota Composition in Celiac Disease Patients Suffering From Persistent Symptoms on a Long-Term Gluten-Free Diet, The American Journal of Gastroenterology, DOI: 10.1038/ajg.2014.355

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3:45 AM | Memes, compound strategies, and factoring the replicator equation
When you work with evolutionary game theory for a while, you end up accumulating an arsenal of cute tools and tricks. A lot of them are obvious once you’ve seen them, but you usually wouldn’t bother looking for them if you hadn’t know they existed. In particular, you become very good friends with the replicator […]

Börgers, T. & Sarin, R. (1997). Learning through reinforcement and replicator dynamics, Journal of Economic Theory, 77 (1) 1-14. DOI: 10.1006/jeth.1997.2319

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2:16 AM | Can you learn to taste music?
Image credits: parade.com Probably not. But you can learn to perceive black letters in colour. Or so says an eyebrow-raising study published in Scientific Reports by a...

Bor D, Rothen N, Schwartzman DJ, Clayton S & Seth AK (2014). Adults can be trained to acquire synesthetic experiences., Scientific reports, 4 7089. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25404369

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December 03, 2014

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9:35 PM | New peptide might treat spinal cord injury
In nature there are plenty of animals that can regenerate nerves, even some mammals have the ability to regenerate them, but unfortunately we do not. However, there is some great […]

Lang, B., Cregg, J., DePaul, M., Tran, A., Xu, K., Dyck, S., Madalena, K., Brown, B., Weng, Y., Li, S. & Karimi-Abdolrezaee, S. (2014). Modulation of the proteoglycan receptor PTPσ promotes recovery after spinal cord injury, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature13974

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2:03 PM | Where do Vampires come from? Isotopic Analysis of the Drawsko Vampires
Vampires have continued to be a hot topic in studies of deviant burial practices, and the popular news is more than happy to share these types of archaeological finds. Of […]

Gregoricka, L., Betsinger, T., Scott, A. & Polcyn, M. (2014). Apotropaic Practices and the Undead: A Biogeochemical Assessment of Deviant Burials in Post-Medieval Poland, PLoS ONE, 9 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113564

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1:30 PM | Learning More About Animal Abuse
New research investigates the effects of abuse on domestic dogs.Photo: GeorgeMPhotography / ShutterstockThe paper, by Franklin D. McMillan (Best Friends Animal Society) et al, looks at the behaviour profiles of 69 dogs with a very strong suspicion of abuse, and compares them to 5,239 pet dogs. The abused dogs scored significantly higher on various problem behaviours including aggression and fear to unfamiliar people and dogs, attachment problems, attention-seeking, and repetitive […]

McMillan, F., Duffy, D., Zawistowski, S. & Serpell, J. (2014). Behavioral and Psychological Characteristics of Canine Victims of Abuse, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 18 (1) 92-111. DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2014.962230

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1:00 PM | How Slime Molds Our World
Biology concepts – Protista, fungus-like protists, penicillin, undulipodia, serendipity, potato famine, networks, co-evolution, slime moldIt’s one thing for Dr. Fleming to have discovered pencillin by accident. It’s another to admit to everyone – most people would just say, “I meant to do that.” Fleming was great at serendipity; he discovered human lysozyme when some snot dripped from his nose when he had a cold onto a bacteria filled agar plate and they […]

Goss, E., Tabima, J., Cooke, D., Restrepo, S., Fry, W., Forbes, G., Fieland, V., Cardenas, M. & Grunwald, N. (2014). The Irish potato famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans originated in central Mexico rather than the Andes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (24) 8791-8796. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1401884111

Tero, A., Takagi, S., Saigusa, T., Ito, K., Bebber, D., Fricker, M., Yumiki, K., Kobayashi, R. & Nakagaki, T. (2010). Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design, Science, 327 (5964) 439-442. DOI: 10.1126/science.1177894

Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada & Ágota Tóth (2000). Intelligence: Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism, Nature, 407 (470) Other:

Brock, D., Read, S., Bozhchenko, A., Queller, D. & Strassmann, J. (2013). Social amoeba farmers carry defensive symbionts to protect and privatize their crops, Nature Communications, 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3385

Brock, D., Douglas, T., Queller, D. & Strassmann, J. (2011). Primitive agriculture in a social amoeba, Nature, 469 (7330) 393-396. DOI: 10.1038/nature09668

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December 02, 2014

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9:31 PM | Synthetic biology breakthrough: The world’s first artificial enzymes
Like mad scientists working away in some secret location we have created life… well sort of. It may sound like something out of a Sci fi movie, but scientists have created […]

Taylor, A., Pinheiro, V., Smola, M., Morgunov, A., Peak-Chew, S., Cozens, C., Weeks, K., Herdewijn, P. & Holliger, P. (2014). Catalysts from synthetic genetic polymers, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature13982

Pinheiro, V., Taylor, A., Cozens, C., Abramov, M., Renders, M., Zhang, S., Chaput, J., Wengel, J., Peak-Chew, S., McLaughlin, S. & Herdewijn, P. (2012). Synthetic Genetic Polymers Capable of Heredity and Evolution, Science, 336 (6079) 341-344. DOI: 10.1126/science.1217622

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9:28 PM | The Montado, the Mouse and Landscape Connectivity
It’s been quite a few years since I visited Portugal during my third year field trip as part of my undergraduate Applied Ecology degree in University College Cork.  It was a memorable trip where we learned a great deal about Mediterranean ecology from our UCC lecturers. I believe one of the lasting influences  from the […]

Mullins J, Ascensão F, Simões L, Andrade L, Santos-Reis M, Fernandes C (2014). Evaluating connectivity between Natura 2000 sites within the montado agroforestry system: a case study using landscape genetics of the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), Landscape Ecology, DOI: 10.1007/s10980-014-0130-z

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9:28 PM | The Montado, the Mouse and Landscape Connectivity
It’s been quite a few years since I visited Portugal during my third year field trip as part of my undergraduate Applied Ecology degree in University College Cork.  It was a memorable trip where we learned a great deal about Mediterranean ecology from our UCC lecturers. I believe one of the lasting influences  from the […]

Mullins J, Ascensão F, Simões L, Andrade L, Santos-Reis M, Fernandes C (2014). Evaluating connectivity between Natura 2000 sites within the montado agroforestry system: a case study using landscape genetics of the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), Landscape Ecology, DOI: 10.1007/s10980-014-0130-z

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4:35 PM | No one will remember you because society doesn’t care
A few years ago I was in Washington DC and, being a bit of a tourist, I randomly picked up a fact card about one of our exciting presidents. Obviously the excitement mounted: who did I get? My best buddy … Continue reading →

Roediger, H. & DeSoto, K. (2014). Forgetting the presidents, Science, 346 (6213) 1106-1109. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259627

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12:37 PM | Languages adapt to their contextual niche (Winters, Kirby & Smith, 2014)
Last week saw the publication of my latest paper, with co-authors Simon Kirby and Kenny Smith, looking at how languages adapt to their contextual niche (link to the OA version and here’s the original). Here’s the abstract: It is well established that context plays a fundamental role in how we learn and use language. Here […]

WINTERS, J., KIRBY, S. & SMITH, K. (2014). Languages adapt to their contextual niche, Language and Cognition, 1-35. DOI: 10.1017/langcog.2014.35

Silvey C, Kirby S & Smith K (2014). Word Meanings Evolve to Selectively Preserve Distinctions on Salient Dimensions., Cognitive science, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25066300

Piantadosi, S., Tily, H. & Gibson, E. (2012). The communicative function of ambiguity in language, Cognition, 122 (3) 280-291. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.10.004

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10:00 AM | Are prisoners calmer when their cells are painted pink?
On the back of research first published in 70s and 80s, an increasing number of jails in the Western world are painting their cells pink, in the belief that doing so has a calming effect on prisoners.Unfortunately, this early research was poorly designed. For example, one study found that prisoners' strength, pushing against an experimenter, was reduced when they were presented with a pink vs. blue coloured card. But the experimenter could also see the card and may simply have exerted more […]

Genschow, O., Noll, T., Wänke, M. & Gersbach, R. (2014). Does Baker-Miller pink reduce aggression in prison detention cells? A critical empirical examination, Psychology, Crime & Law, 1-15. DOI: 10.1080/1068316X.2014.989172

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