Posts

February 21, 2015

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4:08 AM | Getting your tonsils removed: A (sometimes) cure for bedwetting
Kids who snore are more likely to wet the bed than kids who don’t. Strangely enough, the reason may be their too-big tonsils, which can cause the snoring and sleep apnea affecting 1 in 10 kids. In 2013, Michigan scientists … Continue reading →

Kovacevic L, Wolfe-Christensen C, Lu H, Toton M, Mirkovic J, Thottam PJ, Abdulhamid I, Madgy D & Lakshmanan Y (2014). Why does adenotonsillectomy not correct enuresis in all children with sleep disordered breathing?, The Journal of urology, 191 (5 Suppl) 1592-6. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24679871

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February 20, 2015

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9:59 PM | Overriding muscles’ energy efficiency to burn more fat
What started as an evolutionary protection against starvation has become a biological “bad joke” for people who need to lose weight. The human body doesn’t distinguish between dieting and possible starvation, so when there is a decrease in calories consumed, human metabolism increases its energy efficiency and weight loss is resisted. In a new study […]

Koganti, S., Zhu, Z., Subbotina, E., Gao, Z., Sierra, A., Proenza, M., Yang, L., Alekseev, A., Hodgson-Zingman, D. & Zingman, L. & (2015). Disruption of KATP channel expression in skeletal muscle by targeted oligonucleotide delivery promotes activity-linked thermogenesis, Molecular Therapy, DOI: 10.1038/mt.2015.21

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8:43 AM | Behavioural sleep intervention for ADHD?
I was really quite interested to read about the study from Harriet Hiscock and colleagues [1] (open-access) suggesting that: "A brief behavioural sleep intervention modestly improves the severity of ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] symptoms in a community sample of children with ADHD." I had heard that these results would be forthcoming based on the publication of the study trial protocol [2] a few years back, alongside the trial entry listed in the ISRCTN registry […]

Hiscock H, Sciberras E, Mensah F, Gerner B, Efron D, Khano S & Oberklaid F (2015). Impact of a behavioural sleep intervention on symptoms and sleep in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and parental mental health: randomised controlled trial., BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 350 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25646809

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5:22 AM | One Brain Network for All Mental Illness
What do schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety have in common? A loss of gray matter in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and bilateral anterior insula, according to a recent review of the structural neuroimaging literature (Goodkind et al., 2015). These two brain regions are important for executive functions, the top-down cognitive processes that allow us to maintain goals and flexibly alter our behavior in response to […]

Goodkind, M., Eickhoff, S., Oathes, D., Jiang, Y., Chang, A., Jones-Hagata, L., Ortega, B., Zaiko, Y., Roach, E., Korgaonkar, M. & Grieve, S. (2015). Identification of a Common Neurobiological Substrate for Mental Illness, JAMA Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.2206

Kanai, R. & Rees, G. (2011). The structural basis of inter-individual differences in human behaviour and cognition, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 12 (4) 231-242. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3000

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February 19, 2015

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8:31 PM | Predicting the effectiveness of cancer vaccines
Cancer vaccines, once they were science fiction and now they are designed to turn the body’s own immune system specifically against tumor cells. Particularly promising are vaccines that are directed against so-called neoantigens — which are proteins that have undergone a genetic mutation in tumor cells and, therefore, differ from their counterparts in healthy cells. […]

Bunse, L., Schumacher, T., Sahm, F., Pusch, S., Oezen, I., Rauschenbach, K., Gonzalez, M., Solecki, G., Osswald, M., Capper, D. & Wiestler, B. (2015). Proximity ligation assay evaluates IDH1R132H presentation in gliomas, Journal of Clinical Investigation, DOI: 10.1172/JCI77780

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12:06 PM | Threat of punishment makes us better judges of our own knowledge
People show better understanding oftheir own knowledge when threatenedwith large penalties for wrong answers. There are some walks of life where trying to be right as often as possible is not enough. Just as important is having insight into the likely accuracy of your own knowledge.Think of doctors and surgeons making diagnostic decisions. They can't be right all the time, and neither can they be completely certain over their judgments. What becomes important then, is that they have an […]

Arnold, M., Chisholm, L. & Prike, T. (2014). No pain no gain: The positive impact of punishment on the strategic regulation of accuracy, Memory, 1-8. DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2014.990982

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8:39 AM | Metal sensitisation and chronic fatigue syndrome?
I have to admit that I pondered longer than usual over whether I should talk about the paper by Vera Stejskal [1] (open-access here) and the idea that: "Patients with CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome] and fibromyalgia are frequently sensitized to metals found in the environment or used in dentistry and surgery."It was't that I doubted that metals - certain types present in the wrong place or wrong concentration - can affect physical and psychological health and wellbeing as per the […]

Stejskal V (2014). Metals as a common trigger of inflammation resulting in non-specific symptoms: diagnosis and treatment., The Israel Medical Association journal : IMAJ, 16 (12) 753-8. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25630203

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February 18, 2015

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11:16 PM | The biofuel controversy
“Buses powered by soybeans.  Agricultural waste transformed into car fuel.  These possibilities have inspired governments around the world to include biofuels as a substantial part of their renewable energy standards, which mandate some percent of a country’s energy come from … Continue reading →

Horita, M., Kitamoto, H., Kawaide, T., Tachibana, Y. & Shinozaki, Y. (2015). On-farm solid state simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of whole crop forage rice in wrapped round bale for ethanol production, Biotechnology for Biofuels, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13068-014-0192-9

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8:13 PM | Scientists find anti-HIV agent and possible start for a vaccine
We may just have found a missing link in the fight towards an HIV vaccine. No, this is not an over-hyped headline, in a remarkable new advance against the virus that causes AIDS, scientists have announced the creation of a novel drug candidate that is so potent and universally effective, it might work as part of […]

Gardner, M., Kattenhorn, L., Kondur, H., von Schaewen, M., Dorfman, T., Chiang, J., Haworth, K., Decker, J., Alpert, M., Bailey, C. & Neale, E. (2015). AAV-expressed eCD4-Ig provides durable protection from multiple SHIV challenges, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature14264

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3:01 PM | Video Tip of the Week: RStudio as an interface for using R
Although typically we focus on databases and algorithms in use in bioinformatics and genomics, there are some other tools that support this work that are crucial as well. The statistical software and computing tools associated with R fall into this category. Increasingly RStudio is being adopted by folks in genomics, and although we talked about […]

Racine J.S. (2011). RStudio: A Platform-Independent IDE for R and Sweave, Journal of Applied Econometrics, 27 (1) 167-172. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jae.1278

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1:30 PM | What Do Young Children Learn From Pets?
Is a better understanding of biology something children can learn from dogs and cats?Young children are very interested in animals. One study even found children aged 11 – 40 months would prefer to look at an animal behind a glass screen (even if the animal is fast asleep) rather than play with a toy (LoBue et al 2013). Now researchers are asking whether this interest in animals means that children with a cat or dog know more about biology than those without.The study, by Megan Geerdts […]

LoBue, V., Bloom Pickard, M., Sherman, K., Axford, C. & DeLoache, J. (2013). Young children's interest in live animals, British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31 (1) 57-69. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-835X.2012.02078.x

Muldoon, J., Williams, J. & Lawrence, A. (2014). 'Mum cleaned it and I just played with it': Children's perceptions of their roles and responsibilities in the care of family pets, Childhood, DOI: 10.1177/0907568214524457

Geerdts, M., Van de Walle, G. & LoBue, V. (2015). Daily animal exposure and children’s biological concepts, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 130 132-146. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2014.10.001

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12:30 PM | Space – It’ll Mess You Up
Biology concepts –  undulipodia, primary cilia, motile cilia, ependyma, spaceflight, pathology, osteopenia, radiation damage, osteoblast/osteoclast, osteocytes, No one wanted the elation of the moon visit to turn to disaster as a moon germ spread through-out the world and killed every living thing. So they moved the astronauts from splashdown to airstream. What a bummer that would have been to go all Andromeda Strain…. although it might have saved us from Watergate.Going into […]

Finetti, F., Paccani, S., Rosenbaum, J. & Baldari, C. (2011). Intraflagellar transport: a new player at the immune synapse, Trends in Immunology, 32 (4) 139-145. DOI: 10.1016/j.it.2011.02.001

Conroy, P., Saladino, C., Dantas, T., Lalor, P., Dockery, P. & Morrison, C. (2014). C-NAP1 and rootletin restrain DNA damage-induced centriole splitting and facilitate ciliogenesis, Cell Cycle, 11 (20) 3769-3778. DOI: 10.4161/cc.21986

Troshichev, O., Gorshkov, E., Shapovalov, S., Sokolovskii, V., Ivanov, V. & Vorobeitchikov, V. (2004). Variations of the gravitational field as a motive power for rhythmics of biochemical processes, Advances in Space Research, 34 (7) 1619-1624. DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2004.02.013

Fitts, R., Trappe, S., Costill, D., Gallagher, P., Creer, A., Colloton, P., Peters, J., Romatowski, J., Bain, J. & Riley, D. & (2010). Prolonged space flight-induced alterations in the structure and function of human skeletal muscle fibres, The Journal of Physiology, 588 (18) 3567-3592. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.188508

Rimmer J, Patel M, Agarwal K, Hogg C, Arshad Q & Harcourt J (2014). Peripheral Vestibular Dysfunction in Patients with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia: Abnormal Otoconial Development?, Otology & neurotology : official publication of the American Otological Society, American Neurotology Society [and] European Academy of Otology and Neurotology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25226371

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8:59 AM | Autism and the inter-pregnancy interval (again)
The paper from Maureen Durkin and colleagues [1] adds to something of a growing research evidence base suggesting that the temporal spacing between pregnancies / births - the inter-pregnancy interval (IPI) - may have something of an effect on the risk of receipt of a diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).We've been here before. In fact, a couple of times I've talked about the IPI in relation to autism risk (see here and see here) not including other, similar research findings in […]

Durkin MS, DuBois LA & Maenner MJ (2015). Inter-Pregnancy Intervals and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of a Population-Based Study., Journal of autism and developmental disorders, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25636677

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February 17, 2015

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7:26 PM | Shopping while hungry leads to more non-food purchases
Ever go shopping when you’re hungry and notice you walked out with a lot more than you were expecting to buy? While most people know that when you are hungry, you typically will buy more food (as illustrated by The Oatmeal above), new research shows that there is a clear link between hunger and buying […]

Alison Jing Xu, Norbert Schwarz & Robert S. Wyer, Jr (2015). Hunger promotes acquisition of nonfood objects, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Other:

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8:57 AM | Congenital rubella, autism and remote stroke
Case reports. I know they rank pretty low in the order of what counts as objective scientific evidence [1] despite their often interesting findings. That being said, when it comes to a diagnosis like autism, with all its associated heterogeneity and elevated risk of various comorbidity probably better encapsulated in a more 'plural autisms' understanding, case reports can offer something of an important view into the many and varied ways in which someone might arrive on the autism spectrum and […]

George J Hutton, J. (2014). Congenital Rubella with Autism and Evidence of a Remote Stroke, Journal of Vaccines & Vaccination, 05 (06) DOI: 10.4172/2157-7560.1000258

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February 16, 2015

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11:00 PM | Why low-carb or fasting diets are good for your health
While most research regarding fat loss focuses on the risks of being overweight, a new study shows that fasting, low-carb diets, or high-intensity exercise have specific health benefits. Specifically, researchers have found that a compound produced by the body when dieting or fasting can block a part of the immune system involved in several inflammatory […]

Youm, Y., Nguyen, K., Grant, R., Goldberg, E., Bodogai, M., Kim, D., D'Agostino, D., Planavsky, N., Lupfer, C., Kanneganti, T. & Kang, S. (2015). The ketone metabolite β-hydroxybutyrate blocks NLRP3 inflammasome–mediated inflammatory disease, Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.3804

Coll, R., Robertson, A., Chae, J., Higgins, S., Muñoz-Planillo, R., Inserra, M., Vetter, I., Dungan, L., Monks, B., Stutz, A. & Croker, D. (2015). A small-molecule inhibitor of the NLRP3 inflammasome for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.3806

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8:54 PM | Cigarette Smoking Leads to Thinning of the Brain’s Cortex
Cigarette smoking is associated with cognitive decline and dementia, but the extent of the association between smoking and structural brain changes remains unclear. According to recent study published by Karama et.al., in Molecular Psychiatry, “long-term smoking could cause thinning of the outer layer of the brain involved in critical cognitive functions such as memory and language.” Although the cortex grows thinner with normal ageing, the study found that smoking appears to […]

Karama, S., Ducharme, S., Corley, J., Chouinard-Decorte, F., Starr, J., Wardlaw, J., Bastin, M. & Deary, I. (2015). Cigarette smoking and thinning of the brain’s cortex, Molecular Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1038/mp.2014.187

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8:11 AM | Poo transplant and weight gain: a case study
The case report detailed by Neha Alang and Colleen Kelly [1] (open-access) reporting on "new-onset obesity after receiving stool from a healthy but overweight donor" has already garnered some significant press attention (see the BBC entry for example). Reporting on that seemingly most undesirable but in some cases life-saving of measures - the fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) - whereby some of those trillions of wee beasties which inhabit our deepest, darkest recesses are […]

Alang, N. & Kelly, C. (2015). Weight Gain After Fecal Microbiota Transplantation, Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 2 (1) DOI: 10.1093/ofid/ofv004

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February 15, 2015

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8:13 PM | The “successful aging” debate
We see it everyday in advertising, turn back the clock, reverse aging — look, feel, and be younger. With all these standards, how do you define aging, or more importantly successful aging. Scholars have long debated what successful aging is, how to measure it, and how to promote it. But researchers are now laying the groundwork […]

Various (2015). Successful Aging: Contentious Past, Productive Future, The Gerontologist, 55 (1) 1-4. DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnv002

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6:09 PM | Inequality in faculty placement
How does your PhD institution affect your chances at a faculty position? Across disciplines, we find steep prestige hierarchies, in which only 9 to 14% of faculty are placed at institutions more prestigious than their doctorate…Under a meritocracy, the observed … Continue reading →

Clauset A, Arbesman S & Larremore DB (2015). Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks, Science Advances, Other:

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4:32 PM | Brain mosaicism and altered gene copy numbers could explain Alzheimer's
© EEGI've tackled the problem of the missing heritability in the past, i.e. the fact that despite all the research on genetic studies and disease associations, we can explain only a small fraction of cancers and disorders. Today we know a lot more than what we knew back when the human genome project was completed, and in particular we know how much we don't know. I think we are only beginning to understand the complexity of human diseases and genetics. Back when I started working on […]

Bushman DM & Chun J (2013). The genomically mosaic brain: aneuploidy and more in neural diversity and disease., Seminars in cell & developmental biology, 24 (4) 357-69. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466288

Bushman, D., Kaeser, G., Siddoway, B., Westra, J., Rivera, R., Rehen, S., Yung, Y. & Chun, J. (2015). Genomic mosaicism with increased amyloid precursor protein ( ) gene copy number in single neurons from sporadic Alzheimer's disease brains , eLife, 4 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.05116

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3:00 AM | Evolutionary non-commutativity suggests novel treatment strategies
In the Autumn of 2011 I received an email from Jacob Scott, now a good friend and better mentor, who was looking for an undergraduate to code an evolutionary simulation. Jake had just arrived in Oxford to start his DPhil in applied mathematics and by chance had dined at St Anne’s College with Peter Jeavons, […]

Tan, L., Serene, S., Chao, H.X. & Gore, J. (2011). Hidden randomness between fitness landscapes limits reverse evolution., Physical Review Letters, 106 (19) 198102. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21668204

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February 14, 2015

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11:36 PM | A very Sciencey Valentine’s day
Happy valentines day! Okay maybe it’s turned into more of a reason to spend money on chocolate and flowers than it is about showing affection — which is probably why some people hate it — but it can still be a somewhat special day. Unfortunately I’ve been struggling on what I could do for my […]

Drefahl, S. (2012). Do the Married Really Live Longer? The Role of Cohabitation and Socioeconomic Status, Journal of Marriage and Family, 74 (3) 462-475. DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.00968.x

Aron, A. (2005). Reward, Motivation, and Emotion Systems Associated With Early-Stage Intense Romantic Love, Journal of Neurophysiology, 94 (1) 327-337. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00838.2004

Bartels, A. & Zeki, S. (2000). The neural basis of romantic love, NeuroReport, 11 (17) 3829-3834. DOI: 10.1097/00001756-200011270-00046

van Steenbergen, H., Langeslag, S., Band, G. & Hommel, B. (2013). Reduced cognitive control in passionate lovers, Motivation and Emotion, DOI: 10.1007/s11031-013-9380-3

Carey, I., Shah, S., DeWilde, S., Harris, T., Victor, C. & Cook, D. (2014). Increased Risk of Acute Cardiovascular Events After Partner Bereavement, JAMA Internal Medicine, 174 (4) 598. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14558

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8:00 PM | La violencia, ¿Problema mundial de Salud Pública?
Muchos hemos leído y escuchado en los textos gubernamentales y de asociaciones civiles que la violencia es considerada un problema de salud pública, pero ¿Qué significa esto? ¿Por qué debe considerarse así, y no un problema de seguridad pública?El texto que les compartiré hoy, es un documento obligatorio para todos aquellos interesados en comprender y estudiar la violencia en cualquiera de sus expresiones, el Informe Mundial sobre […]

Krug, E., Mercy, J., Dahlberg, L. & Zwi, A. (2002). El informe mundial sobre la violencia y la salud., Biomédica, 22 327. DOI: 10.7705/biomedica.v22iSupp2.1182

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9:53 AM | Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry
Have you remembered? Flowers from the nearest petrol / gas station or something a little more amorous for February 14th?So as not to take up too much of your time today, I want to briefly draw your attention to the paper (personal view) from Jerome Sarris and colleagues [1] carrying the same title as that of this blog post: 'Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry' published in The Lancet Psychiatry.Aside from applauding the notion that nutrition is potentially of some importance to […]

Jerome Sarris, Alan C Logan, Tasnime N Akbaraly, G Paul Amminger, Vicent Balanzá-Martínez, Marlene P Freeman, Joseph Hibbeln, Yutaka Matsuoka, David Mischoulon, Tetsuya Mizoue & Akiko Nanri (2015). Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry, Lancet Psychiatry, Other:

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4:00 AM | Evolutionrary game theory without interactions
When I am working on evolutionary game theory, I usually treat the models I build as heuristics to guide intuitions and push the imagination. But working on something as practical as cancer, and being in a department with many physics-trained colleagues puts pressure on me to think of moving more towards insilications or abductions. Now, […]

Archetti, M., Ferraro, D.A. & Christofori, G. (2015). Heterogeneity for IGF-II production maintained by public goods dynamics in neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 (6) 1833-8. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25624490

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February 13, 2015

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8:36 PM | Interstellar helps physicists research spinning black holes
There is a saying that life imitates art and while people like to disagree with the meaning of it, sometimes art can imitate life. For instance the team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of […]

Oliver James, Eugenie von Tunzelmann, Paul Franklin & Kip S. Thorne (2015). Gravitational Lensing by Spinning Black Holes in Astrophysics, and in the Movie Interstellar, Classical and Quantum Gravity, arXiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/1502.03808v1

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6:20 PM | Valentine’s Day Special: Drosophila in lust
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, which means that men (and women) all over the U.S. are performing courtship rituals to woo a companion. But while we humans often have trouble figuring out the right moves to attract a potential mate, fruit flies have it down to a science. And incredibly, researchers can study fruit fly […]

Pavlou H.J. (2013). Courtship behavior in Drosophila melanogaster: towards a ‘courtship connectome’, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 23 (1) 76-83. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2012.09.002

Griffith L.C. (2009). Courtship learning in Drosophila melanogaster: Diverse plasticity of a reproductive behavior, Learning , 16 (12) 743-750. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/lm.956309

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3:47 PM | The Tree of Earthworms
Earthworm taxonomists describing what they do to a layperson is hilarious to watch. Laypeople often have a difficult time understanding the concept of a species – you will regularly hear statements that there are only 50 insect species, for example. Insect species often differ in colour and patterning, so it’s easy to then correct a layman’s misconceptions about […] The post The Tree of Earthworms appeared first on Teaching Biology.

Domínguez, J., Aira, M., Breinholt, J., Stojanovic, M., James, S. & Pérez-Losada, M. (2015). Underground evolution: New roots for the old tree of lumbricid earthworms, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 83 7-19. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.10.024

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9:46 AM | Autism, CNVs and sensitivity to maternal infection?
An intriguing quote to begin today's post: "Our findings support a gene-environment interaction model of autism impairment, in that individuals with ASD-associated CNVs are more susceptible to the effects of maternal infection and febrile episodes in pregnancy on behavioral outcomes and suggest that these effects are specific to ASD [autism spectrum disorder] rather than to global neurodevelopment."The findings come from the paper by Varvara Mazina and colleagues [1] who sought to […]

Mazina V, Gerdts J, Trinh S, Ankenman K, Ward T, Dennis MY, Girirajan S, Eichler EE & Bernier R (2015). Epigenetics of Autism-related Impairment: Copy Number Variation and Maternal Infection., Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25629966

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