Posts

July 30, 2014

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5:31 PM | Suicide, it might be in the blood
I tried to kill myself, more than once in fact. It was a troubling time for me and as a former active duty Marine that might not be too surprising […]

Guintivano, J., Brown, T., Newcomer, A., Jones, M., Cox, O., Maher, B., Eaton, W., Payne, J., Wilcox, H. & Kaminsky, Z. & (2014). Identification and Replication of a Combined Epigenetic and Genetic Biomarker Predicting Suicide and Suicidal Behaviors, American Journal of Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14010008

Guintivano, J., Arad, M., Gould, T., Payne, J. & Kaminsky, Z. (2013). Antenatal prediction of postpartum depression with blood DNA methylation biomarkers, Molecular Psychiatry, 19 (5) 560-567. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2013.62

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4:00 PM | Oh, Rats! They’ll Regret This.
We often find ourselves in decision-making dilemmas along the day. For instance, to reach work on time, would you rather take the shorter, faster route or the longer, scenic route? In deciding these actions, the brain promptly fits in a reward versus risk equation, but sometimes the outcome isn’t quite favorable! What if there was … Continue reading →

Steiner A.P. (2014). Behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of regret in rat decision-making on a neuroeconomic task, Nature Neuroscience, 17 (7) 995-1002. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3740

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2:46 PM | Influenza: How the Great War helped create the greatest pandemic the world has ever known | @GrrlScientist
The Great War helped create the influenza pandemic of 1918, which eventually brought an early end to the Great War.I had a little bird,Its name was Enza. I opened the window,And in-flu-enza. ~ Children's Skipping Rhyme, 1918 Like most rhymes that one learns as a child, I had no idea at the time what this one meant, nor did I ponder its possible meaning as I grew older. But one afternoon, this poem's significance became startlingly clear to me. As I sat in a large university lecture hall where […]

Taubenberger J.K. (2006). 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12 (1) 15-22. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1201.050979

Gamblin S.J. (2004). The Structure and Receptor Binding Properties of the 1918 Influenza Hemagglutinin, Science, 303 (5665) 1838-1842. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1093155

Barry J.M. (2004). The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its public health implications (Commentary), Journal of Translational Medicine, 2 (3) DOI: 10.1186/1479-5876-2-3

Humphries M.O. (2014). Paths of Infection: The First World War and the Origins of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, War in History, 21 (1) 55-81. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344513504525

Osterholm M.T. (2005). Preparing for the Next Pandemic, New England Journal of Medicine, 352 1839-1842. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp058068

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1:41 PM | Video Tip of the Week: PhenDisco, “phenotype discoverer” for dbGap data
The dbGaP, database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, repository at NCBI collects information from research projects that link genotype and phenotype information and human variation, across many different types of studies, providing leads on variation that may be important to understand clinical issues. Some of the data is publicly available de-identified patient information, and some of the […]

Doan S., Lin K.W., Conway M., Ohno-Machado L., Hsieh A., Feupe S.F., Garland A., Ross M.K., Jiang X. & Farzaneh S. & (2013). PhenDisco: phenotype discovery system for the database of genotypes and phenotypes., Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23989082

Tryka K.A., A. Sturcke, Y. Jin, Z. Y. Wang, L. Ziyabari, M. Lee, N. Popova, N. Sharopova, M. Kimura & M. Feolo & (2013). NCBI's Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes: dbGaP, Nucleic Acids Research, 42 (D1) D975-D979. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkt1211

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12:30 PM | The Attentive Look of a Dog in Training
Researchers investigate the body language of a dog that is performing well in training.Photo: Markus Balint / ShutterstockA new study puts dogs through the first stage of a basic training task and analyzes eye contact and posture in the most successful dogs. The research by Masashi Hasegawa et al (Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine) is motivated by a desire to improve people’s training abilities by helping them recognize the posture associated with successful […]

Braem, M. & Mills, D. (2010). Factors affecting response of dogs to obedience instruction: A field and experimental study, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 125 (1-2) 47-55. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.03.004

Deldalle, S. & Gaunet, F. (2014). Effects of 2 training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog (Canis familiaris) and on the dog–owner relationship, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 9 (2) 58-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.11.004

Hasegawa, M., Ohtani, N. & Ohta, M. (2014). Dogs’ Body Language Relevant to Learning Achievement, Animals, 4 (1) 45-58. DOI: 10.3390/ani4010045

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12:00 PM | Does Life Come In XXXS?
Biology concepts – characteristics of life, archaea, bacteria, mycoplasma, synthetic biology, symbiosis, parasitism, nanobacteria, genomeAs part of this blog, we have talked about some pretty small life. Wolffia globosa is the smallest flowering plant, only 0.6 mm long. We also talked about archaea, a different kingdom than bacteria, but still on the smallish side of life. The tardigrade is the toughest animal, but is also one of the smallest, at 100 µm (0.00394 inch).The organism […]

Manhart LE (2013). Mycoplasma genitalium: An emergent sexually transmitted disease?, Infectious disease clinics of North America, 27 (4) 779-92. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24275270

Wu CY, Young L, Young D, Martel J & Young JD (2013). Bions: a family of biomimetic mineralo-organic complexes derived from biological fluids., PloS one, 8 (9) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24086546

Gibson DG, Glass JI, Lartigue C, Noskov VN, Chuang RY, Algire MA, Benders GA, Montague MG, Ma L, Moodie MM & Merryman C (2010). Creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome., Science (New York, N.Y.), 329 (5987) 52-6. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20488990

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8:52 AM | Immunological effects from risperidone treatment in autism
The findings from Jai Eun Choi and colleagues [1] suggesting that use of the antipsychotic risperidone may impact on levels of certain cytokines - messenger cells of the immune system - in some cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) grabbed my attention recently. I've always been pretty interested in the complexity of the immune system when it comes to something like autism (see here) as well as the various examples of how many of the medications used to 'manage' aspects of […]

Choi JE, Widjaja F, Careaga M, Bent S, Ashwood P & Hendren RL (2014). Change in Plasma Cytokine Levels During Risperidone Treatment in Children with Autism., Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24828014

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8:23 AM | When the cuddle hormone turns nasty - oxytocin linked with violent intentions
For many years, the hormone oxytocin was caricatured as the source of all human goodness - trust, altruism, love, and morality. Among the findings that contributed to this picture were the discovery that sniffing oxytocin increases people's trust and generosity in financial games; that it aids face recognition; and that its release is associated with maternal bonding; and with orgasm.However, the picture has grown a lot more complicated of late, with findings showing that […]

DeWall, C., Gillath, O., Pressman, S., Black, L., Bartz, J., Moskovitz, J. & Stetler, D. (2014). When the Love Hormone Leads to Violence: Oxytocin Increases Intimate Partner Violence Inclinations Among High Trait Aggressive People, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5 (6) 691-697. DOI: 10.1177/1948550613516876

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July 29, 2014

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11:32 PM | A miniature turbine with blades one atom thick
Micro-machines, as well as being an awesome video game, are also a glimpse into the future (maybe): Some people believe that tiny robots could one day revolutionise medicine, while others think they might destroy the world in a big blob of ‘grey goo’. While fully-fledged nanorobots are currently limited to fictional universes such as those…

Li J., Lina Zhao, Xingfa Gao, Yuliang Zhao & Ruhong Zhou (2014). Rotation Motion of Designed Nano-Turbine, Scientific Reports, 4 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep05846

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5:15 PM | Can’t Handle the Stress? Blame your Brain
Do you rise to the occasion, or do you fold under the pressure? No matter which side of the fence you’re, you can thank [or blame] your brain. Some people […]

Kumar, S., Hultman, R., Hughes, D., Michel, N., Katz, B. & Dzirasa, K. (2014). Prefrontal cortex reactivity underlies trait vulnerability to chronic social defeat stress, Nature Communications, 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5537

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4:32 PM | Are silly superstitions useful because they are silly?
(Attention warning: massive speculation ahead.) Auguries often seem made up, useless. Is that why they are useful? Dove figured that the birds must be serving as some kind of ecological indicator. Perhaps they gravitated toward good soil, or smaller trees, or some other useful characteristic of a swidden site. After all, the Kantu’ had been […]

Cockburn, J., Collins, A. & Frank, M. (2014). A Reinforcement Learning Mechanism Responsible for the Valuation of Free Choice, Neuron, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.06.035

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4:19 PM | A simple and useable classification of software by Aral Balkan via Wuthering Bytes
It’s getting pretty hard to do anything these days that doesn’t involve software. Our governments, businesses, laboratories, personal lives and entertainment would look very different without the software that makes them tick. How can we classify all this software to make sense of it all? The likes of this huge list of software categories on wikipedia are pretty […]

Malone, J., Brown, A., Lister, A., Ison, J., Hull, D., Parkinson, H. & Stevens, R. (2014). The Software Ontology (SWO): a resource for reproducibility in biomedical data analysis, curation and digital preservation, Journal of Biomedical Semantics, 5 (1) 25. DOI: 10.1186/2041-1480-5-25

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4:02 PM | When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle
It sounds like the setup to a bad joke told by zoologists: What do you get when you cross a bird that always flies to the west with one that always flies east? But the punch line is weirder than you’d guess. Birds’ migratory routes are partly coded into their DNA. A baby that inherits […]The post When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle appeared first on Inkfish.

Delmore, K. & Irwin, D. (2014). Hybrid songbirds employ intermediate routes in a migratory divide, Ecology Letters, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12326

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July 28, 2014

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6:53 PM | Watch ALL the neurons in a brain: Ahrens and Freeman continue their reign of terror
Okay, not quite all of them. But it looks like Misha Ahrens and Jeremy Freeman are going to continue their reign of terror, imaging the whole zebrafish brain as if it’s no big deal. Yeah they’ve got almost every neuron of a vertebrate, so what? Besides figuring out that not shooting light at the eyes might […]

Freeman, J., Vladimirov, N., Kawashima, T., Mu, Y., Sofroniew, N., Bennett, D., Rosen, J., Yang, C., Looger, L. & Ahrens, M. & (2014). Mapping brain activity at scale with cluster computing, Nature Methods, DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3041

Vladimirov, N., Mu, Y., Kawashima, T., Bennett, D., Yang, C., Looger, L., Keller, P., Freeman, J. & Ahrens, M. (2014). Light-sheet functional imaging in fictively behaving zebrafish, Nature Methods, DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3040

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5:31 PM | What percent nature? What percent nurture?
The Nature versus Nurture debate is over: we no longer ask if genetics governs personality or if environment does. They work together, and it’s hard to pick their effects apart. But surely we can pick their effects apart a little? For example, if a dog trainer is trying to impress upon their students the importance of getting a puppy from a good breeder who takes behavior into account — or conversely, the importance of bringing a new puppy to a puppy class: what should she tell […]

Liinamo A.E., Peter A.J. Leegwater, Matthijs B.H. Schilder, Johan A.M. van Arendonk & Bernard A. van Oost (2007). Genetic variation in aggression-related traits in Golden Retriever dogs, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 104 (1-2) 95-106. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2006.04.025

Strandberg E. & Peter Saetre (2005). Direct genetic, maternal and litter effects on behaviour in German shepherd dogs in Sweden, Livestock Production Science, 93 (1) 33-42. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.livprodsci.2004.11.004

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5:13 PM | A New Hepatitis C Treatment offers Hope
Well this might seem weird, but today is world hepatitis day. I guess I should qualify weird with the fact that it’s only weird because no one really knows. What […]

Lawitz, E., Sulkowski, M., Ghalib, R., Rodriguez-Torres, M., Younossi, Z., Corregidor, A., DeJesus, E., Pearlman, B., Rabinovitz, M., Gitlin, N. & Lim, J. (2014). Simeprevir plus sofosbuvir, with or without ribavirin, to treat chronic infection with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 in non-responders to pegylated interferon and ribavirin and treatment-naive patients: the COSMOS randomised study, The Lancet, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61036-9

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11:45 AM | Plastic bags responsible for outrageous lack of cute pink piglets
Most of us now subscribe to the idea that plastic bags are bad for the environment. Hence, droves of people turn up at their local supermarket with a sturdy jute bag in tow. Now, there’s evidence that the items that … Continue reading →

Nerin C, Ubeda JL, Alfaro P, Dahmani Y, Aznar M, Canellas E & Ausejo R (2014). Compounds from multilayer plastic bags cause reproductive failures in artificial insemination., Scientific reports, 4 4913. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24810330

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8:51 AM | The mistakes that lead therapists to infer psychotherapy was effective, when it wasn't
How well can psychotherapists and their clients judge from personal experience whether therapy has been effective? Not well at all, according to a paper by Scott Lilienfeld and his colleagues. The fear is that this can lead to the continued practice of ineffective, or even harmful, treatments.The authors point out that, like the rest of us, clinicians are subject to four main biases that skew their ability to infer the effectiveness of their psychotherapeutic treatments. This includes the […]

Lilienfeld, S., Ritschel, L., Lynn, S., Cautin, R. & Latzman, R. (2014). Why Ineffective Psychotherapies Appear to Work: A Taxonomy of Causes of Spurious Therapeutic Effectiveness, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9 (4) 355-387. DOI: 10.1177/1745691614535216

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8:24 AM | Prenatal and neonatal blood mercury levels and autism
Acknowledging that some topics have the ability to furrow brows when it comes to autism research, mercury and autism is becoming something of a frequent talking point on this blog as a function of a whole slew of articles appearing in the peer-reviewed domain. If I were to [very tentatively] summarise the collected literature so far, it would be to say something like:Mosaic of mercury @ Wikipedia (i) there is quite a bit more research to be done on some sources of mercury being […]

Yau VM, Green PG, Alaimo CP, Yoshida CK, Lutsky M, Windham GC, Delorenze G, Kharrazi M, Grether JK & Croen LA & (2014). Prenatal and neonatal peripheral blood mercury levels and autism spectrum disorders., Environmental research, 133C 294-303. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24981828

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July 27, 2014

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6:17 PM | Holy Grail of Battery Design: A lithium anode
Technology has been racing forward at an ever increasing rate. Unfortunately, anyone who owns a smartphone will tell you that the battery life doesn’t match the advancements. That is probably […]

Liu N, Lu Z, Zhao J, McDowell MT, Lee HW, Zhao W & Cui Y (2014). A pomegranate-inspired nanoscale design for large-volume-change lithium battery anodes., Nature nanotechnology, 9 (3) 187-92. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24531496

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July 26, 2014

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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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9:59 AM | Temperatures make our global warming opinions change like the weather
Our experience of current warmth can override our scientific knowledge in driving beliefs about climate change, which is part of the reason we struggle to take the resulting risks seriously, underlines Columbia University’s Elke Weber.

Weber, E. (2006). Experience-Based and Description-Based Perceptions of Long-Term Risk: Why Global Warming does not Scare us (Yet), Climatic Change, 77 (1-2) 103-120. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-006-9060-3

Li, Y., Johnson, E. & Zaval, L. (2011). Local Warming: Daily Temperature Change Influences Belief in Global Warming, Psychological Science, 22 (4) 454-459. DOI: 10.1177/0956797611400913

Zaval, L., Keenan, E., Johnson, E. & Weber, E. (2014). How warm days increase belief in global warming, Nature Climate Change, 4 (2) 143-147. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2093

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July 25, 2014

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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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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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1:45 PM | Some Bees Are Busier Than Others
It may be time to leave “busy as a bee” with other dubious animal similes like “happy as a clam” and “drunk as a skunk.” That’s because some bees, it turns out, aren’t all that busy. A small group of hive members do the bulk of the foraging, while their sisters relax at home. But […]The post Some Bees Are Busier Than Others appeared first on Inkfish.

Tenczar, P., Lutz, C., Rao, V., Goldenfeld, N. & Robinson, G. (2014). Automated monitoring reveals extreme interindividual variation and plasticity in honeybee foraging activity levels, Animal Behaviour, 95 41-48. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.06.006

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10:12 AM | How our judgments about criminals are swayed by disgust, biological explanations and animalistic descriptions
We expect of our jurors and judges calm, reasoned evaluation of the evidence. Of course we know the reality is rather different - prejudice and emotional reactions will always play their part. Now two new studies add insight into the ways people's legal judgements depart from cool objectivity.Beatrice Capestany and Lasana Harris focused on two main factors - the disgust level of a crime, and whether or not the perpetrators' personality was described in biological terms. Seventeen participants […]

Capestany, B. & Harris, L. (2014). Disgust and biological descriptions bias logical reasoning during legal decision-making, Social Neuroscience, 9 (3) 265-277. DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2014.892531

Vasquez, E., Loughnan, S., Gootjes-Dreesbach, E. & Weger, U. (2014). The animal in you: Animalistic descriptions of a violent crime increase punishment of perpetrator, Aggressive Behavior, 40 (4) 337-344. DOI: 10.1002/ab.21525

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7:29 AM | p-cresol and autism: in need of further research
"These results confirm the elevation of urinary p-cresol in a sizable set of small autistic children and spur interest into biomarker roles for p-cresol and p-cresylsulfate in autism".The peasant dance @ Wikipedia That was the primary conclusion from the paper by Gabriele and colleagues [1] looking at "three components of urinary p-cresol, namely p-cresylsulfate, p-cresylglucuronate and free p-cresol" in samples from 33 participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder […]

Gabriele S, Sacco R, Cerullo S, Neri C, Urbani A, Tripi G, Malvy J, Barthelemy C, Bonnet-Brihault F & Persico AM & (2014). Urinary p-cresol is elevated in young French children with autism spectrum disorder: a replication study., Biomarkers : biochemical indicators of exposure, response, and susceptibility to chemicals, 1-8. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25010144

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12:47 AM | Know your brain: Meninges
Where are they? Close-up view of the meninges surrounding the brain. The term meninges comes from the Greek for "membrane" and refers to the three membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The membrane layers (discussed in detail below) from the outside in are the: dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater. Their positioning around the brain can be seen in the image to the right.What are they and what do they do?The brain is soft and mushy, and […]

Patel, N. & Kirmi, O. (2009). Anatomy and Imaging of the Normal Meninges, Seminars in Ultrasound, CT and MRI, 30 (6) 559-564. DOI: 10.1053/j.sult.2009.08.006

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July 24, 2014

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11:24 PM | Salmon and Spinal Cod Regeneration, er… Cord
Fish might not be the first thing you think about when we talk spinal cord injury but that is exactly what scientists are doing. Don’t ask where they got the […]

Lewandowski, G. & Steward, O. (2014). AAVshRNA-Mediated Suppression of PTEN in Adult Rats in Combination with Salmon Fibrin Administration Enables Regenerative Growth of Corticospinal Axons and Enhances Recovery of Voluntary Motor Function after Cervical Spinal Cord Injury, Journal of Neuroscience, 34 (30) 9951-9962. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1996-14.2014

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9:30 PM | Grief in children and adolescents
The plane crash in Ukraine brings up many questions related to loss and grief. How will those left behind cope with the devastating event? How can we support them? With regard to how young people cope with bereavement, Mariken Spuij’s … Continue reading →

Spuij M, Prinzie P, Dekovic M, van den Bout J & Boelen PA (2013). The effectiveness of Grief-Help, a cognitive behavioural treatment for prolonged grief in children: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial., Trials, 14 395. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24252587

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