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Archive for June, 2015

Women’s faces get redder at ovulation, but human eyes can’t pick up on it

Womans face during ovulation

Previous studies have shown that men find female faces more attractive when the women are ovulating, but the visual clues that allow this are unclear. Now, new research investigating whether it might be to do with subtle changes in skin colour has shown that women’s faces do increase in redness during ovulation, but the levels of change are just under the detectable range of the human eye.

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Omega-3 supplements and antioxidants may help with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimers

Here’s more evidence that fish oil supplementation and antioxidants might be beneficial for at least some people facing Alzheimer’s disease. A new report describes the findings of a very small study in which people with mild clinical impairment, such as those in the very early stages of the disease, saw clearance of the hallmark amyloid-beta protein and reduced inflammation in neurological tissues. Although the findings involved just 12 patients over the course of 4 to 17 months, the findings suggest further clinical study of this relatively inexpensive and plentiful supplement should be conducted.

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How your brain knows it’s summer

brain in the summertime

brain in the summertime

Researchers led by Toru Takumi at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a key mechanism underlying how animals keep track of the seasons. The study shows how circadian clock machinery in the brain encodes seasonal changes in daylight duration through GABA activity along with changes in the amount of chloride located inside certain neurons.

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The fear you experience playing video games is real, and you enjoy it

videogame fear

With the advent of video games, a frequently asked question has been whether we get as engrossed in them emotionally as we do when we see a scary movie. The answer is yes and many game players enjoy the fear caused by the zombies, disfigured humans and darkness they often encounter, the researchers found.

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Rare neurons enable mental flexibility

mental flexibility

mental flexibility

Behavioral flexibility — the ability to change strategy when the rules change — is controlled by specific neurons in the brain, Researchers have confirmed. Cholinergic interneurons are rare — they make up just one to two percent of the neurons in the striatum, a key part of the brain involved with higher-level decision-making. Scientists have suspected they play a role in changing strategies, and researchers at OIST recently confirmed this with experiments.

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Brain scan can predict who responds best to certain treatment for OCD

OCD alphabet soup

Tens of millions of Americans — an estimated 1 to 2 percent of the population — will suffer at some point in their lifetimes from obsessive-compulsive disorder, a disorder characterized by recurrent, intrusive, and disturbing thoughts (obsessions), and/or stereotyped recurrent behaviors (compulsions). Left untreated, OCD can be profoundly distressing to the patient and can adversely affect their ability to succeed in school, hold a job or function in society.

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Natural wilderness areas need buffer zones to protect from human development

wildlife overpass

Despite heavy development, the U.S. still has millions of acres of pristine wild lands. Coveted for their beauty, these wilderness areas draw innumerable outdoor enthusiasts eager for a taste of primitive nature. But University of Georgia researchers say these federally protected nature areas have a problem: Their boundaries have become prime real estate.

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A single mutation helped last year’s flu virus gain an advantage over the vaccine

child dealing with flu

The 2014-2015 flu vaccine didn’t work as well compared to previous years because the H3N2 virus recently acquired a mutation that concealed the infection from the immune system. A new study reveals the major viral mutation responsible for the mismatch between the vaccine strain and circulating strains. The research will help guide the selection of viral strains for future seasonal flu vaccines.

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Study finds pet owners reluctant to face up to their cats’ kill count

More awesomeness like this can be found at theoatmeal.com

More awesomeness like this can be found at theoatmeal.com

Cats are increasingly earning themselves a reputation as wildlife killers with estimates of animals killed every year by domestic cats in the UK numbering into the millions. This new study on the attitudes of cat owners suggests that proposals to keep cats indoors in order to preserve wildlife would not be well received.

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Synthetic biology used to engineer new route to biochemicals

synthetic biology

synthetic biology

Living cells can make a vast range of products for us, but they don’t always do it in the most straightforward or efficient way. Shota Atsumi, a chemistry professor at UC Davis, aims to address that through “synthetic biology:” designing and building new biochemical pathways within living cells, based on existing pathways from other living things.

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Commenters exposed to prejudiced comments more likely to display prejudice themselves

anonymous troll comments

Comment sections on websites continue to be an environment for trolls to spew racist opinions. The impact of these hateful words shouldn’t have an impact on how one views the news or others, but that may not be the case. A recent study found exposure to prejudiced online comments can increase people’s own prejudice, and increase the likelihood that they leave prejudiced comments themselves.

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Oh, to have Dr. Facebook on call!

dr facebook

If it were up to Internet-savvy Americans, more of them would be emailing or sending Facebook messages to their doctors to chat about their health. That’s the result of a national survey led by Joy Lee of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US.

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What your clothes may say about you

back to the future clothes

Moving closer to the possibility of “materials that compute” and wearing your computer on your sleeve, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have designed a responsive hybrid material that is fueled by an oscillatory chemical reaction and can perform computations based on changes in the environment or movement, and potentially even respond to human vital signs. The material system is sufficiently small and flexible that it could ultimately be integrated into a fabric or introduced as an inset into a shoe.

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Consciousness has less control than believed, according to new theory

conscious

Consciousness — the internal dialogue that seems to govern one’s thoughts and actions — is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control, according to a new theory proposed by an SF State researcher.

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Justice system chips away at women’s rights

Womans rights

Arrests of women increased dramatically in the past two decades, while domestic abuse laws meant to protect female victims have put many behind bars for defending themselves, a new paper argues. These trends suggest evidence, at least in the justice system, of a “war on women” — a term coined during the 2012 election that refers to attempts to limit women’s rights.

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Researchers find mechanisms that initiate labor

Baby in womb

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified two proteins in a fetus’ lungs responsible for initiating the labor process, providing potential new targets for preventing preterm birth. Previous studies have suggested that signals from the fetus initiate the birth process, but the precise molecular mechanisms that lead to labor remained unclear.

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Manning up: men may overcompensate when their masculinity is threatened

Manly men and the men who want to be them

From the old Charles Atlas ads showing a scrawny male having sand kicked in his face to sitcom clichés of henpecked husbands, men have long faced pressure to live up to ideals of masculinity. Societal norms dictating that men should be masculine are powerful. And new research finds that men who believe they fall short of those ideals might be prompted to reassert their masculinity in small but significant ways.

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Autism: The value of an integrated approach to diagnosis

Autism spectrum

Researchers at Inserm (Inserm Unit 930 “Imaging and Brain”) attached to François-Rabelais University and Tours Regional University Hospital have combined three clinical, neurophysiological and genetic approaches in order to better understand the brain mechanisms that cause autism. When tested on two families, this strategy enabled the researchers to identify specific gene combinations in autistic patients that distinguished them from patients with intellectual disabilities.

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Liar, Liar: Children with good memories are better liars

lying child eyeing cookie jar

Children who benefit from a good memory are much better at covering up lies, researchers from the University of Sheffield have discovered. Experts found a link between verbal memory and covering up lies following a study which investigated the role of working memory in verbal deception amongst children.

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Study links heartbeat to female libido

Sexual couple in bedroom

Sexual dysfunction in women can be linked to low resting heart rate variability, a finding that could help clinicians treat the condition, according to a study by psychologists from The University of Texas at Austin.

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Musicians don’t just hear in tune, they also see in tune

musician morris alan playing trumpet

Musicians don’t just hear in tune, they also see in tune. That is the conclusion of the latest scientific experiment designed to puzzle out how the brain creates an apparently seamless view of the external world based on the information it receives from the eyes.

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How ‘science popularizers’ influence public opinion on religion

darwin fighting jesus

Two prominent scientists with drastically different views on the relationship of science and religion – Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins – have an equally different influence on these views among people who are unfamiliar with their work, according to new research from Rice University and West Virginia University.

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Not-so-guilty pleasure: Viewing cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions

They said I could be anything, so I became a loaf

If you get a warm, fuzzy feeling after watching cute cat videos online, the effect may be more profound than you think. The Internet phenomenon of watching cat videos, from Lil Bub to Grumpy Cat, does more than simply entertain; it boosts viewers’ energy and positive emotions and decreases negative feelings, according to a new study by an Indiana University Media School researcher.

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Avocados may hold the answer to beating leukemia

Avocados and leukemia

Professor Paul Spagnuolo from the University of Waterloo has discovered a lipid in avocados that combats acute myeloid leukemia by targeting the root of the disease — leukemia stem cells. Worldwide, there are few drug treatments available to patients that target leukemia stem cells. Image credit goes to: University of Waterloo

Rich, creamy, nutritious and now cancer fighting. New research reveals that molecules derived from avocados could be effective in treating a form of cancer. Professor Paul Spagnuolo from the University of Waterloo has discovered a lipid in avocados that combats acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by targeting the root of the disease – leukemia stem cells. Worldwide, there are few drug treatments available to patients that target leukemia stem cells.

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