Archive for: September, 2008

My animal is called Vertebrus Maximus!

Sep 29 2008 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

For those who do not know, I have a Significant Other. Otherwise known as Mr. Scicurious-in-training, (Mr. SiT), he is teh awesome. If you have been stunned by my charisma, charm, and general nerditude, you shall have to compete against him, and I don't put odds on your success. As one of the many examples of his greatness, when I got to his place the other day (and after we watched the Presidential debates, which is another aspect of his spectacularity), he revealed a present for me. He got me Spore!!
First, I must confess, I'm not a gaming-type person. I've never understood the lure of Nintendos or computer games. So it was completely surprising how quickly I got hooked.
I've been having a TON of fun making creatures and changing stuff up. But I will say that it's not evolution. I mean, aside of the time frame and stuff like that. More legs don't give you an increase in speed, if you're an herbivore, you really aren't effective no matter what your weaponry, and "charming" other animals to make them your allies is a little...sweet. But it's so much fun!! It's really interesting to work at gaining certain attributes, and working out what you have to sacrifice to get all the attributes you want. On the other hand, I'm not even up to the tribal stage. So I've got much further to go! My personal ambition is to get a society with jetpacks. Or actual winged flight. Anyone know if I can do that? And I would REALLY love to go back to the water and become an aquatic culture.

10 responses so far

Oh yeah, love that jolt to the brain

Sep 26 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science
I think the best part about this weird Friday is that I don't have to write it! A good thing too, I have a life outside the blog (crazy, I know), and that life has been nothing short of insane. Today's is courtesy of my friend Claire, who found it over at Mind Hacks.
Portenoy, et al. "Compulsive thalamic self-stimulation: a case with metabolic, electrophysiologic, and behavioral correlates" Pain, V 27, 1986.
Well, ok, maybe I'll talk about it a LITTLE...

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5 responses so far

Complete speculation on the health of John McCain

Some people have been noticing erratic behavior from republican nominee John McCain lately. His most recent seems to be slight, but rather odd. Specifically, he appears to have developed ptosis--- a drooping eyelid--- which could of course be related to any number of causes, from an autoimmune attack on cholinergic receptors such as that seen in myasthenia gravis, to diabetes.
Ptosis can also be the result of a brain tumor that affects the oculomotor nerve (cranial nerve III). Sudden development of the condition at old age following multiple bouts of melanoma (which has a penchant for metastasizing to the brain) would seem to be cause for concern, so I wonder if any neurologists would like to weigh in?
McCain also seems to be hiring a very expensive makeup artist who may be assisting in the coverup of the condition. I really, really wish he'd release his medical records in full so that people can stop speculating about the ramifications of a chronically ill president with a potentially untreatable brain tumor, and his vice president with all the foreign policy experience and political saavy of a Hun.

7 responses so far

Beta Amyloid: Not just for Alzheimer's Anymore

Sep 24 2008 Published by under Uncategorized
This is the third option for "things I could present in Journal Club". Please let me know if you have a strong preference! The Journal Club is, um, tomorrow. So I probably better get my rear in gear.
As I'm sure you all know, Alzheimer's Disease is a serious problem in today's aging population, affecting 26.6 million people around the world. Diagnoses of Alzheimer's are growing, mostly due to the fact that no one's ever lived this long before, and we're able to catch it at earlier and earlier stages now. Alzheimer's is one scary problem. It's incurable (so far), degenerative (gets worse over time), and terminal. Almost every time I read about Alzheimer's I get really paranoid for a while as to WHY I'm forgetting my car keys.
Alzheimer's has a very characteristic set of symptoms: cognitive impairment and memory loss which increases over time, language and mild motor impairments, progressive loss of skills, and psychiatric manifestations such as irritability or aggression. The pathophysiology of Alzheimer's involves the build up of beta-amyloid plaques, as well as the buildup of tau proteins. Beta amyloid gets misfolded in Azheimer's patients, and aggregates outside cells, sticking in clumps everywhere. Tau proteins are usually used to stablize the cytoskeleton of the cell, but when these go bad, they cuase microtubules to join to each other all over the place, making neurofibrillary tangles inside the cell.
Unfortunately, although we know what the tau protein does inside cells, we don't really have a clear idea what beta amyloid does hanging outside the cell in general. So this study looked at the changes taking place in beta amyloid by taking samples in humans.
Brody et al. "Amyloid-B dynamics correlate with neurological status in the injured human brain". Science, 321, 2008.

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One response so far

Reward Prediction and Dopamine

Sep 24 2008 Published by under Addiction
So here's the second in the series of "things I could present for Journal Club". I figure I'll blog the top three, and then actually prepare whichever one I want to do the morning before. Procrastination is a mark of genius, and don't let anyone tell you different.
I'm considering this one because the series of experiments is beautifully elegant and really well laid out, and it proves a very interesting point that had been bugging the field for a while. I saw some of this data at a conference recently, and when the speaker showed the main effect, everyone in the audience went "oooOOOooo". It's that good.
Stuber et al. "Reward-predictive cues enhance excitatory synaptic strength onto midbrain dopamine neurons" Science, 321, 2008.

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6 responses so far

Humans in Love

Sep 23 2008 Published by under Behavioral Neuro
A good while ago I did a Friday Weird Science which I thought was really cool. Unfortunately, it just wasn't...weird...enough, and so I put it into poetry, because everything is better in verse. It was on Prairie Voles and monogamy, and was called Prairie Voles in Love:

Out on the lonely prairie, gazing at the stars above
I saw through the night
the wondrous sight
Of prairie voles in love

So you can imagine my happiness when I found out that it's not just in voles!!! A study came out recently assessing changes in vasopressin in humans!
Walum et al. "Genetic variation in the vasopressin receptor 1a gene (AVPR1A) associates with pair-bonding behavior in humans." PNAS, 105(37), 2008.

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4 responses so far

I went to the Zoo!

Sep 22 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

This past Saturday I got to go to the celebration in NC for the 1,000,000th ScienceBlog comment! All of us lucky enough to be in the area met up as the Asheboro zoo, where we got a fun personal tour, complete with some great information on Animal Behavior. I was very excited to meet so many of the bloggers! Geeky topics were discussed and a good time was had by all. And of course I always like going to the zoo. There was a giraffe! And poison dart frogs! And these awesome plants that curled up when you touched them! Sadly, there was no time for the reptiles. For many great pictures, you can check out A Blog Around the Clock, as well as Sciencewoman.

One response so far

Checking in (out?)

Sep 22 2008 Published by under Academia

The downside of this semester is that I am dog tired. Having 3 classes with exams all at once wasn't a good idea when I still have to work 40+ a week. I haven't had a day off in weeks. On the upside, I can afford to get the room reshingled. If the damn roofers will ever show up. I may also have a slightly different teaching arrangement and a reduced workload next semester, more on that later!
So a big shout-out to my coblogger, two weeks into it and we've already got Boingboinged! Great work Scicurious!!!! We'll be getting a bit of a redesign around here as well, some drastically needed blogroll updates, a category revamp, and who knows what else. Neurotopia will be focusing more on disease states in the future.

4 responses so far

Screw the sudafed: When your nose ain't great, masturbate!

Sep 19 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science
I'm starting to think it must be a LOT of fun to be the editor of the Journal of Medical Hypotheses. First there was the one about groaning and hyperventilation decreasing blood to the cortex and enhancing the sexual experience, and now this (hat tip, my friend Scott, and here's very much hoping Ike spared your house):
Zarrintan, S "Ejaculation as a potential treatment of nasal congestion in mature males" The Journal of Medical Hypotheses, 71(2), 2008.

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103 responses so far

Giant's Shoulders is up!

Sep 16 2008 Published by under Blog Carnivals

Check it out! It's over at Entertaining science. My post on Parkinson's got in (obviously, I recommend it), and there's a cool article from The Big Room on categorizing the fundamental types of living beings.
And of course, if you're interested, I have several posts in previous Giant's Shoulders from my previous blog, including the Passage of an Iron Rod Through the Head, and Freud's Uber Coca (which is, strangely, my most popular post ever. Apparently a lot of people like to Google "freud" and "cocaine"). Check out Giant's Shoulders! And if you blog, check out some old papers in your field. It's sometimes amazingly informative, and other times quite hilarious.

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