Archive for: October, 2008

Friday Weird Science: My jugs and my joe.

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science

*stands up bravely* Hi, my name is Scicurious, and I'm a...caffeine addict.
Well, currently I'm a recovering caffeine addict. I used to drink about 6 cups of coffee a day. The big travel mug size. I was even in a caffeine study where they needed high users, and they were shocked by my intake. It started out as just a latte every once in a while, and became my life. Caffeine was my molecule, my totem. I had a tshirt and everything. But a couple of months ago I got sick of myself. And I went decaf.
I've been clean most days for the past 8 weeks, with relapses for long car drives and when I have to give presentations. So far, I've actually noticed that I have improved attention off caffeine. I'm much more successful at making myself stay awake in meetings, never having to fight the inevitable crash. And I'm less nervous. The real goal is not to kick a bad habit. Rather, it's to try and decrease my tolerance to caffeine, so when I really need to it to write my thesis, I won't have to drink enough to make me paranoid.
So what does this have to do with boobs? Breasts? Titties? Cans? Jugs? I'm sure you can think of even more euphamisms. But what exactly does coffee have to do with my mammary glands? Jernstrom et al. "Coffee intake and CYP1A2*1F genotype predict breast volume in young women: implications for breast cancer" British Journal of Cancer, 2008.

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Thursday Night Show and Tell

Oct 30 2008 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Generally, I'm not a political-type blogger. I'm not good at making good statements, even though my opinions are very strong. So I leave political stuff to Evil Monkey. But he's muttering to himself in the third person again (that sidebar is really starting to get to him), so it is my job to let you know that Seed Media has endorsed Obama. I'm sure you all know this by now. You can read the endorsement here. I like our Seedy Overlords, they have been very nice to me letting me hop on this here blog, and sending all my monies to charities, even working hard to get in touch with them when they're being ornery (I'm talking to YOU, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! If you want mah monies, you need to CONTACT THEM. If not, I'm defecting to the Hirschburg Foundation. You've been warned). I even got a tshirt! As a poor graduate student, I support those who give me free tshirts. Yay Seed!
And now for my Thursday night show and tell: Jonathan Coulton.

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Birds of a Feather in Academia

Oct 29 2008 Published by under Academia

A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who was then just starting grad school. She was looking for an advisor, someone to take her under his/her wing for her nascent science-training. And, as with many of our conversations, the phrase "under her wing" became a huge metaphor for the grad school experience. And the more I thought about it, the more it was clear. So here I present:
Graduate School as a Goose

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I don' wanna work, I just want to play on de blogs all day...

Oct 28 2008 Published by under Blog Carnivals

Encephalon is up at Mind Hacks! Check it out, there's some very cool stuff, including stuff on childhood amnesia, Long term potentiation (a HUGE deal in a neuroscience now), and three awesome posts from The Mouse Trap on maturity and consciousness. There's also a really cool post from Neurophilosophy on erasing memories.
And there's a new site up! And it comes recommended with the Sciencewomen seal of approval (tm). It's called Under the Microscope, and is all about encouraging women in science. I am all for this. Everyone should encourage me in science! I need all the help I can get. And the other ladies, too, of course.
And much as I don' wanna work, it appears I have no choice. Back to life in the lab coupled with my grinding poverty.

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*blink blink* Cocaine?

Oct 27 2008 Published by under Addiction

Until I read this paper, I seriously had no idea that spontaneous eyeblink was a clinical indicator for dopaminergic function. I guess this shows you how divorced the pure research side can be from the clinic.
But before I cover this article, I must make a plea on behalf of all over-read and over-worked grad students out there: please, if you are going to publish your data (not a review article), PLEASE present your data in a pretty pretty graph. Data tables SUCK. Nobody likes them. I see a paper filled with nothing but tables and I conceive an instant dislike. Perhaps there are some statisticians out there who like them because they can look at it and go "oooh, I notice that your people had a mean cannabis use of 483.3 with an SD of 174.9?! Nifty!" But the rest of us mere mortals like graphs. They are simple, they are clear, and they get the point across. A really GOOD graph will knock your socks off. A table will always make sure your socks stay on.
In closing: Graphs = good. Tables = big pile of suck. Moving on. "Reduced Spontaneous Eye Blink Rates in Recreational Cocaine Users: Evidence for Dopaminergic Hypoactivity" Lorenza S. Colzato*, Wery P. M. van den Wildenberg, Bernhard Hommel. PLoS ONE, October 2008.

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Oct 24 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Does anyone else find "priapism" a horrifically difficult thing to pronouce? This may partially be because it's so...entertaining. Well, ok, it's entertaining for me. I imagine it leaves most guys wincing.
Tran et al. "Priapism, ecstasy, and marijuana: is there a connection?" Advances in Urology, 2008.
So, who knows what priapism is? Anyone? (counts show of hands).

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8 responses so far

General Stuff I Blog About: Dopamine!

Oct 22 2008 Published by under Neuroscience

So this is the second installment for general information on the things I like to blog about. Today's topic: DOPAMINE
As you might be able to tell from many of my older and newer posts, I like dopamine. It's one of the transmitters I'm working on for my thesis, in fact. I've talked a little bit about dopamine as it relates to the stuff I blog about, but below I'm going to talk about it a little more. And of course, there's always wikipedia, but I don't really like the ways theirs is organized. Could I edit it? Sure I could. But I've got this laziness problem...

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Exercise: Feeling the burn is good for your brain

Oct 20 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

I'm a big proponent of exercise. I'm a runner, and when you've had a stressful day, it's amazing what a good run can do to make you feel better. I've noticed for grad students (at least at my school), when the going gets tough, the tough play sports, or go the gym. The other half (perhaps they are tougher, perhaps not), when the going gets tough, go to the bar. Some of us do both (there is a LOT of stress here, thank you).
But exercise is not just for stress relief. There are several studies out there which imply that exercise can make you THINK better, too. And this paper goes one step further, and implicates exercise in helping young animals recover from brain cancer.
Naylor, et al. "Voluntary running rescues adult hippocampal neurogenesis after irradiation of the young mouse brain". PNAS, 2008.

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6 responses so far

Why, yes, it IS TB of the Left Testicle...

Oct 17 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Weird Science is going up late this week, sorry guys. But it's weird science AND historical science, which makes it double cool.
Also, NEW site from Zooillogix, and it's the CUTEST THING EVER. Called zooborns, you just want to cuddle everything on the site. It will definitely cheer you up after a bad day.
So I like this paper partially because it reminds me of a guy I knew in college. He was telling me one time of the funny exploits he had in high school. Apparently there was a period where he would walk down the hall with his friend and spontaneously say, loudly "YEAH, THE DOCTOR SAYS IT'S ELEPHANTITIS OF THE LEFT TESTICLE." I thought this was hilarious. Were I a guy I would totally have done this. Unfortunately, walking along the hall and yelling out "yeah, it's elephantitis of the left OVARY" probably wouldn't get as good a response.
With that preamble, here it goes.
Perkins, GW. "Double consecutive castration for primary tuberculosis of testicles." Annals of surgery, 1889.

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OMG, oldest TB evar!

Oct 16 2008 Published by under Health Care/Medicine

This is one of those weeks where there is SO much to blog about and so little time to do it in! How shall I ever get to it all! This article actually came out on Tuesday, which means of course that others have now been there before me, but I like this paper a LOT and so I'm going to cover it anyway.
Hershkovitz et al. "Detection and molecular characterization of 9000-year-old mycobacterium tubuerculosis from a neolithic settlement in the eastern mediterranean". PLoS ONE, 3(10), 2008.

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