Archive for: January, 2009

Friday Weird Science: A "problem" we all wish we had

Jan 30 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

For most people in the world, a really satisfactory bowel movement feels...good. The relief, the relaxation, we've all been there. But apparently, for the patient in this case study, defecation felt more than good, it felt GREAT.
But is it possible for a crap to feel TOO great? Apparently so. After all, the man actually complained. On the other hand, he only complained after he'd been suffering this problem for 10 years... Van Der Schoot and Ypma. "Seminal vesiculectomy to resolve defecation-induced orgasm." British Journal of Urology International, 2002, 90, 761-762.
(This is another article courtesy of the bibliography of "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex". Where would this blog be without Mary Roach, I ask you.)

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Feeling Risky Today? How's Your Dopamine?

Jan 28 2009 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

It's that time of the semester again. The time when Sci has to present at her Journal Club. I know I've talked about Journal Club a couple of times, but what is the purpose of a Journal Club? For those not in grad school, what IS a Journal Club?
For my MRU, Journal Club is a small-sized class, usually held weekly, wherein students take turns presenting a paper they find awesome. The class then (theoretically) holds a good discussion based on the paper. I say (theoretically) because grad students are often tired, excessively overworked, and usually don't have time to read the paper beforehand. So the discussion is not always stimulating. But for the best papers it usually is.
So what is the purpose of people presenting papers to each other? Well, in grad school you get a lot of experience in a lot of things. Things like learning new methodologies, trying new techniques, time management, tearing your hair out, and alcoholism. You get training in how to analyze and interpret your data, and how to write that data up for publication. In some programs, you even get experience in how to write your first grant. But there are a couple of things the typical grad student in biomed will not have a lot of experience in:
1) Presenting hefty science. Those of us in biomed do not TA classes to fill our plates and pay our rent (though some of us, like Sci, do anyway). In some programs, it is possible to go an entire year without ever presenting your data to an audience other than your cat. Usually committee meetings are required, and sometimes public seminars, but often not. And so a grad student can emerge from the chrysalis of PhD a TERRIBLE presenter if they are not careful.
2) Telling a good paper from a bad one. In a perfect world, all grad students would be able to tell good papers from bad without a problem. Their lab and mentor would guide them through with a gentle hand. Often, however, this is not the case, and you'll show what you thought was a good paper to your advisor, only to be greeted with "Are you kidding!?! That guy's a crackhead!"
In both of these scenarios, Journal Club is there for you. You get experience presenting a paper full of hefty science, and it's up to you to present what you know to be the best new research in the field. In the small class, there won't be too many people to laugh at you, and you're more likely to get constructive feedback on why the paper was or was not good, what they could have done better, and what they probably ARE doing now for their next publication.
So Journal Club is useful, and it is up to Scicurious to therefore present some good science. Science that is well thought out, elegant, and may even be presented with a little bow on the top. And that is why I'm asking you all for your input! I want to know not only that I will pick a good paper, but also that I can present it in a way that is clear.
With that in mind, let's get started on the first of the three possible offerings which I can sacrifice on the alter of my Journal Club: St. Onge and Floresco. "Dopaminergic modulation of risk-based decision making". Neuropsychopharmacology, 2009, 34, 681-697.

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9 responses so far

Help up get all new and shiny!!

Jan 27 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

First of all, some of you may have seen the concept of "science's rightful place" floating around after President Obama said "we will restore science to its rightful place". But what IS the rightful place of science? There are a lot of great bloggers weighin in on the topic. Sci...needs time to formulate her thoughts. But I would very much like to know what YOU think. What is the rightful place of science?
Secondly, while I was at ScienceOnline '09 this year, I got to check out a lot of people's blogs. And it made our blog seem a little...dusty. Well the content, of course, is scintillating, but other parts could use improvement. I've since been inspired, and have been playing around with stuff on the sidebar, and if I'm REALLY good, we'll see about adding a rotating blogroll so we don't have that huge mess down the side.
But it's still a little...colorless. I think we need a NEW BANNER! Unfortunately, Sci really can't draw, and her skills with photoshop or anything else are even worse. Evil has some ideas, but I would also like to solicit ideas from people out there who have fantastic skills.
Size requirements: 750x95 pixels.
Other requests: It should probably contain the word "Neurotopia". We can drop the "v 2.0", as we don't really care about it. We would like some color, and as we are both neuro people, some cool neuro stuff would be especially awesome. Pretty glia, cool stains, pics or drawings of brains, you know. Other options also include drugs and things, as we do a certain amount of blogging on that.
What you'd win: the entries would be judged by an incredibly partial panel, otherwise known as me and Evil. Winners would receive documentation on the site for design of the banner. Winners could also receive something else, depending on how good you are at negotiation. I like sending people stuff...
Deadline: about February 5? Is that enough time? Please, those who are artistic, let me know if this is something that will take more time and I can give you all the time you require. Please do design us something pretty!!

3 responses so far

Part 3 of Welcome to MY Brain: The rest of the bits and pieces.

Jan 26 2009 Published by under Neuroanatomy, Neuroscience

Welcome to part 3 of Welcome to my brain! Apparently everyone is very impressed by how hot my brain is (see parts one and two), but unfortunately, we're almost out of pics. Today we're covering the rest of the bits of my brain that look really awesome, which really boils down to all the ones you wouldn't be able to see if you were just looking at the outside. And it turns out that Sci has a LOVELY basal ganglia. She is thrilled by this, the basal ganglia is her favoritest part of the brain.
First, a note: those cross-hairs that you've been seeing all the time are features of the analysis program, apparently, and can't get taken out. Blah. But we shall forge ahead!

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8 responses so far

In which Sci amuses the internets

Jan 23 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

First, we have a new Scibling!!! His name is Sciencepunk, and he's got a super fancy new banner and material already awaiting the masses! Check him out!
So I was goofing around the other day, and I came across the original video for this song. I love this song. Who DOESN'T love this song?! Who hasn't headbanged in the car to the rockin' guitar break a la Wayne's World? Being the blogging geek that I am, and inspired by Bora, a lot of coffee, and some donuts (never a good combination), I thought this needed a parody. And now, I share it with you.

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11 responses so far

How much pain will buy you a meal?

Jan 23 2009 Published by under Academia, Synaptic Misfires

My illustrious coblogger points out that by taking part in research studies, a graduate student can actually afford to do things like, well, eat. Normally relegated to scraping the crumbs off the post-seminar cookie tray, or sneaking into a urology luncheon and being forced to sit through an hour talk on ureter infections only to have the opportunity to pick through the dregs of the boxed sandwich choices (ultimately finding the pimiento cheese spread/sprout pita to be the sole viable option), graduate students eke out a meager existence where we're pitted against each other to fight for the best cuts of meat, build a bagel sandwich and retreat to the darkest corner of the room to nibble at our precious creation during tutorial. If you're lucky, few people will show up and you can take home the last poppy seed bagel, warm ham, and a mayonnaise packet for your dinner.
It doesn't have to be that way.

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3 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Got Hiccups? We have the cure for you!

Jan 23 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

As some of you may recall (considering it's my one post that got the most hits ever ever ever), I've previously used weird science to cover various hypotheses on how to deal with your nasal congestion. But it turns out that sex is for more than your nose! After all, what can more adversely affect your quality of life than a really terrible case of...the hiccups? Peleg and Peleg. "Case report: sexual intercourse as potential treatment for intractable hiccups". Canadian Family Physician, 2000.
This is a case study garnered from the bibliography of Mary Roach's book "Bonk: the curious coupling of science and sex". Hopefully I will be able to blog a decent number of the papers she cites, which pretty much all qualify as weird science. Hats off to Mary Roach!

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8 responses so far

Part 2 of Welcome to MY Brain! Of mater and brain holes.

Jan 22 2009 Published by under Neuroanatomy, Neuroscience

Ok, so I thought I would be able to do this brain stuff in TWO entries, but I think it might have to be three. After all, the brain is a wondrous, glorious world of awesome, and MY brain in particular is especially nice. Last time I talked about the outer features of the brain and the division of the brain into traditional lobes of form and function. So today I'm going to give a brief intro to things with arcane sounding names, like dura mater and the choroid plexus, and talk about why it's ok that your brain is full of holes.
So let's begin!
The Maters

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Part 1 of Welcome to MY Brain! Introduction and general features

Jan 21 2009 Published by under Neuroanatomy, Neuroscience

Some of you may recall that I got my brain scanned in an MRI for the sake of science. Well, my lovely fellow grad student was nice enough to send me some of my baseline pictures! I think I have a lovely brain (see my new profile pic? I'm totally hot, right?), and so I thought I would share some of it with you. Besides, I blog a lot about basic (and not so basic) neuroanatomy, and so we can use hot pics of Sci's brain to give you some insight into areas of the brain that are popular in science today.
And just to scratch the surface:
Picture 10.png
I'll be dividing these posts into two parts, the first with general features and terms, and the second one for some of the interior features that happened to come out really well on my scan.

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18 responses so far

Friday Weird Science has found its Patron Saint

Jan 19 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

It is rare that a non-fiction book, let alone a non-fiction book about science, makes me laugh so hard I have to put the book down until I can get off the floor. In fact, I would say it's only happened once. That once was during this last week, when I finally got to read "Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex" by Mary Roach.
I don't know why I never read the book before. You'd think as the lover of all things Weird Science, Sci would be all over this thing. Me, I blame grad student poverty.
So how was it? Let's just look at the cover:
Yup, that's two ladybugs doin' it.

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8 responses so far

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