Archive for: December, 2009

Friday Weird Science: Hyposexual, Hypersexual, and Oxytocin

Dec 04 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Oh, you all thought oxytocin posts were DONE!? BY NO MEANS. For oxytocin lends itself to the truly weird science, and this one simply could not be ignored. In addition, Sci is compelled to blog this paper out of sympathy and understanding for the poor little grad student (or possibly the tech) who WITNESSED this entire experiment, on a weekly basis, for I don't know how long. Oh you devoted servant of science, Sci takes her hat off to you this day.
...moment of silence... Pattij, et al. "Individual differences in male rat ejaculatory behavior: searching for models to study ejaculation disorders." European Journal of Neuroscience, 2005.
We'll get to what the poor student did in a minute.
So what, might you think, is the biggest problem in sexual dysfunction these days? From the abundance of couples in matching bathtubs and various other really awful commercials for Cialis and Viagra, etc, you'd really think it was erectile dysfunction. But in fact, there is ANOTHER sexual disorder that is possibly more common, and which has just as big of an impact on a guy's sexual quality of life...
(Before you go below the fold, things possibly NSFW, blah de blah, it's Friday, you should know this by now.)

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HM Brain Slicing: So much better than TV

Dec 03 2009 Published by under Neuroscience

In case any of you peeps have missed it (and you never know), the great memory patient, HM, died last year on Dec 2, 2008.
HM was an epilepsy patient who suffered horrible seizures from age 16 on. Finally, we was referred to a neurosurgeon, who localized the seizures to the medial temporal lobes, and he had them removed in 1953. The good news: new epilepsy. The bad news: no MEMORY. HM retained all of the memories from before the surgery, but until the day of his death, was unable to create new ones. He continually thought it was 1953. He was capable of doing things requiring short term memory and retained an IQ of 112, but could not remember anything new taught to him. Interestingly, he could retain motor memories, and could learn new motor procedures and remember them, though he didn't remember learning them. HM was altogether a fascinating patient, and taught neuroscientists a huge amount about the brain. Unfortunately, due to his severe amnesia, he lived the rest of his life in a care institute, dying peacefully in 2008.
Though obviously informed consent was a little difficult, every time they asked, HM agreed to donate his brain to science, and the person with his power of attorney also agreed. Thus HM's brain is currently being SLICED into 70um (those are microns, very small) thick sections, in the hopes that we will be able to gain even more knowledge about the man and his brain following death. You can follow the slicing, which is going to take 50 hours, here and here. They're about to reach the temporal lobes, and there it should get very exciting! It's a big moment for neuroscience.
Sci is totally geeking out about this, and she and her charming co-blogger Evil Monkey have been tweeting it up over the past few hours (Evil is @neurotopia, and you should follow him on twitter). Some of the people Sci has talked to have expressed reservations about having their brains (or bodies) sliced on live video feed. Sci personally thinks she wouldn't mind at all, if it was for scientific benefit. Also, I have been told I have a very pretty brain. But she would be interested to hear the thoughts of others. Would you donate your brain to science? Would you mind being sliced (after death) on live video? Why or why not?

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An Open Letter to OSU

Dec 03 2009 Published by under Activism

Addressing the Board of Oklahoma State University
To Whom it May Concern,
It has recently come to my attention that the president of Oklahoma State University, Dr. Hargis, has canceled a National Institute of Health-approved project on pathogen testing in primates, presumably caving in to vocal minority pressure concerning the use of animals in research. Despite the full approval of veterinary boards, the steps taken to maximize animal welfare, and the full backing of the National Institute of Health, the project was canceled in an abrupt and seemingly-arbitrary manner.
I personally find this sudden reversal of an approved study surprising. The primate facilities at OSU are well known, particularly their baboon facility, which the study intended to utilize. The baboon research facilities have previously yielded many high-impact papers in areas such as pathology, and results from these studies have been and are currently being taken into account in the search for treatments for human disease. The study which was itself canceled is one that could provide key understanding to the development and propagation of highly dangerous diseases such an anthrax, and thus which could provide results with a highly important impact on human health. Given the excellent animal welfare rules in place at OSU, the history of the baboon program, and the valuable research that has emerged from the university on these topics, it is therefore concerning that the president of OSU have given in to personal pressures and opinions in halting the study.
I would also like to point out that the cancellation of this study sets a disturbing precedent for animal research programs in place at OSU as well as at other universities. It is very worrying that the president of a public university should cancel a government-funded research study due to personal concerns. This precedent could place the research of other investigators at OSU and at other schools in jeopardy, potentially endangering studies that are essential to the understanding of human and animal health and disease.
I therefore would call upon you to urge Dr. Hargis to reconsider his ban on this government-approved study, and not to cave to the pressure of a vocal few which would attempt to halt many animal studies necessary for the understanding of animal and human disease. It is imperative that studies to improve human and animal survival and quality of life go forward, and in the past, OSU has ensured that these studies proceed with maximum quality control and concern for animal welfare. Please do not jeopardize the excellent research reputation of OSU by allowing the personal concerns of a vocal minority to prevent necessary and appropriately performed research.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
For more coverage of this issue, see Drugmonkey and the ever-perspicacious erv. Additional coverage and addresses of the board (please write!) at Speaking of Research.

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Mapping the Glutamate Receptor

Dec 02 2009 Published by under Neuroscience, Physiology/Pharmacology

So Sci said she wasn't going to blog this week because of Open Lab and how stressed she is.
(Sci right now, only with better hair and no pocket-protector)
But she lied.
The science, it calls us, precious.
Ah, the power of Twitter. It is indeed powerful, for it hath informed Sci of a new development in SCIENCE. Also, it made her sing. We'll get to that. Sobolevsky, Rosconi, Gouaux "X-ray structure, symmetry and mechanism of an AMPA-subtype glutamate receptor" Nature, 2009.
glutamate receptor.jpg
Pretty, huh?

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Open Lab! That's all She Wrote!

Dec 02 2009 Published by under Academia

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