Archive for: December, 2010

Friday Weird Science: Feeling the Vaginal Pressure, the idea of "insuck"

Dec 17 2010 Published by under Friday Weird Science

You know you've blogged too much when you have to search yourself to check whether you've written something up before. I cannot BELIEVE I haven't done this one yet!

I always wonder about laboratories that study orgasm and human sexual behavior. Do people stand around looking all official at lab meetings and talk with very serious demeanor about uterine and vaginal insuck? Or do they give in and let the hilarity reign? I would think, if the second, it'd be a really fun place to work.

Anyway, for a bit on Friday Weird Science I've been writing posts about the "function" or "role" of female orgasm. Does it have one? Does it have more than one? Does it matter? And while modern studies have generally focused on the possible pair bonding and hormonal aspects of female orgasm, older studies were after the physical angle. People assumed that female orgasm HAD to help the process of sperm and egg melding SOMEHOW.

But how?

Well, how about insuck? Fox et al. "Measurement of intra-vaginal and intra-uterine pressures during human coitus by radio-telemetry." J Reprod Fertil. 1970


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7 responses so far

Thursday Blogrollin': The Neuroskeptic

Dec 16 2010 Published by under Blog Carnivals

Sci wanted to highlight Neuroskeptic's blog today. I realized that I'm ALWAYS retweeting their stuff, but never seem to link to them on the BLOG. And that has to change. Cause Neuroskeptic is teh greatest. They always have an interesting and skeptical look at the latest research. For example, check out this great post on exercise and depression (and the comment thread following it), for a good look at why the link between exercise and antidepressant activities may be a good thing, but difficult to use correctly in the clinic. I totally agree with his point, and I ALSO wonder: if the link between exercise and depression is meaningful other "hobbies" produce similar, though possibly more minor results? What about playing cards, or crochet, or another hobby that people might find meaningful? I think the results may be more minor (the physical effects of exercise may be a huge deal here), but it's still worth checking out.

Also, check out Neuroskeptic's post on online comments. Sci has to read that one a lot to keep her sanity. In general, I just recommend Neuroskeptic, for a skeptical and insightful look at the latest neuro stuff.

One response so far

We really do believe we've got more free will than the other guy.

Dec 15 2010 Published by under Neuroscience

I tweeted this link all over the internets the other day, and not surprisingly, it got picked up a lot. And why not? Free will is one of those subjects that is particularly interesting to, well, just about everyone. It's one the deep philosophical questions pondered by philosophers, and high people everywhere: DO we really have final control over our own actions? Or are we just meaningless automatons carrying out predictable sequences of events, who just walk around thinking we're so clever?

Sci's main thought on this is: in the main, cosmic sense of things...why does it matter?

But anyway. It doesn't matter whether we HAVE free will or not, our daily lives seem to make us FEEL that we have it. We make many decisions, consider many options every day, some big, some small, but in most of them, we feel like we have a choice, and that we are making that choice of our own free will.

But what's funny is that we don't seem to feel that way about OTHER PEOPLE. While we often feel we have free will in our choices, we don't really feel like our friends do. "Of course she got into Harvard, she's from a really smart family", "Of course he'll do X, it's the way he was brought up". It's been shown time and time again that while WE feel like we have free will, we feel like other people have less of it than we do.

But how are you going to test this? Pronin and Kugler. "People believe they have more free will than others" PNAS, 2010.

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19 responses so far

The Science of Blogging: On Pseudonymity

Dec 14 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Head on over to Science of Blogging! Sci has a new post up there as of yesterday on some of the pros and cons of pseudonymity in science blogging. The short story:

No death threats
No harm to your research
A cute name

No trust
Need to build up a reputation from scratch
Accusations of things like cowardice, trolling, and I don't know what.

And as people pointed out in the comments, it's a very thin protection indeed.

Go! Read! Discuss!

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BDNF and Depression

I've written a bunch of posts in the past on serotonin, the serotonin theory of depression (and why it's probably wrong), and some stuff on current antidepressant treatments. And I even talked before a little bit about the serotonin theory vs the BDNF theory. But I've never really COVERED what the BDNF theory IS and how it works. And then I saw this paper, and here's my opportunity!

But I have to warn you, this is a LOTTA paper. But it's ok, the point is good. ONWARD. Schmidt and Duman. "Peripheral BDNF Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects in Cellular and Behavioral Models" Neuropsychopharmacology, 2010.


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25 responses so far

To the Dude who sat down in front of me in seminar Friday...

Dec 12 2010 Published by under Terrible Poetry

To the Dude who sat down in front of me in seminar Friday having previously bathed in Axe,

I hate you.

Believe me, if the choice for you is between a shower and bathing in Axe, take the shower, I assure you that everyone around you would prefer it.

You reek to high heaven. And when you sat down in front of me in seminar on Friday, my nose wrinkled immediately, and my brain went "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!!" I knew I had to flee, but by then it was too late.

You see, I get migraines. And they are sometimes triggered by things like intense smell. Like you, young man who bathed in Axe body spray. You can now consider yourself directly responsible for the migraine that I have been down with for the past TWO DAYS, going on THREE. By the time I managed to gather my things and leave the auditorium, it felt like someone was trying to lobotomize me without anesthetic, and I could barely see. I have now been officially useless for the past three days, at a time which was hardly convenient for me. Not that migraines are ever convenient.

The next time I see you, I have a strong urge to clock you so hard on the head you will have a massive headache for three days. So you know what it's like.

But I'll have to put on a HEPA filter first.

No love,

18 responses so far

OMG! New Network!

Dec 11 2010 Published by under Blog Carnivals

A new Science Blogging network has surged into existence! Go and check out Occam's Typewriter (cute name!), a blog host of many people formerly of Nature Network, including Cath Ennis, the ever awesome Jenny Rohn, Stephen Curry, Richard Grant, and more great bloggers! Congrats on their successful lauch! Go check it out!

7 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Stimulating the Brain...and the Rectum

Dec 10 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

I think @vaughanbell described it best with this Tweet:

@scicurious @edyong209 One of the few studies where you don't want to hear the words "We've made a breakthrough"

And with that...I HAD to blog it. Garvin et al. "Cortical and spinal evoked potential response to electrical stimulation in human rectum." World Journal of Gastroenterology, 2010.

Actually, the purpose of the paper is highly important. The methods though...the methods...


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5 responses so far


Dec 09 2010 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

...under an avalanche of Pubmed citations. I will emerge when my browser window no longer has 75 tabs open.

In the meantime, have a LOLcat.

One response so far

Electricity, Brain "Disruption", and Math

Dec 08 2010 Published by under Behavioral Neuro, Neuroscience, Uncategorized

Sci got an email the other day. Ok, I get lots of emails, but this one asked a cool question, which is always nice. All it asked for was an opinion on an article in Scientific American: "Get Better at Math By Disrupting your Brain". Sci looked. Was intrigued. Read the actual paper...and found the SciAm coverage of it somewhat misleading (or at least, really confusing).

Basically, the article at SciAm states that

The goal of the study was to assess whether modifying activity in the parietal lobes affected the acquisition of number competence.

If the brain functions by optimizing behavior, it might be possible to worsen numerical competence by disrupting parietal function, but it should not be possible to enhance it that way. However, that is precisely what Cohen Kadosh's team found. Remarkably, this improvement was still present six months after the training.

The problem isn't so much in the total coverage itself. The problem is in the word "disruption". You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

dis·rupt (ds-rpt)
tr.v. dis·rupt·ed, dis·rupt·ing, dis·rupts
1. To throw into confusion or disorder: Protesters disrupted the candidate's speech.
2. To interrupt or impede the progress, movement, or procedure of: Our efforts in the garden were disrupted by an early frost.
3. To break or burst; rupture.

So you'd THINK, based on the SciAm article and the definition of the word "disruption", that this paper used magnets to disrupt me, by which they mean to impede or interrupt, implying a negative effect on brain activity in the parietal lobe, and this paradoxically (as the SciAm article notes) made people better at math.

That would be cool. If that was what the paper actually FOUND. It wasn't.

And so, I'm going to cover the paper for you all. Let's clear this up. Kadosh et al. "Modulating Neuronal Activity Produces Specific and Long-Lasting Changes in Numerical Competence" Current Biology, 2010.

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14 responses so far

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