Archive for: July, 2011

See Sci at SciAm!

Jul 14 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Hey Everyone! My very first (real) post is up at Scientific American Blogs! Today I'm talking about Ketamine. Ketamine and major depressive disorder: is life better with special K?

Go and check me out and give me n00b blogging platform love. 🙂

One response so far

The Opposite Side of Dopamine: The D2 Receptor

When most people think of dopamine, they think of things that can get you high. Things that feel good. Cocaine. Sex. Food. We imagine floods of dopamine in our brains as the pleasurable feelings take hold. As more and more media outlets cover neuroscience, we get the idea that serotonin means happiness, but dopamine means...pleasure.

And sure, sometimes it does. But dopamine is nothing without its RECEPTORS. And the D2 receptor is one of the big ones. Sure, D2 is a dopamine receptor. But it doesn't mean pleasure, and it's a wonderful example of the ways that the brain uses to put the brakes on such an...addictive system.

This current paper looks at the way we look at D2 receptor function. But it also provides an interesting perspective on possible targeting of those who might be at risk for addiction. Because it turns out, the ability to stop a cocaine binge is only as good as the brakes on your system.

Bello, et al. "Cocaine supersensitivity and enhanced motivation for reward in mice lacking dopamine D2 autoreceptors." Nature Neuroscience. 2011.

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7 responses so far

Sci goes to Japan, Part the Third

Jul 12 2011 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

These posts are ending up a lot longer than intended, partially due to jetlag. That 14 hour time difference doesn't fool around folks. For the past three days I've been able to sleep from precisely 1am to 4am, and...that's IT. More time for travel blogging, I suppose.

Anyway, on day 5 of our trip we headed into Tokyo...and immediately out again, we were headed for Kamakura. Kamakura is a relatively small city at this point, but it's LOADED with shrines, gardens, gorgeous architecture...and some really nice beaches.

Though it should be noted that Kamakura has an aggressive hawk issue:

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SCIENCE 101: Cranial Nerve IX, The Glossopharyngeal Nerve

After somewhat of a hiatus, the cranial nerves RETURN! After all, we can't quit now! Only four more to go. And here's where we're at:

Oh: Olfactory
Oh: Optic and Optic 2
Oh: Oculomotor
To: Trochlear
Touch: Trigeminal
And: Abducens
Feel: Facial
Virginia's: Vestibulocochlear and Vestibulocochlear 2
Gucci: Glossopharyngeal
Vest: Vagus
Heaven: Hypoglossal


So we're up to cranial nerve IX, the Glossopharyngeal.

And for function:

Some Say Marry Money But My Brother Says Big Brains Matter Most.

Where the first letter of each word (they are all S, M, or B), corresponds with the functional role, where S is sensory, M is motor, and B is both. So you can see that the glossopharyndeal is going to have both sensory and motor fibers, which is going to make it that much more complicated.

But that's ok. Repeat after me: Glossopharyngeal. Glossopharyngeal. Doesn't it just SOUND nice? Like an onomatopoeia of what happens when a sip of delicious Coca-Cola Slurpee slips over the tongue and fizzes a little at the back.

And speaking of Slurpees...well what did you THINK the glossopharyngeal did?


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11 responses so far

Sci goes to Japan, Part the Second

Jul 10 2011 Published by under Synaptic Misfires, Uncategorized

A travelogue of Sci's recent trip to Japan, complete with photos and a record of all the amazing food I managed to go through. Comes with a bonus side of jetlag!!

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7 responses so far

Sci Goes to Japan, Part the First

Jul 09 2011 Published by under Synaptic Misfires, Uncategorized

YES, Sci spent her vacation in JAPAN!!! And enough of you asked me to blog about it that I'm going to comply. Hopefully it will only be a 3-4 part series (yeah, long trip), but we'll see how the pictures go! I actually keep travel logs every time I go somewhere, and what you'll be getting is the transcript, with some added detail. You'll also be getting it in a somewhat addled state of mind, as I have just found out that trying to recover from a 14 hour time difference is...REALLY hard.

Below: many photos and relatively few words. The words there are, are mostly about food. Sci tends to eat her way through foreign countries with great enjoyment, and Japan was definitely on the top of the list.

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11 responses so far

In which Sci RETURNS

Jul 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci is BACK from her rather well earned vacation (or at least, I think it was well earned. You all are welcome to think I'm slackin' if you so choose). And something happened in my absence.


YES. Sci has started a blog over at Scientific American! I'll be blogging at The Scicurious Brain once a week, and continuing to blog here twice a week...

...ok maybe not today.

You see, Sci has but recently (like two hours ago) stepped off a plane...and the jet lag is ROUGH.

Because Mr. S and I went to JAPAN!!! It was GREAT, but I'll warn you that 14 hour flight is a killer. So I'm going to take today off for the purposes and getting my brain banged into shape. In the meantime...would anyone like to see my Japan pics? I'd be glad to blog the experience, but if people aren't thrilled, then I will easily pass it by.

11 responses so far

REPOST: Oral Contraceptives and Weight Gain, Myths and Truths and Anecdotes

Jul 06 2011 Published by under Physiology/Pharmacology

And lions and tigers and bears!

Sci is reposting this one in particular because I keep seeing it come up. Again and again I read articles on how combined hormonal contraceptives don't cause weight gain. And again and again I see women posting everywhere on the internet not to trust those dang scientists! I gained weight! And so did my friend!

So I'm reposting this one. Because while I'm sure you may have gained weight, you are an anecdote. And so is your friend. No offense.

@noahwg linked an article (or a blog post? It seems more like a blog post) in the NY Times today, on oral contraceptives and weight gain. The post covers a review of various clinical trials (there are only three listed, but that's because they are using the most stringent measures of three treatment trials per study) and concludes that there is no causal association between oral contraceptive use and weight gain.

Yup. Again. Because this isn't news. In fact, it's a reprint of a review released in 2008. Combined oral contraceptives don't cause weight gain in any of the studies in which they've been tested.

I've seen studies like this before, and I commented on it to a female friend of mine. And I got the response I have now come to expect: "Well, I gained weight!"

Sci's gonna have to put on her ranty pants for a minute.

(Someone needs to make these. I would pay good money for these. Source)

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22 responses so far

Now See Sci at SciAm!

Jul 05 2011 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

You may have noticed that BIG NETWORK of blogs launched today. Yes, Scientific American Blogs is here, and Sci will be joining them!! From now on I will be at SciAm Blogs once a week with the latest, hottest neuroscience. The rest of the week and Fridays you can find me right here on Scientopia. So fret not! And check out the fine array of blogs that the amazing Bora has gathered!

3 responses so far

Happy 4th!

Jul 04 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

It's a Holiday in the USA!

Have fireworks. 🙂


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