Archive for: May, 2012

Chewing to take the stress away

May 30 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Not you chewing. The rats.

Why chewing, you might ask? The authors of this study are using chewing as a way to induce "active behavioral coping". And while the idea has merit, the data make me not so sure.


(Hey wait! That's not a stick! Source)

Helmreich et al. "Active behavioral coping alters the behavioral but not the endocrine response to stress" Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2012.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Stress and antidepressants: by their powers combined?

May 29 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

It's been a busy few days around my end, and I wasn't able to talk up this post like I wanted, but in case you missed it, I was at The Scicurious Brain on Monday, talking about a study showing that antidepressants may do better combined with stress than they do alone! Or at least, with regards to neurogenesis. Head over and take a look!

No responses yet

Friday Weird Science: Don't you judge me! ...unless I just farted.

May 25 2012 Published by under Friday Weird Science

...Or unless I did something else you make you disgusted.*

We would all like to think that we're very rational. That our judgements, particularly our moral judgements, arise from things that we've carefully considered, whether it be because you follow a holy text or consider the work of Hume or Mill to be the pinnacles of ethical thinking.

But when it comes down to cases, how we judge our coworker's love affair may have something to do with our thinking, but a bit more to do with how dirty the breakroom is, whether you just thought about how your friend was vomiting the other week, and...whether anyone in the room recently farted.


(Source)

Schnall et al. "Disgust as Embodied Moral Judgment" Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008.

Continue Reading »

One response so far

Longer life with an extra espresso shot? Let's carefully consider the data.

May 23 2012 Published by under Physiology/Pharmacology

I realize this study is SO last week, which is about two months in dog years and a decade in internet years, but seeing as I'm about to lend my dulcet tones and my delicate opinions to Skeptically Speaking on this topic, I feel I must needs blog this paper.

That, and it's about coffee. How could I NOT blog this paper!?

Freedman et al. "Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality" NJEM, 2012.

Continue Reading »

9 responses so far

Wholesome food and wholesome morals?

May 21 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Does seeing organic make you a self-satisfied jerk? At SciAm today, I'm covering the latest study that made it big over the weekend, on whether seeing organic labels influences your moral judgements. While the authors conclude that seeing organic DOES make you a self-satisfied jerk, I'm not so sure, and think there are too many confounds to know for certain. If you want to know why, head over there and check it out.

One response so far

Friday Weird Science: Whip it good, hold me closer, and other reproductive music messages

May 18 2012 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

We all know what this song is trying to tell us:

And what about this one?

Yes, shocking as it might be to some, a lot of songs, classical, pop, or of any other genre...talk a lot about sex. But not just sex, there are a lot of reproductive messages in music. We might notice a lot of these lyrics, from Baby Got Back to Gilbert and Sullivan, but what do they mean? Why are they there? And do they make a song more popular?

SCIENCE is here to find out!

Hobbes and Gallup. "Songs as a Medium for Embedded Reproductive Messages" Evolutionary Psychology, 2011.

Note 1: Today's post comes courtesy of the Digital Cuttlefish, who turned me on to this truly awesome piece of the scientific literature.

Note 2: I would like to dedicate this post as a whole to the fantastic Danielle Lee, who I hope will remix it. 🙂

Continue Reading »

8 responses so far

Does enrichment make your rat sexy?

May 16 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Are you trying to get a date? Have you tried it all, cologne, flowers, playing it casual, nice dinners? And have you considered environmental enrichment?

What is environmental enrichment? Environmental enrichment is the idea that the brain responds to stimulating environments, with things like decreased anxiety-like responses, decreased cognitive decline with aging, increased coping mechanisms, and even increasing cortical thickness and the birth of new neurons in the brain.

And it turns out, it might just also make you dead sexy. At least, if you're a rat.


(This rat wants you to draw him like one of your french girls. Used with permission from MysticGaia, via DeviantArt)

Mitra and Sapolsky. "Short-Term Enrichment Makes Male Rats More Attractive, More Defensive and Alters Hypothalamic Neurons" PLoS ONE, 2012.

Continue Reading »

6 responses so far

ADHD: Behavioral and cognitive therapies

May 15 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

I've got an article up over at Sci Am Mind and Brain today, about recent advances in behavioral and cognitive therapies for ADHD, and how these therapies may be better than medication in the long run. And I have also included, at my Sci Am blog, a list of the references I used for the piece (for those who are curious). Head over and check it out!

4 responses so far

Methylating your Muscle DNA

May 14 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at SciAm today, talking about a recent paper showing that exercise can change the methylation of your muscle DNA. What does that mean? How could it work? Head over there to find out.

No responses yet

Research and Science Blogging in PLoS ONE

May 12 2012 Published by under Academia, Uncategorized

I was alerted by the Neurocritic to a new paper out in PLoS ONE on research blogs and discussion of scientific information. It's an analysis of researchblogging.org bloggers, who there are, what they blog about, and who is significant. It's an interesting 'state of the blogsphere' type read (though I don't feel the significance of the research is really adequately discussed, what does this mean for both the blogging field and research science? How does it compare to other blogging areas?), and Neurocritic has a good breakdown (and mentioned me for my meta blogging! I am both flattered...I think...and amused, since I was hoping I didn't do that too often. As I am doing it now. Right). The only quibble I have with it is that they use Technorati as a measure of the 'best' science blogs. Guys, that is so 2007. As a matter of fact, many of the research blogs (especially those which have moved, say, since the breakup of ScienceBlogs, etc), are not even indexed on Technorati. That's because Technorati is something that you have to index yourself on, it's not a straight aggregator of hits. As such I think it's probably not the best metric of the 'best' bloggers (looking through the list, a good 20 in the top 200 I was able to immediately identify as defunct). I would think that a careful google search would have been a better metric (though much more time consuming).

But there was something interesting about this paper, and it was this:

The average RB blogger in our sample is male, either a graduate student or has been awarded a PhD and blogs under his own name.

So...I'm not average. Or I'm only 50% of average. The AVERAGE OF AVERAGE!!! YES!!!!

It does make me sad that there are fewer women out there blogging about scientific research. I know many women in the science blogsphere. There are a lot more female pseuds, a lot more women blogging about work/life balance, and so I think it's much more of a question of WHAT women in science are blogging about as opposed to whether they are blogging. Perhaps that would have been interesting to address in the discussion (oh my. Did I just post-peer-review a paper that is in effect a REVIEW of bloggers writing post-peer-review!??! The meta will open a black hole in the universe any minute).

As to WHY women in science blog less about science research? I have some guesses. First off, while the paper states that most real name bloggers see blogging as "if not as a career enhancer, then at least as career-neutral", this seems like a stretching assumption to me. I personally find that attitudes toward blogging as a scientist vary greatly according to field, with fields like exercise physiology being encouraging, psychology being more neutral, and biomedical fields being, in some cases actively hostile (though becoming less so, yay!). Being that women often feel themselves under extra pressure and at a disadvantage in their science training, why take on something that is, at best, neutral?

Secondly, there's this (courtesy of Astrokatie):


(Of course it's from XKCD)

I have seen some truly amazing vitriol leveled at female bloggers, and female science bloggers are no exception. I see far, far less aimed at men. Why would a woman willingly take on something career-neutral at best and which comes with free extra judgements of her looks and character? There are probably other reasons in addition to these two.

...all of this is making me wonder why I'm here. The answer being that I love SCIENCE, and I think you should too!

But the research raises some questions. What makes a science blogger influential and what makes them "real"? There are many people blogging about science who don't use ResearchBlogging as their stamp. I have no doubt that as the blogsphere continues to grow, that will only become more so. But right now it's an interesting picture, and raises some interesting thoughts. At least, enough for me to get super meta for a while. 🙂

*Note: technorati makes you put a little squibble of numbers in your blog so their trawler can find it and confirm you. That's what was here last night. I figured I might as well.

19 responses so far

Older posts »