Archive for: November, 2012

If I only knew then what I know now...reflections carnival!

Nov 15 2012 Published by under Blog Carnivals, Uncategorized

Sci came across a post by Jeremy Yoder at the Molecular Ecologist the other day. It was "Knowing what I know now" and was a set of reflections grad school. It's full of great gems of advice.

And it made me think of some advice of my own! There are LOADS of things that I would go back and try to earnestly tell my first-year self. But of course, while I can't benefit from it (yet, c'mon time travel!), you can! And so, in talking with Jeremy, we'd like to solicit posts for a Carnival, held at The Molecular Ecologist, on "Knowing what I know now". We'd love to see advice from all stages. Grad students, what would you tell undergrads? Postdocs, what would you tell grad students? Tenure track, what would you tell postdocs? And you tenured people, what wisdom can you pass on to us?

I will be writing my own post on it shortly (probably tomorrow!), and would love to hear from all of you! Give me some advice, help those still to come. Submit posts to Jeremy, and he'll deliver you a carnival full of great advice on December 10th!

4 responses so far

Love and Learn: "Nematocin", the nematode oxytocin

Nov 14 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Oxytocin always makes a lot of press. It plays roles in reproduction and mating behavior, social bonding, behavior related to morality. To call it "the love hormone" as some people like to do, is to grossly oversimplify the things that it does, something which can even be dangerous. And it also, in my opinion, really hides its light under a bushel. To call oxytocin "the love hormone" or "the trust hormone" is akin, in my opinion, to calling norepinephrine the "holy shit we're going to DIE" chemical. It covers up the complexity of function, and the deep and interesting evolutionary history that oxytocin has.

After all, as this paper shows, even nematodes have something like oxytocin. And in nematodes, "nematocin" isn't about a state of love and trust. Instead, it's about a state of learning.

Beets et al. "Vasopressin/Oxytocin-Related Signaling Regulates Gustatory Associative Learning in C. elegans" Science, 2012.

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4 responses so far

Crowdfunding basic neuroscience!

Nov 13 2012 Published by under Academia

As we all know, science funding these days is really hard to come by. Rejection rates for federal grants are up over 80%. Labs are more and more expensive to run as more high tech equipment is required just to get the funding in the first place. And that's not even going into the money the university will snag in overhead.

So what's a scientist to do? How do we pursue basic science? Well, Perlstein and his colleagues at Princeton are ready to try crowdfunding. While many of the crowdfunding sites that Sci has previously seen are focused on work that's more basic, or not directly biomedical, like field ecology or crustacean work, this one is the first I've seen to try out some pharmacology. The Perlstein lab group (which has a lot of experience in things like vesicular release) is proposing to use autoradiography and electron microscopy to look at where, exactly, amphetamine goes once it enters a neuron. We don't yet know where amphetamine accumulates in the cell, though we know a lot about other effects, and it's an important question to ask.

They'd like to raise $25,000 (which is VERY little in research terms, usually labs need about 10x more from the National Institutes of Health). And they are going to document every step of their science, from weekly updates on the lab webpage, to data sharing on figshare, to finally publishing in an open access journal. And they are halfway to their funding goal! But they've got less than a week left and could use some help.

Would you like to fund crowdfunded science? Why or why not? Me, I think it's an interesting experiment, and I'd like to see how it turns out. When we usually thinking of getting grants from the NIH, we have grants that are reviewed by a group of scientists before being given a priority score, and then funding gets given to those of the highest priority. This project hasn't been reviewed by their peers (though the results, of course, would be reviewed by peers prior to publication). But the Perlstein lab has a history of excellent work, and with the open sharing methods, I wonder if other scientists will help critique the process as it goes on.

So if you're interested in seeing this kind of science go forward, head over and lend them a hand. And for others, what do you think of this sort of crowdfunding? What are the pros and cons and how would you improve the process? Let's talk about it in the comments!

4 responses so far

Repost: This is your brain on music

Nov 12 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at SciAm Blogs today, this time with a repost from 2011, which looks at what happens in the brain when music gives you "chills". Does music give you chills? Which kinds? And do you know what happens when it does? Head over and check it out.

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Sunday Funny: Low hanging fruit indeed.

Nov 10 2012 Published by under Sunday Funnies

Today's Sunday Funny comes to you courtesy of Biochembelle. It's not a bad paper at all, in fact it's very useful, but the title is particularly well chosen. Sometimes you just gotta go for the low hanging fruit...

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Friday Weird Science: Shearing Sheep on Slick Surfaces, a Scary Situation

Nov 09 2012 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Today's Friday Weird Science comes courtesy of Marc Abrahams of the IgNobel prizes who sent me this fabulous study. Because who doesn't love some sheep?

Shearing sheep is not an easy job. When I pictured sheep shearing, I always pictured someone leading in a sheep, and the sheep standing patiently while someone takes some clippers to it. Turns out, I was VERY wrong.

...and then boy, did I feel sheepish.

(source, the freakin' BEST claymation ever. What's wrong with Wensleydale?!)

You see what I did there. I had to do it just ONCE! HONEST! Don't go away! I promise I won't do it again!!

Harvey et al. "An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces" Applied Ergonomics, 2002.

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9 responses so far

Cocaine and ministrokes

Nov 07 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

We all know that abuse of cocaine results in some pretty severe effects. Usually we think about addiction. When we think about the acute (immediate) effects of cocaine, we think of things like increased heart rate and blood pressure, and the possibility of heart attack from an overdose. But maybe we should also think about strokes. Ministrokes. In the brain.

"Cocaine-induced cortical microischemia in the rodent brain: clinical implications" Molecular Psychiatry, 2012.

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8 responses so far

It's not the stress, but whether you can control it, that matters.

Nov 06 2012 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at SciAm blogs today, where I'm talking about a new study on stress. Because not all stresses are created equal, and sometimes, whether you have control over the stress or not can even provide protection. Head over and check it out.

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Sunday Funny: Highly appropriate math

Nov 04 2012 Published by under Sunday Funnies

I may or may not have found this on the internet. Or I may or may not have made this for a friend who has been having a hard time of it. 🙂

Click to embiggen.

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Friday Weird Science: You're not getting bigger, your tie's just getting smaller

Nov 02 2012 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Today's Friday Weird Science comes courtesy of the always fantastic Ivan Oransky, who covered this paper over at Retraction Watch (while the paper has not been retracted, it DOES have retraction in the title, which I'm sure counts for something).

When I saw this paper I was reminded forcefully of something my mother once said to my father. At one time in my childhood, my parents were joking about my dad going a little thin about the hairline. Dad said "I'm going bald". "No!" quoth Mom "You're just undergoing cranial expansion".

This paper takes that around and reverses it. You're not getting a pot belly. You're just undergoing tie retraction.

Geerling et al. "the tie Retraction syndrome" Orbit, 2012.

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One response so far

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