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UK Researchers find parental perception of child’s weight is skewed
Childhood obesity affects more than double the amount of children it did 30 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). To figure out why the rate is increasing researchers studied the relationship between parents and their obese children to determine how to improve pediatric health. The study actually reveals how poorly parents rate their […]

Black et al (2015). Child obesity cut-offs as derived from parental perceptions: cross-sectional questionnaire, British Journal of General Practice, Other:

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A novel method makes gene therapy safer
  An international team of researchers have validated a method for identifying human insulator genes that dampen the over-activity of therapeutic genes delivered during gene therapy.1   The goal of gene therapy is to cure a disease by introducing therapeutic genes. For example, a non-infectious virus could be used to insert therapeutic genes into human […]

Liu M, Maurano MT, Wang H, Qi H, Song CZ, Navas PA, Emery DW, Stamatoyannopoulos JA & Stamatoyannopoulos G (2015). Genomic discovery of potent chromatin insulators for human gene therapy., Nature biotechnology, 33 (2) 198-203. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25580597

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Biofuel, good for the environment if you’re eating less
When the government first changed policy to require ethanol in gasoline, we were told it would reduce our carbon footprint. Then food prices rose significantly and corn in particular saw the largest price rise. This was because corn is a staple in production of almost any other food from eggs to beef, but the policy made […]

Searchinger, T., Edwards, R., Mulligan, D., Heimlich, R. & Plevin, R. (2015). Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?, Science, 347 (6229) 1420-1422. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261221

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Accelerated loss: western Antarctic ice shelf melting at faster pace within last decade
We know that the Antarctic ice shelves are melting, however the pace of this loss and its cause are still uncertain.  A new study from the Scripps Institute in San Diego has provided better resolution in both time and space to … Continue reading →

Paolo, F., Fricker, H. & Padman, L. (2015). Volume loss from Antarctic ice shelves is accelerating, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0940

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Music affects on the brain
A recent paper identified genes that changed their expression as a result of music performance in trained musicians. (see citation below). There were a surprising number of affected genes, 51 genes had increased and 22 had decreased expression, compared to controls who were also trained musicians but were not involved in making or listening to […]

Kanduri, C., Kuusi, T., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A., Lähdesmäki, H. & Järvelä, I. (2015). The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians, Scientific Reports, 5 9506. DOI: 10.1038/srep09506

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Sera from children with autism inducing autistic features in rats?
"The autism sera injected rats demonstrated developmental delay and deficits in social communication, interaction, and novelty."That was one of the findings reported in the paper by Syed Faraz Kazim and colleagues [1] (open-access) who, among other things, injected intracerebroventricularly sera collected from children with autism into newborn rats and examined behavioural effects compared with injections of sera from asymptomatic controls. Actually, that was only one part of the […]

Kazim, S., Cardenas-Aguayo, M., Arif, M., Blanchard, J., Fayyaz, F., Grundke-Iqbal, I. & Iqbal, K. (2015). Sera from Children with Autism Induce Autistic Features Which Can Be Rescued with a CNTF Small Peptide Mimetic in Rats, PLOS ONE, 10 (3) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118627

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Too much attention can be a deficit
Sometimes being too focused on a task is not a good thing. During tasks that require our attention, we might become so engrossed in what we are doing that we fail to notice there is a better way to get the job done. For example, let’s say you are coming out of a New York City […]

Nicolas W. Schuck, Robert Gaschler, Dorit Wenke, Jakob Heinzle, Peter A. Frensch, John-Dylan Haynes & Carlo Reverberi (2015). Medial Prefrontal Cortex Predicts Internally Driven Strategy Shifts, Neuron, Other:

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Misbeliefs, evolution and games: a positive case
A recurrent theme here in TheEGG is the limits and reliability of knowledge. These get explored from many directions: on epistemological grounds, from the philosophy of science angle, but also formally, through game theory and simulations. In this post, I will explore the topic of misbeliefs as adaptations. Misbeliefs will be intended as ideas about […]

Kaznatcheev, A., Montrey, M. & Shultz, T.R. (2014). Evolving useful delusions: Subjectively rational selfishness leads to objectively irrational cooperation., Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society, arXiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.0041v1

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Screening for autism in preterm infants
"A positive screen on the M-CHAT [Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers] occurs more commonly in very preterm infants than those born at term."So said the study by Peter Gray and colleagues [1] as the topic of preterm status - that is, babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy - potentially being linked to a greater risk of autism or at least, increased risk of screening positive for autism, crops up yet again on this blog (see here).Gray et al examined a cohort of children […]

Gray PH, Edwards DM, O'Callaghan MJ & Gibbons K (2015). Screening for autism spectrum disorder in very preterm infants during early childhood., Early human development, 91 (4) 271-276. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25766314

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What’s gnawing on Jane Austen’s hair?
The years hadn’t been kind to the lonely lock of Jane Austen’s hair on display in a Hampshire museum. Light had bleached it to a straw color; only the shadowed underside remained its original brown. A few tiny flakes of … Continue reading →

Swift JA (1972). Scanning electron microscope study of Jane Austen's hair., Nature, 238 (5360) 161-2. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4558459

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