Brain & Behavior

Today’s guest blogger is Idan Frumin, a student in the group of Prof. Noam Sobel in the Neurobiology Department.  Their research on the transmission of odor compounds while shaking hands appears today in eLife. It all started one day after lunch, sometime back in 2011. We sat in the lab’s living room (Yeah, we have…

  New research from the University of Lincoln, UK suggests that cats may prefer to find food using their eyes as opposed to their nose. The preference for vision vs. smell was tested in 6 cats placed in a maze that required cats to make decisions about which way to go based on either images or smells.…

I really never thought of spiders as being “pretty” until I came across these two new species of peacock spiders discovered in southeast Queensland, Australia by Madeline Girard (graduate student from the University of California, Berkeley, who is specializing in peacock spiders). Peacock spiders are not only beautiful, they also engage in elaborate dances during…

Penguins have poor taste

Researchers sequencing the five different taste receptors in penguins were surprised to discover that the animals do not have genes that encode for receptors that are specific for savory meaty flavors (like fish!), sweet or bitter tastes. Instead, the data suggest that penguins are only able to taste the saltiness or sourness of their foods…

I came across this neat press release from the University of Massachusetts: AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers studying the interaction between plants, pollinators and parasites report that in recent experiments, bees infected with a common intestinal parasite had reduced parasite levels in their guts after seven days if the bees also consumed natural toxins present in…

Congratulations to Mallory Ballinger, a graduate student from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who is the 2015 recipient of the Dr. Dolittle Travel Award! The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding graduate student or postdoctoral fellow involved in comparative and evolutionary research and to provide assistance for them to attend the annual American Physiological Society…

It’s a persistent conundrum in the field of public health — how can we open people’s minds to positively receiving and acting on health information? Previous research has found that combining health tips with messages of self-affirmation may be a particularly effective strategy, but researchers weren’t entirely sure how self-affirmation worked at the neurological level. Now, a new study has found that self-affirmation’s effects on a particular region of the brain may be a major key to behavior change.

Passing rewarming saves energy

I came across a neat study published recently in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology which examined how bats arouse from hibernation, a period during which their body temperature and metabolism are low. To minimize the high energetic costs of warming up during arousal, bats use solar radiation or take…

Vaccines, Deflategate, NASA, Scholarships & More: STEM in the News

In our recent STEM in the News blog, X-STEM Festival Speaker and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the importance of childhood vaccinations and his frustration with the recent Disneyland measles outbreak,  Festival Nifty Fifty Speaker and Material Scientist Dr. Ainissa Ramirez breaks down the science of “Deflategate”, NASA holds…

It’s not unusual for studies on community walkability to face the perplexing question of self-selection. In other words, people who already like to walk end up moving to walkable communities and so those communities naturally have higher physical activity rates. In even simpler terms, it’s about the person, not the environment. However, a new study finds that walkable community design does influence healthy behavior — even among people with no preference for walking in the first place.