Brain & Behavior

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology shows that noisy humans are impacting the physiology and behaviors of dolphins and whales. To compete against man-made noises, these animals are altering the amplitude, frequency or length of their vocalizations or repeat what they need to say with the hope of being heard. Dr. Maria Holt and colleagues studied a par…

Superstorm Sandy came ashore nearly three years ago, pummeling the New England and Mid-Atlantic coast and becoming one of the deadliest and costliest storms to ever hit the U.S. This week, the Sandy Child and Family Health Study released two new reports finding that the health impacts of Sandy continue to linger, illustrating the deep mental footprint left by catastrophic disasters and the challenges of long-term recovery.

Exposing Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) to shorter photoperiods (think winter) for about two months causes the animals to spontaneously undergo daily bouts of torpor during which time they decrease metabolic rate to conserve energy.  New research published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology was designed to examine whether decreases in growth hormone secretion…

Death by boa constrictor

New research from Dr. Scott Boback and colleagues at Dickinson College (Pennsylvania) shows that boa constrictors do not use suffocation as a primary means of killing their victims. Rather, by measuring blood pressure and heart activity of the prey, they were able to determine that the snakes restrict blood flow in their victims causing circulatory arrest and a…

Polar bear survival during summer

If you happen to be in the Arctic this summer polar bears (Ursus maritimus) can be spotted spending their time on the sea ice or on the shore in areas where ice has melted. While it is difficult to study the physiology of bears living on the ice, it had been hypothesized that bears living on shore experience…

Every day in the U.S., more than 40 people die after overdosing on prescription painkillers. Deaths from a more notorious form of opiates — heroin — increased five-fold between 2001 and 2013. Addressing this problem — one that’s often described as a public health crisis — requires action on many fronts, from preventing abuse in the first place to getting those addicted into treatment. But when it comes to overdoses, there’s one answer we know works: naloxone.

Sailing Spiders

Research published July 3 in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology supports the idea that some species of spiders can catch the wind to “sail” across bodies of water, which they suggest might be why certain spiders seem to be all over the world. While some spiders were already know to catch the breeze to travel by air relatively…

Weighing meal options

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

A new study conducted by researchers Eric Vaillancourt and Jean-Michel Weber at the University of Ottawa examined blood sugar regulation in a bird that specialize in long distance migration, the Canada goose (Branta canadensis, image above). As referenced in the study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Canadian geese migrate approximately 7,000…

Analyzing online searches and social media activity has often been suggested as a way to track and maybe even predict the spread of diseases. And it’s a great idea — if it’s done right, it could offer public health workers real-time surveillance and a jumpstart at containing dangerous outbreaks. But there’s a hitch. How can we attempt to decipher between online activity triggered by the possibility of actual disease symptoms and online activity triggered by simple curiosity?