Brain & Behavior

Extreme Physiology: Radiation tolerance

Don’t let their small size fool you. Tardigrades, or ‘water bears’, are really tough animals. According to a review published in the American Scientist, these microscopic invertebrates can survive extreme variations in temperature from near absolute zero (-459 deg F) up to +302 deg F. They can also tolerate pressures that are 6 times greater than the deepest…

Very Smart Birds, Very Smart Bird Book

Crows are smart. Anyone who watches them for a while can figure this out. But that is true of a lot of things. Your baby is smart (not really). Your dog is smart (not really). Ants are smart (sort of). It takes a certain degree of objective research, as well as some serious philosophy of…

Until now I had assumed that a “peep” was that squishy sugar-covered marshmallow treat that we enjoyed as kids and a “yo-yo” was a toy on a string. As it turns out, peep and yo-yo are also term used to described types of diving patterns. A square dive is one in which there are no excursions to the surface, known…

The cost of male pheromones

A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University examined the costs of reproduction in roundworms, otherwise known as C. elegans. They discovered that male roundworms can send two kinds of pheromones that prime females for reproduction. One type of pheromone they studied sparks the onset of puberty in young female worms while the other prolongs fertility in aging females. …

Reductionism in Art and Science

In the old days, the words “art” and “science” did not mean the same thing they mean today, at least in academia. Today, unfortunately, they have almost come to mean opposites. You can’t be doing both at once. Or, at least, that’s what people who haven’t thought about it much may think. Art can be…

On the question of whether a soda tax can actually reduce the amount of sugary drinks people consume, a new study finds the resounding answer is “yes.”

Researchers from Friedrich Schiller University (Jena, Germany) and Heinrich-Heine-University (Düsseldorf, Germany) teamed up to test whether a heart failure medication that is currently being tested might also improve blood flow in the brain. Their findings were published last month in the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology. According to the study authors, the small blood…

Frigatebirds and lambs

I was checking out the award-winning American Physiological Society’s I Spy Physiology blog and came across a couple of really interesting posts about animals: “If Only Birds Could Compete in the Summer Games” This post reported a study of how frigatebirds manage to sleep during flights out at sea that can last for weeks. By measuring brain activity, the…

Tortoise smarts

It must be Friday. I found myself perusing YouTube videos and I came across these showing pet tortoises that have figured out how to solve some interesting problems such as: Using the doggie door to enter a house… If that does not work, many have figured out how to just open the back door… Some have even…

Ceramides are a type of sphingolipid composed of both fatty acids and sphingosine that are important in maintaining the structure of cell membranes and cell signaling pathways. Given their structure, it is perhaps not surprising that levels of ceramide are increased in the brains of mammals after eating a diet high in fats as well as in individuals who are obese.…