Brain & Behavior

Learning new songs

New research shows that premotor neurons are activated in the brains of adolescent male zebra finches whenever a young bird hears their father (a tutor) sing. These are the same neurons that are usually activated in anticipation of movement. What is special about this, is that as the birds learned new songs or pieces of new songs,…

Scientists are finding that night shift work comes with a range of particular health risks, from heart disease to diabetes to breast cancer. This month, another study joined the pack — this one on the risk of traffic crashes among those who head home from work at sunrise.

These days, there’s a lot of attention on finding new and creative ways to turn around the nation’s opioid abuse and overdose problem. And it’s attention that’s very much needed because the problem is only getting worse.

Why does infection with bacteria or viruses make you feel sick? Prof. Guy Shakhar and Dr. Keren Shakhar have proposed that your symptoms are not just a byproduct of your body’s attempt to get rid of the infection. It is your genes’ way of ensuring they are passed down. The long and short of their…

Man’s best…empathizer?

If you own a dog you may agree that it seems as if they understand our feelings. While some may call this anthropomorphizing, you know ascribing human emotions to animals, new research may vindicate the feelings of many pet owners. A study recently published in Royal Society Open Science provides evidence to suggest that dogs can mimic the emotional state…

Polar bears vs Grizzly bears

I read an interesting article in the Alaska Dispatch News which examined interactions between arctic grizzly bears and polar bears. They found that although polar bears are larger, they tend to leave food sources when grizzly bears are around. This may be because polar bears typically spend a lot of time on sea ice without the need to…

Researcher Douglas Wiebe first started studying gun violence as a doctoral student, investigating how having a firearm in one’s home affected the risk of injury. The work only heightened his interest in exploring gun violence from a public health perspective. Eventually, he decided to officially take on a question he’d been mulling over for almost a decade: Among people who’ve experienced a violent assault, are there any commonalities in their experiences just prior to the incident, and can we map those experiences in a way that reveals optimal intervention opportunities?

Parrot Pharmacists

Researchers from the University of York and the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom observed greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) using pebbles and date pits to extract a fine calcium powder from seashells that they would then lick off the shell. Their observations were published in Biology Letters. The birds were in essence creating their…

“Lethal milk”

Zinc deficiency is sometimes diagnosed in infants who are exclusively breast-fed. It can occur because of a dysfunctional zinc transporter in the mother, which prevents zinc from being secreted into the breast milk through a special zinc transporter in the epithelial cells of the mammary gland (Chowanadisai et al., 2006). It could also be inherited.…

Training pigeons to detect cancer

You are probably thinking, whose bird-brained idea was that? Well, as it turns out, a new study published in PLOS ONE shows that pigeons can be trained to accurately differentiate cancerous versus healthy tissue biopsies. This is because the process of diagnosing cancer involves visual screening of MRIs an biopsies and pigeons use similar visual processing…