Brain & Behavior

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.

Dr. Thane Wibbels (University of Alabama at Birmingham) is interested in studying how temperature affects the sex of red-eared slider turtle embryos. For humans, the answer is simple: sex chromosomes. You know, the combination of XX means girl and XY means boy. Turtles are not that simple. Temperature is a factor in determining whether the…

Sex differences in sleep apnea

I came across an interesting study published last month in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a disorder in which the upper airway is repeatedly obstructed during sleep resulting in bouts of intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen concentrations). I had no idea that OSA is…

Flying over the Himalayas

I listened to a really interesting story on NPR this morning about new discoveries regarding the flight patterns of bar-headed geese. These birds are known for their incredible ability to fly over the Himalayas on their annual migration to central Asia. Until now, it was often assumed that the birds reached a specific altitude and then simply…

Cleanliness saves hives

Varroa mites can be highly destructive to bee colonies and are a big concern for beekeepers. They get inside honeycombs where they lay eggs and feed on the bee pupae. When the adult bees are released from their cells, so are the mites, which then go on to lay more eggs. Bees that live with…