Tuesday night – time to see what’s new in PLoS ONE – 28 new papers:
Forthright reporting of financial ties and conflicts of interest of researchers is associated with public trust in and esteem for the scientific enterprise. We searched Lexis/Nexis Academic News for the top news stories in science published in 2004 and 2005. We conducted a content analysis of 1152 newspaper stories. Funders of the research were identified in 38% of stories, financial ties of the researchers were reported in 11% of stories, and 5% reported financial ties of sources quoted. Of 73 stories not reporting on financial ties, 27% had financial ties publicly disclosed in scholarly journals. Because science journalists often did not report conflict of interest information, adherence to gold-standard recommendations for science journalism was low. Journalists work under many different constraints, but nonetheless news reports of scientific research were incomplete, potentially eroding public trust in science.
Faced with the recurrent evolution of resistance to pesticides and drugs, the scientific community has developed theoretical models aimed at identifying the main factors of this evolution and predicting the efficiency of resistance management strategies. The evolutionary forces considered by these models are generally similar for viruses, bacteria, fungi, plants or arthropods facing drugs or pesticides, so interaction between scientists working on different biological organisms would be expected. We tested this by analysing co-authorship and co-citation networks using a database of 187 articles published from 1977 to 2006 concerning models of resistance evolution to all major classes of pesticides and drugs. These analyses identified two main groups. One group, led by ecologists or agronomists, is interested in agricultural crop or stock pests and diseases. It mainly uses a population genetics approach to model the evolution of resistance to insecticidal proteins, insecticides, herbicides, antihelminthic drugs and miticides. By contrast, the other group, led by medical scientists, is interested in human parasites and mostly uses epidemiological models to study the evolution of resistance to antibiotic and antiviral drugs. Our analyses suggested that there is also a small scientific group focusing on resistance to antimalaria drugs, and which is only poorly connected with the two larger groups. The analysis of cited references indicates that each of the two large communities publishes its research in a different set of literature and has its own keystone references: citations with a large impact in one group are almost never cited by the other. We fear the lack of exchange between the two communities might slow progress concerning resistance evolution which is currently a major issue for society.
Media depictions of violence, although often claimed to induce viewer aggression, have not been shown to affect the cortical networks that regulate behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found that repeated exposure to violent media, but not to other equally arousing media, led to both diminished response in right lateral orbitofrontal cortex (right ltOFC) and a decrease in right ltOFC-amygdala interaction. Reduced function in this network has been previously associated with decreased control over a variety of behaviors, including reactive aggression. Indeed, we found reduced right ltOFC responses to be characteristic of those subjects that reported greater tendencies toward reactive aggression. Furthermore, the violence-induced reduction in right ltOFC response coincided with increased throughput to behavior planning regions. These novel findings establish that even short-term exposure to violent media can result in diminished responsiveness of a network associated with behaviors such as reactive aggression.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a genetically inherited neurological disorder. The disease affects circuits in the brain that are involved in timing tasks. Beste and colleagues report that HD patients performed worse than healthy controls in both time estimation and time discrimination tasks. However, individuals who carried the gene variant responsible for HD but who did not have symptoms did worse than controls only in time estimation tasks. These results help elucidate the progression of disease in HD and suggest possible outcomes for evaluating disease status in clinical trials.
Avian polyomaviruses, a group of DNA-based viruses, are known to cause disease in some bird species. In this study, Potti and colleagues show that such viruses follow an “upwards vertical” route of transmission in a host population of pied flycatchers. The virus seems to spread from the parasitic fly larvae that infect the nests to the nestlings, which, in turn, pass on the virus to their parents through the parents’ disposal of the nestlings’ feces. The results suggest a possible cost associated with parental care; this cost may differ between the sexes as a result of their different roles in breeding tasks.
The effects of oxygen reperfusion damage to organs and tissues following periods of oxygen starvation are well documented in higher organisms like mammals. In this study, Lighton and colleagues induced oxygen reperfusion in Drosophila melanogaster, to determine the resulting functional damage in an invertebrate. The results show the potential of Drosophila as a model organism for further research into reperfusion injury.
The timing at which sensory input reaches the level of conscious perception is an intriguing question still awaiting an answer. It is often assumed that both visual and auditory percepts have a modality specific processing delay and their difference determines perceptual temporal offset. Here, we show that the perception of audiovisual simultaneity can change flexibly and fluctuates over a short period of time while subjects observe a constant stimulus. We investigated the mechanisms underlying the spontaneous alternations in this audiovisual illusion and found that attention plays a crucial role. When attention was distracted from the stimulus, the perceptual transitions disappeared. When attention was directed to a visual event, the perceived timing of an auditory event was attracted towards that event. This multistable display illustrates how flexible perceived timing can be, and at the same time offers a paradigm to dissociate perceptual from stimulus-driven factors in crossmodal feature binding. Our findings suggest that the perception of crossmodal synchrony depends on perceptual binding of audiovisual stimuli as a common event.