In case you missed them, these are my picks from ResearchBlogging.org’s psychology and neuroscience categories. Neat stuff!
- Neurological basis for desire for amputation. This post explains why some people have a seemingly rational desire for a healthy limb to be removed.
- Are humans genetically predisposed to cheat on their mates? An anthropologist examines the evidence, based on the sex habits of chimps, bonobos, and gorillas.
- Is this a smile ? or is this a smile ^_^ ? The Neurocritic examines a study demonstrating that facial expressions aren’t universal.
- Do you have to be religious to be “spiritual”? A critique of a recent study claiming “spiritual” patients respond better to treatments for addiction.
Also, I have a new column up on SEEDMAGAZINE.COM. This week I discuss the slow progress finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. Here’s a taste:
So just how hard will it be for genome researchers to make headway against pancreatic cancer? Last March, Daniel MacArthur, a researcher of genetic variants that lead to disease, wrote an excellent post summing up the some of the difficulties of using DNA sequencing to identify disease risk. In a study led by Siân Jones, researchers discovered a mutation responsible for pancreatic cancer in a single patient, then confirmed the mutation’s presence in 3 of 96 other patients with pancreatic cancer. The mutation was entirely absent from more than 1,000 people without the disease. So, in principle, anyone with this mutation is likely to develop cancer and should be closely monitored for the disease, right? And if we could find other similar mutations, we might actually be able to eradicate it…right?
So the story goes. Unfortunately, as MacArthur said, the investigators also found “a whole stack of red herrings.” There were literally hundreds of abnormalities in the initial patient’s genome, and only through a quirk of the cancer (the fact that the normal, non-mutated gene is disrupted in cancer cells but not healthy ones) were they able to find the mutation responsible for the disease.
I particularly like the artwork SEED created to accompany the column, which unfortunately will disappear from the front page tomorrow when a new article is posted. Check it out while you can here on the front page of SEEDMAGAZINE.COM.