There are 25 new articles in PLoS ONE today. As always, you should rate the articles, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about the papers. You can now also easily place articles on various social services (CiteULike, Mendeley, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook and Digg) with just one click. Here are my own picks for the week - you go and look for your own favourites:
Despite its appearing to be a simple question to answer, there has been no consensus as to whether or not the alignments of ancient Greek temples reflect astronomical intentions. Here I present the results of a survey of archaic and classical Greek temples in Sicily and compare them with temples in Greece. Using a binomial test I show strong evidence that there is a preference for solar orientations. I then speculate that differences in alignment patterns between Sicily and Greece reflect differing pressures in the expression of ethnic identity.
Medical technologies are indispensable to modern medicine. However, they have become exceedingly expensive and complex and are not available to the economically disadvantaged majority of the world population in underdeveloped as well as developed parts of the world. For example, according to the World Health Organization about two thirds of the world population does not have access to medical imaging. In this paper we introduce a new medical technology paradigm centered on wireless technology and cloud computing that was designed to overcome the problems of increasing health technology costs. We demonstrate the value of the concept with an example; the design of a wireless, distributed network and central (cloud) computing enabled three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound system. Specifically, we demonstrate the feasibility of producing a 3-D high end ultrasound scan at a central computing facility using the raw data acquired at the remote patient site with an inexpensive low end ultrasound transducer designed for 2-D, through a mobile device and wireless connection link between them. Producing high-end 3D ultrasound images with simple low-end transducers reduces the cost of imaging by orders of magnitude. It also removes the requirement of having a highly trained imaging expert at the patient site, since the need for hand-eye coordination and the ability to reconstruct a 3-D mental image from 2-D scans, which is a necessity for high quality ultrasound imaging, is eliminated. This could enable relatively untrained medical workers in developing nations to administer imaging and a more accurate diagnosis, effectively saving the lives of people.
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is one of the most common known causes of inherited mental retardation. The gene mutated in FXS is named FMR1, and is well conserved from human to Drosophila. In order to generate a genetic tool to study FMR1 function during vertebrate development, we generated two mutant alleles of the fmr1 gene in zebrafish. Both alleles produce no detectable Fmr protein, and produce viable and fertile progeny with lack of obvious phenotypic features. This is in sharp contrast to published results based on morpholino mediated knock-down of fmr1, reporting defects in craniofacial development and neuronal branching in embryos. These phenotypes we specifically addressed in our knock-out animals, revealing no significant deviations from wild-type animals, suggesting that the published morpholino based fmr1 phenotypes are potential experimental artifacts. Therefore, their relation to fmr1 biology is questionable and morpholino induced fmr1 phenotypes should be avoided in screens for potential drugs suitable for the treatment of FXS. Importantly, a true genetic zebrafish model is now available which can be used to study FXS and to derive potential drugs for FXS treatment.
It is well known that facial expressions represent important social cues. In humans expressing facial emotion, fear may be configured to maximize sensory exposure (e.g., increases visual input) whereas disgust can reduce sensory exposure (e.g., decreases visual input). To investigate whether such effects also extend to the attentional system, we used the "attentional blink" (AB) paradigm. Many studies have documented that the second target (T2) of a pair is typically missed when presented within a time window of about 200-500 ms from the first to-be-detected target (T1; i.e., the AB effect). It has recently been proposed that the AB effect depends on the efficiency of a gating system which facilitates the entrance of relevant input into working memory, while inhibiting irrelevant input. Following the inhibitory response on post T1 distractors, prolonged inhibition of the subsequent T2 is observed. In the present study, we hypothesized that processing facial expressions of emotion would influence this attentional gating. Fearful faces would increase but disgust faces would decrease inhibition of the second target. We showed that processing fearful versus disgust faces has different effects on these attentional processes. We found that processing fear faces impaired the detection of T2 to a greater extent than did the processing disgust faces. This finding implies emotion-specific modulation of attention. Based on the recent literature on attention, our finding suggests that processing fear-related stimuli exerts greater inhibitory responses on distractors relative to processing disgust-related stimuli. This finding is of particular interest for researchers examining the influence of emotional processing on attention and memory in both clinical and normal populations. For example, future research could extend upon the current study to examine whether inhibitory processes invoked by fear-related stimuli may be the mechanism underlying the enhanced learning of fear-related stimuli.
Chemicals are used on bed nets in order to prevent infected bites and to kill aggressive malaria vectors. Because pyrethroid resistance has become widespread in the main malaria vectors, research for alternative active ingredients becomes urgent. Mixing a repellent and a non-pyrethroid insecticide seemed to be a promising tool as mixtures in the laboratory showed the same features as pyrethroids. We present here the results of two trials run against free-flying Anopheles gambiae populations comparing the effects of two insect repellents (either DEET or KBR 3023, also known as icaridin) and an organophosphate insecticide at low-doses (pirimiphos-methyl, PM) used alone and in combination on bed nets. We showed that mixtures of PM and the repellents induced higher exophily, blood feeding inhibition and mortality among wild susceptible and resistant malaria vectors than compounds used alone. Nevertheless the synergistic interactions are only involved in the high mortality induced by the two mixtures. These field trials argue in favour of the strategy of mixing repellent and organophosphate on bed nets to better control resistant malaria vectors.
Despite remarkable progress in treatment of chronic heart failure (CHF) over the last two decades, mortality, personal suffering and cost remain staggering, and effective interventions are still a challenge. Previously we reported that a blueberry-enriched diet (BD) attenuated necroapoptosis and inflammation in periinfarct area in a rat model of myocardial infarction (MI). To test the hypothesis that BD will attenuate the course of CHF, including mortality and cardiac remodeling during the first year after induction of MI in rats. Two weeks after coronary artery ligation, rats were divided into two groups of similar average MI size, measured by echocardiography, and then12-mo dietary regimens were initiated as follows: ad libitum regular diet (control, CD, n = 27) and isocaloric food with 2% blueberry supplement (BD, n = 27) also available ad libitum. These dietary groups were compared to each other and to sham group (SH). Mortality over the 12 mo was reduced by 22% in BD compared with CD (p