There are 26 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:
Most prior studies on selective attention in the setting of total sleep deprivation (SD) have focused on behavior or activation within fronto-parietal cognitive control areas. Here, we evaluated the effects of SD on the top-down biasing of activation of ventral visual cortex and on functional connectivity between cognitive control and other brain regions. Twenty-three healthy young adult volunteers underwent fMRI after a normal night of sleep (RW) and after sleep deprivation in a counterbalanced manner while performing a selective attention task. During this task, pictures of houses or faces were randomly interleaved among scrambled images. Across different blocks, volunteers responded to house but not face pictures, face but not house pictures, or passively viewed pictures without responding. The appearance of task-relevant pictures was unpredictable in this paradigm. SD resulted in less accurate detection of target pictures without affecting the mean false alarm rate or response time. In addition to a reduction of fronto-parietal activation, attending to houses strongly modulated parahippocampal place area (PPA) activation during RW, but this attention-driven biasing of PPA activation was abolished following SD. Additionally, SD resulted in a significant decrement in functional connectivity between the PPA and two cognitive control areas, the left intraparietal sulcus and the left inferior frontal lobe. SD impairs selective attention as evidenced by reduced selectivity in PPA activation. Further, reduction in fronto-parietal and ventral visual task-related activation suggests that it also affects sustained attention. Reductions in functional connectivity may be an important additional imaging parameter to consider in characterizing the effects of sleep deprivation on cognition.
The declaration of the human influenza A pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (H1N1/09) raised important questions, including origin and host range , . Two of the three pandemics in the last century resulted in the spread of virus to pigs (H1N1, 1918; H3N2, 1968) with subsequent independent establishment and evolution within swine worldwide . A key public and veterinary health consideration in the context of the evolving pandemic is whether the H1N1/09 virus could become established in pig populations . We performed an infection and transmission study in pigs with A/California/07/09. In combination, clinical, pathological, modified influenza A matrix gene real time RT-PCR and viral genomic analyses have shown that infection results in the induction of clinical signs, viral pathogenesis restricted to the respiratory tract, infection dynamics consistent with endemic strains of influenza A in pigs, virus transmissibility between pigs and virus-host adaptation events. Our results demonstrate that extant H1N1/09 is fully capable of becoming established in global pig populations. We also show the roles of viral receptor specificity in both transmission and tissue tropism. Remarkably, following direct inoculation of pigs with virus quasispecies differing by amino acid substitutions in the haemagglutinin receptor-binding site, only virus with aspartic acid at position 225 (225D) was detected in nasal secretions of contact infected pigs. In contrast, in lower respiratory tract samples from directly inoculated pigs, with clearly demonstrable pulmonary pathology, there was apparent selection of a virus variant with glycine (225G). These findings provide potential clues to the existence and biological significance of viral receptor-binding variants with 225D and 225G during the 1918 pandemic .
Secondary sexual characteristics convey information about reproductive potential. In the same way that facial symmetry and masculinity, and shoulder-to-hip ratio convey information about reproductive/genetic quality in males, waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) is a phenotypic cue to fertility, fecundity, neurodevelopmental resources in offspring, and overall health, and is indicative of "good genes" in women. Here, using fMRI, we found that males show activation in brain reward centers in response to naked female bodies when surgically altered to express an optimal (~0.7) WHR with redistributed body fat, but relatively unaffected body mass index (BMI). Relative to presurgical bodies, brain activation to postsurgical bodies was observed in bilateral orbital frontal cortex. While changes in BMI only revealed activation in visual brain substrates, changes in WHR revealed activation in the anterior cingulate cortex, an area associated with reward processing and decision-making. When regressing ratings of attractiveness on brain activation, we observed activation in forebrain substrates, notably the nucleus accumbens, a forebrain nucleus highly involved in reward processes. These findings suggest that an hourglass figure (i.e., an optimal WHR) activates brain centers that drive appetitive sociality/attention toward females that represent the highest-quality reproductive partners. This is the first description of a neural correlate implicating WHR as a putative honest biological signal of female reproductive viability and its effects on men's neurological processing.
"Secondary sexual characteristics convey information about reproductive potential. In the same way that facial symmetry and masculinity, and shoulder-to-hip ratio convey information about reproductive/genetic quality in males, waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) is a phenotypic cue to fertility, fecundity, neurodevelopmental resources in offspring, and overall health, and is indicative of "good genes" in women."
Fourteen men in Georgia, rating seven female bodies. . . Where's the fMRI study of men looking at pictures of bound feet? Or the stretch of leg between a schoolgirl's skirt and knee socks? Or Carrie-Anne Moss in black leather? Or Hugh Laurie?
For every phenotypic difference between men and women, there's somebody — or an entire culture of somebodies — out there who hold an exaggerated version of that difference to be an ideal of beauty. To sort out why we're attracted to what, we'll have to consider the inevitable response bias in a neural network trained to tell women from men in the first place. I've read a few papers which tried to do this, but to my eye, they didn't grok the point in all fullness.
The conclusions drawn in that fMRI paper are question-begging drivel, not up to the usual standards of PLoS ONE.