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Archive for the ‘Behavior’ Category

Circuit Neuroscience Recently, research into psychiatric disease has made great strides, but continued progress may require unpopular and ethically murky research. Joshua Gordon, the new director of the National Institutes of Mental Health writes in this month’s Nature Neuroscience: “At this unique and exciting time for psychiatry, novel therapies for individuals with mental illnesses seem just around […]


COMT, Catechol-O-methyl transferase, is an enzyme that degrades catecholamines–such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine (or adrenaline and noradrenaline as they are called in the UK). It was first discovered in the ’50s by Nobel laureate and pirate Julius Axelrod. More recently, scientists discovered an evolutionarily recent nonsynonomous single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the protein-coding portion of […]


Despite having cared for laboratory mice for years, I’m wowed by the complexity of this task! The trainer’s site: http://mouse-agility.com/ describes the animals living conditions and training method. The trainer keeps the mice housed in groups of 3-4 females, in 3-dimensional cages such as a remodeled cupboard, or: a pyramid of different-sized tables, the several floors […]


First, experimental economists and psychologists like nobel laureates Vernon L. Smith and Daniel Kahneman taught us that we aren’t economically rational–we’re influenced by biases and we use flawed heuristics (though often in very testable, repeatable ways).(1) Then, Neuroeconomists showed that biology affects economic decisions–internasal oxytocin raises trust in risky exchanges, serum serotonin levels predict whether […]


Original full text of the study available from Translational Psychiatry here. Conventionally, children are diagnosed using Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised (ADI-R) a 93-question survey, and/or the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) which measures behavior. The two test can take up to 2.5 hours and must be administered by clinical professionals.  Dennis Wall–the lead author of the paper and director […]


Imagine cold fingers creeping up someone’s calf. Now imagine that whenever you saw someone else being touched, you would feel the sensation on your own body. That is mirror-touch synesthesia. Psychologists at UCL verified mirror-touch synesthesia and further showed its linked with heightened empathy in their report in Nature Neuroscience.


A new study published in Psychopharmacology shows young rats injected with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) performed worse on behavioral memory tests. MPA’s memory impairment persisted even once it had been cleared from the blood. MPA is the active component of the Depo Provera shot but not found in other hormonal contraceptives. The finding is especially significant […]


Details of the weight loss A new study published in the NEJM enrolled 50 overweight or obese patients (BMIs between 27 and 40) in a 10-week 500 calorie diet of Optifast VLCD and low starch vegetables. As might be expected with such a rigorous diet 16 dropped out or did not lose the expected weight […]


There is a belief in the drug community that the war on drugs prevents good research from being done on drug use. While I agree there is a scarcity of research on the potential uses of many abused drugs or how they alter states of consciousness we really do know an amazing amount about what […]


Viberg of the Eriksson lab in Sweden shows in a new paper in Toxicology (full text) that a single exposure to BPA on postnatal day 10 has dose-dependent effects. (Mice sexually mature around p45.) The paper is still in press, so details are sparse, but authors saw changes in spontaneous behavior when exposed to a […]



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