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Author: Cynthia McKelvey | Views: 2095 | Comments: 2
Last by Cynthia McKelvey on Dec 19, 2011, 9:50am
Yes, really. On the left is the skull of a woodpecker, where the hyoid can be seen extending up from behind the skull. On the right labeled (b) is the woodpecker hyoid bone by itself. . . . More
Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 1635 | Comments: 7
Last by SonicThreat on Jan 23, 2012, 1:32am
I have quite a few friends graduating this Winter. Some in teaching credential programs. Some in undergrad. Some from Grad School. And hey, that's awesome. I'm looking forward to quite a few parties this Winter.

And some people I know are graduated from Chiropractic school. And have started to call themselves "Doctor." All three people I know who went to Chiropractic did not make it into a med school. They weren't quite competitive with their grades. And one scored less than 20 on the MCAT, out of a possible 45. But now she gets to stick "Dr." in front of her name.

I am just so , so mad right now. So mad. I want to bang my head against a wall now.

Or maybe just hit things with a billy club.

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Author: Psycasm | Views: 2085 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Dec 06, 2011, 9:34am
The other day the institution I study at was lucky enough to have Dr. Justin Werfel, a robotics researcher at Harvard (at the Wyss Institute), give a talk on a couple of his current projects.

It was mainly aimed at the engineering/robotics faculties, but a few of us Psych people heard about it and decided to attend.

I can do no justice to his work here, so I will attempt to provide as many links and videos as possible, and outline only that which I am most sure about. In any event, the videos should be enough to fill to spark your imagination.

Social insects - like Bees, Ants and Termites - are able to engage in surprisingly complex and apparently sophisticated behaviours despite lacking a lot of faculties many 'higher order' organisms have. The fact that termites, for instance, can each act autonomously and with very little direct information from other termites within a mound, construct huge self-regulating mounds is quite amazing. The design of some of these mounds has been shown to be such that its actually regulates temperature and air-flow.

A termite mound rough . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 2852 | Comments: 1
Last by Chas on Dec 09, 2011, 9:36pm
Check out the woman on the left and try not to yawn. Go on, give her a good ten seconds of your time. In the spirit of A Christmas Story, I triple-dog dare you. Really—try your absolute hardest not think about yawning as you read this post! C'mon, you know you can do it—you've been dared before, and you always fail miserably. NO YAWNING!
Chances are you've already let out an extended, eye-moistening, feel-good yawn or two at this point. I've personally counted six of my own since starting this post.

We've all heard that "yawning is contagious"—but why? In this busy world, we don't sleep as much as we should. Gallup Polls in recent years have found that 56% of Americans report drowsiness as a daytime problem, and 34% of us are "dangerously sleepy." Does seeing someone yawn remind us that we, too, are exhausted are must follow suit?

That may be part of it, but the true reason may go much deeper. As it turns out, yawning may have ancient roots in social bonding.

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Author: Cynthia McKelvey | Views: 6676 | Comments: 2
Last by rich on Dec 31, 2011, 9:28pm
Happy holidays, everyone! It's a time of eating lots of delicious food, spending time with friends and family, and celebrating long-held traditions. For many, it's also a time of finding their way back home, whether it's in the town where they grew up, or in the company of loved ones (or both). This also means that for many, it's a time of airports and cars and lots of frustrating travel. For us humans, navigating home involves making reservations, getting on a plane in one city and landing in another. Or it means climbing into the car, punching in an address in the GPS, and hitting the gas. But what does getting home mean for other animals? They don't have a GPS with a vaguely snarky voice to tell them which way to turn, nor do they have massive(ly disorganized) transportation hubs in major cities that quickly shuttle them back and forth to destinations. So what happens when you take an animal, put it somewhere where it's never been, and let it try and find its way home?

That's actually a pretty big question when it comes to animal navigation. Different animals have very different ways to navigate--for example, some use the position of the sun to orient themselves. Others can see polarized light, and use that to navigate home . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 2534 | Comments: 4
Last by sarah on Dec 14, 2011, 12:59pm

Sir, I wanna buy these shoes for my mama, please. It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size. Could you hurry, sir? Daddy says there's not much time...

This little gem by New Song permeates the airwaves each year around this time, igniting tears and snickers alike in its listeners. We all know why the man agrees to buy the shoes for the boy—I mean, "his clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe." But how much would he be willing to part with for this anonymous child—$20? $30? $100? According to a study, the sadder the man, the more he would be willing to pay.
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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 845 | Comments: 0
It has been 33 years since San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was shot and killed in his office in San Francisco City Hall, along with then Mayor George Moscone. Harvey was elected in 1976, to represent the Castro District, and in 2 years he helped focus and change San Francisco and California politics. Most famously, in 1978 he fought against the Briggs Initiative. The Briggs Initiative would have made it mandatory to fire any gay teachers or any public officials who supported gay rights. The initiative went on to pick up opposition from then Governor Jerry Brown, President Jimmy Carter and future President, and former Governor, Ronald Reagan. The latter opposing the Briggs Initiative because it may infringe upon individual rights. In a year where gay rights in the US lost ground, the Briggs Initiative lost by more than a million votes in the state of California.

And what few remember is how much Harvey fought for the individual neighborhoods in San Francisco. He felt each neighborhood was its own community. And should offer the same services and opportunities. He fought against closing an elementary school, even though the majority of his district were gay men without any children. He helped pass an ordinance that required dog owners to pick up after their dogs. He w . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 751 | Comments: 0

The UQ Skeptics Present

Skepticomp 2011

What untapped market of woo would you develop to dupe the masses? Create a pseudo-tech or woo-powered product, describe it, and win! WIN! WIN!

Skepticomp 2011 is open to anyone, anywhere.

The Prize

A $20 iTunes voucher to the iTunes of your choice

(Or alternative prize of equivalent value)

and meeting with Deepak Chopra (Disclaimer: not strictly true).

Entries must be submitted by Sunday, the 11th of December to

Subject line: Skepticomp11 yourname

Submission can be in any format (but please, don't make it too exotic). A bare-bones text-based example follows. If you choose to submit and image/advertisement of your product, please ensure to include in text a clear description of what your product is (see point 1). Points 2 and 3 can be addressed however you see fit.

Maximum 1 entry per person. Please keep your entry confidential and avoid posting on the FB wall (if you have acess to it) or otherwise including it in comments, etc.

< . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 2576 | Comments: 0
Did you know it's next to impossible to measure the cognitive impact of a hangover?

Yeah, think on that for a moment.

In preparation for an upcoming Psychobabble episode I decided to do a bit of research into what impact the hangover has on performance. I mean, we all know what happens when we're drunk - it makes us super sexy, super smart and super confident. Also, due to these three factors, we make excellent decisions.

But the next morning, in the throes of the hangover, these excellent decisions seem suspect. Was it really a sustained excercise in poor judgement? Or is the hangover merely darkening our outlook, recollection and judgement?

I certainly know which of those options I'd prefer to believe, no research required...

Physiologically the hangover sucks. The most common symptoms include headaches and nausea, typically associated with dehydration. Infrequently, though, we push it a little too hard and it gets much worse.

Sunday Morning. Source

Another reason I wanted to look into this was a conversation I had the other night . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 6686 | Comments: 4
Last by klassi on Apr 24, 2012, 1:41am
The following video relates to the bystander effect. You know the kind of thing - some actor lies down in the street and you watch, dismayed, as a dozens of people walk by apparently without concern. It's not imperative to this post that you watch it and make some judgements about it - but it will help me make some (hopefully) interesting points later on (and watching it later will give away the punchline).


And now on the post proper...


If you were asked to describe yourself, how would you do it? Would you try to describe the person you think you are, in a character-based sort of way?

"...I'm a fun kind of guy, outgoing and a bit of a perfectionist..."

Or would you describe the things you're interested in...

"...I enjoy fantasy novels, sport and cinema..."

Do you see the difference between the two? In many ways it's subtle and most descriptions will liberally mix the two different kinds.

The difference is between trait-based descriptions - 'I'm a perfectionist' - and more transient or environmental descriptions - 'I enjoy fantasy novels'. We all know a perfectionist, and when someone describes themselves as such we implicitly extend th . . . More
Author: Nick Fahrenkopf | Views: 1229 | Comments: 1
Last by yannisguerra on Nov 23, 2011, 12:28am
I’ve unfortunately had to sit through some very rough presentations lately, so in everyone’s best interests, here is my second volume of things to think about when giving a presentation (see: Ten Tips to Give Great Thesis Defense). In this case we won’t be looking so much at the presentation, but instead the experiment and how small oversights can blow up in your face during a presentation. I could go on forever about these kinds of things, so for now I’ll focus on four things.

. . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 1972 | Comments: 2
Last by Jordan Gaines on Nov 18, 2011, 2:06pm
When I was in elementary school, my teacher told my class that the full moon makes people crazy. She said it was caused by the gravitational tug of the moon on the Earth—the same forces that cause high and low tides—the argument being that our bodies are more than 60% water. I was impressionable and fascinated by weird science—who isn't at that age?—and have long since stored that "fact"oid in my ever-developing hippocampus. The full moon last week (which, not to mention, was GINORMOUS—did anyone else notice?) reminded me of this theory and made me want to do a little research of my own. Does the full moon really do something to our brains?

Firstly, we must be on the same page as to what a "full moon" really means. The moon revolves around the Earth, and the Earth revolves around the sun. The phases of the moon simply represent the portions illuminated by the sun. All of this motion creates a very dynamic display for us earthlings. So when you see that little sliver in the sky, the rest of the moon is still there—the sun's rays just aren't reflected on the surface we're seeing.

That being said, why would an illuminated moon have some sort of effect (on tides, craziness, etc.), while a shadowed moon wouldn . . . More
Author: Cynthia McKelvey | Views: 1471 | Comments: 1
Last by Jordan Gaines on Nov 17, 2011, 8:54pm
:D . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 862 | Comments: 5
Last by Evie on Nov 14, 2011, 2:33pm
What up? I'm back from my brief hiatus, and, very happily, am full of ideas.

The first one follows in a similiar vein to my post on the False Consensus Effect.

This post, by the by, is in no way related to the FCE. However if you feel compelled to answer the survey AND think you've figured out what I'm getting at - just drop a mention at the end of the questionairre (there's a box for it and everything).

Now do the survey! Do it for the science!

(if you can't see the survey embedded below, click here

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Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 1347 | Comments: 3
Last by Jordan Gaines on Nov 28, 2011, 10:04pm

A very exciting event is happening as I type this: Neuroscience 2011, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. This nerd-tastic event attracts a bevy (over 30,000, to be more precise) of the best and brightest in brain research under one roof once a year. This year's meeting is in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately for me, I am not in attendance; but fortunately for myself and, hopefully, my readers, new research radiating from this meeting gives me some great material to share.

On Saturday, the first day of the meeting, a new study was described that involves tricking arthritis sufferers with mirrors to alleviate their pain. Wait—what? Mirrors?
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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 782 | Comments: 0
I feel really bad for leaving readers in a lurch. I think I may have taken on a bit more than I could handle these past few weeks. But, I did run across this really cool article on MAKE on how to make your own immersion circulator. They call it a "sous vide machine," which is fine. The upside is that it costs about $75 to make. Versus spending $400 for the "SousVide Supreme." And anyone with a lab catalog handy can tell you how much a new immersion circulator or water bath can cost. About a grand. Starting. Unless you know of a lab closing that you'd feel comfortable snagging. Not that I'd ever condone or suggest theft.

The absolute great thing about a circulator is that it maintains a constant temperature. There is no fluctuation. There is no overcooking. You can stick your food in a vacuum sealed bag and let it sit at temperature for several hours. It will maintain that temperature. Want roast beef for dinner, but don't want to wait 2-3 hours for it to cook in the oven? Pop it in a vacuum bag in the bath before you leave for work, even better the night before, with the bath set to 55C . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 962 | Comments: 0
Wow, do we have it wrong...

Ask yourself what happiness (and the pursuit thereof) means to you before watching this clip:

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Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 3130 | Comments: 0
I am always in awe of "unlikely animal friends," and there are plenty of these videos on YouTube from which to enjoy. This CBS Evening News Assignment America particularly interested me.

Steve Hartman has reported two follow-ups since this 2009 feature about an unlikely friendship between Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog. The latest, which I caught when aired two nights ago, was heartbreaking, but extraordinarily fascinating. Sadly, Bella was killed by what appeared to be a coyote attack on October 26. When the location of the attack was pinpointed, the blood on Tarra's trunk made it evident that the elephant had carried her friend a mile back to the house. Tarra is now showing all the signs of depression—her fellow elephant friends at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN have been reaching out to her, spending more time with her and offering her their food. Nothing short of amazing, right?

Anybody with a pet wonders whether their animals can feel emotion. Scientific studies have reported signs of joy in rats, empathy in mice, and anger in baboons. We've all heard about pets who stand vigil over sick or dying owners, dogs who adopt extreme levels of responsibility for the blind or disabled, and my friend has a cat who is particularly affectionate when she isn't feeling well, physically or emotionally.

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Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 1117 | Comments: 4
Last by Jordan Gaines on Nov 16, 2011, 10:24am

Welcome to my new blog, neuroBLOGical! My name is Jordan, and I'm a 22-year old graduate student in the Neuroscience program at Penn State Hershey. I'm a native of the Baltimore area, and graduated from the beautiful St. Mary's College of Maryland in May with my Bachelor's in Biology and Neuroscience.

I have had an interest in neuroscience since 8th grade—that's possibly before I even knew what "neuroscience" meant. The brain fascinated me, and I wanted to learn everything that I could about the mysterious 3-lb. organ that simultaneously controlled my thoughts, speech, and movement.

I've worked in a number of labs, from cellular (a model of Huntington's disease) to organismal (salamander limb regeneration), from chemical (measuring vitamin D levels) to behavioral (RATS!). Conducting scientific research is fascinating, but can also be extraordinarily tedious. I can't tell you how many times I used to nod off in the dark microscopy room after being awake since 5 AM for my college rowing practices.

To protect myself from the occasional disappointment that sometimes accompanies failed experiments, I've always enjoyed reading about a wide variety of scientific topics, usually in popular science magaz . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 1373 | Comments: 0
In my book, Ben Franklin is the man. An expert swimmer, self-taught pentaglot, and inventor of the "glass harmonica," he was also among the first to suggest the notion of Daylight Savings Time. A 1784 essay by Franklin suggested that an extra hour of daylight in the evening would save on candles.

I love that extra hour. As a kid during the summertime, it meant my brother and I could play our aptly-named "Kick the Ball" game in the yard after dinner. Nowadays, it means I can see where I'm going when I walk home from an afternoon in lab.

The end of Daylight Savings Time (which occurs at 2 a.m. this Sunday) means an end to all that, and the beginning of—well, winter. And winter is...cold. So very cold...

For most of us, changing our clocks back an hour is no big deal—in fact, it has its perks over "spring forward" in that we get an extra hour of sleep. But for others, changing the time can have a big impact on our circadian rhythm.
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