Cavemen Are Better at Art Than Modern Artists?

I was going to write a post on an interesting paper about genetic variation in the USA but I’ll save it for another day as I found this gem.

A research group in Hungary have found the time to judge who is the best at drawing animals, cavemen or modern artists. Amazingly they found cavemen won the competition! To be fair, what amazes me is that these people came up with this research in the first place. How and why do they have the time to sift through a thousand images and then do a statistical analysis to find which group had the greatest error?

Nevertheless, I’ve learnt something new today. Apparently four legged animals walk in the following way:

The usual succession of the ground-contacting feet of walking quadrupeds, termed as foot-fall formula, is -LH-LF-RH-RF-, where L/R and H/F mean left/right and hind/fore, respectively.

As an illustration the authors provide this figure, follow the (more…)

Revolutionise Neuroscience, Pee in a Cup

The title might seem a bit melodramatic, but I’m pretty amazed by some research I found.

In a recent article from Nature Methods a research group have put forward the possibility of generating Neural Stem Cells (NSC’s) from urine.

Ok so for those who don’t understand all of the above, this is pretty big! (hence why it’s in a Nature Journal). Everyone has heard of stem cells and their possibly magical healing abilities, replacing damaged brain/heart/liver (more…)

How Bread Makes You Better and Florida Makes You Slower

According to a new(ish) study, nice smells make us nice people.

I caught wind of this story (excuse the pun) on the radio the other day and thought I’d do a bit of background to find out what the research is about. I found this article in the Daily Mail, an infamously crap source of science news, but more importantly I located the paper(1).

OK so first off, this has nothing to do with bread! Every news article, radio spot or anything makes mention of bread. The paper only uses it as an example, preferring the phrase ‘ambient odour’ or ‘pleasant scent’. Many would say bread is included in this category, the primary investigator agrees. However this could also include perfumes and many other forms of cooking.

The second point I would like to make is that this paper focuses on what some people would call ‘priming’. This is where your subconscious mind takes in information which then affects your future choices without you realising. This is more or less the way subliminal advertising and product placement works. To be fair, the papers may as well have (more…)

Fighting Faeces with Faeces

Beware, this may be NSFW. Or for a few hours if you just ate.

An article published in PLOS Pathogens(1) caught my eye recently (truthfully it was on the nature news feed). A research group from the Sanger Institute near Cambridge (UK, not MA) have been studying how to deal with a very difficult hospital infection, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). This probably doesn’t sound very interesting until you realise that one of the methods they used to combat the infection is faecal transplantation.

Yes that means taking one (more…)

Want a Nobel Prize? Eat Chocolate

A study published in the NEJM last month(1) seems to show a pretty convincing positive trend that those countries who consume more chocolate per capita also receive more Nobel Prizes.

The author of the study, Dr. Franz Messerli, continues to associate this trend with one of the key active ingredients in chocolate (flavonol’s). Flavonol’s have previously been implicated in increased brain performance and brain related anti-ageing effects. OK so I’m willing to accept (more…)

Believing is Not Seeing: Visual Science and Reality part 2

Let’s get this straight from the off. You don’t see nearly as much as you think you do. In fact you barely see anything. You may think this is an exaggeration but I’m being serious. And I’ll explain why.

Before we start you should read the first post in this series.

Firstly you don’t see smooth motions in the world around you. The neurons in your eyes can’t work that fast (more…)

Believing is Not Seeing: Visual Science and Reality part 1

I’ve had to break this post down into two posts as it got a bit long.

So before I start on this bit I want everyone reading to take part in a very small experiment:

Put a hand over your left eye so you can’t see anything with it. Now lean back from the computer screen and stare at the cross on the left in the image below.

As you stare at the cross, move closer to the image (you can get pretty close).


Complicatedly Colourful: Vision Science

The picture I’ve put up is one of a mouse retina. The green dots are cells that have been stained with a fluorescent dye. I’m showing you this partly to show you how many cells there are in a retina (only some of the cells are stained, and humans have even more than mice). It’s also partly to (more…)

Sight: The Science of Vision

Before I start I’m going to give you a couple of references to some relevant posts I have already made/reblogged:

The basics of sensory science

The causes of sensation – very relevant to this post

A reblogged think on colours and some other issues

If anyone still wants to they can vote in the poll on the sidebar!

OK let’s get started. (more…)

The Skin is Also a Map

I was originally going to start posting on the actual senses with vision, but this is a far better way to go about it!

I’ve had a couple comments on patterns of activity defining the senses. I’m going to use our sense of touch to point out that it isn’t really the patterns of activity that define a sense, but where that activity comes from, and where it goes to.

He's not a freak! He's a Homunculus...