Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Archive for May 2019

Misery loves company

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that ravens appear to share negative emotions. The researchers started with offering birds two boxes placed on the left and right sides of the animals. While one box was empty, the other contained a piece of cheese (yum!). They then placed a box in a new location and examined how the birds responded. If a bird acted […]

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Blood flow shifts during diving

In many mammals exposure to hypoxic conditions results in the release of a vasodilator called nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and protects oxygen delivery to tissues throughout the body. Diving animals appear to be unique in that some of their blood vessels stay constricted while they are diving even though they experience hypoxia. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored […]

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Working towards prolonged spaceflight

Spaceflight has always fascinated me. While long distance spaceflight looks so routine in science fiction shows, the reality is much different as we have yet to conquer the complications surrounding long duration deep-space flight. One issue is how to feed astronauts traveling long distances as we do not yet have replicator technologies. If we did, I would have coffee whenever I wanted it. In a new article published in Physiology, […]

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Growth restriction in utero increases risk for developing insulin resistance

  A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, explored how restricted growth of a fetus during pregnancy can lead to insulin resistance later in life. They studied this risk factor in guinea pigs as larger litter sizes are known to restrict the growth of developing fetuses. Findings from the study showed that neonatal guinea pigs grow rapidly after birth to compensate for […]

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Lactate directly increases breathing

Hypoxic environments increase ventilation in animals. This helps to bring in more oxygen when environmental levels may be limited. With limited oxygen availability, the body turns to anaerobic metabolism, resulting in the production of lactate ions. These ions are known to indirectly stimulate breathing by lowering blood pH and were more recently discovered to directly stimulate the carotid body to increase breathing. For this reason, lactate ions are thought to […]

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