Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Intelligence and Neuroscience

Your dog’s internal compass

Apparently pooping is not the only thing dogs do that align with the Earth’s magnetic field. Hunting dogs are kind of like migratory birds in their ability to roam and find their way back to the same spot, while relying on the Earth’s magnetic field. In a new study published in eLife, the same researchers that discovered how dogs prefer to poop found that hunting dogs appear to use the […]

Continue Reading →

We all need to get some shut eye

I have to confess that I have been spending way too much time binge watching shows about sharks during this year’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel. I know I should be getting 7 hours of sleep a night…but could watching just one more show be that bad? Speaking of sleep, I am reminded of a study that I read awhile back examining whether sharks and rays need sleep. This may […]

Continue Reading →

Seagulls pick up on human cues to find food

Have you ever experienced seagulls seemingly begging for food from you? It is not your imagination. A new study finds that seagulls really do prefer foods that have been handled by humans. The study conducted Madeleine Goumas (University of Exeter, UK) examined whether seagulls picked up on cues from humans or were simply looking for food. While standing about 8 meters away from herring gulls, the team placed two plastic-wrapped […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

Dogs can sniff out epileptic seizures

A new study published by researchers at the University of Rennes in France shows that epileptic seizures produce a distinct body odor profile that can be detected by dogs, opening up the possibility of training the animals to predict (and warn their owners about) these types of seizures. Sources: Video: YouTube Catala A, Grandgeorge M, Schaff J-L, Cousillas H, Hausberger M, Cattet J. Dogs demonstrate the existence of an epileptic […]

Continue Reading →

Do octopuses (and other animals) dream?

Video captured by Rebecca Otey (via YouTube) at the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado seems to suggest that perhaps octopuses dream in their sleep: Although it is not clear whether octopuses really are dreaming when they change colors in their sleep, researchers at the World Science Festival in 2011 discussed work studying changes in brain activity of animals during sleep compared to wakefulness to gauge whether they may be dreaming:

Continue Reading →

Physiology in Arizona – Part 2

Now for highlights from the Arizona Physiological Society poster session that took place on October 5th. Alex Mohr (Graduate Student, Arizona State University – Phoenix) presented his research on dietary carotenoids, which are yellow, orange and red pigments synthesized by plants. Birds are known for using these dietary carotenoids for coloration (see the male mallard in the photo above). While some research suggests that carotenoids may also act as antioxidants in […]

Continue Reading →