Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Intelligence and Neuroscience

Considering a cranberry side dish for Thanksgiving? New study shows regular consumption may lower cholesterol and prevent memory loss

Okay, I’ll admit this blog entry has nothing really to do with comparative physiology. I just happen to really like eating cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and was curious about the benefits of eating cranberries more often. Like many other berries, cranberries are a super-fruit rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that are associated with protecting brain health with aging. On their own they are rather bitter due to the high amounts […]

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One reason why fish and mammals lose their appetite during stress

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I lose my appetite when I am really stressed. The endocrine system is responsible for controlling our stress responses and involves three main endocrine glands – the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal gland. Hence, the stress pathway is often referred to as the “HPA axis”. When we are stressed, the hypothalamus releases a hormone called corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which triggers the release of […]

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Ever wonder why humans are attracted to the smell of fatty foods?

There has been a lot of speculation that fast food establishments and bakeries intentionally waft smells that attract customers. I’ll admit I find the smell of cheeseburgers quite tempting. Researchers are seeking to understand what draws humans to the smell of fatty foods in an effort to target those sensations as a way to combat obesity and obesity-related diseases. The approach seems reasonable. If I couldn’t smell a juicy grilled […]

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Goldfish learn how to drive and target similar visual cues as humans

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev constructed a tank on wheels that goldfish actually learned how to “drive”. Using cameras, the “car” was able to move in the direction the fish swam. They then tested whether the fish could purposefully navigate the car towards a target and observed that the fish could indeed swim towards a target in return for a treat, of course. In a prior study, the […]

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EB2022: Facing Oxygen Challenges

I learned a lot about how animals adapt to changing environmental oxygen levels in the Experimental Biology symposium on “Functional Integration across the Oxygen Cascade in the Face of Challenging Environments.” Here is what I learned… The first presenter, Dr. Lara do Amaral-Silva (postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro working with Dr. Joseph (Joe) Santin), spoke about her research on adaptations in the bullfrog “super-brain” that […]

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Scientists witness magpies showing signs of altruism

What better way to study an animal’s movements, schedules, and behaviors than to attach a tiny tracking device that can record where they go? At least that was the intention when scientists attached tiny tracking devices to several Australian magpies. They had planned to train the birds to visit a special feeding station that was designed to charge the tracker, download data, or release it, all using a magnet. Instead, […]

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Scientists create personalized stem cells from skin to treat Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disorder that targets the nervous system, mainly dopamine neurons, and impairs muscle movements. As the disease progresses, it can also lead to depression and other neurological symptoms. Current treatments are limited to improving symptoms but are not able to cure the disease. A recent study published in Nature Medicine tested whether stem cells could reverse symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Rather than using fetal […]

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Scientists get a glimpse of what makes cephalopods so smart

From walking on land, to solving complex problems, cephalopods continue to amaze us with their intelligence and nervous system development. In a new study published in Current Biology, Dr. Wen-Sung Chung from the University of Queensland Brain Institute and colleagues decided to take a closer look at what makes their brains unique using MRI imaging. Compared to other invertebrates, cephalopods are rather brainy. In fact, some cephalopods have over 500 […]

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Arizona Physiological Society’s annual conference: Part 2

Arizona’s physiologists met in October to talk about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, urbanization, the evolution of walking and vocalizations, snow leopards, and diet. Here are the highlights… Oral Presentations: Graduate student Luke Endicott from the Arizona College of Medicine at Midwestern University, working with R. Potter and Dr. C.R. Olson presented their research exploring how zebra finches learn to sing and the importance of vitamin A in this process. Does […]

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