Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Intelligence and Neuroscience

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 […]

Continue Reading →

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, […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

Women tend to “mother” their pet cats

Often dubbed the “love hormone”, oxytocin is more than just responsible for pair bonding and feelings of trust. It is quite well-known by mothers who have induced labor (ever heard of Pitocin?) and is responsible for milk ejection during breastfeeding as well as maternal behaviors.    Given the role of oxytocin in human social interactions and relationships, as well as studies showing its involvement in human attachments to pet dogs, […]

Continue Reading →

Scientists have come up with a word to describe birds stealing animal fur

Some birds are well-known to grab hair from living animals for use in their nests. In fact, you can spend quite a bit of time perusing YouTube video clips of birds taking hair off the back of animals and even people. The new term for this behavior is ‘kleptotrichy’, which in Greek means “to steal hair”. Check out this brave little titmouse stealing hair from a sleeping fox: Source: Science […]

Continue Reading →

Don’t feed the birds: help stop the spread of a deadly illness

The USGS is investigating a mysterious illness that has resulted in numerous reports of sick or dying birds with crusty swollen eyes (even blindness) and neurological effects such as tremors, inability to stand, and lethargy. The majority of affected birds are juvenile. The illness is rather widespread with reports of sick birds in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Since May, diagnostic […]

Continue Reading →

White-footed mice provide clues on the impact of prolonged exposure to light on health

Margaret Newport, graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Holly Bates at Trent University presented results from her research on the effects of daylength (i.e. photoperiod) on body fat and circadian rhythm in white-footed mice at the 2021 Experimental Biology conference. Both photoperiod (length of daylight) as well as temperature naturally vary with changing seasons and can impact an organism’s physiology. To differentiate between the effects of temperature and photoperiod, the research team […]

Continue Reading →

Day 1: Experimental Biology 2021

I attended a really great session this afternoon on the Evolutionary Physiology of Locomotor Behavior: Causes, Consequences, and Mechanisms.   The session started with a talk by Dr. David Raichlin from the University of Southern California who spoke about locomotion from a human perspective. He described how locomotion is not only essential for the survival of species, but also provides benefits for the aging brain. It was fascinating to learn […]

Continue Reading →