Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Intelligence and Neuroscience

Drosophila help researchers understand rare genetic disorder

Barth Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects mainly males. It is characterized by impaired lipid metabolism, muscle weakness, growth delays, cardiomyopathy, and low numbers of neutrophils in the blood, which renders patients with the condition more susceptible to infections. There is no known cure for Barth Syndrome. In the past, patients with Barth syndrome often died by the age of three from infections or heart failure (Barth Syndrome […]

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Could research on fruit flies improve human sleep?

A new study conducted by researchers at Cincinnati Children’s in collaboration with Kyoto University has provided evidence that drosophila and mammals have similar proteins in their brain that help regulate the rhythm of body temperatures that are important in normal metabolism as well as sleep. According to a quote from Dr. Fumika Hamada, a lead study author, “We’re looking for a mechanistic understanding of how body temperature rhythms are regulated. […]

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Sheep can recognize human faces

New research published in Royal Society: Open Science shows that it is possible to train sheep to distinguish between different human faces shown in photos.  In fact, 8 out of 10 times, the sheep were able to choose the image they had been trained to recognize. According to study author Dr. Jenny Morton, “…sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and monkeys.” Because these animals are rather […]

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Towards the development of safer anesthetics

Like many medications, general anesthetics are not without side effects. Researchers at Dalhousie University in Canada were interested in studying the effects of inhaled anesthetics on the heart. Slowed heart rate (bradycardia) is a major adverse side effect of inhaled anesthetics that can lead to death for those undergoing procedures. Because bradycardia occurs in all species of vertebrates that have been studied thus far, the researchers decided to examine how […]

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Researchers are working on decoding “fowl language”

Chickens are notoriously chatty animals. Although most people may only associate clucking noises with chickens, the birds make quite a variety of sounds. Poultry scientists and engineers at the University of Georgia and Georgia Institute of Technology have teamed up with farmers to try to decode the so-called “fowl language” spoken by chickens. The goal is to help farmers better understand what their animals are communicating. They recorded chicken vocalizations […]

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Do negative facial expressions impact dogs?

As a dog owner, it seems to me as if my canine pal understands when I am happy or mad. But, is that seeming awareness due to my facial expressions or the tone of my voice? In a new study published in Behavioural Processes, researchers at the University of Lincoln and University of Sao Paulo attempted to unravel this mystery of how angry or happy human facial expressions might make […]

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Health risks of being social

When I think of rainbow trout, the first image that comes to mind is usually something like this: In the wild, they look more like this: …not as appetizing, but a lot more fascinating.  When salmonid fish like rainbow trout are in environments with limited food or space, they form social hierarchies. In one study of limited food availability, Grobler et al., found that when they placed 4 rainbow trout […]

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Evidence your dog may be red-green color blind

You would think that Thanksgiving is already over when visiting most stores as there are Christmas decorations and merchandise everywhere. Reds and greens are popular colors for Christmas decorations and dog toys. However, a new study suggests that your dog may be red-green color blind. The study examined the ability of dogs to detect colors by exposing animals to a colored image on a screen and measuring the eye, head […]

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