Gotta Love the Banana Throne!

Here’s what we are reading today:

“Drug addiction does not discriminate between the sexes, with both men and women showing comparable rates of addiction across a range of legal and illicit drugs. However, there is evidence that the ramping up of addiction from initial use to a clinical diagnosis occurs more rapidly in women for several different drugs of abuse, including cocaine. The female sex steroid hormone, estradiol, was identified early on as one factor driving this sex difference. How estradiol might be acting specifically in the brains of females, but not males, to drive this sex difference remains an unanswered question.”

“”To discover this, we used transgenic mice that had specific types of inhibitory interneurons labelled with fluorescent molecules. These fluorescent cells were studied during early development, just before the birth of the mouse and a few days after. Using a technique called fluorescence activated cell sorting, labelled neurons were isolated from the cerebral cortex and the genetic code of each of these neurons was analysed using single-cell transcriptomics,” explains Alexandre Dayer.

“A clinical trial in France that led to the death of one person last year and hospitalization of five others has drawn intense scrutiny into how the drug’s toxicity could have been anticipated, the researchers note. Yet ethical review boards—bodies at research institutions and universities that are set up to protect patients in clinical trials—seldom recognize that they have a duty to evaluate whether an experimental treatment is promising enough to warrant human testing.”

“Want to learn something and then quickly make that mastery stick? A new Brown University study in which people learned visual perception tasks suggests that you should keep practicing for a little while even after you think you can’t get any better. Such “overlearning” locked in performance gains, according to the Nature Neuroscience paper that describes the effect and its underlying neurophysiology.”

“Thanks to a tiny goggle-wearing parrot named after Obi-Wan Kenobi, scientists have shown just how much we still don’t know about animal flight. The researchers set out to illustrate a problem that’s been warned of in their field of study, but never tested: The three most popular methods used to calculate lift, or how much force winged animals use to keep their bodies soaring, are frequently inconsistent and inaccurate.”

“Jet lag can put anyone off their game, even Major League Baseball (MLB) players. Long-distance travel can affect specific—and at times, crucial—baseball skills such as pitching and base running, a new study finds. In fact, jetlag’s effects can even cancel out the home field advantage for some teams returning from away games.”


20 Comments

gcosgrove3 · February 2, 2017 at 9:11 am

“Practice makes Perfect, and ‘Overlearning’ Locks it in”

As I was studying for the midterm this week, this article sharply caught my attention. It related directly to the week I have been having and proposed an explanation for why it was so difficult for me to study for the two midterms I had back-to-back. I found it fascinating that researchers found when we learn something at a shallow level the first time, it can interfere with retaining information we try and take in immediately afterwards; it actually make us forget what we learned originally. The article proposed, however, that overlearning could cement the information into our brains and create a “hyperstabilized state” that blocks against new learning, unless ample time is given in between tasks/material. This insight helped me realize that when I have two midterms in the same week, I need to start studying a week ahead of time, so I can leave enough time to allow the first set of information to set in, allowing my brain to be ready to retain the second load of material. Thanks to this article, I will now be well prepared when that second round of midterms come!

gcosgrove3 · February 2, 2017 at 9:34 am

“Jet lag puts baseball players off their game”

I decided to read this article because my brother plays baseball, and will be playing for Seattle University next year. He’ll be doing a lot of traveling, so I thought I might be useful to educate myself on the effects of jet lag.

Although this article provides interesting findings, I agree with chronobiologist Colin Robertson when he said, “’This [study] was really ambitious.’” It is a correlational study that shows there is a significant relationship between jet lag and performance, but there is no proof jet lag directly causes poor performance or vice versa. Factors such as diet, weather, new environments, and nerves could all play a role in the lower performance levels seen by teams who travel. The article did discuss poor performance mainly affected teams who traveled east, supporting the causational relationship between jet lag and reduced performance, but I doubt that is the only variable. Despite my reservations, I look forward to seeing what new information comes out on this topic, hopefully clarifying these studies and providing some helpful hints to stay at optimum performance so I can send them to my brother!

kylie.wong18 · February 5, 2017 at 10:43 pm

I read the article about jet lag and sports. Like the article said, I had never thought about home teams having a disadvantage due to jet lag because you always hear of “home court advantage.” However, this makes a lot of sense and shows the importance of your circadian rhythms. I know for a fact that when I either get too much sleep or too little sleep my cognitive functioning declines, and I have a harder time concentrating. The article mentions that jet lag affects complex cognition and fine motor skills, but I am wondering what exactly the disturbances in the cycle do to the circuits in the brain. It’ll be interesting though to see how further studies can improve the athlete’s performance in sports and perhaps lead to more consistency after traveling.

kmmenden · February 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I read the article about jet lag putting baseball players off their game. I have always done a lot of traveling being from Iowa. Most winters we would come out to California and I always noticed that when we flew home, I felt much more tired than when we flew out. I thought that was just the excitement of visiting somewhere warm, or how the time change threw me off. It’s interesting to read that baseball teams returning home (east) were more thrown off their game. You always hear of the “home field advantage”, but it seems like teams that travel back home are actually more likely to lose.

Venus · February 6, 2017 at 10:10 pm

I read the article about the sex difference in cocaine addition. It was interesting to read that female rats appeared to be more dependent on cocaine because of estradiol produced in their reproductive systems. Being a biology major and also taking this neuroscience course, it was very interesting to learn that the G-protein coupling receptors work closely with estradiol. With the evidence that injections of mGluR5 antagonist MPEP prior to injections of estradiol prevented the estradiol-induced increase in cocaine intake normally observed in females, this may help in further advancing the rehabilitation process in female humans.

Venus · February 6, 2017 at 10:27 pm

I read the article about jet lag putting baseball players off their game. I was not surprised about these findings because circadian misalignment can really disrupt your day-to-day activities. However, I found it interesting that home teams won 53.9% of the time when the opposing team traveled from somewhere west of them. Jet lag really has a toll on athletes’ abilities to have complex cognition and fine motor skills. I would be interested in seeing if this pattern is prevalent throughout all other sports, not just baseball because different sports require different physical and mental abilities. There may be many other underlying factors why teams that tend to travel east seemingly play worse, but the evidence in this article is very convincing.

gcosgrove3 · February 11, 2017 at 6:22 pm

“Watch a parrot wearing goggles fly through a laser sheet”

This article just reaffirms my belief that science is one of the most intriguing and amazing subjects out there, and also confirms the idea that what we see is not always what is present. In my Human Genetics class, we watched a Ted Talk on Gender, and how although males and females tend to look more like one gender than the other, their internal organs and genes can vary greatly. For example, someone who looks female could have ovaries covered in testes’ muscle fiber. Although these two subjects are different, the idea that “what we see is not always what we get”, proves science can always use some more investigating, researching, and discovering.

gcosgrove3 · February 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm

“Early-stage drug trials often launched without solid evidence of clinical promise, researchers say”

I believe the McGill researchers’ proposal to reinforce drug-testing standards and regulate the process more than it currently is, and I think it is a no-brainer. This idea is similar to the requirement that ethical review boards review psychological experiments before they are carried out. I believe that whenever there is a risk of physical or mental injury, serious consideration and thorough research by professionals should be used before they are tested on humans. Although it would add to the costs of development, it would prevent drug re-calls, problems, and deaths. A few further questions this article brings up for me include: How many deaths total have failed trials caused? And, do other countries research clinical drug-trials more thoroughly? If so, how successful are they?

Venus · February 13, 2017 at 1:14 pm

I read and watched the video about the flying parrot wearing goggles to pass through a laser sheet. I know little to nothing about bird flight and birds in general so I found it especially interesting to see that birds make tiny vortices with the flap of their wings. I am excited to see what inventions may arise from the recordings from the recording sheet of this experiment because it will help engineers come up with new models for droids to be able to fly. I would be interested in learning more about how the lasers three-dimensionally observe the vortices. A lot of physics and engineering are involved in the understanding and study of flight.

jcatson98 · February 19, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Myself being the big sports lover I am, I of course read the article about Jet Lag and how it effects baseball players. The biggest thing that stood out the most to me was how home teams actually take jetlag the hardest and in some cases lose their own home field advantage! I also thought it was very interesting that the more east you travel the harder your body takes it. Since I played on a traveling basketball team throughout high school we would always travel from California to the East Coast. Being in agreement with the article I was always more tired as we traveled to New York versus traveling back to California. I would like to see more studies done on a whole team/player for a whole season and to sew how different people react to the jetlag. I really enjoyed this article.

Courtneycrane · February 27, 2017 at 5:40 pm

The article “Practice makes perfect, and ‘overlearning’ locks it in” reminds me so much of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule in mentioned in his book “The Outliers”. Like this article/study has found, Gladwell emphasizes the point that mastering a subject or skill takes years of practice. This is similar to over-learning something to the point of truly mastering it. I’ve never really thought about the brain having plasticity in regards to the learning aspect, which was really interesting to read about. The physiology of the experiment done was truly remarkable. The differences of GABA between the regular learners and over-learners proved that the over-learners respected and focused on the first learning task at hand rather than the second. Although this study was only done on visual learning, I believe other types of learning can and will benefit from over-learning. Similarly to what Gladwell stated, it’s true that practice does make something (almost) perfect.

Courtneycrane · February 27, 2017 at 6:10 pm

The research review regarding women and cocaine addictions was very interesting for me to read. I’ve learned a lot about the G coupled protein receptors (GPCRs) before in my anatomy and physiology classes. However, I was not aware that estradiol, a hormone that’s abundant in females, does not bind to GPCRs. There are many cell signaling pathways in the nervous system, but this one is specifically related to females. I believe because of this, it makes this study very remarkable. Since the altering of the specific metabotropic glutamate receptors in this pathway mentioned, the receptors should definitely be studied more in regards to addiction. Although manipulating a protein receptor in the body seems out of this world, a pharmacological approach could be a future answer to female addictions.

jcatson98 · March 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm

I read the article by the Brown University Department about “overlearning” something. I wanted to read this article and found it interesting because as a Cal Poly student you learn so much and at times you get overwhelmed and forget what you are learning. I learned through this article that there is no such thing as overlearning something, and when in doubt keep on going over the facts so it is really engraved in your head. This will help me in the future because there have been numerous times when I come up on a test question and I know I went over it, however I forget what the answer really is due to myself getting confused what I learned and what class it was that I learned it in. In future times when studying I know now to try to overlearn the topic so there is no chance that I might forget or get confused what I really learned. I really like this article because it gave me insight on how to excel more in my academic career.

MaxDiep · May 3, 2017 at 12:50 pm

I found “jet lag and sports” very relatable as I use to travel with my lacrosse team across the nation in high school. I did see the dramatic difference in our team’s performance when we went from Colorado to California. The time difference is only an hour and the elevation had an impact. We would win when we went to the west coast, but when we went to the East Coast we would lose. The 3-4 hour time difference does mess with confidence and ability. I did not get as much sleep as I would if I was at a home game and jet lag would take 2-3 days to cure. All in all, jetlag is very exhausting to begin with. Mix that with sports and the outcome is bad.

MaxDiep · May 3, 2017 at 1:48 pm

The article about “early stage drug trials” was interesting as I get the point they were making of protecting individuals from harm, but also keep in mind that clinical trials offer hope to people who are about to die. I understand that regulations are there to protect people, but what if there was a clinical drug that was successful in curing the disease. By making regulations more rigorous, you are keeping individuals who need the assistance from getting the new miracle drug.

dariamajlessi · May 14, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I found the article about “overlearning” super interesting, especially at this time in college when we are all studying for midterms and finals. I have always found that when I do last minute studying, even if I feel like I know all of the information at the time, I still seem to struggle when I go to take the test. This article explained that when we study at a shallow level, we do not retain information the same way we would if we kept studying that same material over and over again to the point where we have already mastered the material and are still studying. This kind of explains the mastery training homework on the mindtap. We need to learn the information, and then let some time pass so that it sets in, and then study some more.

Nicole Sacco · May 18, 2017 at 8:20 am

The article “Jet Lag Puts Baseball Players off their Game” addresses what me and my dad talk about when we watch baseball. We are fans of the San Francisco Giants so whenever they have to travel early and play in the afternoon, we get nervous that jet lag will put them at a disadvantage; we never knew that when they return home, jet lag can affect them and ruin their home field advantage. The circadian misalignment that results from jetlag can throw the players off their game, which causes the players to play less aggressive offense and are less likely to attempt doubles, triples, and stolen bases. Since these players are travelling so much to far away ballparks, I would like to know if it is possible for one’s body to become accustomed to travelling to different time zones after doing that for years.

kayleeroe · May 31, 2017 at 8:24 pm

I read the article, “Jet lag puts baseball players off their game”. I found this article very interesting since many people tend to forget how often sports teams travel, and how the performance of a team can be based on exhaustion from traveling alone. One part I found very interesting is that we do not think about a home team having to suffer from jet lag, even though many home teams have just returned from being on the road themselves. The fact that baseball pitchers have a hard time preventing home runs due to jet lag affecting the complex cognition and fine motor skills pitching requires makes me wonder what positions in other sports suffer the most from jet lag. Findings such as these can help the world of sports by giving insight on the effects of jet lag and how to better prepare the teams for the games after traveling.

Nicole Sacco · June 7, 2017 at 7:03 pm

I thought that the article “Female Sex Steroid Hormones Regulate Cocaine Addiction Through Cell Membrane Signaling Pathways” provided some very interesting insight in the science of cocaine addiction in genders. I did not expect that women would show comparable rates of addiction as men do. I found the new evidence to be very interesting that estradiol drives the sex difference that causes addiction to be more rapidly diagnosed in females. I would like to know why males are not affected by estradiol the same way that women are.

Nicole Sacco · June 7, 2017 at 7:34 pm

The video and article “Watch a Parrot Wearing Goggles Fly Through a Laser Sheet” definitely brightened my day. I was quite amazed that the cute, tiny goggle wearing parrot learned how to fly from perch to perch being trained through a flattened vertical laser. Although this experiment did not answer the questions that scientists were trying to solve concerning animal flight, their findings could luckily help them to develop better flying robots.

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