The Science Podcast for the 5th September 2008 looks at genes that influence behaviour. There is a discussion of a Vasopressin Gene that is associated with male fidelity in relationships, research on genes for courage and reasons that they might still remain within society as well as evidence that people choose partners with features similar to their parent (mother for males and father for females). The Science Podcast for the 12th September 2008 discusses a new development in the Transmission Electron Microscope which allows a greater resolution (10nm). There is also a look at a new method for dating the age of cells using atmospheric radiation generated during the nuclear testing in the early 1950’s and 1960’s (which apparently will return to normal levels by 2020). This method, the ‘bomb pulse technique’ allows for the identification of cerebral neurogenesis in people without the use of radioligands (instead using the decay of carbon 14). The technique is also being applied to other types of cells e.g. fat cells. Another finding is that using point stick figures, people interpret male figures as running towards them (even when running away) and female figures running away.
In the 11th September 2008 Nature Podcast, there is a discussion of an important paper on mathematical skills. Animals have the ability to estimate numbers as do people. However people also have the ability to perform calculations. In the research, a crowded bus was used to test the ‘approximate number system’ in 14-year olds and found that these abilities correlated with their formal mathematical skills. This suggests an innate biological trait which could account for mathematical abilities. The researchers are now undertaking a study into 3-year old children to see if they can predict future mathematical abilities on the basis of their approximate answers.
In the September 2008 podcast of the American Journal of Psychiatry, there is an outline of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. A number of findings from the STAR*D study is reported on in which depressive symptoms in children improve when their mother’s depression improves. Children’s depressive symptoms actually worsened if there was no remission in the mother. There was also found to be an improvement in children’s scores if the mother was treated with psychotherapy although with a delay. A study on Native American Indians looked at predictors of remission in alcohol dependence. The overall remission rate of 59% is a big increase over th 0-21% some 50 years ago. The influence of many external organisations (e.g. voluntary, corporate and so on) in wider society as well as in native american indian communities was also discussed as well as the response of the local communities. The researchers found that remission rates were similar in those who underwent treatment and those who didn’t although the differences between the groups weren’t characterised (e.g. characteristics of treatment seekers). There was also a discussion of gene loci in families with multiple members with schizophrenia and their linkage to neurocognitive traits. A new linkage to 19q was identified. Cognitive traits were linked to 5q which has previously been associated with schizophrenia.
If you know of any suitable podcasts for review please let me know.
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