In the Science Podcast of December 5th 2008 there is coverage of foetal immunity to maternal antigens using T-cells in a different way to adults.There is also discussion of a study of the ‘placebo effect’ with evidence for a genetic variation in serotonin production in those who responded to placebo in a social anxiety scenario. In drawing this final conclusion we must make a number of assumptions including a negligible background variation in confounders, the existence of the placebo effect as a valid biological construct and not representative of statistical confounders and the efficient and relevant to the experimental paradigm expression of the gene.
In the Science Podcast of December 19th 2008 there is coverage of a number of big science stories from 2008 and these included new gene sequencing technologies, the sequencing of human genomes and cell reprogramming. Predicted big stories for next year are speciation genes, that is genes that keep species from interbreeding, and also neuroscience in courts.
In the Science Podcast of December 23rd 2008 there is coverage of stories from 2008 including an MRI study of decision making in which activation was found to precede conscious awareness of the decisions by 10 seconds.
In the Nature Podcast of December 11th 2008 there is a discussion of the effect of the financial crisis on world food supplies and the potential benefits of increasing funding for agricultural research to address these issues. There is also a discussion of the so-called ‘smart drugs’ and the ethics of making these more widely available. One of the authors of a Nature article on this topic appears on the podcast to discuss this further including estimated figures of between 4 and 25% of people on campuses using these.
In the Nature Podcast of December 18th 2008 there is discussion of learning in songbirds where it was found that a single type of song presented on two occasions was sufficient to produce learning. There is also a discussion of the construction of the first artificial genome as well as personal genomics.
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