Archive by date | November 2007

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

A tangent related to the primate cloning paper has understandably received less attention, but deserves its own thread. In the same issue of Nature containing that paper, an accompanying editorial described how Nature, for the first time, implemented a relatively new policy by seeking the independent confirmation of this particular “high-risk” finding (or “strong claim”) during the review process.  Read more

Cells reverting back to their youth

Cells reverting back to their youth

Since we had a long and involved conversation on the role of embryonic stem cells in research, as well as how this issue is politicized by both sides of the debate (with additional discussion here), recent news insists that we post a follow-up on Action Potential.  Read more

Infants inherently interpret intentions?

Infants inherently interpret intentions?

While we are discussing infants, development and nature vs. nurture, it is fitting that Nature just published a new article describing the social evaluation skills of pre-verbal infants (6-10 months old). In a nicely-designed experiment, researchers allowed infants to view a toy as it was made to climb over an obstacle. Near the top, another toy would either help the first toy complete the ascent, or impede its progress by pushing it back. When then allowed to choose one of the second two toys for playtime, the infants overwhelmingly chose the “helpful” toy over the “hurtful” toy. In addition, infants  … Read more

Genetic control of intelligence

Genetic control of intelligence

No, this isn’t another post about Jim Watson; the title is just a shameless ploy to draw in the search engine crowd… It is relevant though, as you’ll soon see. I’ve been meaning to talk about this next topic for a couple of weeks now, but have been distracted with unexpected news stories, editorial discussions regarding the review process, etc. A recent study in PNAS has demonstrated a significant interaction between nature and nurture that influences intelligence.  Read more

Confidential comments – your opinion

Discussion is heating up regarding a new proposal that could change the face of peer review in neuroscience. At the PubMed Plus leadership conference this past June, sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience, the creation of a Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium was proposed.  Read more

Science for the masses

Everyone is fascinated by science. When discoveries advancing our knowledge of the brain are made, these get extra attention. Why? Because we want to understand how we think, feel and function. When scientists discuss their research with the general public, people usually believe them, not dwelling on the details, but instead focusing on what implications a particular study might have on their own thoughts or opinions. This makes sense, because the general public is not in a position to evaluate the technical merits of most neuroscience manuscripts. That is why we have the peer review system and academic journals, like Nature Neuroscience. Once the study is reviewed favorably and is published, the general public can then be told of the exciting new progress.  Read more

Open Laboratory 2008 – last call for submissions, but I’ll just take your comments

Science blogging is becoming a fairly large entity, if you haven’t noticed. NPG alone sponsors seventeen of them. Launched in January 2006, Scienceblogs.com has had over 50,000 posts and 555,000 comments on 66 blogs. This is a good thing for both the general public and for science, as again the internet proves its worth by easily bringing together populations of people who may have only rarely mixed otherwise.  Read more

Notes from Action Potential’s far-flung correspondents

Well, it’s the last day of the meeting and time to start sharing what you have learned. I invite all SfN attendees to comment on an interesting talk, poster, experience, etc… that they had or saw at the meeting. I’d like to take advantage of this forum to get an interesting discussion going regarding anything from specific research findings, science policy, or gossip. Questions are also welcome. To get the ball rolling, I am going to repeat a comment here that was submitted under the previous blog entry, from Dmitry:  … Read more

Retracting creationism

I decided that all of Action Potential’s many readers down at SfN are probably in need of a little lift at the halfway point of the mother of all neuroscience meetings. It has been almost 3 days of non-stop data input and your brain, if not full, wishes it were. So let’s take a brief interlude from the rigors of neuroscience to discuss a lighter and more relaxed topic: Creationism.  Read more