Archive for 'News about research'

Evidence that Synthetic Marijuana May Be More Dangerous then Real

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

We are hoping to discover the significance, if any, of the publication date of this medical paper:

Smoking synthetic marijuana leads to self-mutilation requiring bilateral amputations,” K.A. Meijer, R.R. Russo and D.V. Adhvaryu, Orthopedics, vol. 37, no. 4, April 1,  2014, pp. e391-4. (Thanks to investigator Ivan Oransky for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report:

“Synthetic cannabinoids have become a worldwide epidemic because they provide a sometimes legal, easily accessible, and presumably safe alternative to marijuana. Recently published reports have linked acute psychosis, myocardial infarctions, convulsions, self-harm, and even terrorist organizations to these designer substances. This case report outlines the first reported case of Black Diamond, a synthetic cannabis, leading to a self-inflicted burn to the bilateral upper extremities requiring a transradial amputation of the right arm and a toe transfer procedure of the left hand after loss of all digits. The patient presented to the emergency department with self-inflicted fourth-degree burns to the bilateral hands and forearms with second-degree burns of the face, for a total body surface area of 14.5%. The patient was found by firefighters with his hands aflame on his kitchen stove. With no previous medical or psychiatric history and collateral information to confirm the patient’s mental status prior to use of Black Diamond, the patient’s acute psychotic episode was attributed to Black Diamond. After multiple procedures and a lengthy recovery, the patient completed his post-graduate education and entered the professional world.”

Observing praying mantises in 3D glasses hanging topsy-turvey

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

One approach to try “to understand 3D vision in the praying mantis, the only invertebrate known to have this ability, and compare it with vision in humans” is to equip a mantis with specially-built tiny 3-D glasses, suspend the spectacles-clad mantis upside down from a post, and then monitor that mantis’s response to artificially created images that mimic the motion of other insects. Jenny ReedVivek Nityananda, and several of their colleagues at Newcastle University took exactly this approach. They blog about it. This video shows some of what they have done and found:

A Newcastle U press release offers further bits of detail about the mantis viewing viewing. Justin Scuiletti at PBS Newshour did a report about it.

Newcastle University is ever abuzz with stimulated and stimulating research about insect vision. The 2005 Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Newcastle scientists Claire Rind and Peter Simmons for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie “Star Wars.” [Their work is documented in the study "Orthopteran DCMD Neuron: A Reevaluation of Responses to Moving Objects. I. Selective Responses to Approaching Objects," F.C. Rind and P.J. Simmons, Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 68, no. 5, November 1992, pp. 1654-66.]

Overactive Bladder Made Ridiculously Simple?

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

This paper examines the question of whether and how the medical recognition and management of an overactive bladder can be made ridiculously simple:

Overactive Bladder Made Ridiculously Simple?” Matt T. Rosenberg, International Journal of Clinical Practice, vol. 60, no. 6 (2006): 631-633.

A most emotionally colorful study (plus eye blinks & nude bodies)

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

This study appears to combine the brightest aspects of phrenology, Jungian psychology,  painting-by-numbers, and numerous other disciplines:

Bodily maps of emotions,” Lauri Nummenmaa [pictured here], Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari and Jari K. Hietanen, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111 no. 2, January 14, 2014, pp. 646–651. The authors, at Aalto University, the University of Turku, and the University of Tampere, Finland, write:

lauri“Here we used a topographical self-report tool to reveal that different emotional states are associated with topographically distinct and culturally universal bodily sensations; these sensations could underlie our conscious emotional experiences. Monitoring the topography of emotion-triggered bodily sensations brings forth a unique tool for emotion research.”

Here are details from the study:



BONUS (by one of the co-authors): Mandel A, Helokunnas S, Pihko E and Hari R: “Neuromagnetic brain responses to other person’s eye blinks seen on video,” European Journal of Neuroscience, in press.

BONUS (by two of the other co-authors):  “The Naked Truth: The Face and Body Sensitive N170 Response Is Enhanced for Nude Bodies,” Jari K. Hietanen and Lauri Nummenmaa, PLoS One, November 16, 2011. The authors explain:

“We conclude that… the visual processing of other people’s nude bodies is enhanced in the brain. This enhancement is likely to reflect affective arousal elicited by nude bodies. Such facilitated visual processing of other people’s nude bodies is possibly beneficial in identifying potential mating partners and competitors, and for triggering sexual behavior.”


The evasive shareholder meeting manoeuvre

Monday, April 21st, 2014

“When companies move their annual meetings a great distance from headquarters, they tend to announce disappointing earnings results and experience pronounced stock market underperformance in the months after the meeting. Companies appear to schedule meetings in remote locations when the managers have private, adverse information about future performance and wish to discourage scrutiny by shareholders, activists, and the media. However, shareholders do not appear to decode this signal, since the disclosure of meeting locations leads to little immediate stock price reaction.”

Prof_LiProf_YermackThis previously under-researched business tactic is (un)covered in a new NBER research paper from Lily Yuanzhi Li, [left] currently Assistant Professor of Finance at the Temple University Fox School of Business, Philadelphia, and David L. Yermack, [right] who is the Albert Fingerhut Professor of Finance and Business Transformation at the Leonard Norman Stern School of Business, New York University.

But how remote is remote? The authors give an example :

“As an example of a meeting held at a remote location, TRW Automotive Holdings, an auto parts manufacturer with a market capitalization of about $4 billion, convened its May 14, 2007, annual meeting at the Renaissance Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen TX, at the Southern tip of the continental United States near the Mexican border. The meeting took place almost 1,400 miles from the company’s headquarters outside Detroit, and more than 300 miles from the nearest major airport, Houston.”

And there are even more far flung instances :

“One company, General Cable Corp., has a Kentucky headquarters but held its annual meetings in Spain, Costa Rica, and Germany at different times during our sample period.”

The full paper can be read here : Evasive shareholder meetings (NBER Working Paper No. 19991, issued in March 2014)