Bees not the be all and end all for crop pollination

Farmers who used pesticides that spared bees but sacrificed killed other insects might be ignoring important sources of crop pollination, according to an Australian-led international scientific study.

CAPTION Non-bee pollinators make up approximately 1/3rd of crop pollination services. Here a syrphid fly, a common non-bee crop pollinator, is shown alighting on coriander flowers. CREDIT:  Dr Tobias Smith

CAPTION
Non-bee pollinators make up approximately 1/3rd of crop pollination services. Here a syrphid fly, a common non-bee crop pollinator, is shown alighting on coriander flowers.
CREDIT:
Dr Tobias Smith

University of Queensland plant ecologist Dr Margie Mayfield said many crops –including mangoes, custard apples, kiwi fruit, coffee and canola –depended on non-bee insect pollinators such as flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, ants, and thrips.

“Scientists haven’t much broadly explored the role of non-bee insects in crop pollination,” said Dr Mayfield, who is the Director of the Ecology Centre in UQ’s School of Biological Sciences.

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Good medicine left on the shelf?

Medical ResearchA controversial new paper by James Cook University scientist claims many useful new treatments are being left on the shelf by medical researchers.

JCU’s Dr David Kault, a medical doctor and mathematician, has examined the way clinical trials of medical treatments are judged.

“Traditional assessment of a clinical trial is based on whether we can blame chance for a favourable outcome,” said Dr Kault. “But there is little consideration of background and context, which sometimes leads to ignoring common sense.”

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The search for happiness: Using MRI to find where happiness happens

Kyoto University scientists have used MRI brain scans to find the location of happiness. CREDIT: Kyoto University

Kyoto University scientists have used MRI brain scans to find the location of happiness.
CREDIT: Kyoto University

Kyoto University researchers narrow in on the neural structures behind happiness.

Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books… we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is?

Wataru Sato and his team at Kyoto University have found an answer from a neurological perspective. Overall happiness, according to their study, is a combination of happy emotions and satisfaction of life coming together in the precuneus, a region in the medial parietal lobe that becomes active when experiencing consciousness.

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Gaps in advertising and PR education are due to new roles in social media, study finds

photodune-3537998-blog-xs (1)Blurred boundaries between advertising and public relations professions due to new roles in social media raise the question of whether educators can adequately prepare their students for a career in those growing fields, according to a Baylor study.

“Educators need to address the deficiencies identified in this study and find ways to build these skills and competencies in their courses,” said Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

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Saying I do

 Shelly Lundberg. CREDIT: Sonia Fernandez

Shelly Lundberg.
CREDIT: Sonia Fernandez

Demographer Shelly Lundberg chronicles how marriage has morphed into a means of supporting intensive investments in children.

Marriage as an institution is not what it used to be. Since the 1950s, the number of couple exchanging “I dos” has dropped steadily. And while most Americans do marry at some point in their lives, many are choosing to do so later.

A new study by UC Santa Barbara demographer Shelly Lundberg and economist Robert Pollak of Washington University in St. Louis examines Americans’ changing sensibilities about marriage, using economics as a measuring tool. Lundberg and Pollak contend that families with high incomes and high levels of education have the greatest incentives to maintain long-term relationships. Their findings appear in the journal The Future of Children.

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Brain structure may be root of apathy

Lazy manCan’t be bothered to read on? It might be due looser connections in your brain

When brain scientists at Oxford University studied apathy, they didn’t expect to see less motivated people making more effort. Their results suggest that for some people traditionally perceived as lazy, it’s biology – not attitude – that might be the cause.

A team of neuroscientists at Oxford, funded by The Wellcome Trust, decided to study young people to see if there were any differences in the brains of those who were motivated compared to those who were apathetic.

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Researchers estimate poverty and wealth from cell phone metadata

cellphone with world mapIn developing or war-ravaged countries where government censuses are few and far between, gathering data for public services or policymaking can be difficult, dangerous or near-impossible. Big data is, after all, mainly a First World opportunity.

But cell towers are easier to install than telephone land lines, even in such challenged areas, and mobile or cellular phones are widely used among the poor and wealthy alike.

Now, researchers with the University of Washington Information School and Computer Science and Engineering Department have devised a way to estimate the distribution of wealth and poverty in an area by studying metadata from calls and texts made on cell phones. Such metadata contains information about the time, location and nature of the “mobile phone events” but not their content. Their paper was published in the journal Science.

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Fitter legs linked to a ‘fitter’ brain

Gym leg stretch

Researchers at King’s College London have found that muscle fitness as measured by power in the legs is strongly associated with an improved rate of ageing in the brain.

The findings, published in Gerontology, suggest that simple interventions, such as increased levels of walking, targeted to improve leg power in the long term may have an impact on healthy cognitive ageing. The research was funded jointly by the NIHR and the Wellcome Trust.

Scientists studied a sample of 324 healthy female twins from the TwinsUK volunteer registry over a ten-year period from 1999, measuring various health and lifestyle predictors. Researchers were, therefore, able to control for genetic factors affecting changes in cognitive function.

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Why some people would pay for a drug they probably won’t ever need

Tablets in women's hands

How about someone who didn’t have the disease — would they pay anything? And what if that person smoked?

A sick person is obviously willing to pay for a good medical treatment, but a Johns Hopkins University economist and his collaborators find that healthy people are potentially a much broader, if largely overlooked, market for medical innovations.

In a new paper published by the Review of Economic Studies, Nicholas W. Papageorge and his co-authors return to a pivotal moment in pharmaceutical history: the invention of life-saving anti-retroviral drugs to treat HIV infection. They find that the value for this treatment, known as HAART, was high not just for those who were HIV-positive, but also among the much larger pool of uninfected people who feared they could become infected in the future.

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High-fat diet prompts immune cells to start eating connections between neurons

When a high-fat diet causes us to become obese, it also appears to prompt normally bustling immune cells in our brain to become sedentary and start consuming the connections between our neurons, according to Dr. Alexis M. Stranahan, neuroscientist in the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia. CREDIT GRU Senior Photographer, Phil Jones.

When a high-fat diet causes us to become obese, it also appears to prompt normally bustling immune cells in our brain to become sedentary and start consuming the connections between our neurons, according to Dr. Alexis M. Stranahan, neuroscientist in the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.
CREDIT: GRU Senior Photographer, Phil Jones.

When a high-fat diet causes us to become obese, it also appears to prompt normally bustling immune cells in our brain to become sedentary and start consuming the connections between our neurons, scientists say.

The good news is going back on a low-fat diet for just two months, at least in mice, reverses this trend of shrinking cognitive ability as weight begins to normalize, said Dr. Alexis M. Stranahan, neuroscientist in the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.

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