Chapter 12. Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases

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By JOANNA KLEIN FEB. 13, 2018 If Cupid wanted to make two songbirds fall in love, he’d have better luck aiming at their brains. That’s because songbirds, which form lifelong mating pairs, have brain systems perfectly tuned to fit together. While you sort through the messages of admirers, deciding who to make your Valentine, consider finches. Young males in this family of feathered crooners learn the song of their father, perfect it and perform it as adults to attract a lifelong mate. It’s loud, elaborate and precise. With their songs they say “chirp, chirp — my brain is healthy, and my body is strong. That’s something you’re into, right?” A female finch also learns the songs of her father from a young age, but she doesn’t perform. She’s the critic. She analyzes every detail of a potential mate’s song, compares it to her father’s example and decides if this performer is one she’d like to keep around. If she detects a song is too simple or off in any way, she’ll have nothing to do with its performer. She’s very picky, as she should be, because the mate she chooses will help raise their young — till death do they part. Over the past decade, researchers looking into the chickpea-sized brains of finches have discovered that each sex uses what’s called its sound control system to convert sound waves to social messages and then use them to find mates, kind of how humans use vocal sounds to communicate. And while these systems are well-developed and finely tuned in both sexes of songbirds, the wiring is different. “The biggest difference between male and female brains of the same species is found in songbirds,” said Sarah Woolley, a neuroscientist who studies finches at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute. Dr. Woolley’s lab has been looking into the acoustic systems of zebra, bengalese and long-tailed finches to see how their brains take in and process sounds — learning, performing and analyzing different parts of them to make sense of songs. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Animal Communication
Link ID: 24660 - Posted: 02.14.2018

An all-female freshwater fish species called the Amazon molly that inhabits rivers and creeks along the Texas-Mexico border is living proof that sexual reproduction may be vastly overrated. Scientists said on Monday they have deciphered the genome of the Amazon molly, one of the few vertebrate species to rely upon asexual reproduction, and discovered that it had none of the genetic flaws, such as an accumulation of harmful mutations or a lack of genetic diversity, they had expected. They found that the Amazon molly, named after the fierce female warriors of ancient Greek mythology, boasts a hardy genetic makeup that makes it equally fit, or even more so, than fish using sexual reproduction in which both maternal and paternal genes are passed along to offspring. "The Amazon molly is doing quite well," said biologist Manfred Schartl of the University of Wuerzburg in Germany. "Unexpectedly, we did not find the signs of genomic decay as predicted." The fish reproduces using a strategy in which a female's egg cell develops into a baby without being fertilized by a male's sperm cell. But that does not mean the fish does not need some hanky panky. "The Amazon molly female produces clones of itself by duping a male of a closely related species to mate with her. The asexual mode of reproduction termed gynogenesis requires the female to mate with a male but none of the male's genome is passed to the offspring," said geneticist Wesley Warren of the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Evolution
Link ID: 24659 - Posted: 02.14.2018

Adam Cole Love is complicated, scientifically speaking. There's no single, specific "love chemical" that surges through our bodies when we see our beloved, and we can't point to a specific corner of the brain where love resides. Still, scientists have measured real changes in our bodies when we fall in love: an ebb and flow of signaling molecules. In that early lustful phase, sex hormones like testosterone fuel the libido (in both men and women). The dopamine highs of new attraction have been compared by some scientists to the effects of cocaine use. The anxiety associated with new romance has been linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain. And some researchers say they see similarities in the way serotonin is regulated in the early phases of love and the way it is modulated in obsessive compulsive disorder. Meanwhile, our brains start producing more oxytocin, a chemical that is crucial to, among other things, the bonding of mothers and infants. Comparisons to drug use and compulsion aren't perfect (obviously there's a lot more fancy chemistry going on in our brains) but they do seem to speak to our experience. In Skunk Bear's new video, we explore the symptoms of love and their neurological causes. Why does your heart race when you see your crush? What gives you that feeling of butterflies? And why does love make us act so dumb? This love ballad is our Valentine's gift to you. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24651 - Posted: 02.13.2018

A mutant species of all-female crayfish taking over the world is not the latest science fiction film but a real-life environmental thriller. A new study has found that marbled crayfish are multiplying rapidly and invading ecosystems across the world. The ten-legged pests are descended from one single female with a mutation allowing it to reproduce without males. These self-cloning ladies are found for sale in North America, despite a warning against keeping them as pets. Sales of the six-inch creature are already banned by the European Union. Procambarus virginalis did not exist three decades ago. Born to a male and female slough crayfish, a species originally from Florida, the original marbled crayfish had an additional set of chromosomes - a mutation that made her distinct from her parents and allowed her to reproduce without having to mate. Now officially a separate species, the marbled crayfish can been found in the wild in Japan, Madagascar, multiple European countries and the US. The new study published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution describes the invasive species as a threat to wild ones, particularly seven native species in Madagascar. "If you have one animal, essentially, three months later, you will have 200 or 300," Dr Wolfgang Stein, one of the researchers, told Canadian public broadcaster CBC. Dr Stein, who is a neurophysiologist at Illinois State University, told the BBC that they compared 11 marbled crayfish, spread through the pet trade to four locations on three continents. He noted that while they all share the DNA of one mother crayfish, there were some differences in "colouring". "The animal sequenced here by us in the US was more blue-ish than the ones from Germany and Madagascar," Dr Stein said. © 2018 BBC.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Evolution
Link ID: 24650 - Posted: 02.13.2018

By Kimberly Hickok Your webcam may know your face, but your keyboard knows your gender. Computer models can predict with 95.6% accuracy whether a man or woman is typing, according to a new study. To conduct the research, computer engineers installed keystroke-logging software onto the personal computers of 75 volunteers—36 men, 39 women—which monitored their daily computer use for 10 months. The researchers then used a program they created, called “ISqueezeU” to calculate the relative helpfulness of different typing features for determining gender—things like the time between two specific keystrokes, or the amount of time a key is pressed down during a single keystroke. A few features stood out as being more useful than others. For example, the average time between pressing the “N” key to pressing the “O” key was the most helpful, followed by the average time between pressing the “M” and “O” keys. The program isn’t capable of specifying whether a man or woman types those keys faster or more often—only that there is a difference. The researchers then tested the program’s findings using five machine learning models, which are computer programs that build models based on what they “learn” from existing data. All five models were able to predict gender accurately more than 78% of the time, with the most successful model being more than 95% accurate, the engineers report this week in Digital Investigation. The team proposes the use of keystroke dynamics as a cost-efficient and nonintrusive way to identify the gender of unknown computer users in criminal investigations, such as in cases of cyberstalking or identity theft. The researchers plan to expand their data collection with more volunteers, and see whether incorporating other variables such as handedness or education level can increase accuracy. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24639 - Posted: 02.10.2018

Robert D. Martin This may be surprising to some: A woman's age is not alone in affecting pregnancy and birth, despite the impression often given. Reviewing Paul Raeburn's book Do Fathers Matter?, Tabitha Powledge wrote: "Everybody knows that older mothers run higher risks of a baby with birth defects — Down syndrome being the most common and best-known. By comparison, hardly anybody knows that the older Dad gets, the riskier it is for him to conceive a child." Partners age together, so a fetus or baby with an older mother will mostly have an older father, too. Logic demands exploration of age effects in both sexes. Though few and far between, such studies do indeed reveal that both men and women contribute. With Down syndrome, age effects for fathers and mothers are roughly balanced. But new data clearly show that, when it comes to inherited defects, fathers actually carry greater risks than mothers. Random changes in DNA — mutations — accumulate four times faster in sperms than in eggs. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace realized that variety is not just the spice of life; it is the very essence. Inherited differences between individuals are the raw material for natural selection. And the prime source of natural variation in genes is new mutations. These have been studied intensively, notably regarding rates of change. Yet mutation also has a dark side because it can produce adverse effects along with variety. Hence, the mutation rate has fundamental implications for medical genetics as well as for evolutionary biology. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Evolution
Link ID: 24592 - Posted: 01.31.2018

Emily Willingham How many times did I say it – to myself, out loud alone or out loud to others, throughout my childhood? ‘I wish I were a boy.’ The words were mine, a fervent and frequent wish. They were not born of a feeling of mismatch between external expectations and internal signals. Except for a lifelong tension with society’s mixed messages about what it means to be a woman, I’m comfortable identifying as the gender assigned to me. But I wished for boyness because the boys did so many things I wanted to do and was excluded from doing because I was a girl. My body and my brain mapped to each other just fine, but my body didn’t map at all to what society told these boys – and me – I was allowed to do. As many a woman can attest, this feeling of belonging in male spaces that lock you out doesn’t end with teenhood, adulthood, careerhood or parenthood. An aficionado of adventure stories, I couldn’t – still can’t – help but notice that the places men can go are often No Women’s Lands for someone like me. Not because I lack the physicality, strength or stamina to traverse them but because the mere presentation of being female is itself dangerous. Realistically, it invites violence, exclusion and violation in too many ways to be considered anything but a liability. And then there are the less wild places, just boys’ clubs and men’s clubs, de facto or tacit, where being a girl or woman means being viewed as an intruder or, as women have always known, being subject to harassment or worse. Every day, I see men circle their masculinity like musk oxen, protective and exclusionary, in my professions of academia and journalism. Even in the virtual world of social media, they reflexively exclude women who are their peers in expertise and competence while readily engaging men who are neither. I am wryly amused when people committed to the idea that men and women are cognitively different throw women the double-edged bone of being ‘better at verbal expression’. (Look, we’re good at a thing! That you’ll also use to make fun of us chatty, chatty Cathies!) I read that and think of who receives most of the major book awards and other writing accolades. Hint: it’s men. I’ll wager that the social factors involved in the latter contribute to the assumptions underlying the former. © Aeon Media Group Ltd. 2012-2018.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24581 - Posted: 01.29.2018

By Shawna Williams When the Voyager I spacecraft left Earth in 1977, it carried with it a “Golden Record” containing audio recordings of messages meant for any intelligent life that might cross its path. It bore sounds from around the world, including greetings in 55 languages, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” and a fussy baby being soothed by its mother. According to Marc Bornstein, a developmental psychologist at Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Carl Sagan and other members of the committee who decided what to include on the record were spot on in picking the latter track. “Infant cry is . . . the very first communication between an infant and a caregiver,” Bornstein says. Crying is infants’ best tool for ensuring they get the care they need, but Bornstein and his research collaborators wondered about the caregivers’ responses: to what extent were those innate versus learned? To investigate, they enrolled 684 new mothers and their babies from 11 countries around the world and put cameras in their homes. Each time a baby began crying, the researchers recorded what the mother did in the next five seconds. Did she pick the baby up? Kiss or stroke it? Talk to it? Try to distract it with a toy? “Within five seconds, the predominant kinds of responses are picking up and holding and talking to the baby,” says Bornstein (PNAS, 114:E9465-73, 2017). The degree of uniformity surprised him. “People in Kenya and Cameroon . . . the mothers are growing up and have been reared in wildly different circumstances than mothers in Brazil and Argentina or the United States, or certainly than Japan or South Korea.” © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Language
Link ID: 24571 - Posted: 01.26.2018

By Diana Kwon Search for “pheromones products” on the internet, and dozens of sprays and perfume additives will appear—many claiming to be able to increase your attractiveness to the opposite sex. Some companies, such as the Athena Institute, which, according to its founder, Winnifred Cutler, published its 108th consecutive ad in The Atlantic this month, assert that scientific studies back up their claims. While there have been several experiments examining the effects of compounds extracted from people’s armpits, much of the data on sex-related behaviors, The Scientist has found, go back more than a decade and were met then—and still now—with skepticism from pheromone researchers. “I am not compelled by any studies that are out there that say there is an active steroid component from the underarm that causes [sexual attraction],” says George Preti, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia who conducted some of the early human pheromone trials. Within the scientific community, pheromones are broadly defined as chemical signals released by an animal that induce specific effects on other members of the same species. Although these substances are typically associated with sexual attraction, researchers have found they can have a broader range of influence, such as prompting aggression or modifying parental behaviors. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Chemical Senses (Smell & Taste); Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24565 - Posted: 01.25.2018

Nicola Davis Whether stalking down the stairs or tiptoeing into the litter box, cats have a preference for which paw they put forward, according to new research, with females favouring their right paw and males their left. Scientists say that while such preferences are a matter of individual inclination, males generally prefer stepping out with their left foot, while females typically favour their right. The team say understanding paw preference could offer insights into an animal’s vulnerability to stress. “Left-limbed animals, which rely more heavily on their right hemisphere for processing information, tend to show stronger fear responses, aggressive outbursts, and cope more poorly with stressful situations than animals that are right-limbed and rely more heavily on their left hemisphere for processing,” said Dr Deborah Wells, co-author of the research from Queen’s University, Belfast, adding that the right hemisphere is more responsible for processing of negative emotions. The study was conducted in owners’ homes and focused on spontaneous behaviour. In total, the team analysed data from 44 cats, 20 of which were female, collected by owners tracking which paw their cat used for taking the first step down stairs and stepping into the litter box, and which side their feline preferred to recline on. Over the course of three months owners recorded 50 instances of each behaviour. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Laterality; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24553 - Posted: 01.23.2018

Michael Seto Mr. Smith was a 27-year-old man referred for psychological treatment after sexually offending against a 13-year-old boy. He initially denied the charge, but eventually admitted to sexually abusing multiple youth. He later admitted he’d been attracted to boys since his own adolescence. Mr. Smith is actually a case composite from my first book on pedophilia. But the description is representative of stories I’ve heard from the hundreds of individuals I’ve talked with as a psychologist and researcher over the past 25 years. Most men are sexually attracted to sexually mature young adults. But a small minority of men are sexually attracted to other age groups, from infants to the elderly. These age-based attractions are called chronophilias. My research focuses on chronophilias and sexual offending against children. Recently, I’ve started to think about these age-specific attractions as sexual orientations for age, similar to how we understand sexual orientation for gender. This is quite different from the traditional way that psychologists view chronophilias, as sexual preferences that are distinct from someone’s identity. This idea – that chronophilias can be understood as sexual orientations for age – is provocative, because it raises ethical, legal and scientific questions about how we think about sexual orientation, the etiology of sexual preferences and how we respond to sexual offenses against minors. © 2010–2018, The Conversation US, Inc.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24552 - Posted: 01.23.2018

Lions, elephants, and baboons are matriarchies that are female-centric in different ways, for different reasons. Lion mothers form ‘daycare centres’ to nurse their young and sisters band together to hunt for their families. It’s not the male who’s the bread-winner — it’s the female. Elephants are led by the eldest female who knows all the watering holes and strategies for survival. Her age and memory of how to survive the long dry season is key in a climate plagued by drought. Baboons have a female royal family where, surprisingly, it’s the youngest female who ascends to the throne. Mommy Wildest is an intimate story – the ”days of our lives” of these families, with individual characters whose challenges we follow: the Ol Dikidiki pride of lionesses raising their 11 cubs; Donatella, the elephant grandmother who leads her family to safety from gunshots shielding them from danger, and bay Rijeka, the baboon princess surrounded by her sisters. Mommy Wildest also follows the leading scientists in their field who’ve been asking: Why did these three societies evolve into matriarchies? What can humans learn from them? Dr. Craig Packer IS the lion king. He’s the foremost lion expert in the world and has been studying lions for more than 40 years. In this film, he travels to Maasai Mara to visit one of the richest concentrations of lions left in the world, and to meet the Ol Dikidiki pride. It was Dr. Packer who determined why lionesses bond together in sisterhoods –it’s to defend against roving males who would kill their cubs and take over the pride. By working together, the sisters can defend against the much stronger male. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Evolution
Link ID: 24544 - Posted: 01.20.2018

By Katarina Zimmer Human mothers will usually cradle their infants on their left sides, such that they can gaze into each other’s left eyes, a position thought to favor processing in the brain’s right hemisphere. A new study in Biology Letters today (January 10) shows that walruses and flying foxes are no different, having such lateralized cuddling biases during maternal care, too. “Several decades ago, it was a popular belief that [this] brain asymmetry is only a human thing,” says the lead author of the study, Andrey Giljov, a zoologist at St. Petersburg University. But recent research has shown that in addition to humans, primate mothers tend to hold their infants to the left, and some of Giljov’s previous work demonstrated that several species of mammal infants like to keep their mothers in their left visual fields when approaching their parents from behind. A bias towards keeping a social partner on a certain side, the new study explains, reflects specialization of the brain’s right hemisphere for processing social information, as visual information is handled by an animal’s contralateral brain hemisphere. The work reveals that flying foxes and walruses not only have a left-biased cuddling preference, but also tend to rest face-to-face in the position that allows mother and young to keep each other within their left visual fields. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Laterality; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24524 - Posted: 01.12.2018

Richard Harris The results of an IQ test can depend on the gender of the person who's conducting the test. Likewise, studies of pain medication can be completely thrown off by the gender of the experimenter. This underappreciated problem is one reason that some scientific findings don't stand the test of time. Colin Chapman found out about this problem the hard way. He had traveled to Sweden on a Fulbright scholarship to launch his career in neuroscience. And he decided to study whether a nasal spray containing a hormone called oxytocin would help control obesity. The hormone influences appetite and impulsive behavior in obese men. "I was really excited about this project, from what I understood about how the brain works, I thought it was kind of a slam dunk," he says. Chapman set up the experiment and then left for a few years to attend Harvard Law School. When he returned, the findings were not at all what he expected, "and I was really disappointed because this was my baby, it was my big project going into neuroscience." But Chapman, who is now a graduate student at the University of Uppsala, says his idea turned out to be right after all. "There was another research group that around the same time came up with the same idea," he says. "And they ran basically the same project and they got exactly the results I was expecting to get." © 2018 npr

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Pain & Touch
Link ID: 24517 - Posted: 01.11.2018

By KAREN WEINTRAUB Male sea turtles are disappearing from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A new study of gender ratios found that 99 percent of immature green turtles born in the northern part of the reef are female. Among adult turtles, 87 percent are female, suggesting that there has been a shift in gender ratios over the last few decades. A sea turtle’s sex is determined by its nesting environment. As sands warm, more females will hatch relative to males; if the sand temperature tops 84.7 degrees during incubation, only females will emerge. The gender shift suggests that climate change is having a significant effect on one of the biggest green turtle populations in the world, said Michael Jensen, lead author of the new study, published in Current Biology. “We’re all trying to wrap our heads around how these populations are going to respond to those changes,” said Dr. Jensen, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in San Diego. The gender shift has been noticed before by people who study hatchlings, said Jeanette Wyneken, a sea turtle expert and professor at Florida Atlantic University, who was not involved in the new research. But it wasn’t clear until this study that the shift was so dramatic and happening in such a large population across time, she said. “This is the first paper that’s shown this multigenerational effect,” influencing the gender of juveniles, older adolescents and adults, Dr. Wyneken said. It takes 35 to 40 years for a green sea turtle to reach sexual maturity, she said. “These animals are teenagers for an awfully long time,” Dr. Wyneken said. “We won’t see the effects of what’s happening today for several decades.” David Owens, a professor emeritus from the College of Charleston in South Carolina, was not involved in the new study, but said he’s dreamed of doing such research for years. He praised the way the study team — which included a wide range of expertise — was able to link temperature with turtle gender. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24516 - Posted: 01.11.2018

Aimee Cunningham Internist Gail Povar has many female patients making their way through menopause, some having a tougher time than others. Several women with similar stories stand out in her mind. Each came to Povar’s Silver Spring, Md., office within a year or two of stopping her period, complaining of frequent hot flashes and poor sleep at night. “They just felt exhausted all the time,” Povar says. “The joy had kind of gone out.” And all of them “were just absolutely certain that they were not going to take hormone replacement,” she says. But the women had no risk factors that would rule out treating their symptoms with hormones. So Povar suggested the women try hormone therapy for a few months. “If you feel really better and it makes a big difference in your life, then you and I can decide how long we continue it,” Povar told them. “And if it doesn’t make any difference to you, stop it.” At the follow-up appointments, all of these women reacted the same way, Povar recalls. “They walked in beaming, absolutely beaming, saying, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t do this a year ago. My life! I’ve got my life back.’ ” That doesn’t mean, Povar says, that she’s pushing hormone replacement on patients. “But it should be on the table,” she says. “It should be part of the discussion.” Hormone replacement therapy toppled off the table for many menopausal women and their doctors in 2002. That’s when a women’s health study, stopped early after a data review, published results linking a common hormone therapy to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots. The trial, part of a multifaceted project called the Women’s Health Initiative, or WHI, was meant to examine hormone therapy’s effectiveness in lowering the risk of heart disease and other conditions in women ages 50 to 79. It wasn’t a study of hormone therapy for treating menopausal symptoms. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Keyword: Hormones & Behavior; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24512 - Posted: 01.10.2018

By Catherine Offord Graduate student Anne Murphy had run out of rats. Or rather, she’d run out of male rats, the animals she was using to study brain regions involved in pain modulation for her PhD at the University of Cincinnati in the early 1990s. At a time when neuroscientists almost exclusively used male animals for research, what Murphy did next was unusual: she used a female rat instead. “I had the hardest time to get the female to go under the anesthesia; she wasn’t acting right,” Murphy says. Her advisor’s explanation? “‘Well, you know those females, they have hormones, and those hormones are always fluctuating and they’re so variable,’” Murphy recalls. The comments struck a nerve. “It really got to me,” she says. “I’m a female. I have hormones that fluctuate. . . . It made me determined to investigate the differences between males and females in terms of pain processing and alleviation.” Her decision was timely. Since the ’90s, evidence has been accumulating to suggest that not only do women experience a higher incidence of chronic pain syndromes than men do—fibromyalgia and interstitial cystitis, for example—females also generally report higher pain intensities. Additionally, Murphy notes, a handful of clinical studies has suggested that women require higher doses of opioid pain medications such as morphine for comparable analgesia; plus, they experience worse side effects and a higher risk of addiction. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Pain & Touch; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24486 - Posted: 01.04.2018

By NEIL GENZLINGER Ben Barres, a neuroscientist who did groundbreaking work on brain cells known as glia and their possible relation to diseases like Parkinson’s, and who was an outspoken advocate of equal opportunity for women in the sciences, died on Wednesday at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 63. In announcing the death, Stanford University, where Dr. Barres was a professor, said he had had pancreatic cancer. Dr. Barres was transgender, having transitioned from female to male in 1997, when he was in his 40s and well into his career. That gave him a distinctive outlook on the difficulties that women and members of minorities face in academia. and especially in the sciences. An article he wrote for the journal Nature in 2006 titled “Does Gender Matter?” took on some prominent scholars who had argued that women were not advancing in the sciences because of innate differences in their aptitude. “I am suspicious when those who are at an advantage proclaim that a disadvantaged group of people is innately less able,” he wrote. “Historically, claims that disadvantaged groups are innately inferior have been based on junk science and intolerance.” The article cited studies documenting obstacles facing women, but it also drew on Dr. Barres’s personal experiences. He recounted dismissive treatment he had received when he was a woman and how that had changed when he became a man. “By far,” he wrote, “the main difference that I have noticed is that people who don’t know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect: I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.” Dr. Barres (pronounced BARE-ess) was born on Sept. 13, 1954, in West Orange, N.J., with the given name Barbara. “I knew from a very young age — 5 or 6 — that I wanted to be a scientist, that there was something fun about it and I would enjoy doing it,” he told The New York Times in 2006. “I decided I would go to M.I.T. when I was 12 or 13.” © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Glia; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24472 - Posted: 12.30.2017

By Melissa McCradden Do girls take longer than boys to recover after a concussion? A recent study of middle- and high school athletes they found that the female athletes took twice as long to be symptom-free as the male athletes. Shockingly, the female athletes took nearly a full month to report being symptom-free, while the male athletes took less than two weeks. It was reported widely across the media as evidence the young women may have a special problem with concussions. This conclusion, unfortunately, is not well supported. Meta-analyses (which look at the full body of literature on a topic) have found conflicting evidence regarding male-female differences in concussion recovery. Consensus statements on sport-related concussion have not deemed there to be sufficient reason to distinguish between the genders for return-to-play protocols or guidelines on handling the injury. And the study itself has important flaws. There are hundreds of thousands of female athletes who have scholarships, professional careers, and Olympic hopes at stake, and let’s not forget the basic principle that our girls deserve equal opportunity as the boys to participate in sports. These conclusions have real consequences, and we need to get our information right. One of the strongest predictive factors for prolonged post-concussion symptoms is expectation of recovery—those who believe they will recover quickly are more likely to do so. So if we label women in this way, it can have a direct, negative effect on their recovery from concussion. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24444 - Posted: 12.20.2017

Nicola Davis Sexual interactions between snow monkeys and sika deer could be a new behavioural tradition within a group of monkeys observed in Japan, researchers have suggested. While the first report of a male Japanese macaque, or snow monkey, and female sika deer taking to each other was revealed earlier this year, scientists say they are now confident the behaviour is sexual after scrutinising adolescent females suggestively interacting with stags at Minoo in Japan. “The monkey-deer sexual interactions reported in our paper may reflect the early stage development of a new behavioural tradition at Minoo,” said Dr Noëlle Gunst-Leca, co-author of the study from the University of Lethbridge in Canada. While sexual interactions between closely related species have been seen for all manner of animals, from various species of fish to species of baboon, such liaisons are rare, with the sexual assault of king penguins by Antarctic fur seals the only other known example between distant species. But earlier this year, a study revealed a male Japanese macaque had been filmed mounting a female Sika deer at Yakushima island in southern Japan. Gunst-Leca said it wasn’t clear quite what was going on. “They were dealing with a single anecdotal event between one individual monkey and one individual deer, and the description they provided was short, vague and out of context,” she said. “As a result, even the sexual nature of this interaction was not clearly demonstrated.” © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24434 - Posted: 12.18.2017