Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

New technique builds animal brain–like spontaneity into AI

A woman walking to a bus stop realizes that she forgot her keys; she suddenly turns around and runs home. Such spontaneous activities are hallmarks of animal behavior. Eager to capture the essence of the human brain, roboticists have tried … Continue reading

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Insights into heat shock protein machinery could point to interventions for neurodegenerative disease

Heat shock proteins perform a range of functions related to protein quality control. Among them: breaking down dangerous protein aggregates called amyloid fibers. The buildup of certain amyloids has been linked to neurodegenerative disease. But the exact mechanism by which … Continue reading

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Smaller salamander species associated with smaller genomes

The world’s tiniest salamanders are so small that some body parts appear to get short shrift. Those in the genus Thorius, for example, have heads that are “mind bogglingly small, maybe half the size of a pencil eraser,” says herpetologist … Continue reading

Categories: Developmental Biology | Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Physiology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interdisciplinary study brings a humanist perspective to research on land use change

Decades ago, Brazil’s northeastern State of Bahia produced much of the world’s cocoa for chocolate. Most farms grew their cacao trees interspersed with other native trees, in dense agricultural forests. Children played at the forest edges. Today those children are … Continue reading

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Model suggests how evolution shapes ecological networks among species

The natural world is filled with networks. Predator and prey, flower and pollinator—each interacting pair forms a link in a networked community of organisms. Now, a French research team has developed a model that explores how evolution may help shape … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Ecology | Evolution | Journal Club | Mathematics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plants sense temperature with help of elegant protein

How plants sense temperature is a longstanding and little-understood question. Researchers have discovered some of the mechanisms involved. A recent study in Nature adds a new mechanism—among the first in which the biophysical behavior of a single protein regulates the … Continue reading

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Inner Workings: Researchers race to develop in-home COVID-19 testing, a potential game-changer

For most people, a COVID-19 test entails a swab up the nose in a doctor’s office or drive-in site. The sample then goes out to a lab. Results come back within a few days to a week—a waiting period that’s … Continue reading

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The hippocampus has brief but critical role in early task learning

How the brain learns new tasks is among the biggest and oldest questions in neuroscience. A recent study in Nature Neuroscience offers a new, potentially key part of the answer: the dorsal hippocampus is involved in the earliest stages of … Continue reading

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Insects, not just wind, offer an ancient mechanism of orchid seed dispersal

On Yakushima Island, at the southern tip of Japan, an orchid employs a very unusual strategy to disperse its seeds. Crickets visit the orchid at night, eat its fruits, and defecate the seeds in the vicinity. The discovery, reported recently … Continue reading

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Satellite monitoring may help preserve the Chesapeake Bay by improving farming practices

  Restoring the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, has for decades proven to be a fraught enterprise, beset by the interests of researchers, farmers, anglers, multiple governments, and a host of others. A new approach, recently reported in Remote … Continue reading

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Deep-sea mussels still show biological rhythms tracking sunlight, tides

Like many land animals, marine organisms follow daily and seasonal clocks—in the water, those clocks are set by the cadence of the sun and the moon. But researchers hadn’t known if deep-sea creatures also exhibit biological rhythms, tucked away in … Continue reading

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