Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Journal Club: Social context affects immune system’s ability to fight infection

Social adversity has profound biological effects in the individuals who experience it. Risk of physical injuries and food scarcity aside, it turns out that experiencing adversity changes how effectively immune cells combat infection. But this effect is reversible, a new … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Can transmissible vaccines have a major role in eradicating disease?

Vaccines are powerful, but they are not perfect. In some cases, communities struggle to vaccinate enough individuals to stop the spread of a pathogen. But suppose that instead of vaccinating most of a population, it were possible to vaccinate just … Continue reading

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Journal Club: How your body feels influences your confidence levels

Despite living in a world filled with uncertainty, people are generally not constantly paralyzed by doubt, but instead feel confident about their choices. Previous research often assumed that this feeling of confidence was based solely on the availability of high-caliber … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Food first—Safety, friends, and water can come later

Suppose you’re hungry, but also cold. Your dog is barking at someone at the door, and you see your spouse heading toward the fridge—you wonder if he will take the last of the leftover pizza. With many competing factors vying … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Self-sacrificing male spiders assist in their own cannibalism to aid offspring

Spiders are infamous for their deadly females, which often devour males before, after, or even during sex. Now scientists find that male dark fishing spiders (Dolomedes tenebrosus) apparently sacrifice themselves to females after mating to aid their offspring, as reported … Continue reading

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Journal Club: How much you think you understand depends on what you believe others understand

Knowing that experts understand something is enough to make lay persons think they, too, have better grasped a concept, according to a September 26 paper in the journal Psychological Science. Cognitive scientist Steven Sloman, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Extremophiles captured from normal freshwater lake

Microbes capable of stunning metabolic feats—such as thriving in extremely hot or acidic conditions —might not require a trek to an exotic hot spring. The neighborhood pond might do just fine. That’s the implication of a new study in Biology … Continue reading

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Journal Club: How social structure might drive the evolution of cumulative culture

Humans accumulate knowledge over generations, building vast bodies of expertise—a quality that scientists have long suggested helps make humanity unique. In order to explore how such “cumulative culture” arose, anthropologists examined the way in which hunter-gatherers known as the BaYaka … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Childhood adversities correlated with shortened telomeres, poorer health later in life

Stressful experiences during youth seem to leave a mark on a person’s genome decades later, in the form of withered chromosomal caps. As reported in PNAS, childhood stress correlates with increased odds to have shortened telomeres, the chromosome tips that … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Rats can be trained to “taste” light, sound, touch, and smell

Imagine the sight, sound, smell, taste, and feeling of peeling and eating an orange. Scientists had long thought the brain handled such multisensory experiences via brain regions known as primary sensory cortices that are exclusively unimodal—that is, each devoted solely … Continue reading

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