Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Journal Club: Key protein family helps govern sense of touch in both plants and animals

Compared to their knowledge of other senses, scientists know relatively little about how cells sense touch. A newly confirmed family of mechanosensors, comprising more than a dozen members and present in both plants and animals, is an important step toward … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Researchers catch the mouse brain in the act of learning something new

Neurobiologists have captured, for the first time, the moment in a mouse’s brain when it first learns something new: in this case, that a beep signals a delicious droplet of sugar water. The results, recently reported in Nature Neuroscience, support a famous … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Simple model reproduces patterns of toxic protein buildup across multiple neurodegenerative diseases

Fatal neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) begin as tiny pockets of misfolded proteins that evade the body’s normal detritus-removal systems. They spread throughout the brain and clog neural pathways. But exactly how these proteins propagate … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Being less infectious pays off for lung pathogen

The human body is home to millions of commensal microbes, some of which—given the right circumstances—can cause disease. One such microbe, known as nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), infects the lungs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Tracing light’s effect on mood and learning in mice from the eye to deep within the brain

To the mammalian eye, light offers more than just sight. “Light is so important for many innate functions,” says neuroscientist Samer Hattar of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “We really don’t appreciate the importance of light in our … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Butterflies get diversity boost from associations with ants, plants

Harvard University evolutionary biologist Naomi Pierce began studying Lycaenidae butterflies as a graduate student in the 1980s. But only recently has she accumulated enough data, from her team’s work and others’, to begin to address the question that has long … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Attention may be at the root of confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is a pervasive phenomenon. Whether it’s a news article or an additional piece of scientific data, people tend to interpret new information as evidence confirming their prior beliefs—even if it actually doesn’t. “People have been aware of this … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Ocean wave power generator gets boost from optics insights

Engineers have long dreamed of tapping into the vast quantities of renewable energy available in the motion of ocean waves, but designing apparatuses to harness such power efficiently has so far proven difficult. Borrowing a technique from optical physics, a … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Marine conservation move sparks a fishing frenzy

Initiatives to protect marine ecosystems could do more harm to marine life than good, according to a recent PNAS paper. The work suggests that the announcement of one of the world’s largest marine protected areas sparked a sudden uptick in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: New screening method promises to reveal elusive cellular receptors for a range of pathogens

The surfaces of human cells are chock-full of proteins that help cells communicate with one another. Unfortunately, many viruses coopt these proteins, latching on in order to enter cells. By revealing which proteins are receptors for which viruses, researchers may … Continue reading

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