Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Author Archives: Amber Dance

Genome of “mile-a-minute weed” hints at the secrets to its invasive success

The weedy vine Mikania micrantha, originally from Central and South America, has become a worldwide menace. Thus far, it’s spread to tropical climes in China and Southeast Asia, Australia, and islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as … Continue reading

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Dopamine-making neurons, an ongoing mystery, play a bigger role in reinforcing learning than in initiating action

Deep in the midbrain, one type of neuron has two crucial jobs when it comes to acting while anticipating a reward—a state also known as Pavlovian conditioning. Called dopaminergic (DA) neurons, they can link a signal, such as a sound … Continue reading

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Nitrogen-fixing bacteria talk to soybean roots via tiny RNAs, suggesting new avenue to improve yields

In order for soybean plants to get their necessary dose of nitrogen, they partner with bacteria called rhizobia, which can convert atmospheric nitrogen into organic forms the plant can use. But scientists don’t have the full picture of what facilitates … Continue reading

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Climate disasters fuel only a small boost in green energy investments

  In the wake of devastating floods in Germany in 2013, some affected householders recognized the connection between extreme weather and climate change and sought out green energy sources, according to analyses of insurance payouts and Internet searches conducted by … Continue reading

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New protein structure reveals hotspot for cystic fibrosis drug binding

  The newly revealed structure of a cystic fibrosis drug, captured in tandem with its target channel protein, could help scientists design better medications for the condition. Cystic fibrosis results from mutations in the gene for the cystic fibrosis transmembrane … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Psychological tasks in the lab are poor predictors of real-world self-regulation

Skipping dessert to stay healthy, saving money for a rainy day, not shouting at your boss even when there might be good reason—psychologists group these and other human behaviors under the large umbrella of “self-regulation.” That is, despite the near-term … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Neurons fire in sync, helping elucidate the biological basis of learning

Our brains change as we learn. But how exactly does a cluster of neurons change their activity or connections? It seems the phenomenon is due, at least in part, to neurons starting to fire in sync, according to a recent … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Understanding how a plant makes a hook could someday improve crops

This spring, as the first shoots of new plants emerge from the soil, many are bent over in a hook. This simple act protects the fragile stem tip and leaves as the sprout pokes up through the dirt. But how … Continue reading

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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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