Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Animal Behavior

For camouflaged animals, a quick dash is best to avoid detection

A hunting falcon flying over a field might not see a camouflaged rabbit hidden in the grass. But if that rabbit loses its nerve and runs, then the falcon will see its meal. Movement gives away even the best disguises. … Continue reading

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

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

Categories: Animal Behavior | Cell Biology | Journal Club | Neuroscience | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For choices involving uncertainty, the brain simplifies the math that drives our decisions

Every day, people make countless decisions, big and small: Should I buy that new house? Do I want chocolate or vanilla ice cream? A recent study suggests that when faced with uncertainty regarding a choice, how a person evaluates their … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Evolution | Journal Club | Neuroscience | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Predators can harm rather than help biodiversity

  Rich biodiversity depends on the ability of species to coexist. And yet, ecologists are still grappling with the requisite mechanisms. Recent findings published in Nature suggest that predators might not be as helpful a driver of species coexistence as … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Ecology | Journal Club | Population Biology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Animal Behavior | Cell Biology | Journal Club | Neuroscience | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Animal Behavior | Journal Club | Neuroscience | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Journal Club: Proprioceptive neurons offer new insights into a “sixth sense”

Proprioception allows people to know the position of parts of the body without seeing them, enabling us to touch type, walk in the dark without falling over, or drive a car while looking at the road. Defects in this sensory … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Biochemistry | Journal Club | Neuroscience | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Journal Club: Damaged reefs get quieter, causing fewer fish to hear their way home

  A healthy coral reef creates quite the underwater racket. Reef croakers croak, damselfish woop-woop-woop, and clown fish sound thuds like a woodpecker at a tree. But a new study reports that climate-change related disturbances can turn down the volume … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Ecology | Environmental Sciences | Journal Club | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Journal Club: Canines remember who cooperates, suggesting principles similar to those seen in human interaction

Human cooperation often comes down to one key understanding: You help me, I’ll help you. Social animals, including dogs, also help others, even nonrelatives. But many scientists assume that animal cooperation is a different breed. They see animals as less … Continue reading

Categories: Animal Behavior | Anthropology | Journal Club | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment