Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

To predict the success of tree-planting schemes, look to villagers’ involvement

Tree-planting projects are sprouting up worldwide in an effort to sequester carbon. Acres of saplings are quick to plant but don’t necessarily have staying power: many die or are cut down before the trees grow to maturity. A recent study … Continue reading

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Friends appear to share patterns of brain activity

  Great minds think alike, so goes the saying. Greatness notwithstanding, a study in PNAS finds that the minds of friends do appear to share patterns of activity. “A lot of us have the intuition that our friends are kind … Continue reading

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

Study reveals evolutionary origins of fold-switching protein

Most proteins are thought to fold into a single active shape. But the human immune protein XCL1 is a rare breed that can switch back and forth between two different structures, each with its own function. A recent study in … Continue reading

Categories: Biochemistry | Evolution | Immunology | Journal Club | Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Model captures how polarization emerges on social media during political campaigns

In recent years, social media platforms have become hotbeds of political discourse—as well as rancorous division. In a recent paper in Physical Review X, researchers unveil a new mathematical model that demonstrates how a combination of campaign information and peer … Continue reading

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A cellular and genetic atlas of the lung offers insights into disease and development

Explorers need maps. That’s as true for hikers blazing trails as it is for molecular biologists striving to cure disease. A new atlas of the lungs, recently published in Nature, is the most comprehensive map ever of that vital organ. … Continue reading

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Study finds clues to Alzheimer’s disease onset in the aging female brain  

In the United States, women make up nearly two-thirds of all diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s disease. On average, women live about 5 years longer than men, but that life expectancy discrepancy doesn’t likely account for such a large, sex-skewed prevalence … Continue reading

Categories: Immunology | Journal Club | Medical Sciences | Neuroscience | Physiology | Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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