Field of Science

Links - April 25, 2011


AAPA symposium on Evolution through the Life Course: Why we shouldn't prescribe hormonal contraception to twelve year olds. Can the benefits of hormonal contraceptives seen in adult women be applied to girls as young as 11-12? Can the use of hormonal contraceptives influence the development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal endocrine pathways in pubescent girls? Oral contraceptives are often marketed as period regulators, especially to young girls who are more likely to experience irregular periods. However, period irregularity after menarche is due to the maturation process of the negative-feedback arc that regulates the endocrine pathway, and the effects of flooding this developing system with exogenous hormones aren't well understood.

Divided by language, united by gut bacteria – people have three common gut types and Bacterial Ecosystems Divide People Into 3 Groups, Scientists Say. The microbiome seems to be a pretty hot topic right now. I'm glad someone finally took this to task. If you're not familiar, there's an oft-cited study on college-age women that claims that women who don't use condoms are less depressed than women who use condoms or are abstinent. The authors took this to mean that there are magical happy juices in semen that is absorbed through the vaginal wall and boosts women's mood. However, there are problems with this study that people often fail to address when discussing it.

Erection-inducing condoms may soon be available in Europe. The condoms use a topical vasodilator to prevent, um, deflation after putting it on.

The neuroscience of relationship breakups. Looking at a photo of an ex-significant other immediately after a breakup activates the same areas of the brain as when experiencing physical pain.

Other Biology

DNA Origami Gets Curves. Just look at the pictures!

Perseverating on Perseverative Error: What Does The "A-not-B Error" Really Tell Us About Infant Cognition? Baby talk may be an adaptive mechanism for learning generalizable information.

Nature in time-lapse: 10 awe-inspiring videos. They're all good, but this one is my favorite:

Other Stuff

Nervous nellies. Culture is probably to blame for the fact that girls seem to be plagued by anxiety more often than boys. A good companion piece to this: The secret lives of boys.

Reflections of Gotham: Why Do New Yorkers Wear So Much Black? A pretty cool summary of the history of dyes and textile trade, and how that may be influencing the color choices of New Yorkers.


  1. The article about the neurology of break ups is fascinating. One of my undergrad professors told me the sensation of love is caused by an addiction to chemicals found in another person's sweat (or perhaps your own in the case of narcissists?), so it would make sense that break ups affect dopamine related areas of the brain...

  2. I think what you're getting at with the sweat is related to MHC, which determines genetic immune compatibility. Not exactly the same thing, but it definitely seems to play a role in attraction. However studies aren't entirely in agreement on how that works (see about 5 paragraphs down here).


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