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A pose by any other name would smell as sweet

We know that the standard diagnostic EEG can be obliterated by artefact (here’s looking at you, chewing), and we must familiarise ourselves with natural distracting rhythms that occur when drowsing, asleep and sedated. A report will comment on the patient’s level of arousal and their cooperativeness, perhaps. How many of our top-notch electrophysiologists comment on the pose and poise of the technologists present? A study predicated on the ‘fact’ that the contrapposto pose in women (that exaggerates the waist to hip ratio) is a more attractive pose, looked at EEG in 58 students as they ogled posing women. Using low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography, they identified the middle temporal gyrus as well as the angular gyrus as the key brain regions activated in association with the perception of attractiveness. Do we need a ‘time’s up movement’ for behavioural psychology?

Biol Psychol. 2020;151:107842.

Greedy sea-weedy 3D

I could read an entire article about the technical challenges of trying to fit 3D glasses to cuttlefish or, failing that, bowler hats to seahorses, or a monocle to a wildebeest. Consider that the cuttlefish, when distressed, will squirt ink into his tank (not a good look for a study on vision) or that they have eight arms with which to knock the shades off, but also, how do they remain affixed when you rapidly swim backwards? The answer, as it is with so many things, was superglue and Velcro (figure 1). Playing 3D films of ‘juicy shrimp’ helped them achieve their goal of studying stereopsis in these aquatic predators. Some papers need to be published at the turn of the year so that no one can ask, is it April 1st already?

Figure 1

Cuttlefish use stereopsis to strike at prey.

Sci Adv. 2020;6(2):eaay6036.

Keep your collaborators close and you competitors closer

Clear your working week: you are about to upload a manuscript for consideration at a reputable journal. Cover letter? Check. Separate images as TIFF files? Check. Conflict of interest statements for 1000 coauthors? Oh my…. Over the last 5 years, there have been over 1300 papers published, each with more than a thousand authors. This phenomenon, known as ‘hyperauthorship’, is necessary for unique projects such as collaborative projects at CERN Switzerland, or joining many many datasets such as a Lancet study of body mass index. It does run the risk of hoovering up all the experts in an area, meaning that there is no one left to peer review.

2019 Nature doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03862-0

Gene genie

When was mental health last called a Cinderella specialty? A consortium in Cell published on 232 964 cases, 494 162 controls a huge study on common variants that contribute towards eight mental health disorders (figure 2A). They found 146 single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with at least one disorder, including 35 novel loci. Of these, 109 loci were found to affect two or more disorders. The most highly pleiotropic gene was DCC, a gene fundamental to the early development of white matter connections in the brain.

Figure 2

Single-nucleotide polymorphism-based correlations. (A) The circles’ size denotes the significance of the p values; * indicates significantce after correction. The darker the colour, the larger the magnitude of correlation. (B) Edge and node diagram mapping the relationship between the eight disorders. SCZ, BIP, MD, ADHD, TS, OCD, AN and ASD. ADHD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; AN, anorexia nervosa; ASD, autism spectrum disorder; BIP, bipolar disorder; MD, major depression; OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder; SCZ, schizophrenia; TS, Tourette syndrome.

Cell. 2019;179(7):1469–1482.e11


  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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