SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

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Inspired by broader efforts to make the conclusions of scientific research more robust, we have compiled a list of some of the most common statistical mistakes that appear in the scientific literature. The mistakes have their origins in ineffective experimental designs, inappropriate analyses and/or flawed reasoning. We provide advice on how authors, reviewers and readers can identify and resolve these mistakes and, we hope, avoid them in the future.

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There is strong epidemiological evidence that poor diet is associated with depression. The reverse has also been shown, namely that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and lean meat, is associated with reduced risk of depression. To date, only one randomised controlled trial (RCT) has been conducted with elevated depression symptoms being an inclusion criterion, with results showing that a diet intervention can reduce clinical levels of depression. No such RCTs have been performed in young adults. Young adults with elevated levels of depression symptoms and who habitually consume a poor diet were randomly allocated to a brief 3-week diet intervention (Diet Group) or a habitual diet control group (Control Group). The primary and secondary outcome measures assessed at baseline and after the intervention included symptoms of depression (Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale; CESD-R; and Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale- 21 depression subscale; DASS-21-D), current mood (Profile of Mood States), self-efficacy (New General Self-Efficacy Scale) and memory (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test). Diet compliance was measured via self-report questionnaires and spectrophotometry. One-hundred-and-one individuals were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to the Diet Group or the Control Group. Upon completion of the study, there was complete data for 38 individuals in each group. There was good compliance with the diet intervention recommendations assessed using self-report and spectrophotometry. The Diet group had significantly lower self-reported depression symptoms than the Control Group on the CESD-R (p = 0.007, Cohen’s d = 0.65) and DASS-21 depression subscale (p = 0.002, Cohen’s d = 0.75) controlling for baseline scores on these scales. Reduced DASS-21 depression subscale scores were maintained on follow up phone call 3 months later (p = .009). These results are the first to show that young adults with elevated depression symptoms can engage in and adhere to a diet intervention, and that this can reduce symptoms of depression. The findings provide justification for future research into the duration of these benefits, the impacts of varying diet composition, and their biological basis.

232

Sleep deprivation has marked effects on food intake, shifting food choices toward energy-dense options. Here we test the hypothesis that neural processing in central olfactory circuits, in tandem with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), plays a key role in mediating this relationship. We combined a partial sleep-deprivation protocol, pattern-based olfactory neuroimaging, and ad libitum food intake to test how central olfactory mechanisms alter food intake after sleep deprivation. We found that sleep restriction increased levels of the ECS compound 2-oleoylglycerol (2-OG), enhanced encoding of food odors in piriform cortex, and shifted food choices toward energy-dense food items. Importantly, the relationship between changes in 2-OG and food choices was formally mediated by odor-evoked connectivity between the piriform cortex and insula, a region involved in integrating feeding-related signals. These findings describe a potential neurobiological pathway by which state-dependent changes in the ECS may modulate chemosensory processing to regulate food choices.

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Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. Does this translate into increased economic damages? To date, empirical assessments of damage trends have been inconclusive. Our study demonstrates a temporal increase in extreme damages, after controlling for a number of factors. We analyze event-level data using quantile regressions to capture patterns in the damage distribution (not just its mean) and find strong evidence of progressive rightward skewing and tail-fattening over time. While the effect of time on averages is hard to detect, effects on extreme damages are large, statistically significant, and growing with increasing percentiles. Our results are consistent with an upwardly curved, convex damage function, which is commonly assumed in climate-economics models. They are also robust to different specifications of control variables and time range considered and indicate that the risk of extreme damages has increased more in temperate areas than in tropical ones. We use simulations to show that underreporting bias in the data does not weaken our inferences; in fact, it may make them overly conservative.

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Electronic-cigarettes (E-cigs) are marketed as a safe alternative to tobacco to deliver the stimulant nicotine, and their use is gaining in popularity, particularly among the younger population. We recently showed that mice exposed to short-term (12 wk) E-cig smoke (ECS) sustained extensive DNA damage in lungs, heart, and bladder mucosa and diminished DNA repair in lungs. Nicotine and its nitrosation product, nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone, cause the same deleterious effects in human lung epithelial and bladder urothelial cells. These findings raise the possibility that ECS is a lung and bladder carcinogen in addition to nicotine. Given the fact that E-cig use has become popular in the past decade, epidemiological data on the relationship between ECS and human cancer may not be known for a decade to come. In this study, the carcinogenicity of ECS was tested in mice. We found that mice exposed to ECS for 54 wk developed lung adenocarcinomas (9 of 40 mice, 22.5%) and bladder urothelial hyperplasia (23 of 40 mice, 57.5%). These lesions were extremely rare in mice exposed to vehicle control or filtered air. Current observations that ECS induces lung adenocarcinomas and bladder urothelial hyperplasia, combined with our previous findings that ECS induces DNA damage in the lungs and bladder and inhibits DNA repair in lung tissues, implicate ECS as a lung and potential bladder carcinogen in mice. While it is well established that tobacco smoke poses a huge threat to human health, whether ECS poses any threat to humans is not yet known and warrants careful investigation.

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Species extinctions have defined the global biodiversity crisis, but extinction begins with loss in abundance of individuals that can result in compositional and functional changes of ecosystems. Using multiple and independent monitoring networks, we report population losses across much of the North American avifauna over 48 years, including once-common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance. A continent-wide weather radar network also reveals a similarly steep decline in biomass passage of migrating birds over a recent 10-year period. This loss of bird abundance signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity, function, and services.

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Mature locomotion requires that animal nervous systems coordinate distinct groups of muscles. The pressures that guide the development of coordination are not well understood. To understand how and why coordination might emerge, we measured the kinematics of spontaneous vertical locomotion across early development in zebrafish (Danio rerio) . We found that zebrafish used their pectoral fins and bodies synergistically during upwards swims. As larvae developed, they changed the way they coordinated fin and body movements, allowing them to climb with increasingly stable postures. This fin-body synergy was absent in vestibular mutants, suggesting sensed imbalance promotes coordinated movements. Similarly, synergies were systematically altered following cerebellar lesions, identifying a neural substrate regulating fin-body coordination. Together these findings link the vestibular sense to the maturation of coordinated locomotion. Developing zebrafish improve postural stability by changing fin-body coordination. We therefore propose that the development of coordinated locomotion is regulated by vestibular sensation.

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The isolated fossil remains of an allosauroid theropod from the Lower Cretaceous Khok Kruat Formation of Khorat, Thailand, are described in this study. Detailed observations support the establishment of a new allosauroid, Siamraptor suwati gen. et sp. nov. This new taxon is based on a composite cranial and postcranial skeleton comprising premaxilla, maxilla, jugal, surangular, prearticular, articular, vertebrae, manual ungual, ischium, tibia, and pedal phalanx. It is distinguished from other allosauroids by characters such as a jugal with straight ventral margin and dorsoventrally deep anterior process below the orbit, a surangular with a deep oval concavity at the posterior end of the lateral shelf and four posterior surangular foramina, a long and narrow groove along the suture between the surangular and the prearticular, an articular with a foramen at the notch of the suture with the prearticular, an anterior cervical vertebra with a pneumatic foramen (so-called ‘pleurocoel’) excavating parapophysis, and cervical and posterior dorsal vertebrae penetrated by a pair of small foramina bilaterally at the base of the neural spine. The presence of a huge number of camerae and pneumatopores in cranial and axial elements reveals a remarkable skeletal pneumatic system in this new taxon. Moreover, the phylogenetic analyses revealed that Siamraptor is a basal taxon of Carcharodontosauria, involving a new sight of the paleobiogeographical context of this group. Siamraptor is the best preserved carcharodontosaurian theropod in Southeast Asia, and it sheds new light on the early evolutionary history of Carcharodontosauria.

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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are common industrial and consumer product chemicals with widespread human exposures that have been linked to adverse health effects. PFASs are commonly detected in foods and food-contact materials (FCMs), including fast food packaging and microwave popcorn bags.

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Dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity levels and increased social support, both of which could improve the outcome after a major cardiovascular event. Dog ownership may be particularly important in single-occupancy households where ownership provides substitutive companionship and motivation for physical activity.