Public Release: 18-Aug-2008
American Naturalist
Genes and nutrition influence caste in unusual species of harvester ant
Researchers trying to determine whether nature or nurture determines an ant’s status in the colony have found a surprising answer.

Public Release: 18-Aug-2008
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Aboriginal kids can count without numbers
Knowing the words for numbers is not necessary to be able to count, according to a new study of aboriginal children by UCL (University College London) and the University of Melbourne. The study of the aboriginal children — from two communities which do not have words or gestures for numbers — found that they were able to copy and perform number-related tasks. The findings, published in the journal PNAS, suggest that we possess an innate mechanism for counting, which may develop differently in children with dyscalculia.
Leverhulme Trust

Public Release: 18-Aug-2008
Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment journal
Researchers link cocoa flavanols to improved brain blood flow
Cocoa flavanols, the unique compounds found naturally in cocoa, may increase blood flow to the brain, according to new research published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment journal. The researchers suggest that long-term improvements in brain blood flow could impact cognitive behavior, offering future potential for debilitating brain conditions including dementia and stroke.
Possible research bias:  “Mars Botanical, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, is a newly-established division of Mars, Incorporated. The mission of Mars Botanical is to further develop leading edge science and technologies in the field of phytonutrients with the goal of creating new plant-derived products aimed at improving human health, and do so in a sustainable way that helps both farming communities and their local environment. Mars, Incorporated scientists and colleagues at leading research institutions are dedicated to unlocking the full nutritional and medical potential of cocoa flavanols. For more information, visit”

Public Release: 18-Aug-2008
Archives of Surgery
Chewing gum associated with enhanced bowel recovery after colon surgery
Chewing gum is associated with enhanced recovery of intestinal function following surgery to remove all or part of the colon, according to an analysis of previously published studies in the August issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Public Release: 18-Aug-2008
PLoS Biology
Mirror self-recognition in magpies
Self-recognition, it has been argued, is a hallmark of advanced cognitive abilities in animals. It was previously thought that only the usual suspects of higher cognition — some great apes, dolphins and elephants — were able to recognize their own bodies in a mirror. In this week’s issue of PLoS Biology, psychologist Helmut Prior and colleagues show evidence of self-recognition in magpies — a species with a brain structure very different from mammals.


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