Social transfer of pain in mice

A complex relationship exists between the psychosocial environment and the perception and experience of pain, and the mechanisms of the social communication of pain have yet to be elucidated. The present study examined the social communication of pain and demonstrates that “bystander” mice housed and tested in the same room as mice subjected to inflammatory pain or withdrawal from morphine or alcohol develop corresponding hyperalgesia. Olfactory cues mediate the transfer of hyperalgesia to the bystander mice, which can be measured using mechanical, thermal, and chemical tests. Hyperalgesia in bystanders does not co-occur with anxiety or changes in corticosterone and cannot be explained by visually dependent emotional contagion or stress-induced hyperalgesia. These experiments reveal the multifaceted relationship between the social environment and pain behavior and support the use of mice as a model system for investigating these factors. In addition, these experiments highlight the need for proper consideration of how experimental animals are housed and tested. Read more...

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Bees placed on endangered species list

Many species of wild bees, butterflies and other critters that pollinate plants are shrinking toward extinction, and the world needs to do something about it before our food supply suffers, a new United Nations scientific report warns. The 20,000 or so pollinator species are key to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of crops each year — from fruits and vegetables to coffee and chocolate. Yet two out of five species of invertebrate pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are on the path toward extinction, said the first-of-its-kind report. Pollinators with backbones, such as hummingbirds and bats, are only slightly better off, with one in six species facing extinction.

1. Article in Columbia Daily Tribune
2. Article in CNN

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Environmental risk factors for dementia: a systematic review

Dementia risk reduction is a major and growing public health priority. While certain modifiable risk factors for dementia have been identified, there remains a substantial proportion of unexplained risk. There is evidence that environmental risk factors may explain some of this risk. Thus, we present the first comprehensive systematic review of environmental risk factors for dementia. Read more ...

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Statisticians issue warning over misuse of P values

Policy statement aims to halt missteps in the quest for certainty.

Misuse of the P value — a common test for judging the strength of scientific evidence — is contributing to the number of research findings that cannot be reproduced, the American Statistical Association (ASA) warns in a statement released today. The group has taken the unusual step of issuing principles to guide use of the P value, which it says cannot determine whether a hypothesis is true or whether results are important.

This is the first time that the 177-year-old ASA has made explicit recommendations on such a foundational matter in statistics, says executive director Ron Wasserstein. The society’s members had become increasingly concerned that the P value was being misapplied in ways that cast doubt on statistics generally, he adds. Read more...

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