There has already been a lot of media coverage on the three new Australian dinosaurs unveiled earlier today and described in a PLoS ONE paper. We will be rounding up some of the news and blog coverage of this separately (although check out Google News if you can’t wait until then) but here are some of the other PLoS ONE articles which have been highlighted by the press and by bloggers this week.
In a PLoS ONE article published on Wednesday, Nichole Lighthall and colleagues at the University of Southern California report that while stressful situations can lead to increased risk taking among men, it has the opposite effect on women, who tended to become more conservative. The participants in the study were randomly assigned to complete either a stress challenge or a control task and 15 minutes later, played a computer game called designed to assess risk taking (the Balloon Analogue Risk Task) in which they earned money for inflating a balloon (five cents per pump), which would explode if it was inflated beyond its randomly determined bursting point. The earnings for exploded balloons would be lost and participants could cash out their winnings at any point in the game. In the control group, men and women showed similar results, inflating the balloon about 40 times, on average, but in the stressed group, women only inflated the balloon an average of 32 times compared to the stressed males who inflated the balloon 48 times.
Gemma Morrow and Stewart Nicol’s article, Cool Sex? Hibernation and Reproduction Overlap in the Echidna, was the second PLoS ONE article to be featured in one of SciCurious’s Friday Weird Science posts in the past month. Not Exactly Rocket Science also posted an in-depth discussion of the paper, along with a video entitled, “Bumbling Echidna.” The authors found that male echidnas mated with torpid females because of the intense competition between promiscuous males; the re-entry of pregnant females into hibernation, meanwhile, could improve the chances of mating with a better quality male You can read more about the curious mating habits of the echidna in the published paper.
PLoS ONE has published a number of articles on vocal learning in songbirds. The most recent of these is entitled, Variable Food Begging Calls Are Harbingers of Vocal Learning, in which Wan-chun Liu and colleagues examine the origin and characteristics of food begging calls in chipping sparrows (Spizella passerina). They report that the earliest vocalisations (the begging calls), often thought to be equivalent to a baby’s babbling, show some key characteristics of vocal learning in these birds. The study was featured as a Research Highlight in this week’s Nature.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, a paper which appeared in PLoS ONE in June 2008 by Douglas Bakkum colleagues has recently discussed on AK’s Rambling Thoughts. The article is entitled, Long-Term Activity-Dependent Plasticity of Action Potential Propagation Delay and Amplitude in Cortical Networks.
And finally, according to Thomas Pfeiffer and colleagues in their recent PLoS ONE article, the reliability of findings published in the scientific literature decreases with the popularity of a research field. Their study involved large amounts of data from publication databases and data mining, which allowed them to analyse tens of thousands of statements from the scientific literature. The authors reported:
“First, we find that individual results on yeast protein interactions as published in the literature become less reliable with increasing popularity of the interacting proteins (inflated error effect). This is disquieting because one plausible possibility to explain this effect is “significance seeking”. Second, we find evidence for a negative effect of a high popularity due to multiple independent testing. Interactions that are obtained at least once in the literature are less likely confirmed by high-throughput experiments if the interaction partners are more popular. The second effect is about 10 times larger than the first one.”
From the Other PLoS Journals