This month in PLoS ONE: synchronized eating, depression’s link to working overtime (surprise!), a step towards understanding Alzheimer’s, the oldest living thing on earth and a species of very small chameleons.
Your choice of dining companion may have a greater influence on your meal consumption than you first expect. Researchers found that 70 pairs of female diners tended to mimic each other in eating behavior, taking bites simultaneously and consuming similar amounts of food. This study was covered by Scientific American, MSNBC and CNN
It seems logical to connect working long hours with feeling down but now you can point to new scientific evidence of this correlation. In this five year study of more than 2,000 British civil servants, men and women who routinely worked 11 hours or more per day more than doubled their risk of developing depression, compared with co-workers who put in eight hour days. This study was covered by ABC, NPR, LA Times and others.
The implications are profound for new research supporting the concept that Alzheimer’s spreads through the brain like an infection. Originating in the entorhinal cortex, abnormal tau proteins seem to progress from neuron to neuron across synapses, creating tangles of protein fibers in areas needed for memory creation and storage. Covered by NPR, The New York Times and Reuters, this research could be used to help diagnose Alzheimer’s in earlier stages and improve treatment.
The oldest living thing on earth may be a giant patch of seagrass found in the Mediterranean. Beds of this clonal organism, Posidonia oceania, are likely at least 100,000 years old, almost 60,000 years older than the previously thought oldest living organism (a Tasmanian plant), but may be under threat from rising ocean temperatures. This study was covered by the Huffington Post, BBC and Voice of America.
Tiniest but not least, a newly discovered dwarf chameleon species represents “an extreme case of island dwarfism” in Madagascar. Reaching only about 16mm fully grown, these chameleons are among the smallest vertebrates in the world. Their discovery was covered by Wired, Discovery and by Slate on Youtube.
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Image Credit: Frank Glaw