The "Best" of Pubmed, Part 1

PubMed: the U.S. National Library of Medicine's great catalogue of biomedical journals. PubMed is the portal to published scientific research, listing over 19 million citations, the good and the bad of what biomedical journals deign to publish. And also the ugly.

Given how much time scientists (especially young scientists) spend worrying about publishing, it is sometimes cathartic to delve into the seedy underbelly of PubMed - to glance through those members of the 19 million citations whose subjects are humorous, awkward, or just plain weird.

Over the past couple of months, I have come across quite a few PubMed jewels: here are some of my favorites. Some of these I found, some were found by other members of the first-year Stanford Neuroscience Program. Some are not suitable for work, children, or those with weak stomachs and vivid imaginations - these I have marked: consider yourself warned.

In the category of Social Interactions:

Dogs catch human yawns. Joly-Mascheroni RM, Senju A, Shepherd AJ. Biol Lett. 2008 Oct 23: 4(5); 446-8.

Instrumental measurement of beer taste attributes using an electronic tongue. Rudnitskaya A et al. Anal Chim Acta. 2009 Jul 30; 646(1-2):111-8.

The inhibitory effects on adult male reproductive functions of crude garlic (Allium sativum) feeding. Hammami I et al. Asian J Androl. 2008 Jul; 10(4):593-601.

In the category of Oh, Ewww.

Nasal leech infestation: report of seven leeches and literature review. Chen WC, Chien CY, Yang CH, Li JH, Hwang CF. Eur Arch Otorhinolayngol. 2009 Dec 27.

In the category of Really BMJ? Really?

A precious case from Middle Earth. Bashir N et al. BMJ. 2004 Dec 18; 329(7480): 1435-6.

Effect of ale, garlic, and soured cream on the appetite of leeches. Baerheim A, Sandvik H. BMJ. 1994 Dec 24-31: 309(6970):1689.

Inexplicably, searching PubMed for the keyword "bouncing" yields this paper:

Qualities of the Ideal Protege. Melanson MA. US Army Med Dep J. 2009 Oct-Dec: 44-6

In the category of Not Suitable for Work/Children/Faint of Heart. (I'm going to leave the titles out in favor of non-rated R descriptions.)

Urologic problems caused by a household appliance during an activity that your mother told you would cause blindness.

Bats engaging in some non-vanilla bedroom practices (with video in the supplementary figures).

This list is far from complete: I expect to be posting more fantastical PubMed citations in the future. Until then, enjoy these, and remember: theres a journal for every kind of study out there.


Astra Bryant

Astra Bryant is a graduate of the Stanford Neuroscience PhD program in the labs of Drs. Eric Knudsen and John Huguenard. She used in vitro slice electrophysiology to study the cellular and synaptic mechanisms linking cholinergic signaling and gamma oscillations – two processes critical for the control of gaze and attention, which are disrupted in many psychiatric disorders. She is a senior editor and the webmaster of the NeuWrite West Neuroblog