The Best of PubMed (Part II)

Spring has finally arrived in Northern California, and with it course assignments that require me to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for literature on PubMed. As a reminder for readers not constantly reminded of the glories of this website, PubMed is a catalogue of papers published by most of the worlds biomedical journals. For those of you with long memories, back in February I wrote a post highlighting some of the more unusual papers included in the 19 million scientific citations listed by PubMed. Since that first post, I've been keeping my eyes peeling for more epic examples of odd research that has, by one way or another, seen the light of publication.

Without further ado, here are just a few of the papers I've found with subjects that range from humorous, awkward, to just plain weird. Some of these papers were discovered (and shared) by members of my Twitter community, some I actively searched for, and some I came across in the course of a legitimate literature search. As with Part 1, some of these papers 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 Additions, Fun Times and Feelings:

The Effects of Smoking and Abstinence on Experience of Happiness and Sadness in Response to Positively Valence, Negatively Valence, and Neutral Film Clips. Dawkins L, Acaster S and Powell JH. Addict Behav. 2007 Feb;32(2):425-31. Epub 2006 Jul 7.

Addition to indoor tanning: relation to anxiety, depression and substance use. Mosher CE, Danoff-Burg S. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Apr;146(4):412-7.

In the category of One Step Closer to Cylon-Human Relationships:

Can machines think? Interaction and perspective taking with robots investigated via fMRI. Krach S et al. PLoS One. 2008 Jul 9;3(7):e2597.

Social behavior of dogs enountering AIBO, an animal-like robot in a neutral and in a feeding situation. Kubinyi E et al. Behav Processes. 2004 Mar 31;65(3):231-9.

In the category of This Title Can't Accurately Reflect The Paper's Actual Subject, Right?

The half-tico, half-gringo robot. Finklea L. Pharos Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Med Soc. 2009 Spring;72(2):32-4.

In the category of Research that Should Totally be Used to Explain Human Behavior:

Social bonds between unrelated females increase reproductive success in feral horses. Cameron EZ, Setsaas TH, and Linklater WL. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 18;106(33):13850-3. Epub 2009 Aug 10.

In the category of Unexpected, but in Retrospect Very Logical

The photic sneeze reflec as a risk factor to combat pilots. Breitenbach RA et al. Mil Med. 1993 Dec;158(12):806-9.

In the category of I Was Searching For Optic Flow Papers, And This is What Your Give Me?

Interactions of airflow oscillation, trachela inclination, and mucus elasticity significantly improve simulated cough clearance. Ragavan AJ, Evrensel CA, Krumpe P. Chest. 2010 Feb;137(2):355-61. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

In the category of You Can Read Minds? Okay, Prove It.

Telepathy in mental illness: deluge or delusion? Greyson B. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1977 Sep;165(3):184-200.

NOTE: This last paper may be disturbing to people. But its a perfect example of the mind-boggling research that corporations fund for publication, and has also received quite a bit of press in the last month. I would be remiss if I didn't include it.

Effect of an electronic control device exposure on a methamphetamine-intoxicated animal model. Dawes DM et al. Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Apr;17(4):436-43. [Also known as that study where people payed by TASER International gave sheep meth and then tased them]

And that's all for now. Until next time, happy PubMed-ing!


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