She had an extra nipple where?!?

By Seriously Science | May 27, 2015 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Image: Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Yup, you guessed it–according to this case study, a woman was found to have an extra nipple… in her vulva! And guess what else? It produced milk! Although extra nipples aren’t all that common, they usually can be found along the “milk line” (the imaginary line on a person’s torso that correlates with the line between multiple pairs of nipples on other mammals). But extra nipples have also been reported on other places, like the foot. So this extra nipple is unusual for its location. But what makes it really special is that it actually produced milk. It turns out that most extra nipples don’t come with much breast tissue, much less the capacity for milk formation. However, because of the risk of malignancy, this extra nipple was removed after it was diagnosed.

Supernumerary nipple presenting as a vulvar mass in an adolescent: case report

“BACKGROUND: Ectopic breast tissues can be found along the embryonic mammary ridges and can occur in the vulva. While ectopic breast tissue is not uncommon, functional breast with overlying nipple located within the vulva is exceedingly rare. Read More

Scientific proof that Facebook is making you sad.

By Seriously Science | May 19, 2015 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/birgerking

Image: Flickr/birgerking

Facebook. People either love it or hate it. But one thing we can all agree on is that it sucks up a lot of time for a lot of people. Sure, it can be an easy way to keep in touch with large number of friends and family members, but what effect does Facebook have on those who spend hours a day on the site? Well, according to the authors of this study, Facebook has real emotional effects on users…and they aren’t good. The researchers kept in touch with study participants, texting them 5 times per day (!) to find out how they felt, while also keeping track of their Facebook use. Turns out that the participants felt worse and had less life satisfaction after increases in Facebook use. Something to think about before sharing this on Facebook (although we hope you do anyway!).

Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults.

“Over 500 million people interact daily with Facebook. Yet, whether Facebook use influences subjective well-being over time is unknown. We addressed this issue using experience-sampling, the most reliable method for measuring in-vivo behavior and psychological experience. Read More

Flashback Friday: What can 2,914 Australian twins tell us about the evolution of the female orgasm?

By Seriously Science | May 15, 2015 6:00 am

Photo: flickr/Martina Rathgens

When it comes to the evolution of human traits, there’s no issue quite as hot as the “purpose” of the female orgasm. Is it under evolutionary selection, or is it just a developmental byproduct of the all-important male orgasm? Well, according to these authors, if the female orgasm has been selected for, one would expect rates of orgasm to correlate with behaviors related to “fitness”– which in this context doesn’t mean how much you can bench press, but rather how likely it is that your lineage will live on. To test this idea, they gathered information from thousands of Australian twins and looked for possible correlations. It turns out that none of the fitness traits they looked for had a strong correlation with how many orgasms the twins had. Based on their premise, this suggests that female orgasm has not been evolutionarily selected for. But hey, absence of proof isn’t proof of absence!

Female Orgasm Rates are Largely Independent of Other Traits: Implications for “Female Orgasmic Disorder” and Evolutionary Theories of Orgasm.

“Introduction.  The criteria for “female orgasmic disorder” (FOD) assume that low rates of orgasm are dysfunctional, implying that high rates are functional. Evolutionary theories about the function of female orgasm predict correlations of orgasm rates with sexual attitudes and behavior and other fitness-related traits.

Aim.  To test hypothesized evolutionary functions of the female orgasm.

Methods.  We examined such correlations in a community sample of 2,914 adult female Australian twins who reported their orgasm rates during masturbation, intercourse, and other sexual activities, and who completed demographic, personality, and sexuality questionnaires.

Main Outcome Measures.  Orgasm rates during intercourse, other sex, and masturbation.

Results.  Although orgasm rates showed high variance across women and substantial heritability, they were largely phenotypically and genetically independent of other important traits. We found zero to weak phenotypic correlations between all three orgasm rates and all other 19 traits examined, including occupational status, social class, educational attainment, extraversion, neuroticism, psychoticism, impulsiveness, childhood illness, maternal pregnancy stress, marital status, political liberalism, restrictive attitudes toward sex, libido, lifetime number of sex partners, risky sexual behavior, masculinity, orientation toward uncommitted sex, age of first intercourse, and sexual fantasy. Furthermore, none of the correlations had significant genetic components.

Conclusion.  These findings cast doubt on most current evolutionary theories about female orgasm’s adaptive functions, and on the validity of FOD as a psychiatric construct.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: Attractiveness of blonde women in evolutionary perspective: studies with two Polish samples.
NCBI ROFL: Are there different types of female orgasm?
NCBI ROFL: Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: scientist..or perv?, Sex & Mating

On the purpose of saying “ow” when you hurt yourself.

By Seriously Science | May 13, 2015 12:36 pm
Photo: flickr/Mark Lee

Photo: flickr/Mark Lee

If you bite your tongue or stub your toe, your first instinct is probably to yell. But have you ever wondered why that is? According to this study, being vocal could actually help you tolerate the pain. Here, the authors tested how long subjects could keep their hands immersed in very cold water before they couldn’t take it anymore. The researchers found that saying “ow” during the experiment increased the subjects’ tolerance for pain, but hearing a recording of their own voice or someone else’s voice saying “ow” did not. These results are consistent with a previous study that found that swearing is also an effective way to increase pain tolerance; both studies suggest that the vocalization helps distract you from the pain and could be related to an evolutionarily-preserved “flight-or-flight” response. 

On the Importance of Being Vocal: Saying “Ow” Improves Pain Tolerance

“Vocalizing is a ubiquitous pain behavior. The present study investigated whether it helps alleviate pain and sought to discern potential underlying mechanisms. Participants were asked to immerse one hand in painfully cold water. On separate trials, they said “ow,” heard a recording of them saying “ow,” heard a recording of another person saying “ow,” pressed a button, or sat passively. Compared to sitting passively, saying “ow” increased the duration of hand immersion. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: feelings shmeelings, told you so

Flashback Friday: Here’s a list of what’s currently living in your belly button.

By Seriously Science | May 8, 2015 9:18 am
Photo: flickr/zeevveez

Photo: flickr/zeevveez

Have you ever wondered what exactly is inside your belly button? Well, besides the lint (which is mostly derived from actual lint), there is a whole ecosystem of microorganisms that call the navel their home. The authors of this study used DNA sequencing to identify these organisms, determining that the belly button microbiome is dominated by a few common members (see excerpt below), but the remaining species are diverse. The most surprising result, however, was the discovery of two different types of Archaea (a domain of single-celled organisms often found in extreme environments such as hot springs and not previously reported on human skin) from “an individual who self-reported not having showered or bathed for several years.” Talk about an “extreme environment”– I just feel sorry for whoever had to swab that person’s belly button!

A Jungle in There: Bacteria in Belly Buttons are Highly Diverse, but Predictable

“The belly button is one of the habitats closest to us, and yet it remains relatively unexplored. We analyzed bacteria and arachaea from the belly buttons of humans from two different populations sampled within a nation-wide citizen science project. We examined bacterial and archaeal phylotypes present and their diversity using multiplex pyrosequencing of 16S rDNA libraries. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: analysis taken too far

Hate rye bread? According to this study, you can blame your genes.

By Seriously Science | May 5, 2015 10:08 am
Photo: flickr/Jarkko Lane

Photo: flickr/Jarkko Lane

Rye bread is not for everyone — while it goes great with pastrami, it’s a strong flavor that some people choose to avoid. Well, according to this study, there might be a genetic basis to whether you are a rye person or a…uh…white (bread) person. By studying bread preferences in a large group of Danish and Finnish twins, the authors found that there seems to be a moderate genetic influence on bread preference, with around 20-40% of variation in taste preferences being explained by genetics. While it’s difficult to adequately control for all of the other explanations for why twins may or may not prefer the same type of bread, the authors claim that shared environment growing up is not sufficient to explain the correlations they see. I’ll toast to that!

Twin study of heritability of eating bread in Danish and Finnish men and women.

“Bread is an elementary part of the western diet, and especially rye bread is regarded as an important source of fibre. We investigated the heritability of eating bread in terms of choice of white and rye bread and use-frequency of bread in female and male twins in Denmark and Finland. Read More

Can the use of force by police change the outcome of a field sobriety test?

By Seriously Science | May 1, 2015 10:13 am
Image: Flickr/Jeffrey Smith

Image: Flickr/Jeffrey Smith

The “typical” DUI pullover goes something like this: you get pulled over, the cop conducts a field sobriety test, and you either pass or fail. But what if things go a little differently? What if you try to run? Or you get into a fistfight with a cop? Can the weapons at the police officer’s disposal potentially make you fail, even if you *are* sober? Well, thanks to these scientists, and the pain endurance of their volunteers, we now know! To find out, the volunteers underwent a standardized field sobriety test before and after one of five unpleasant scenarios: five-seconds of zapping with an electrical weapon; a 100-yard sprint; 45-seconds of fighting; a bite from a police dog; or pepper spray in the face. Turns out, after all of that rigamarole, none of these seemed to make a difference to the outcome of the test. But maybe there’s a silver lining; perhaps future officers will use this paper itself as a field sobriety test– it has enough shorthand to make it understandable only to a teetotaler!

Effect of simulated resistance, fleeing, and use of force on standardized field sobriety testing.

“INTRODUCTION: When a law enforcement officer (LEO) stops a suspect believed to be operating (a vehicle) while impaired (OWI), the suspect may resist or flee, and the LEO may respond with force. The suspect may then undergo a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) to gauge impairment. It is not known whether resistance, fleeing, or actions of force can create an inaccurate SFST result. We examined the effect of resistance, fleeing, and force on the SFST. Read More

Tired of getting songs stuck in your head? Try this one weird (and delicious) trick!

By Seriously Science | April 30, 2015 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Jono Haysom

Image: Flickr/Jono Haysom

Earworms. Ugh. We’ve all had them: songs that won’t go away, rattling on and on and leaving our minds on “repeat” for hours, days, and even weeks. There are a number of ways to help get rid of the bastards once they are stuck in one’s head, but what if there were a way to avoid earworms altogether? Well, these scientists think they found a way out of this sticky situation, by means of another! Apparently, chewing on gum reduces the number of “unwanted musical thoughts.” Chew on that!

Want to block earworms from conscious awareness? B(u)y gum!

“Three experiments examine the role of articulatory motor planning in experiencing an involuntary musical recollection (an “earworm”). Experiment 1 shows that interfering with articulatory motor programming by chewing gum reduces both the number of voluntary and the number of involuntary-unwanted-musical thoughts. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, rated G

Study finds that people with higher incomes have more sex.

By Seriously Science | April 24, 2015 6:00 am

Photo: flickr/tax credits

This study comes straight out of our new favorite journal, the aptly named International Journal of Manpower. Here, the author set out to determine whether there’s a relationship between how much money a person earns and how much sex they have. From a survey of 7,500 people, he found that workers who have sex 2-3 times per week earn on average 4.5 percent more than workers who have sex less often. The direction of causality is still unclear (do people have more sex because they make more money, vice versa, or perhaps there are cases of each?). All we know for sure is that we are submitting our next paper to the International Journal of Manpower.

The effect of sexual activity on wages

“Purpose
– The purpose of this paper is to estimate whether sexual activity is associated with wages, and also to estimate potential interactions between individuals’ characteristics, wages and sexual activity.

Design/methodology/approach
– The central hypothesis behind this research is that sexual activity, alike health indicators and mental well-being, may be thought of as part of an individual’s set of productive traits that affect wages. Using two-stage estimations the author examines the relationship between adult sexual activity and wages.
Read More

Want to feel happier? Just smell a happy person’s BO!

By Seriously Science | April 21, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/littlelovemonster

Photo: flickr/littlelovemonster

Smelling someone’s stinky body odor can really bum you out, at least temporarily. But did you know that BO can communicate emotions directly? According to this study, human body odor may contain chemicals, also known as “chemosignals”, that can carry information about emotional states. To test this hypothesis, the researchers evoked emotions in 12 men by showing them movie clips to make them either happy (e.g., “Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book), afraid (e.g., clips from Schindler’s List and Scream 2), or neutral (e.g., American weather forecasts). During each condition, the researchers collected sweat from the shaved armpits of the subjects. Later, they asked female subjects to smell the sweat samples, and they measured electrical impulses produced by facial muscles to track the womens’ facial expressions. Turns out that women smelling the “happy sweat” had happier expressions (including smiles) compared with those smelling neutral or fearful sweat (the latter of which elicited a fearful expression). So there you have it — to get a boost of happiness, just find the happiest person in the room and take a whiff!

A Sniff of Happiness

“It is well known that feelings of happiness transfer between individuals through mimicry induced by vision and hearing. The evidence is inconclusive, however, as to whether happiness can be communicated through the sense of smell via chemosignals. Read More

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Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]gmail.com.
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