“Science Times” synthesis

As we hurtle towards summer, the research world is heating up! From contentious stem cell policies in Texas, to evidence of potential misdiagnoses in children, this week’s “Science Times” synthesis is full of controversial and eye-opening reports from around the globe.

Week of April 9

More brainpower seen in soccer’s top scorers: A new study finds that elite soccer players in Sweden tested higher than non-players in executive functions, the brain processes responsible for planning and abstract thinking.

Awake or knocked out? The line gets blurrier: This fascinating meditation on consciousness explores the boundary between wakefulness and unconsciousness, and the weighty consequences of getting it wrong.

Texas Board approves rules on use of stem cells: The approval of new rules on the use of adult stem cells by the Texas Medical Board has set off a firestorm of debate. Critics of the new rules cite lack of oversight and clinical evidence as the basis for their concern.

Tending a sick comrade has benefits for ants: By observing European garden ants, researchers have discovered that when one ant in a colony develops an infection, others will come to its side to lick the infection and remove the pathogen. This behavior, in turn, seems to have the beneficial effect of inoculating the colony. 

Week of April 16

Crowd-sourcing expands power of brain research: On Sunday, Nature Genetics published a series of studies on what appears to be a genetic basis for intelligence and memory. Data for these studies was contributed by over 200 scientists across the globe, leaving many wondering what role crowd-sourcing will play in research moving forward.

Attention problems may be sleep-related: Researchers in London have found evidence indicating that doctors may be wrongly diagnosing children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)by not checking for sleep disorders first.

Trust acts to open research findings to the public: The Wellcome Trust, the second-largest nongovernmental funder of scientific research in the world, announced last week that it was considering sanctions against researchers who do not make their results freely available to the public.