eLife Episode 41: Fish Recognise Faces

11 September 2017
Presented by Chris Smith.

In this episode of the eLife Podcast biomarkers for epilepsy, how fish can recognise faces, insect anti-anti aphrodisiacs, and why striving for novelty may hinder the progress of science.

In this episode


00:34 - Fishing for clues: fish recognise fish faces

Mekada fish can recognise each other – but only if their faces are the right way up.

Fishing for clues: fish recognise fish faces
with Mu-Yun Wang, University of Tokyo

Fish are social creatures capable of learning from one another and some species also have a hierarchy; so it figures that they should be able to recognise one another’s faces… Chris Smith hears how from the University of Tokyo's Mu-Yun Wang...

Western tarnished plant bug

05:56 - Insect love potion: the anti-anti-aphrodisiac

Female Lygus bugs use an anti-anti aphrodisiac to signal that they are ready for mating.

Insect love potion: the anti-anti-aphrodisiac
with Colin Brent, Arid Land Agricultural Research Center, Maricopa

Some insect species are “polyandrous” - that means they mate more than once and with multiple males. But if a female has already recently mated it’s in no one’s interest for her to mate again too soon, because sperm from different males would end up competing. So western tarnished plant bug males - and these are pests that devour strawberries and cotton crops - also transfer to the females when they mate anti-aphrodisiac chemicals. One is myristyl acetate and another is geranyl geranyl acetate. These temporarily warn other males to steer clear. But now Colin Brent has found that the females use an anti- anti-aphrodisiac to neutralise the effect so that they don’t end up off-limits for too long. Chris Smith hears how it works...

Mouse brain

12:52 - New insights into epilepsy

Early changes in the brain indicate how severe epilepsy will be.

New insights into epilepsy
with Carola Haas, University of Freiburg

About 1% of the adult population are affected by the seizure disorder epilepsy. This happens when a small cluster of nerve cells in a particular part of the brain become electrically unstable. This abnormal firing pattern can periodically spill over into other brain regions and cause the disabling symptoms that patients display. But what causes this so-called epileptic focus to form in the first place, and how that causes the changes in the surrounding brain tissue which eventually result in seizures  wasn’t known. Now we have some new insights, which Chris Smith hears about from Carola Haas…

Search for Novelty

18:09 - Is novelty overrated in science?

An over-emphasis on novelty is having detrimental effects on science.

Is novelty overrated in science?
with Barak Cohen, Washington University

Each month in the eLife Podcast we devote some time to trying to look beyond just the results of scientific endeavour and to consider also the practice and some of the societal aspects of science. Previously, we’ve heard about diversity in the discipline, how women and early-career scientists are faring in the modern scientific era, and how as a community we need to avoid distorting the facts. This time, speaking with Chris Smith, Washington University’s Barak Cohen has something he needs to get off his chest...

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