Bridging the Knowledge Gap

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Hi folks,

Typically Lion Talk Science gives our authors free reign to write about whatever they know, or are interested in learning about. But there’s a lot of cool science out there that we haven’t covered yet. We’d like to engage more with our readers, and that means asking for your help.

So if you can, please tells us: what topics in science do you want to know more about?

This can be something cool you heard about in the news that wasn’t explained well, or a question about biology that you’ve always had in your mind but didn’t have time to research very deeply.

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll accumulate your suggestions, pick out a few things that people want, and either write a Q&A or make a longer post about it!

You can contribute your ideas by writing them in a comment for this post, or by sending a message to Lions-Talk-Science@psu.edu.

I look forward to hearing from you!

-Daniel H.

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Making Mirrors: Our Brain’s Reaction to Familiar Movements

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By: Amanda White, Research Technologist in the Department of Psychiatry

Serena_Williams_US_Open_2013The Philadelphia Eagles are an exciting NFL team to watch because you never know which team is going to show up: the one that puts up 30+ points, or the one that loses pitifully to the New York Giants.

Watching a tennis match is just as exciting as watching a football game, but I find the experience much more vivid. As a tennis player, I recall the feel of new rubber tape on my racket, the short “pop” sound of a volley, and the sharp smell of a fresh tennis ball. During the Australian Open, I watched Serena bounce the ball a few times before looking across the net to her opponent and I felt the same anticipation before I serve in a match. As the point progressed, I felt like I was the one hitting forehand after forehand, and finally a backhanded winner at the net.

My own experiences seem to make watching tennis quite different from watching other sports. So what happens in our brains when we observe athletes of our own sport, or dancers of our own style?

Food for Thought: Obesity as a Disease?

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By: Andrew Huhn, 3rd year PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Program

3846131098_1c8abf8ecd_bIt’s no secret that America is getting bigger, and not for the better.

The American Heart Association estimates that there are about 157 million overweight or obese adults in the United States. Over the last few decades, eating trends include larger portions and larger calorie content, which ultimately lead to larger waistlines. While obesity was ruled a global epidemic by the World Health Organization in 1997, in June of this year the American Medical Association defined obesity by a new term: disease.

Now that the disease label has been applied, some may ask: why don’t we just make healthier food choices? It seems like the simple answer, but obesity may cause your brain to work against you.