Episode 07: Funded By Big Bread

Come and join us for episode 07.

This week we hear all about Alice’s attempt to have good “participant karma” and Curie’s adventures in attempts to recruit people for her study.

Get a snack, you might get hungry after learning about the FODMAP diet vs some delicious sourdough rye bread… And then join us as we decide whether we can really find out what someone looks like just from their DNA.

We would love to hear from you! Get in touch on Twitter and Instagram @layitoutpodcast. You can also e-mail us on layitoutpodcast@gmail.com.

Chaitanya et al. (2018). The HIrisPlex-S system for eye, hair and skin colour prediction from DNA: Introduction and forensic developmental validation. Forensic Science International: Genetics https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2018.04.004

Pirkola et al. (2018). Low-FODMAP vs regular rye bread in irritable bowel syndrome: Randomized SmartPill® study. World J Gastroenterol 10.3748/wjg.v24.i11.1259


Monkeys that work together, think together

A new brain recording technique has allowed researchers to simultaneously monitor brain activity in two monkeys during a collaborative task. Read on to learn more or take a listen to Curie on the podcast.

It has long been known that when humans or other animals watch another do a task, their brain fires as if they were doing that same task. For example, watching someone open a door will activate the same neurons as if you were opening that door. The term “mirror neurons” has been coined for these mimicking brain cells.

As with many discoveries in neuroscience, not all scientists are convinced that mirror neurons exist or agree on their exact purpose. Nevertheless, mirror neurons are thought to be important for learning through observation of other members of your species. It could be used to learn social dynamics within the group, potential threats or allies and even learn new skills.

Up until now, mirror neurons have only been monitored in one animal at a time. From this, scientists could tell that these mirror neurons were firing, but not how similar this firing was between the two animals.

How do you simultaneously monitor two monkey’s brains?

Continue reading “Monkeys that work together, think together”

Episode 06: Gargle With Red Wine Kids

And we’re back with episode 06!

Curie gets down and dirty with some molecular biology and debunks yet ANOTHER sensationalised headline while Alice is back on her favourite topic – alcohol!

And if that’s not enough for you, check out our brand new tag line.

Take a listen on Podbean or  iTunes.

And if you want to watch the super cool TED talk featuring Curie’s supervisor you can find it here! 2 million hits and counting…

As always we would love to hear from you! Get in touch on Twitter and Instagram @layitoutpodcast. You can also e-mail us on layitoutpodcast@gmail.com.

Wang et al. (2018). Gain of toxic apolipoprotein E4 effects in human iPSC-derived neurons is ameliorated by a small-molecule structure corrector. Nature Medicine https://rdcu.be/NPrD

Fan et al. (2018). Drinking alcohol is associated with variation in the human oral microbiome in a large study of American adults. Microbiome https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-018-0448-x

Does cutting out animal products lead to healthier gut bacteria?

As veganism and vegetarianism become more popular due to ethical and health considerations, we take a look at whether these can also benefit your gut bacteria. Read on or listen all about it on the podcast.

The gut microbiota (or the colony of bacteria, viruses etc. that live in your gut) are becoming a hot research topic due to their links with a multitude of diseases, everything from irritable bowel syndrome to depression. This population of microorganisms exist in a symbiotic relationship with their human home and when balanced, both parties benefit from the other. Unfortunately, when they become unbalanced (called dysbiosis) this can lead to health problems.

This offers an interesting way to alter your health as the microbiota are strongly affected by your diet and lifestyle, including the types of food you eat (or do not eat).

Somewhere between 2% and 6% of the UK currently follow a vegan or vegetarian diet with more and more people choosing this lifestyle. Veggie diets, if done correctly, have been promoted as a potentially healthier choice or even having a therapeutic effect. But it isn’t clear how this could affect the little critters living in your gut.

Testing how veggie diets affect gut microbiota

A group of scientists in Italy decided to look into this. It would be quite difficult to get a bunch of people to stick to a strict diet for over a year, so instead they used a cross-sectional study design. This means they selected people based on their dietary choices and then followed them to see what impact this had on their gut microbiome.

Continue reading “Does cutting out animal products lead to healthier gut bacteria?”

Episode 05: Men, Look After Your Sperm

Hello there! This week we welcome our first ever science guest – who also happens to be the show’s harshest critic!

Join us as he takes us and our extremely scientifically aware non-science guest (his questions put the scientists to shame!) through the cute but sometimes grim world of epigenetics, where we learn why men should take care of all those little guys hanging out in their balls.

WARNING – animal lovers/those that are squeamish may want to skip this one!

And follow these links here for the responses to Science’s original critique of science communication.

We would love to hear from you! Get in touch on Twitter and Instagram @layitoutpodcast. You can also e-mail us on layitoutpodcast@gmail.com.

Siklenka et al. (2015). Disruption of histone methylation in developing sperm impairs offspring health transgenerationally. Science http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aab2006

Can young blood reverse brain ageing?

And conversely, can old blood cause this brain ageing to start with? Read on to find out more or take a listen to the podcast with Curie and Alice.

What happens as the brain ages?

Brain ageing is becoming one of the biggest health concerns as humans live longer and longer: ageing is associated with neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, or general cognitive impairment.

There are many things that change in an ageing brain. One part of the brain which is particularly susceptible to old age is the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is a pretty special region of the brain as it contains stem cells. These stem cells can produce new brain cells or neurons throughout child- and adulthood and is important for learning, memory and even mood regulation. This process, AKA neurogenesis, has been proven to happen in rodents and other animals, but there is an ongoing debate whether this occurs in primates, including humans.

As the hippocampus ages, this production of new neurons decreases, potentially contributing to memory problems in old age. Additionally, the hippocampus shrinks, possibly due to less new brain cells being produced but also due to reduced density of connections being made between them.

How does blood affect brain ageing?

In this study the research group hypothesise that something in our blood affects brain ageing.

Continue reading “Can young blood reverse brain ageing?”

Episode 04: Daal Makes Me Farty

Welcome to episode number 4!

Join us this week as we return to Curie’s favourite topic: POO! We learn that vegans and omnivores may have more in common than you think and how monkey brains synchronise when they work together.

Have a listen over at Podbean or iTunes.

We would love to hear from you! Get in touch on Twitter  and Instagram  You can also e-mail us on layitoutpodcast@gmail.com. or

Curie’s conspiracy corner

Curie loves a conspiracy theory. This week she tells us a story about a mysterious man who turns up at Tokyo airport claiming to be from a country called Taured, complete with passport from this unknown country. Following questioning about his true whereabouts he disappears, never to be seen again!

Unfortunately, it’s probably not true. The original source of the story was Colin Wilson’s book, The Directory of Possibilities:

And in 1954 a passport check in Japan is alleged to have produced a man with papers issued by the nation of Taured.

The story has been seriously embellished since then, with no sources for these added details. Read more about it here.

Losasso et al. (2018). Assessing the Influence of Vegan, Vegetarian and Omnivore Oriented Westernized Dietary Styles on Human Gut Microbiota: A Cross Sectional Study. Frontiers in Microbiology https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.00317

Tseng et al. (2018). Interbrain cortical synchronization encodes multiple aspects of social interactions in monkey pairs. Scientific Reports https://rdcu.be/LC0K