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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: Is Your Dog a Zen Master?
17 January 2012 5:00 pm
As every dog owner knows, teaching Fido to lie down and be calm can be a giant hurdle in obedience class. Now, it turns out that at least among German Shepherds, genetics play a big role in whether your pet earns a gold star. Researchers gave 104 of the dogs the lie-down-and-be-calm test, and three other behavioral exams, all designed to assess the dogs' ability to control their impulses. Later, the scientists compared the canines' DNA, looking specifically at a gene that is connected to the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are involved in our emotional responses and ability to focus, and have been implicated in humans with attention deficit disorder. The 37 German Shepherds with a shortened version of the gene had the most trouble controlling their impulsive behaviors, regardless of their sex, age, or training. But the dogs with long versions of the gene, such as the one in the photo, passed the impulse-tests with the calm of Zen master. The study, reported in the current issue of PLoS ONE, may not only help breeders identify hyperactive dogs, but could prove useful in studies of ADHD in humans.
See more ScienceShots.