There are 9 new articles in PLoS ONE today. As always, you should rate the articles, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about the papers. You can now also easily place articles on various social services (CiteULike, Mendeley, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook and Digg) with just one click. Here are my own picks for the week – you go and look for your own favourites:
Delimiting Species without Nuclear Monophyly in Madagascar’s Mouse Lemurs:
Speciation begins when populations become genetically separated through a substantial reduction in gene flow, and it is at this point that a genetically cohesive set of populations attain the sole property of species: the independent evolution of a population-level lineage. The comprehensive delimitation of species within biodiversity hotspots, regardless of their level of divergence, is important for understanding the factors that drive the diversification of biota and for identifying them as targets for conservation. However, delimiting recently diverged species is challenging due to insufficient time for the differential evolution of characters–including morphological differences, reproductive isolation, and gene tree monophyly–that are typically used as evidence for separately evolving lineages. In this study, we assembled multiple lines of evidence from the analysis of mtDNA and nDNA sequence data for the delimitation of a high diversity of cryptically diverged population-level mouse lemur lineages across the island of Madagascar. Our study uses a multi-faceted approach that applies phylogenetic, population genetic, and genealogical analysis for recognizing lineage diversity and presents the most thoroughly sampled species delimitation of mouse lemur ever performed. The resolution of a large number of geographically defined clades in the mtDNA gene tree provides strong initial evidence for recognizing a high diversity of population-level lineages in mouse lemurs. We find additional support for lineage recognition in the striking concordance between mtDNA clades and patterns of nuclear population structure. Lineages identified using these two sources of evidence also exhibit patterns of population divergence according to genealogical exclusivity estimates. Mouse lemur lineage diversity is reflected in both a geographically fine-scaled pattern of population divergence within established and geographically widespread taxa, as well as newly resolved patterns of micro-endemism revealed through expanded field sampling into previously poorly and well-sampled regions.
A Mathematical Model of Sentimental Dynamics Accounting for Marital Dissolution:
Marital dissolution is ubiquitous in western societies. It poses major scientific and sociological problems both in theoretical and therapeutic terms. Scholars and therapists agree on the existence of a sort of second law of thermodynamics for sentimental relationships. Effort is required to sustain them. Love is not enough. Building on a simple version of the second law we use optimal control theory as a novel approach to model sentimental dynamics. Our analysis is consistent with sociological data. We show that, when both partners have similar emotional attributes, there is an optimal effort policy yielding a durable happy union. This policy is prey to structural destabilization resulting from a combination of two factors: there is an effort gap because the optimal policy always entails discomfort and there is a tendency to lower effort to non-sustaining levels due to the instability of the dynamics. These mathematical facts implied by the model unveil an underlying mechanism that may explain couple disruption in real scenarios. Within this framework the apparent paradox that a union consistently planned to last forever will probably break up is explained as a mechanistic consequence of the second law.
Words and Melody Are Intertwined in Perception of Sung Words: EEG and Behavioral Evidence:
Language and music, two of the most unique human cognitive abilities, are combined in song, rendering it an ecological model for comparing speech and music cognition. The present study was designed to determine whether words and melodies in song are processed interactively or independently, and to examine the influence of attention on the processing of words and melodies in song. Event-Related brain Potentials (ERPs) and behavioral data were recorded while non-musicians listened to pairs of sung words (prime and target) presented in four experimental conditions: same word, same melody; same word, different melody; different word, same melody; different word, different melody. Participants were asked to attend to either the words or the melody, and to perform a same/different task. In both attentional tasks, different word targets elicited an N400 component, as predicted based on previous results. Most interestingly, different melodies (sung with the same word) elicited an N400 component followed by a late positive component. Finally, ERP and behavioral data converged in showing interactions between the linguistic and melodic dimensions of sung words. The finding that the N400 effect, a well-established marker of semantic processing, was modulated by musical melody in song suggests that variations in musical features affect word processing in sung language. Implications of the interactions between words and melody are discussed in light of evidence for shared neural processing resources between the phonological/semantic aspects of language and the melodic/harmonic aspects of music.
The marital dissolution paper contains the most depressing graph I’ve seen for a while. Relationships as an unstable stationary point! Interesting, despite my prejudices about mathematical models of such things.