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Ig® & Beyond: Molluscs on Prozac, Swinging at a Cocktail Party

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

Some further research adventures of Ig Nobel Prize winners
compiled by Nan Swift, Improbable Research staff

(Image credit: Doug Savage at Savage Chickens)

Unhappy as a Clam
“The Biological Effects of Antidepressants on the Molluscs and Crustaceans: A Review,” Peter P. Fong and Alex T. Ford, Aquatic Toxicology, epub 2013. Peter Fong was awarded the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for bioolgy for contributing to the happiness of clams by giving them Prozac. [REFERENCE: “Induction and Potentiation of Parturition in Fingernail Clams (Sphaerium striatinum) by Selective Serotonin Re- Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs),” Peter F. Fong, Peter T. Huminski, and Lynette M. D’urso, Journal of Experimental Zoology, vol. 280, 1998, pp. 260–4.] In this new paper, Fong (at the University of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) and Ford (at Portsmouth University, U.K.), report:

Antidepressants are among the most commonly detected human pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. Since their mode of action is by modulating the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, aquatic invertebrates who possess transporters and receptors sensitive to activation by these pharmaceuticals are potentially affected by them.... molluscan reproductive and locomotory systems are affected by antidepressants at environmentally relevant concentrations.

Old, Familiar Voices
“Swinging at a Cocktail Party: Voice Familiarity Aids Speech Perception in the Presence of a Competing Voice,” Ingrid S. Johnsrude, Allison Mackey, Hélène Hakyemez, Elizabeth Alexander, Heather P. Trang, and Robert P. Carlyon, Psychological Science, epub August 28, 2013. Ingrid Johnsrude shared the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for medicine, for  presenting evidence that the brains of London taxi drivers are more highly developed than those of their fellow citizens. [REFERENCE: “Navigation-Related Structural Change In the Hippocampi of Taxi Drivers,” Eleanor A Maguire, David G. Gadian, Ingrid S. Johnsrude, Catriona D. Good, John Ashburner, Richard S.J. Frackowiak, and Christopher D. Frith, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 97, no. 8, April 11, 2000, pp. 4398–403.] In this new paper, the authors, at Queen’s University, Linköping University, and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, England, report:

People often have to listen to someone speak in the presence of competing voices. Much is known about the acoustic cues used to overcome this challenge, but almost nothing is known about the utility of cues derived from experience with particular voices... Although performance declines with increasing age when the target voice is novel, there is no decline when the target voice belongs to the listener’s spouse.


This article is republished with permission from the May-June 2014 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

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