The Roundup: Clouds in your coffee

Coffee is an essential part of a million morning rituals every day. For millions of bathrobe-clad and bed-headed people, coffee is a cup of pure vitality.

But there’s a dark side to the dark liquid. For those who experience anxiety symptoms, coffee can encourage the onset of panic attacks. It’s a fascinating and little-discussed side effect, and you can read all about it thanks to students in Dr. Michelle Mynlieff’s Neurobiology course at Marquette University.

Student editors in that course transformed an article that sat at less than 400 words, expanding it by more than 10 times its original length. The article, “Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder,” discusses how caffeine works, and how it effects anxiety.

It’s part of a set of articles improved by Dr. Mynlieff’s students, including a major expansion of the article on neuroscientists themselves! The Neuroscientist article sat at just three paragraphs, with two references (and one of them was a dead link). Students expanded the article with historical context and a summary of existing research projects.

Students expanded the article on Adipsia, the rare decreased sensation of thirst that can be a sign of diabetes. Others expanded Camptocormia, a bent spine often seen among the elderly, and Myocionus dystonia, a muscle disorder that causes abnormal posture. The camptocormia article was expanded from a three-sentence article to discuss the history of the disease, the ways it is diagnosed, and some of the causes, treatments and current areas of research.

These students are making large strides toward the public’s understanding of how biology and chemistry are part of their lives. That includes detailed improvements of phenomenon related to brain tumors, and an overview of how the communication between the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal medulla is involved in anxiety, obesity and stress.

They also expanded knowledge available to researchers. For example, students expanded an article on a particular gene — SLC7A11. The absence or impairment of this gene’s expression may play a role in drug addiction and schizophrenia, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases.

These articles have been viewed 610,000 times since these students took them on! Thanks to these students, the entire world has access to knowledge that helps us better understand the way our bodies work.

Think your students might want to share their knowledge to improve the world? Check out our Year of Science initiative, or send us an e-mail:

Photo: Coffee & Cream by Yuri Ivanov, CC BY 2.0 via Flickr


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