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The best in science news, commentary, and research
When we think of nature in 2014, chances are that protected areas come to mind: Amazonian rainforests teeming with wildlife, the sweeping plains of the Serengeti, or an Alpine lake surrounded by glaciers. But the world's protected areas are at a crossroads, and next month, when the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) convenes its once-in-a-decade World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, nations will discuss how to address the challenges in protecting ecosystems across the world for the benefit of humanity. Author: Julia Marton-Lefèvre

A roundup of weekly science policy and related news.

Already harming a European species, an Asian fungus could wreak havoc in North America. Author: Erik Stokstad

EEG studies detect awareness in locked-in people. Author: Emily Underwood

Long-term partnerships can result in extremes in genome reduction or expansion. Author: Elizabeth Pennisi

NewLink Genetics says it might have enough doses ready by spring to vaccinate most people at risk. Author: Jon Cohen

New analysis of Yanomamö data suggests that alliances among in-laws raise fighters' fitness. Author: Lizzie Wade

Rocks shed light on a billion years of stalled evolution. Author: Carolyn Gramling

What would it take to put you behind the wheel of a methane-powered vehicle? Researchers are determined to find out. Author: Robert F. Service

Structures of microRNA-mRNA–human Argonaute reveal where and how intermolecular interactions are specified [Also see Research Article by Schirle et al.] Author: Dinshaw J. Patel

Discrepancies in the reported structures of the difficult-to-isolate solid form of a common acid have been resolved Authors: Götz Bucher, Wolfram Sander

A chain of iron atoms on lead may reveal a signature of the elusive Majorana particle [Also see Research Article by Nadj-Perge et al.] Author: Patrick A. Lee

Emerging neuroscience offers hope for treatments Authors: Francis S. Lee, Hakon Heimer, Jay N. Giedd, Edward S Lein, Nenad Šestan, Daniel R. Weinberger, B. J. Casey

Valuing nature in economic terms is not always beneficial for biodiversity conservation Author: W. M. Adams

Does the brain depend on a set of elementary, reusable computations? Authors: Gary Marcus, Adam Marblestone, Thomas Dean

Coordinating intricate motor circuits Author: Eiman Azim

Novel therapy for treating depression Author: Allyson Friedman

Neural networks and computation Author: Ho Ko

Author: Steven C. Schlozman

Author: Pamela J. Hines

A listing of books received at Science during the week ending 24 October 2014.

Authors: Alberto E. Paniz-Mondolfi, Alfonso J. Rodríguez-Morales

Authors: Wolfgang Lutz, William Butz, Samir KC, Warren Sanderson, Sergei Scherbov

Author: Robert R. Holt

Ruths and Ruths (Reports, 21 March 2014, p. 1373) find that existing synthetic random network models fail to generate control profiles that match those found in real network models. Here, we show that a straightforward extension to the Barabási-Albert model allows the control profile to be “tuned” across the control profile space, permitting more meaningful control profile analyses of real networks. Authors: Colin Campbell, Katriona Shea, Réka Albert

Campbell, Shea, and Albert propose an adaptation of the Barabási-Albert model of network formation that permits a level of tuning of the control profiles of these networks. We point out some limitations and generalizations of this method as well as highlight opportunities for future work to refine formation mechanisms to provide control profile tuning in synthetic networks. Authors: Justin Ruths, Derek Ruths

A monthly roundup of recent news and projects of Science's publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Authors: Peter Stern, Pamela J. Hines, John Travis

Decades-old IQ test records from Scottish children have opened a unique window on how the brain ages. Author: Emily Underwood

Human cognitive aging differs between and is malleable within individuals. In the absence of a strong genetic program, it is open to a host of hazards, such as vascular conditions, metabolic syndrome, and chronic stress, but also open to protective and enhancing factors, such as experience-dependent cognitive plasticity. Longitudinal studies suggest that leading an intellectually challenging, physically active, and socially engaged life may mitigate losses and consolidate gains. Interventions help to identify contexts and mechanisms of successful cognitive aging and give science and society a hint about what would be possible if conditions were different. Author: Ulman Lindenberger

Cognitive neuroscience has revealed aging of the human brain to be rich in reorganization and change. Neuroimaging results have recast our framework around cognitive aging from one of decline to one emphasizing plasticity. Current methods use neurostimulation approaches to manipulate brain function, providing a direct test of the ways that the brain differently contributes to task performance for younger and older adults. Emerging research into emotional, social, and motivational domains provides some evidence for preservation with age, suggesting potential avenues of plasticity, alongside additional evidence for reorganization. Thus, we begin to see that aging of the brain, amidst interrelated behavioral and biological changes, is as complex and idiosyncratic as the brain itself, qualitatively changing over the life span. Author: Angela Gutchess

Language is a crucial and complex lifelong faculty, underpinned by dynamic interactions within and between specialized brain networks. Whereas normal aging impairs specific aspects of language production, most core language processes are robust to brain aging. We review recent behavioral and neuroimaging evidence showing that language systems remain largely stable across the life span and that both younger and older adults depend on dynamic neural responses to linguistic demands. Although some aspects of network dynamics change with age, there is no consistent evidence that core language processes are underpinned by different neural networks in younger and older adults. Authors: Meredith A. Shafto, Lorraine K. Tyler

The challenge of global population aging has been brought into sharper focus by the financial crisis of 2008. In particular, growing national debt has drawn government attention to two apparently conflicting priorities: the need to sustain public spending on pensions and health care versus the need to reduce budget deficits. A number of countries are consequently reconsidering their pension and health care provisions, which account for up to 40% of all government spending in advanced economies. Yet population aging is a global phenomenon that will continue to affect all regions of the world. By 2050 there will be the same number of old as young in the world, with 2 billion people aged 60 or over and another 2 billion under age 15, each group accounting for 21% of the world’s population. Author: Sarah Harper

Imaging before an unimaginable eruption | Low oxygen limited the rise of animals | Scattering electrons off nuclear targets | History recorded in asteroid's water | A new, yet old, threat to amphibians | Hunting for the effects of huntingtin | Y male plants affect female development | How to increase charitable donations | Nanoparticles for molecular cancer imaging | Supported nanoparticles make the reaction faster | A possible sighting of Majorana states | How to achieve win-win outcomes for biodiversity | You've got to pick a Golgi tether or two | Repressing the right (and not the wrong) mRNA | Making dendritic arbors during development | Epigenetics: It's all about the individual | Pulling me apart only makes me stronger | Overcoming staph infections is hardwired

A dendritic cell target for immunotherapy | Monitoring the mineral-water interface | Sea-ice loss behind Eurasia's chills | Making a measure of quantum coherence | A drug fights off ravages of aging in mice | A surprise window to the early universe | Cancer's deadly mutational tug of war | Dissecting an RNA that dissects genomes

A protein complex involved in cell adhesion forms a two-state catch bond with the cytoskeleton under mechanical load. Authors: Craig D. Buckley, Jiongyi Tan, Karen L. Anderson, Dorit Hanein, Niels Volkmann, William I. Weis, W. James Nelson, Alexander R. Dunn

Specific proteins can tether and distinguish between specific intracellular transport vesicles in vivo. Authors: Mie Wong, Sean Munro

Scanning tunneling microscopy is used to observe signatures of Majorana states at the ends of iron atom chains. [Also see Perspective by Lee] Authors: Stevan Nadj-Perge, Ilya K. Drozdov, Jian Li, Hua Chen, Sangjun Jeon, Jungpil Seo, Allan H. MacDonald, B. Andrei Bernevig, Ali Yazdani

Structures of microRNA bound to the Ago2 repressor protein and messenger RNA elucidate target specificity. [Also see Perspective by Patel] Authors: Nicole T. Schirle, Jessica Sheu-Gruttadauria, Ian J. MacRae

Electron scattering off various nuclear targets is used to deduce the momentum distributions of nucleons. Authors: O. Hen, M. Sargsian, L. B. Weinstein, E. Piasetzky, H. Hakobyan, D. W. Higinbotham, M. Braverman, W. K. Brooks, S. Gilad, K. P. Adhikari, J. Arrington, G. Asryan, H. Avakian, J. Ball, N. A. Baltzell, M. Battaglieri, A. Beck, S. May-Tal Beck, I. Bedlinskiy, W. Bertozzi, A. Biselli, V. D. Burkert, T. Cao, D. S. Carman, A. Celentano, S. Chandavar, L. Colaneri, P. L. Cole, V. Crede, A. D’Angelo, R. De Vita, A. Deur, C. Djalali, D. Doughty, M. Dugger, R. Dupre, H. Egiyan, A. El Alaoui, L. El Fassi, L. Elouadrhiri, G. Fedotov, S. Fegan, T. Forest, B. Garillon, M. Garcon, N. Gevorgyan, Y. Ghandilyan, G. P. Gilfoyle, F. X. Girod, J. T. Goetz, R. W. Gothe, K. A. Griffioen, M. Guidal, L. Guo, K. Hafidi, C. Hanretty, M. Hattawy, K. Hicks, M. Holtrop, C. E. Hyde, Y. Ilieva, D. G. Ireland, B. I. Ishkanov, E. L. Isupov, H. Jiang, H. S. Jo, K. Joo, D. Keller, M. Khandaker, A. Kim, W. Kim, F. J. Klein, S. Koirala, I. Korover, S. E. Kuhn, V. Kubarovsky, P. Lenisa, W. I. Levine, K. Livingston, M. Lowry, H. Y. Lu, I. J. D. MacGregor, N. Markov, M. Mayer, B. McKinnon, T. Mineeva, V. Mokeev, A. Movsisyan, C. Munoz Camacho, B. Mustapha, P. Nadel-Turonski, S. Niccolai, G. Niculescu, I. Niculescu, M. Osipenko, L. L. Pappalardo, R. Paremuzyan, K. Park, E. Pasyuk, W. Phelps, S. Pisano, O. Pogorelko, J. W. Price, S. Procureur, Y. Prok, D. Protopopescu, A. J. R. Puckett, D. Rimal, M. Ripani, B. G. Ritchie, A. Rizzo, G. Rosner, P. Roy, P. Rossi, F. Sabatié, D. Schott, R. A. Schumacher, Y. G. Sharabian, G. D. Smith, R. Shneor, D. Sokhan, S. S. Stepanyan, S. Stepanyan, P. Stoler, S. Strauch, V. Sytnik, M. Taiuti, S. Tkachenko, M. Ungaro, A. V. Vlassov, E. Voutier, N. K. Walford, X. Wei, M. H. Wood, S. A. Wood, N. Zachariou, L. Zana, Z. W. Zhao, X. Zheng, I. Zonta,

Ambient noise tomography images the magma distribution of a large volcanic reservoir under the Toba caldera. Authors: K. Jaxybulatov, N. M. Shapiro, I. Koulakov, A. Mordret, M. Landès, C. Sens-Schönfelder

A cerium oxide support rendered palladium-rhodium nanoparticles more reactive and harder to reduce under reaction conditions. Authors: Núria J. Divins, Inma Angurell, Carlos Escudero, Virginia Pérez-Dieste, Jordi Llorca

Similar volatile isotopes of Earth and ancient meteorites point to an early accumulation of water for terrestrial bodies. Authors: Adam R. Sarafian, Sune G. Nielsen, Horst R. Marschall, Francis M. McCubbin, Brian D. Monteleone

Presynaptic granule cell–derived signals drive competitive dendritic morphogenesis of Purkinje cells. Authors: William Joo, Simon Hippenmeyer, Liqun Luo

A new fungal disease from Asia threatens salamanders in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Authors: A. Martel, M. Blooi, C. Adriaensen, P. Van Rooij, W. Beukema, M. C. Fisher, R. A. Farrer, B. R. Schmidt, U. Tobler, K. Goka, K. R. Lips, C. Muletz, K. R. Zamudio, J. Bosch, S. Lötters, E. Wombwell, T. W. J. Garner, A. A. Cunningham, A. Spitzen-van der Sluijs, S. Salvidio, R. Ducatelle, K. Nishikawa, T. T. Nguyen, J. E. Kolby, I. Van Bocxlaer, F. Bossuyt, F. Pasmans

Both seed money and matching approaches increase charity donation rates and amounts. Authors: Uri Gneezy, Elizabeth A. Keenan, Ayelet Gneezy

Oxygen levels in Earth’s early atmosphere were often less than 1% of modern levels. Authors: Noah J. Planavsky, Christopher T. Reinhard, Xiangli Wang, Danielle Thomson, Peter McGoldrick, Robert H. Rainbird, Thomas Johnson, Woodward W. Fischer, Timothy W. Lyons

Chemical probes may help assign functions to individual members of an important family of epigenetic regulator proteins. Authors: Matthias G. J. Baud, Enrique Lin-Shiao, Teresa Cardote, Cynthia Tallant, Annica Pschibul, Kwok-Ho Chan, Michael Zengerle, Jordi R. Garcia, Terence T.-L. Kwan, Fleur M. Ferguson, Alessio Ciulli

Cystine-knot proteins play an evolutionarily conserved dual function in nerve development and antistaphylococcal immunity. Authors: Lucy Hepburn, Tomasz K. Prajsnar, Catherine Klapholz, Pablo Moreno, Catherine A. Loynes, Nikolay V. Ogryzko, Karen Brown, Mark Schiebler, Krisztina Hegyi, Robin Antrobus, Katherine L. Hammond, John Connolly, Bernardo Ochoa, Clare Bryant, Michael Otto, Bas Surewaard, Suranjith L. Seneviratne, Dorothy M. Grogono, Julien Cachat, Tor Ny, Arthur Kaser, M. Estée Török, Sharon J. Peacock, Matthew Holden, Tom Blundell, Lihui Wang, Petros Ligoxygakis, Liliana Minichiello, C. Geoff Woods, Simon J. Foster, Stephen A. Renshaw, R. Andres Floto

The Y chromosome in date plum encodes a small RNA involved in male sex determination. Authors: Takashi Akagi, Isabelle M. Henry, Ryutaro Tao, Luca Comai