Shaking off social media


After many years I have almost completely weaned myself off personal social media. Facebook was shed around a year ago. I became deeply suspicious of their data harvesting activities following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and it was easily lost from my portfolio. Twitter clung on tenaciously despite several attempts to leave, and I am now a month free from it. The level of hatred, bile, and unpleasantness became too much to bear. Whilst the platform clearly has some benefits and is undoubtedly a good way to get a message out to a mass market, those benefits pale compared to the mental health impact.

Being free of the trivia of social media is saving me time, avoiding the stress of being exposed to right wing scumbags and racists and is a real plus for me. I think I am enjoying aspects of life more. I am going out and looking at the world without that stupid feeling that I need to tell complete strangers what I am doing and providing a photo to go with it. I’m glad I have moved on.

This blog is of course a form of social media and will still be circulated via LinkedIn. I feel more in control though. I will post occasionally and almost always on professional issues, plus the right for others to reply is limited and comments can be vetted.

The blog has become a bit moribund recently but it will have more content from now on. Not quite sure yet, but expect some insights on leadership, given that is now my role in academia.

Our latest paper on cafeteria diet, learning and behaviour in rodents.

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The prefrontal cortex (PFC) undergoes protracted postnatal development such that its structure and behavioural function may be profoundly altered by environmental factors. Here we investigate the effect of lactational dietary manipulations on novel object recognition (NOR) learning and PFC monoamine neurotransmitter metabolism in early adolescent rats. To this end, Wistar rat dams were fed a high caloric cafeteria diet (CD) during lactation and resultant 24–26 day old offspring exposed to NOR testing and simultaneous PFC dopamine and serotonin metabolism measurement. In the second NOR choice trial where one familiar and one novel object were presented controls explored the novel preferentially to the familiar object both after a 5 min (P < 0.001) or 30 min (P < 0.05) inter-trial intervals (ITI). By contrast, offspring from dams fed on lactational CD failed to show any significant preference for the novel object at either time point. Compared with chow fed controls, their average exploration ratio of the novel object was lower after the 5 min ITI (P < 0.05). Following a 60 min ITI, neither CD nor control offspring showed a preference for the novel object. PFC dopamine metabolism was significantly reduced in the CD group (P < 0.001), whereas serotonin metabolism was increased (P < 0.001). These results suggest that an obesogenic lactational diet can have a detrimental impact on cognition in adolescent offspring associated with aberrant PFC serotonin and dopamine metabolism.


Full text is available at:

Voigt P, Clifford B, Moreton E, Tiplady S, Baron P, Langley-Evans S, McCall S, Fone KCF (2019). Impact of early exposure to a cafeteria diet on prefrontal cortex monoamines and novel object recognition in adolescent rats.Behavioural Brain Research363, 191-198.

Second magnesium paper published

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The second paper from Lujain Almousa’s work on magnesium and human umbilical vein endothelial cells has been published in Magnesium Research. The full reference is:

Almousa LA, Salter AM, Langley-Evans SC, (2018). Varying magnesium concentration elicits changes in inflammatory response in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Magnesium Research31, 99-109.

The abstract is below.

The aims of this study were to determine whether low concentrations of magnesium in vitroexacerbated the human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) response to inflammatory challenge, and whether expression of the nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) through the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) played a role in this process. HUVECs were incubated with different concentrations of Mg (low- 0.1mM, control- 1mM, high- 5mM) for 72 h before being stimulated with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for 4 h. The response of cells to LPS was greater in cells cultured in low Mg, relative to control cells and suppressed in high Mg. Expression of NF-κB was increased in low-Mg and decreased with high Mg. Low Mg increased the expression of TLR4 mRNA, but only in the presence of LPS. Antibody blockade of TLR4 but not TLR2 blunted the response of cells to LPS in low Mg, such that they were similar to unblocked 1mM Mg cells. Associations of Mg with cardiovascular disease may therefore relate to inflammatory responses mediated through the TLR4/NF-κB pathway.