Social Foraging
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Dynamics of Social Interaction
Curated by Ashish Umre
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New approach to 'spell checking' gene sequences

New approach to 'spell checking' gene sequences | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

A PhD student from CSIRO and the University of Queensland has found a better way to 'spell check' gene sequences and help biologists better understand the natural world.

 

The student, Lauren Bragg, has contributed to the May issue of the journal Nature Methods highlighting her new approach and its software implementation called Acacia.

 

Acacia analyses the output of next-generation gene sequencing instruments which read the four-letter alphabet of As, Cs, Ts and Gs -- the 'bases' that code for DNA and spell out the genes of different living organisms. Acacia specifically applies to important parts of microbe genes called amplicons.

Just as a computer spell checker finds typing errors in words, so Acacia finds errors in the DNA code of amplicon sequences produced during gene sequencing.

 

Acacia shows clear improvements over the two error-correction tools currently used by biologists for amplicon sequences and it's easier for biologists to use.

Ms Bragg's development of Acacia is part of the field of bioinformatics, a blend of computer science, statistics and biology. Despite her surname, however, she is modest about her achievements.

 

"It's exciting to be published in a journal like Nature Methods but I get more satisfaction from hearing how my software is helping biologists fix sequencing errors." she said.

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UQ_Alumni_CR's curator insight, April 18, 2013 9:08 PM

Lauren Bragg, when does she graduate?

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Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference:Complex Architectures, Multiple Agents (28-31 January 2013)

A major international conference to address the challenge of establishing effective strategies for mediating the relationship between humans and the natural world.

 

We invite you to the Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference, to be held 28-31 January 2013 at the United Nations University Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. This event is part of the global conference series organized by the Earth System Governance Project, the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change. The Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference will be jointly hosted by the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), the International Environmental Governance Architecture Research Group and the Tokyo Institute of Technology on behalf of the Earth System Governance Project.

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Facebook makes users feel envious, dissatisfied: German study reveals social network's big role in users' emotional life

Facebook makes users feel envious, dissatisfied: German study reveals social network's big role in users' emotional life | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

In a joint research study conducted by the Department of Information Systems of the TU Darmstadt (Prof. Dr. Peter Buxmann) and the Institute of Information Systems of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Dr. Hanna Krasnova), Facebook members were surveyed regarding their feelings after using the platform. More than one-third of respondents reported predominantly negative feelings, such as frustration. The researchers identified that envying their "Facebook friends" is the major reason for this result.


Project manager Dr. Hanna Krasnova, who is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Humboldt-Universität, explained that, "Although respondents were reluctant to admit feeling envious while on Facebook, they often presumed that envy can be the cause behind the frustration of "others" on this platform -- a clear indication that envy is a salient phenomenon in the Facebook context. Indeed, access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful 'friends' fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy. By and large, online social networks allow users unprecedented access to information on relevant others -- insights that would be much more difficult to obtain offline." Those who do not engage in any active, interpersonal communications on social networks and primarily utilize them as sources of information, e.g. reading friends' postings, checking news feeds, or browsing through photos, are particularly subject to these painful experiences.

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PhD Studentship “Modelling of retinal neural networks” (Full-time, full-tuition, UK/EU only)

University of Reading PhD Studentship (UK/EU only)

 

Project Title: Mesoscopic modelling of retinal neural networks

 

Supervisor: Dr. Etienne B. Roesch

 

School/Department: School of Systems Engineering & Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics.

 

The goal of the project is to build neural field models of the retina that will allow the investigation of the architecture underlying visual information processing. These models will also be used to simulate the disturbances yielding visual impairment in early diabetic retinopathy. Neural fields are integro-differential equations, similar to wave equations, that represent electrical and chemical neurodynamics on continuous space-time scales. They are thus ideal to study populations of cells as homogeneously structured, and as dependent on spatial contiguity as the retina, whilst exploring complex nonlinear dynamics of neural information processing. The construction of the models will be informed by connectomic and physiological data, and the models subjected to extensive parameter-sensitivity analyses. The project falls into the remit of the University of Reading’s strategic investment to support neuroscience and interdisciplinary research. The student will be supervised by Dr. Etienne B. Roesch and Prof. Ingo Bojak.

 

This is a computational neuroscience project, which requires skills and knowledge in neuroscience, applied mathematics and programming. Candidates that have a strong background in at least two of these three fields are welcome to apply, if they are enthusiastic about the third. Neural field models are a particularly accommodating subject for transitions from physics, engineering, etc. into the life sciences. However, we will also place a strong focus on describing real-world data; depending on the student’s aptitude and preference, the candidate will be given the opportunity to engage with ongoing electrophysiological experimentation directly relevant to this project, in our lab and with collaborators in the UK and internationally, in order to identify and validate exploitable applications of the models. Additionally, the candidate will be granted access to the cluster of NVIDIA Tesla GPUs and other facilities at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics, as well as at the Brain Embodiments Laboratory.

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The Fourth International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (ICSI’2013): Harbin, China from June 12 to 15, 2013

The Fourth International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (ICSI’2013) will be held in Harbin, China from June 12 to 15, 2013. Located in the center of Northeast Asia, Harbin is called the bright pearl on the Bridge of Eurasia Land, and it is also an important hub of Eurasia Land Bridge and air corridor. The special historical course and geographical position has contributed to Harbin, the beautiful city with an exotic tone, which not only brings together the historical culture of northern ethnic minorities, but also combines western and eastern culture. It is a famous historical and tourist city in China, with many beautiful names such as “the City of Culture”, “the City of Music”, “Ice City”, “A Pearl under the Neck of the Swan”, “Eastern Moscow” and “Eastern Little Paris”. ICSI’2013 serves as a forum for scientists, engineers, educators, and practitioners to exchange the latest advantages in theories, technologies, and applications of swarm intelligence and related areas. Prospective authors are invited to contribute high-quality papers (6-10 pages) to ICSI’2013 through Online Submission System. Submitting to ICSI’2013 is a blind submission and the reviewing is double blind again at this year. Papers presented at ICSI’2013 will be published in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science (indexed by EI, ISTP, DBLP, and ISI) and some high-quality papers will be selected for special issues in SCI-indexed International Journals.
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Hearing loss accelerates brain function decline in older adults

Hearing loss accelerates brain function decline in older adults | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than older adults whose hearing is normal, according to a new study.

 

In the study, volunteers with hearing loss, undergoing repeated cognition tests over six years, had cognitive abilities that declined some 30 percent to 40 percent faster than in those whose hearing was normal. Levels of declining brain function were directly related to the amount of hearing loss, the researchers say. On average, older adults with hearing loss developed a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years sooner than those with normal hearing.

 

The findings, to be reported in theJAMA Internal Medicine online Jan. 21, are among the first to emerge from a larger, ongoing study monitoring the health of older blacks and whites in Memphis, Tenn., and Pittsburgh, Pa. Known as the Health, Aging and Body Composition, or Health ABC study, the latest report on older adults involved a subset of 1,984 men and women between the ages of 75 and 84, and is believed to be the first to gauge the impact of hearing loss on higher brain functions over the long term. According to senior study investigator and Johns Hopkins otologist and epidemiologist Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., all study participants had normal brain function when the study began in 2001, and were initially tested for hearing loss, which hearing specialists define as recognizing only those sounds louder than 25 decibels.

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The Seventh IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing (ICSC 2013)

The Seventh IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing (ICSC 2013) | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The field of Semantic Computing addresses the derivation of semantic information from content and the connection of semantics to knowledge, where "content" may be anything including structured data, video, audio, text, hardware, software, process, etc.

The Seventh IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing (ICSC 2013) continues to foster the growth of a new research community. The conference builds on the success of the past ICSC conferences as an international forum for researchers and practitioners to present research that advances the state of the art and practice of Semantic Computing, as well as identifying emerging research topics and defining the future of the field. The event is located in Irvine, California at Irvine Hyatt. The technical program of ICSC 2013 includes workshops, invited keynotes, paper presentations, panel discussions, industrial 'show and tells', demonstrations, and more. Submissions of high-quality papers describing mature results or ongoing work are invited.

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Coevolution Trumps Pleiotropy: Carbon Assimilation Traits Are Independent of Metabolic Network Structure in Budding Yeast

Coevolution Trumps Pleiotropy: Carbon Assimilation Traits Are Independent of Metabolic Network Structure in Budding Yeast | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Phenotypic traits may be gained and lost together because of pleiotropy, the involvement of common genes and networks, or because of simultaneous selection for multiple traits across environments (multiple-trait coevolution). However, the extent to which network pleiotropy versus environmental coevolution shapes shared responses has not been addressed. To test these alternatives, we took advantage of the fact that the genus Saccharomyces has variation in habitat usage and diversity in the carbon sources that a given strain can metabolize. We examined patterns of gain and loss in carbon utilization traits across 488 strains of Saccharomyces to investigate whether the structure of metabolic pathways or selection pressure from common environments may have caused carbon utilization traits to be gained and lost together. While most carbon sources were gained and lost independently of each other, we found four clusters that exhibit non-random patterns of gain and loss across strains. Contrary to the network pleiotropy hypothesis, we did not find that these patterns are explained by the structure of metabolic pathways or shared enzymes. Consistent with the hypothesis that common environments shape suites of phenotypes, we found that the environment a strain was isolated from partially predicts the carbon sources it can assimilate.

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Gender in Twitter: Styles, stances, and social networks

We present a study of the relationship between gender, linguistic style, and social networks, using a novel corpus of 14,000 users of Twitter. Prior quantitative work on gender often treats this social variable as a binary; we argue for a more nuanced approach. By clustering Twitter feeds, we find a range of styles and interests that reflects the multifaceted interaction between gender and language. Some styles mirror the aggregated language-gender statistics, while others contradict them. Next, we investigate individuals whose language better matches the other gender. We find that such individuals have social networks that include significantly more individuals from the other gender, and that in general, social network homophily is correlated with the use of same-gender language markers. Pairing computational methods and social theory thus offers a new perspective on how gender emerges as individuals position themselves relative to audiences, topics, and mainstream gender norms.

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The Right Image's curator insight, January 21, 2013 5:57 AM

Interesting research - early days though.

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Population Structure Induces a Symmetry Breaking Favoring the Emergence of Cooperation

Population Structure Induces a Symmetry Breaking Favoring the Emergence of Cooperation | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The evolution of cooperation described in terms of simple two-person interactions has received considerable attention in recent years, where several key results were obtained. Among those, it is now well established that the web of social interaction networks promotes the emergence of cooperation when modeled in terms of symmetric two-person games. Up until now, however, the impacts of the heterogeneity of social interactions into the emergence of cooperation have not been fully explored, as other aspects remain to be investigated. Here we carry out a study employing the simplest example of a prisoner's dilemma game in which the benefits collected by the participants may be proportional to the costs expended. We show that the heterogeneous nature of the social network naturally induces a symmetry breaking of the game, as contributions made by cooperators may become contingent on the social context in which the individual is embedded. A new, numerical, mean-field analysis reveals that prisoner's dilemmas on networks no longer constitute a defector dominance dilemma—instead, individuals engage effectively in a general coordination game. We find that the symmetry breaking induced by population structure profoundly affects the evolutionary dynamics of cooperation, dramatically enhancing the feasibility of cooperators: cooperation blooms when each cooperator contributes the same cost, equally shared among the plethora of games in which she participates. This work provides clear evidence that, while individual rational reasoning may hinder cooperative actions, the intricate nature of social interactions may effectively transform a local dilemma of cooperation into a global coordination problem.

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Harry Madigan's curator insight, October 4, 2014 3:07 AM

This source goes into depth about how population structures induce and aid the emergence of cooperation 

 

 well established that the web of social interaction networks promotes the emergence of cooperation

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One form of neuron turned into another in brain

One form of neuron turned into another in brain | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
A new finding by stem cell biologists turns one of the basics of neurobiology on its head -- demonstrating that it is possible to turn one type of already differentiated neuron into another within the brain.

 

The discovery by Paola Arlotta and Caroline Rouaux "tells you that maybe the brain is not as immutable as we always thought, because at least during an early window of time one can reprogram the identity of one neuronal class into another," said Arlotta, an Associate Professor in Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB).

 

The principle of direct lineage reprogramming of differentiated cells within the body was first proven by SCRB co-chair and Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) co-director Doug Melton and colleagues five years ago, when they reprogrammed exocrine pancreatic cells directly into insulin producing beta cells.

 

Arlotta and Rouaux now have proven that neurons too can change their mind. The work is being published on-line Jan. 20 by the journal Nature Cell Biology.

 

In their experiments, Arlotta targeted callosal projection neurons, which connect the two hemispheres of the brain, and turned them into neurons similar to corticospinal motor neurons, one of two populations of neurons destroyed in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. To achieve such reprogramming of neuronal identity, the researchers used a transcription factor called Fezf2, which long as been known for playing a central role in the development of corticospinal neurons in the embryo.

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The Architecture of Open Source Applications

The Architecture of Open Source Applications | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Architects look at thousands of buildings during their training, and study critiques of those buildings written by masters. In contrast, most software developers only ever get to know a handful of large programs well—usually programs they wrote themselves—and never study the great programs of history. As a result, they repeat one another's mistakes rather than building on one another's successes.

 

Our goal is to change that. In these two books, the authors of four dozen open source applications explain how their software is structured, and why. What are each program's major components? How do they interact? And what did their builders learn during their development? In answering these questions, the contributors to these books provide unique insights into how they think.

 

If you are a junior developer, and want to learn how your more experienced colleagues think, these books are the place to start. If you are an intermediate or senior developer, and want to see how your peers have solved hard design problems, these books can help you too.

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The Problem of Thresholding in Small-World Network Analysis

The Problem of Thresholding in Small-World Network Analysis | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Graph theory deterministically models networks as sets of vertices, which are linked by connections. Such mathematical representation of networks, called graphs are increasingly used in neuroscience to model functional brain networks. It was shown that many forms of structural and functional brain networks have small-world characteristics, thus, constitute networks of dense local and highly effective distal information processing. Motivated by a previous small-world connectivity analysis of resting EEG-data we explored implications of a commonly used analysis approach. This common course of analysis is to compare small-world characteristics between two groups using classical inferential statistics. This however, becomes problematic when using measures of inter-subject correlations, as it is the case in commonly used brain imaging methods such as structural and diffusion tensor imaging with the exception of fibre tracking. Since for each voxel, or region there is only one data point, a measure of connectivity can only be computed for a group. To empirically determine an adequate small-world network threshold and to generate the necessary distribution of measures for classical inferential statistics, samples are generated by thresholding the networks on the group level over a range of thresholds. We believe that there are mainly two problems with this approach. First, the number of thresholded networks is arbitrary. Second, the obtained thresholded networks are not independent samples. Both issues become problematic when using commonly applied parametric statistical tests. Here, we demonstrate potential consequences of the number of thresholds and non-independency of samples in two examples (using artificial data and EEG data). Consequently alternative approaches are presented, which overcome these methodological issues.

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Bioinformatics clouds for big data manipulation

As advances in life sciences and information technology bring profound influences on bioinformatics due to its interdisciplinary nature, bioinformatics is experiencing a new leap-forward from in-house computing infrastructure into utility-supplied cloud computing delivered over the Internet, in order to handle the vast quantities of biological data generated by high-throughput experimental technologies. Albeit relatively new, cloud computing promises to address big data storage and analysis issues in the bioinformatics field. Here we review extant cloud-based services in bioinformatics, classify them into Data as a Service (DaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and present our perspectives on the adoption of cloud computing in bioinformatics.

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Oxytocin, social sharing and recovery from trauma

Therapists have long known that people who’ve had a traumatic experience feel the need to talk about what they’ve been through. This process is called ‘social sharing’ and can take place for days, weeks, months or years after the event.

 

Typically, social sharing involves 'just the facts' of what happened; emotions and feelings are shared to a much lesser extent. But sharing 'just the facts' of what happened doesn't help make people feel better. What really makes the difference is the 'social sharing of emotions' (SSE).

 

SSE, like the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) -- known variously as 'the hug hormone', 'the moral molecule' and 'the natural love drug' -- has a calming and bonding function in humans. So a team of researchers decided to examine whether it followed that administering oxytocin might ease this therapeutic and powerful 'social sharing of emotions'. Their study, published in the recent issue of the International Journal of Psychology, is the first to investigate the biology of emotional sharing.

 

The researchers took 60 adult men and asked them questions about their various personal characteristics. They then gave them a dose of placebo or OT and made them wait for 45 minutes while watching a movie featuring friendship and camaraderie. They were then asked to recall a past negative experiencethat still currently affects them, and rate its emotional intensity at the time. Participants then described the event on paper, and rated their current negative emotional intensity; they also had to indicate whether they would agree to share the related facts and emotions with another person.

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I want to know where love is: First brain map of love and desire

I want to know where love is: First brain map of love and desire | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Thanks to modern science, we know that love lives in the brain, not in the heart. Butwhere in the brain is it -- and is it in the same place as sexual desire? A recent international study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine is the first to draw an exact map of these intimately linked feelings.


"No one has ever put these two together to see the patterns of activation," says Jim Pfaus, professor of psychology at Concordia University, member of the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology and a co-author of the study. "We didn't know what to expect -- the two could have ended up being completely separate. It turns out that love and desire activate specific but related areas in the brain."

 

Along with colleagues in the U.S. and Switzerland, Pfaus analyzed the results from 20 separate studies that examined brain activity while subjects engaged in tasks such as viewing erotic pictures or looking at photographs of their significant others. By pooling this data, the scientists were able to form a complete map of love and desire in the brain.

 

They found that that two brain structures in particular, the insula and the striatum, are responsible for tracking the progression from sexual desire to love. The insula is a portion of the cerebral cortex folded deep within an area between the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe, while the striatum is located nearby, inside the forebrain.

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U.S.C. Exhibit Shows Fractals Built From Paper: Many Hands Make Fractals Tactile

U.S.C. Exhibit Shows Fractals Built From Paper: Many Hands Make Fractals Tactile | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
For a project to teach math concepts, people used 48,912 business cards to build the Mosely Snowflake Sponge, now on display at the University of Southern California.

 

Human beings are born with an innate capacity to learn languages. Yet while mathematics is the language of pattern and form, many people struggle to acquire even its basic grammar.


But what if we could experience math directly — just as we experience language by speaking it? Some years ago I founded an organization, the Institute for Figuring, dedicated to the proposition that many ideas in math and science could be approached not just through equations and formulas but through concrete, physical activities.

 

Take fractals, mathematical structures or sets with intermediate dimensionality. Coined by the mathematician Benoit B. Mandelbrot, the term comes from the Latin “fractus,” meaning broken. Instead of having one, two or three dimensions, a fractal will have, say, 1.89 or 2.73 dimensions.


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Age-related Difficulty Recognizing Words Predicted By Brain Differences

Older adults may have difficulty understanding speech because of age-related changes in brain tissue, according to new research in the May 13 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The study shows that older adults with the most difficulty understanding spoken words had less brain tissue in a region important for speech recognition. The findings may help explain why hearing aids do not benefit all people with age-related hearing difficulties.


Although some hearing loss can be a normal part of aging, many older adults complain about difficulty understanding speech, especially in challenging listening conditions like crowded restaurants. Research has suggested that this decline in speech recognition is independent of hearing loss.

 

To identify what causes the decline in speech recognition, the researchers, led by Kelly Harris, PhD, at the Medical University of South Carolina, scanned the brains of 18 younger adults (19-39 years old) and 18 older adults (61-79 years old) as they tried to identify words in listening conditions that varied in difficulty. During a challenging listening condition, the older adults repeated fewer words correctly than did the younger adults, consistent with previous studies.

 

Harris and her colleagues found that structural differences in the brain's auditory cortex predicted performance on the task, even when they controlled for hearing loss. The older adults who had the most difficulty recognizing words also had the least brain volume in a region of auditory cortex called Heschl's gyrus/superior temporal gyrus. However, the relationship between the ability to identify words and the volume of auditory cortex was also present in younger adults.


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Never forget a Face(book): Memory for online posts beats faces and books

Never forget a Face(book): Memory for online posts beats faces and books | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
People’s memory for Facebook posts is strikingly stronger than their memory for human faces or sentences from books, according to a new study.

 

The findings shed light on how our memories favour natural, spontaneous writing over polished, edited content, and could have wider implications for the worlds of education, communications and advertising.

 

The research, authored by academics at the University of Warwick (Dr Laura Mickes) and UC San Diego (including Professors Christine Harris and Nicholas Christenfeld), tested memory for text taken from anonymised Facebook updates, stripped of images and removed from the context of Facebook, and compared it to memory for sentences picked at random from books and also to human faces.

 

The researchers found that in the first memory test, participants' memory for Facebook posts was about one and a half times their memory for sentences from books.

 

In a second memory test, participants' memory for Facebook posts was almost two and a half times as strong as for faces.

 

Lead author Dr Laura Mickes of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick said: "We were really surprised when we saw just how much stronger memory for Facebook posts was compared to other types of stimuli.

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Predicting Recovery of Cognitive Function Soon after Stroke: Differential Modeling of Logarithmic and Linear Regression

Predicting Recovery of Cognitive Function Soon after Stroke: Differential Modeling of Logarithmic and Linear Regression | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Cognitive disorders in the acute stage of stroke are common and are important independent predictors of adverse outcome in the long term. Despite the impact of cognitive disorders on both patients and their families, it is still difficult to predict the extent or duration of cognitive impairments. The objective of the present study was, therefore, to provide data on predicting the recovery of cognitive function soon after stroke by differential modeling with logarithmic and linear regression. This study included two rounds of data collection comprising 57 stroke patients enrolled in the first round for the purpose of identifying the time course of cognitive recovery in the early-phase group data, and 43 stroke patients in the second round for the purpose of ensuring that the correlation of the early-phase group data applied to the prediction of each individual's degree of cognitive recovery. In the first round, Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores were assessed 3 times during hospitalization, and the scores were regressed on the logarithm and linear of time. In the second round, calculations of MMSE scores were made for the first two scoring times after admission to tailor the structures of logarithmic and linear regression formulae to fit an individual's degree of functional recovery. The time course of early-phase recovery for cognitive functions resembled both logarithmic and linear functions. However, MMSE scores sampled at two baseline points based on logarithmic regression modeling could estimate prediction of cognitive recovery more accurately than could linear regression modeling (logarithmic modeling, R2 = 0.676, P<0.0001; linear regression modeling, R2 = 0.598, P<0.0001). Logarithmic modeling based on MMSE scores could accurately predict the recovery of cognitive function soon after the occurrence of stroke. This logarithmic modeling with mathematical procedures is simple enough to be adopted in daily clinical practice.

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To multitask, first brain must practice, practice

To multitask, first brain must practice, practice | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
The reason most people are lousy multitaskers, according to new research, is that our brains process tasks slowly, creating a decision-making bottleneck when multiple tasks compete for attention. Train the brain to perform a task more quickly and multitasking becomes a snap.

 

“We found that with training, the ‘thinking’ regions of our brain become very fast at doing each task, thereby quickly freeing them up to take on other tasks,” says study coauthor Paul Dux, a former research fellow at Vanderbilt University and now a faculty member at the University of Queensland in Australia.

 

For the study, researchers trained seven people daily for two weeks on two simple tasks—selecting an appropriate finger response to different images and selecting an appropriate vocal response (syllables) to the presentation of different sounds.

 

The tasks were done either separately or simultaneously to mimic multitasking. Scans of the individuals’ brains were conducted three times over the two weeks using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they were performing the tasks.

 

The participants were initially slow to perform one or both tasks when they tried to do them together, but after practice and training, the same participants were able to perform both tasks quickly, when they were done separately and when they were done at the same time. In other words, they became very efficient multitaskers.

 

The fMRI data shows that these gains were the result of information being processed more quickly and efficiently through the prefrontal cortex.

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The Right Image's curator insight, January 21, 2013 5:59 AM

You need a practised brain to absorb all this - but interesting resarch

UQ_Alumni_CR's curator insight, April 18, 2013 9:17 PM

Paul Dux, alumni?

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50 Common Cognitive Distortions

50 Common Cognitive Distortions | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Becoming mindful of these common cognitive distortions will help you understand yourself and other people better, and improve your decision making.

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'Quadruple helix' DNA discovered in human cells

'Quadruple helix' DNA discovered in human cells | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
In 1953, Cambridge researchers Watson and Crick published an article describing the interweaving "double helix" DNA structure -- the chemical code for all life.

 

Now, in the year of that scientific landmark's 60th Anniversary, Cambridge researchers have published a paper proving that four-stranded 'quadruple helix' DNA structures -- known as G-quadruplexes -- also exist within the human genome. They form in regions of DNA that are rich in the building block guanine, usually abbreviated to 'G'.

 

The findings mark the culmination of over 10 years investigation by scientists to show these complex structures in vivo -- in living human cells -- working from the hypothetical, through computational modelling to synthetic lab experiments and finally the identification in human cancer cells using fluorescent biomarkers.

 

The research, published January 20 in Nature Chemistry and funded by Cancer Research UK, goes on to show clear links between concentrations of four-stranded quadruplexes and the process of DNA replication, which is pivotal to cell division and production.

 

By targeting quadruplexes with synthetic molecules that trap and contain these DNA structures -- preventing cells from replicating their DNA and consequently blocking cell division -- scientists believe it may be possible to halt the runaway cell proliferation at the root of cancer.

 

"We are seeing links between trapping the quadruplexes with molecules and the ability to stop cells dividing, which is hugely exciting," said Professor Shankar Balasubramanian from the University of Cambridge's Department of Chemistry and Cambridge Research Institute, whose group produced the research.

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The science behind 'beatboxing'

The science behind 'beatboxing' | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Using the mouth, lips, tongue and voice to generate sounds that one might never expect to come from the human body is the specialty of the artists known as beatboxers. Now scientists have used scanners to peer into a beatboxer as he performed his craft to reveal the secrets of this mysterious art.

 

The human voice has long been used to generate percussion effects in many cultures, including North American scat singing, Celtic lilting and diddling, and Chinese kouji performances. In southern Indian classical music, konnakol is the percussive speech of the solkattu rhythmic form.  In contemporary pop music, the relatively young vocal art form of beatboxing is an element of hip-hop culture.

 

Until now, the phonetics of these percussion effects were not examined in detail. For instance, it was unknown to what extent beatboxers produced sounds already used within human language.

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Olaf Husby's curator insight, March 11, 2015 6:50 PM

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Network Self-Organization Explains the Statistics and Dynamics of Synaptic Connection Strengths in Cortex

Network Self-Organization Explains the Statistics and Dynamics of Synaptic Connection Strengths in Cortex | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The information processing abilities of neural circuits arise from their synaptic connection patterns. Understanding the laws governing these connectivity patterns is essential for understanding brain function. The overall distribution of synaptic strengths of local excitatory connections in cortex and hippocampus is long-tailed, exhibiting a small number of synaptic connections of very large efficacy. At the same time, new synaptic connections are constantly being created and individual synaptic connection strengths show substantial fluctuations across time. It remains unclear through what mechanisms these properties of neural circuits arise and how they contribute to learning and memory. In this study we show that fundamental characteristics of excitatory synaptic connections in cortex and hippocampus can be explained as a consequence of self-organization in a recurrent network combining spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), structural plasticity and different forms of homeostatic plasticity. In the network, associative synaptic plasticity in the form of STDP induces a rich-get-richer dynamics among synapses, while homeostatic mechanisms induce competition. Under distinctly different initial conditions, the ensuing self-organization produces long-tailed synaptic strength distributions matching experimental findings. We show that this self-organization can take place with a purely additive STDP mechanism and that multiplicative weight dynamics emerge as a consequence of network interactions. The observed patterns of fluctuation of synaptic strengths, including elimination and generation of synaptic connections and long-term persistence of strong connections, are consistent with the dynamics of dendritic spines found in rat hippocampus. Beyond this, the model predicts an approximately power-law scaling of the lifetimes of newly established synaptic connection strengths during development. Our results suggest that the combined action of multiple forms of neuronal plasticity plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of cortical circuits.

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