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Social Foraging
Dynamics of Social Interaction
Curated by Ashish Umre
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Aesop's fable unlocks how crows and kids think

Aesop's fable unlocks how crows and kids think | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Scientists have used an age-old fable to help illustrate how we think differently to other animals.

 

Lucy Cheke, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge's Department of Experimental Psychology, expanded Aesop's fable into three tasks of varying complexity and compared the performance of Eurasian Jays with local school children.

 

The task that set the children apart from the Jays involved a mechanism which was counter-intuitive as it was hidden under an opaque surface. Neither the birds nor the children were able to learn how the mechanism worked, but the children were able to learn how to get the reward, whereas the birds were not.

 

The results of the study illustrate that children learn about cause and effect in the physical world in a different way to birds. While the Jay's appear to take account of the mechanism involved in the task, the children are more driven by simple cause-effect relationships.

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17-year-old programs artificial 'brain' to diagnose breast cancer

17-year-old programs artificial 'brain' to diagnose breast cancer | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
A high school junior has created a computer brain that can diagnose breast cancer with 99 percent sensitivity.

 

Seventeen-year-old Brittany Wenger of Sarasota, Fla., wrote a breast cancer-diagnosing app based on an artificial neural network, basically a computer program whose structure is inspired by the way brain cells connect with one another.

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The BehavBased Hypercycle: From Parasitic Reaction to Symbiotic Behavior

Most researchers in the science of the origin of life assume that the process of living is nothing but computation in the chemical domain, i.e. information processing of a genetic code. This has had the effect of restricting research to the problem of stability, as epitomized by the concept of the hypercycle and its potential vulnerability against parasites. Stability is typically assumed to be ensured by a rigid compartment, but spatial self-structuring is a viable alternative. We further develop this alternative by proposing that some instability can actually be beneficial under certain conditions.

 

We show that instability can lead to adaptive behavior even in the case of simple prebiotic reaction-diffusion systems. We demonstrate for the first time that a parasitic sidereaction on the metabolic level can lead to self-motility on the behavioral level of the chemical system as a whole. Moreover, self-motility entails advantages on an evolutionary level, thus constituting a symbiotic, behavior-based hypercycle. We relate this novel finding to several issues in the science of the origin of life, and conclude that more attention should be given to the possibility of a movement-first scenario.

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Programming playground: A whole-cell computational model

Programming playground: A whole-cell computational model | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Three days ago, Jonathan R. Karr, Jayodita C. Sanghvi and coauthors in Markus W. Covert’s lab published a whole-cell computational model of the life cycle of the human pathogen Mycoplasma genitalium. This is the first model of its kind: they track all biological processes such as DNA replication, RNA transcription and regulation, protein synthesis, metabolism and cell division at the molecular level. To achieve this, the authors integrate 28 different sub-models of the known cellular processes.

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What is Common between Mumbai Dabbawalas and Apache Hadoop?

What is Common between Mumbai Dabbawalas and Apache Hadoop? | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Mumbai DabbawaLet me start by setting the context – who is a Mumbai Dabbawala? “Dabba” literally means a box and a Dabbawala is a person who carries the box. Everyday, thousands of Mumbaikars (a slang that refers to the residents of Mumbai, the financial capital of India) rely on the Dabbawalas to deliver their lunch boxes carrying the homemade food to their work places. Given the increased cost of living in India and the reluctance to have junk food for everyday meal, many households depend on the network of Dabbawalas. Mumbai is one of the largest cities in the world and an average working professional will have to leave home pretty early in the day to take the local train to commute to the work. The packed food carried from home will lose its freshness by noon. Mumbai Dabbawalas pick up the lunch box much later and manage to deliver it just in time for lunch preserving the warmth of the home food. The whole process repeats in the evening when they collect the empty boxes to drop them back at the respective households. So, what is special about it and how is this related to Apache Hadoop? Keep reading!las pick up the lunch box much later and manage to deliver it just in time for lunch preserving the warmth of the home food.

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Scan Patterns Predict Sentence Production in the Cross-Modal Processing of Visual Scenes

Scan Patterns Predict Sentence Production in the Cross-Modal Processing of Visual Scenes | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Most everyday tasks involve multiple modalities, which raises the question of how the processing of these modalities is coordinated by the cognitive system. In this paper, we focus on the coordination of visual attention and linguistic processing during speaking. Previous research has shown that objects in a visual scene are fixated before they are mentioned, leading us to hypothesize that the scan pattern of a participant can be used to predict what he or she will say. We test this hypothesis using a data set of cued scene descriptions of photo-realistic scenes. We demonstrate that similar scan patterns are correlated with similar sentences, within and between visual scenes; and that this correlation holds for three phases of the language production process (target identification, sentence planning, and speaking). We also present a simple algorithm that uses scan patterns to accurately predict associated sentences by utilizing similarity-based retrieval.

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Mice have distinct subsystem to handle smell associated with fear

Mice have distinct subsystem to handle smell associated with fear | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Mice appear to have a specialized system for detecting and at least initially processing instinctually important smells such as those that denote predators. The finding raises a question about whether their response to those smells is hardwired.

 

A new study finds that mice have a distinct neural subsystem that links the nose to the brain and is associated with instinctually important smells such as those emitted by predators. That insight, published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, prompts the question whether mice and other mammals have specially hardwired neural circuitry to trigger instinctive behavior in response to certain smells.

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Caught in the act: Bats use the sound of copulating flies as a cue for foraging

Caught in the act: Bats use the sound of copulating flies as a cue for foraging | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Mating activities are a dangerous business because the attention to other important events in the surroundings is often reduced. Therefore the duration of copulation itself is usually very short. About 100 years ago researchers argued that copulating animals are at a higher risk of being discovered and, consequently, being eaten by a predator. Yet, surprisingly, there are only few observations that support this hypothesis. These examples comprise studies in water-living insects, such as amphipods and water striders, and also in land insects, as investigated in a recent study in Australian plague locusts that are at a higher risk of being eaten as mating pairs compared to single animals.

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Brain Study Locates Seat Of Selfishness, Altruism

Brain Study Locates Seat Of Selfishness, Altruism | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Some people are generous--others, not so much. Why is that?

A new study from Switzerland suggests that the answer to that question may be a matter of neuroanatomy, with the brains of altruistic types having more "gray matter" in a region of the brain known as the temporoparietal junction.

 

It's the first study to show a clear link between brain structure and altruism, according to a written statement released by the University of Zurich.

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A Metric of Influential Spreading during Contagion Dynamics through the Air Transportation Network

A Metric of Influential Spreading during Contagion Dynamics through the Air Transportation Network | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The spread of infectious diseases at the global scale is mediated by long-range human travel. Our ability to predict the impact of an outbreak on human health requires understanding the spatiotemporal signature of early-time spreading from a specific location. Here, we show that network topology, geography, traffic structure and individual mobility patterns are all essential for accurate predictions of disease spreading. Specifically, we study contagion dynamics through the air transportation network by means of a stochastic agent-tracking model that accounts for the spatial distribution of airports, detailed air traffic and the correlated nature of mobility patterns and waiting-time distributions of individual agents. From the simulation results and the empirical air-travel data, we formulate a metric of influential spreading––the geographic spreading centrality––which accounts for spatial organization and the hierarchical structure of the network traffic, and provides an accurate measure of the early-time spreading power of individual nodes.

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Stanford and Venter Institute Simulate an Entire Organism With Software

Scientists at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute have developed the first software simulation of an entire organism, a humble single-cell bacterium that lives in the human genital and respiratory tracts.

 

The scientists and other experts said the work was a giant step toward developing computerized laboratories that could carry out many thousands of experiments much faster than is possible now, helping scientists penetrate the mysteries of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

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A Memristor True Random-Number Generator

A Memristor True Random-Number Generator | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Engineers in Taiwan say they’ve invented a tiny low-power circuit based on memristors that could improve the security of data transmission over the Internet and of using Near Field Communication (NFC) from smartphone wallets. The security of many digital transactions depends on generating truly random numbers, something that’s difficult to do using today’s digital circuits, which typically produce numbers that aren’t completely random.

 

The new memristor circuit rapidly spits out true random numbers while consuming less energy compared with other techniques, according to research in an upcoming issue of IEEE Electron Device Letters.Memristors and resistive random-access memories (RRAMs) store information as resistance rather than charge, as other memories do. They are made by sandwiching a resistive material or a stack of materials between two electrodes. The device’s resistance can be reversibly increased or decreased by applying a certain level of voltage across the device.

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Dolphins appear to do nonlinear mathematics

Dolphins appear to do nonlinear mathematics | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Dolphins may use complex nonlinear mathematics when hunting, according to a new study that suggests these brainy marine mammals could be far more skilled at math than was ever thought possible before.

 

Inspiration for the new study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society A, came after lead author Tim Leighton watched an episode of the Discovery Channel's "Blue Planet" series and saw dolphins blowing multiple tiny bubbles around prey as they hunted.

"I immediately got hooked, because I knew that no man-made sonar would be able to operate in such bubble water," explained Leighton, a professor of ultrasonics and underwater acoustics at the University of Southampton, where he is also an associate dean.

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Studies of self-organization processes in nanoporous alumina membranes by small-angle neutron scattering

We performed studies of the self-organization processes in nanoporous alumina membranes at initial and late stages of aluminum anodization by using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). SEM observations indicated three stages in the self-organization of nanopores in alumina: (1) nucleation of random nanopores with a broad radius distribution, (2) narrowing the radius distribution and (3) slow evolution of the nanoporous structure towards ordering of nanopores into large domains. SANS studies revealed orientational correlation between ordered domains of nanopores, which is characterized by a small misorientation angle. For the samples with high aspect ratios of nanopores, the SANS patterns showed azimuthal smearing, which was attributed to the redistribution of nanopores between the domains during their growth.

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Sheep backpacks reveal flocking strategy

Sheep backpacks reveal flocking strategy | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

UK researchers have shown for the first time that instead of fleeing randomly when faced with danger, sheep head straight for the center of the flock.

 

Understanding this behavior in healthy animals may help researchers understand the breakdown in social behaviours caused by neurological disorders in sheep, as well as those in humans, such as Huntington's disease.

 

The findings support a 40-year-old idea put forward by evolutionary biologist Bill Hamilton. He suggested that creatures as different as insects, fish and cattle all react to danger by moving towards the middle of their respective swarms, schools or herds. "Scientists agree that flocking behavior has evolved in response to the risk of being attacked by predators.

 

The idea is that being part of a tight-knit group not only increases the chances that you might spot a predator, but decreases the chance that you are the one the predator goes for when it attacks," explains Dr. Andrew King from The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), lead author the study, published in Current Biology today.

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Pleiotropy: Crossing valleys in fitness landscapes

Pleiotropy: Crossing valleys in fitness landscapes | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

With his "holey adaptive landscapes", Sergey Gavrilets (e.g. 1997) solved the problem of crossing valleys of low fitness in the fitness landscape* by positing that for high-dimensional landscapes (which is realistic - typiwrightcally the genotype consists of thousands of genes and many more DNA nucleotides) there is always a ridge between fitness "peaks" (which are then not really peaks).

 

The only rationale for that idea is that the more neighbors a genotype has, the higher the chance that the fitness of one of them is about the same. However, there are indications that this is generally not true. Gavrilets himself says that if all the high fitness genotypes are over in one "corner" of the fitness landscapes, then there could not always be ridges. One way to formulate this is Kauffman's Massif Central hypothesis, which just says that the chance of finding a fitness peak of high fitness is higher closer to another high peak; peaks cluster in genotype space, and there is a correlation between peak fitness of neighbors. This has already been shown to be true in Kauffman's NK landscape (Østman et al., 2010), and is under investigation in other models as well. Stay tuned.

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Robot Pebbles Duplicate 3D Shapes

Robot Pebbles Duplicate 3D Shapes | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Daniela Rus, a professor of computer science and engineering at MIT and a principal investigator at its Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), is working on yet another innovative idea for what robots can do. This one involves tiny robotic pebbles, or cubes, that self-assemble to duplicate an object that is placed in a heap of the cubes. Possible applications include rapid prototyping and replacing parts or objects.

 

We've discussed the CSAIL before. It is the same lab that came up with the 3D navigating robot, and Rus is leading a joint research project for designing and 3D printing your own robots using regular household materials. The self-duplicating pebble project is from the CSAIL's Distributed Robotics Laboratory (DRL).

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Identifying Influential and Susceptible Members of Social Networks

Identifying social influence in networks is critical to understanding how behaviors spread. We present a method that uses in vivo randomized experimentation to identify influence and susceptibility in networks while avoiding the biases inherent in traditional estimates of social contagion. Estimation in a representative sample of 1.3 million Facebook users showed that younger users are more susceptible to influence than older users, men are more influential than women, women influence men more than they influence other women, and married individuals are the least susceptible to influence in the decision to adopt the product offered. Analysis of influence and susceptibility together with network structure revealed that influential individuals are less susceptible to influence than noninfluential individuals and that they cluster in the network while susceptible individuals do not, which suggests that influential people with influential friends may be instrumental in the spread of this product in the network.

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Where you look predicts what you're going to say

Watch where you look – it can be used to predict what you'll say. A new study shows that it is possible to guess what sentences people will use to describe a scene by tracking their eye movements.

 

Moreno Coco and Frank Keller at the University of Edinburgh, UK, presented 24 volunteers with a series of photo-realistic images depicting indoor scenes such as a hotel reception. They then tracked the sequence of objects that each volunteer looked at after being asked to describe what they saw.

 

Other than being prompted with a keyword, such as "man" or "suitcase", participants were free to describe the scene however they liked. Some typical sentences included "the man is standing in the reception of a hotel" or "the suitcase is on the floor".

The order in which a participant's gaze settled on objects in each scene tended to mirror the order of nouns in the sentence used to describe it. "We were surprised there was such a close correlation," says Keller. Given that multiple cognitive processes are involved in sentence formation, Coco says "it is remarkable to find evidence of similarity between speech and visual attention".

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Why does a vivid memory 'feel so real?'

Neuroscientists have found strong evidence that vivid memory and directly experiencing the real moment can trigger similar brain activation patterns.

 

The study, led by Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute (RRI), in collaboration with the University of Texas at Dallas, is one of the most ambitious and complex yet for elucidating the brain's ability to evoke a memory by reactivating the parts of the brain that were engaged during the original perceptual experience. Researchers found that vivid memory and real perceptual experience share "striking" similarities at the neural level, although they are not "pixel-perfect" brain pattern replications.

 

The study appears online this month in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, ahead of print publication.

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The semantic web: Can it make Google as smart as IBM Watson?

Once upon a time, search was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Most of us still couldn’t live without it, but hardly an hour goes by that we aren’t cursing the lousy results from our otherwise favorite search engine. Queries which seem straightforward to us stump even the mighty Google, despite the billions of dollars invested in it. So the amazing show put on by IBM’s Jeopardy-winning Watson was inspiring as a possible model for how we’d like to see our own questions answered. Unfortunately, we can’t all have our own Watson — at least not anytime soon — but the internet industry is trying to help us get similar results using semantic search, building on a much broader set of technologies loosely called the semantic web.

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Not just lone sharks: Social networks under the sea

Not just lone sharks: Social networks under the sea | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Scientists are delving into the social networking behaviour of sharks, to determine why and when large marine predators congregate, and the mysteries of their society.

 

Lead researcher Nathan Bass is conducting the study as part of his Honours project, in conjunction with Taronga Zoo. “We hope that this research will help unlock some of the secrets of shark society”, he says.“In this day and age where the mere mention of the word ‘shark’ evokes a whole range of preconceived ideas, it’s humbling to acknowledge that much of the underwater world is still a mystery,” said Mr. Bass. Despite various anecdotal recordings, little scientific research has been conducted on shark social behavior.

 

This project, focussed on Port Jackson sharks, involves researchers scuba diving to identify which sharks are interacting, tagging and fitting individuals with acoustic receivers to record and track the animals’ interactions and movements, conducting underwater surveys and setting up Acoustic Listening Stations in the Jervis Bay Marine Park to monitor shark and habitat use. “Port Jackson sharks have some really interesting interactions,” says Bass. “These types of sharks can be solitary, but they often occur in large groups around breeding time.

 

They are apparently social while resting and seem to favour their resting sites, frequently with more than 30 individual sharks recorded together in one area alone.” Taronga Zoo researcher, Dr. Jo Wiszniewski, said: “Most people think that sharks are solitary species. Many shark species have shown us that their social networks are much more complex, and that they’re not just solitary animals.”

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The jellyfish with the heart of a rat

The jellyfish with the heart of a rat | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Scientist have created an artificial jellyfish that uses heart cells from a rat to propel itself though the water.

 

No bigger than a 1p coin, the bioengineered machine mimics the swimming style of a baby jellyfish by contracting its synthetic body into a bell shape to generate forward thrust.

 

Researchers at California Institute of Technology and Harvard University built the "medusoid", named after medusa, a historic name for jellyfish, as a stepping stone towards a much grander aim: the construction of hearts to replace those damaged by disease.

Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, Kit Parker at Harvard and Janna Nawroth at Caltech, describe how they designed the medusoid after studying the movement of juvenile moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita).

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Individual Rules for Trail Pattern Formation in Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile)

Individual Rules for Trail Pattern Formation in Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile) | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

We studied the formation of trail patterns by Argentine ants exploring an empty arena. Using a novel imaging and analysis technique we estimated pheromone concentrations at all spatial positions in the experimental arena and at different times. Then we derived the response function of individual ants to pheromone concentrations by looking at correlations between concentrations and changes in speed or direction of the ants. Ants were found to turn in response to local pheromone concentrations, while their speed was largely unaffected by these concentrations. Ants did not integrate pheromone concentrations over time, with the concentration of pheromone in a 1 cm radius in front of the ant determining the turning angle. The response to pheromone was found to follow a Weber's Law, such that the difference between quantities of pheromone on the two sides of the ant divided by their sum determines the magnitude of the turning angle. This proportional response is in apparent contradiction with the well-established non-linear choice function used in the literature to model the results of binary bridge experiments in ant colonies (Deneubourg et al. 1990). However, agent based simulations implementing the Weber's Law response function led to the formation of trails and reproduced results reported in the literature. We show analytically that a sigmoidal response, analogous to that in the classical Deneubourg model for collective decision making, can be derived from the individual Weber-type response to pheromone concentrations that we have established in our experiments when directional noise around the preferred direction of movement of the ants is assumed.

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Different Types of Network Attacks And Security Threats and how to counter them.

Different Types of Network Attacks And Security Threats and how to counter them. | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Detailed descriptions of common types of network attacks and security threats. Will help to Understand the threats and also provides information about the counter measures against them.

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