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The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are

The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are | Brain | Scoop.it

The volume of a small brain region influences one's predisposition for altruistic behavior. Researchers from the University of Zurich show that people who behave more altruistically than others have more gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobe, thus showing for the first time that there is a connection between brain anatomy, brain activity and altruistic behavior.

 

Why are some people very selfish and others very altruistic? Previous studies indicated that social categories like gender, income or education can hardly explain differences in altruistic behavior. Recent neuroscience studies have demonstrated that differences in brain structure might be linked to differences in personality traits and abilities. Now, for the first time, a team of researchers from the University of Zurich headed by Ernst Fehr, Director of the Department of Economics, show that there is a connection between brain anatomy and altruistic behavior.


Via Ashish Umre
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The 11th International Symposium on Autonomous Decentralized Systems (ISADS 2013)

The 11th International Symposium on Autonomous Decentralized Systems (ISADS 2013) | Brain | Scoop.it

June 15, 2012: Workshop and panel proposals due.

July 31, 2012: Acceptance notification for workshop proposals.

September 24, 2012: Final papers due. NEW EXTENDED DATE!

November 15, 2012: Acceptance notification for paper authors and panel organizers.

December 31, 2012: Camera-ready copies of accepted papers and panelist position papers due.

 

Opportunities and challenges for implementing highly complex, efficient, and dependable business and control systems have been steadily increasing, driven by the continuous growth in the power, intelligence, adaptiveness and openness of technologies and standards applied in computing, communication and control systems. Dynamically changing social and economic situations demand the next-generation of systems to be based on adaptive, reusable, and internet and Web-enabled technologies and applications. Such systems are expected to have the characteristics of living systems composed of largely autonomous and decentralized components. Such systems are called Autonomous Decentralized Systems (ADS). The International Symposium on Autonomous Decentralized System (ISADS) has been the premier events in the past twenty-two years to have successfully addressed these challenges. The 11th ISADS 2013 will continue to focus on the advancements and innovations in ADS concepts, technologies, applications strategic issues, and other related topics. The special topic for ISADS 2013 is the smart cities and e-applications.

 


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Impact factor: researchers should define the metrics that matter to them

Impact factor: researchers should define the metrics that matter to them | Brain | Scoop.it

One of the challenges faced by research funders – both public and private – is how to maximise the amount of work being done on important problems, without institutionalising any particular dogma which may suppress novel ideas. The most common arrangement is to fund good researchers but refrain from being overly prescriptive about outcomes, and, in turn, the way to identify good researchers has been to look at the publications that follow the research they fund.

 

In 1955, Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (now part of Thomson Reuters), introduced a means for identifying influential journals according to the number of times work appearing in them was cited. This process results in a number called the impact factor (IF), and it's build on the assumption that those whose works have been the most influential will be the most cited.

 

However, as anyone who's compared the Twitter following of, say, pop singer Rihanna to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson knows, influence is only one dimension of importance. While useful for many (pre-digital) years, the IF system, not unlike some celebrities, is not aging gracefully. Not only has it been widely misapplied, it has also had some unintended side effects.


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Grey parrot number acquisition: The inference of cardinal value from ordinal position on the numeral list

A Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) had previously been taught to use English count words (“one” through “sih” [six]) to label sets of one to six individual items (Pepperberg, 1994). He had also been taught to use the same count words to label the Arabic numerals 1 through 6. Without training, he inferred the relationship between the Arabic numerals and the sets of objects (Pepperberg, 2006b). In the present study, he was then trained to label vocally the Arabic numerals 7 and 8 (“sih-none”, “eight”, respectively) and to order these Arabic numerals with respect to the numeral 6. He subsequently inferred the ordinality of 7 and 8 with respect to the smaller numerals and he inferred use of the appropriate label for the cardinal values of seven and eight items. These data suggest that he constructed the cardinal meanings of “seven” (“sih–none”) and “eight” from his knowledge of the cardinal meanings of one through six, together with the place of “seven” (“sih–none”) and “eight” in the ordered count list.


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No dark matter in the genome anymore. 80%+ has function

No dark matter in the genome anymore. 80%+ has function | Brain | Scoop.it

According to ENCODE’s analysis, 80 percent of the genome has a “biochemical function”. More on exactly what this means later, but the key point is: It’s not “junk”. Scientists have long recognised that some non-coding DNA has a function, and more and more solid examples have come to light [edited for clarity - Ed]. But, many maintained that much of these sequences were, indeed, junk. ENCODE says otherwise. “Almost every nucleotide is associated with a function of some sort or another, and we now know where they are, what binds to them, what their associations are, and more,” says Tom Gingeras, one of the study’s many senior scientists.

 

And what’s in the remaining 20 percent? Possibly not junk either, according to Ewan Birney, the project’s Lead Analysis Coordinator and self-described “cat-herder-in-chief”. He explains that ENCODE only (!) looked at 147 types of cells, and the human body has a few thousand. A given part of the genome might control a gene in one cell type, but not others. If every cell is included, functions may emerge for the phantom proportion. “It’s likely that 80 percent will go to 100 percent,” says Birney. “We don’t really have any large chunks of redundant DNA. This metaphor of junk isn’t that useful.”


That the genome is complex will come as no surprise to scientists, but ENCODE does two fresh things: it catalogues the DNA elements for scientists to pore over; and it reveals just how many there are. “The genome is no longer an empty vastness – it is densely packed with peaks and wiggles of biochemical activity,” says Shyam Prabhakar from the Genome Institute of Singapore. “There are nuggets for everyone here. No matter which piece of the genome we happen to be studying in any particular project, we will benefit from looking up the corresponding ENCODE tracks.”


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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