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Understanding the neural basis of behavior in an ecological context.

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  • April 8, 2014
  • 11:05 AM

Information theory of behavior

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Biology can tell us what but theory tells us why. There is a new issue of Current Opinion in Neurobiology that focuses on the theory and computation in neuroscience. There’s tons of great stuff there, from learning and memory to the meaning of a spike to the structure of circuitry. I have an article in this issue and […]... Read more »

Sharpee, T., Calhoun, A., & Chalasani, S. (2014) Information theory of adaptation in neurons, behavior, and mood. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 47-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.11.007  

  • March 26, 2014
  • 12:27 PM

Fractal organization in MMOs

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

One of my favorite pet topics is using MMOs (online games) to understand questions of social structure and economics. Benedikt Fuchs looked at social structure in the game Pardus: But exactly what kinds of structures form and to what extent these groupings depend on the environment is still the subject of much debate. So an interesting […]... Read more »

Fuchs B, Sornette D, & Thurner S. (2014) Fractal multi-level organisation of human groups in a virtual world. arXiv. info:/

  • March 12, 2014
  • 12:17 PM

Nicole Rust and the brain that uses machine-learning

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

I love Indian sweets – they’re sugary and buttery and all over delicious. My only problem is, I can never remember what the ones that I like are called; I can usually picture them in my head, but that can make it a bit difficult to order. When I go to an Indian market that […]... Read more »

  • March 2, 2014
  • 11:46 AM

#cosyne14 day 3: Genes, behavior, and decisions

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

For other days (as they appear): 1, 2, 4 How do genes contribute to complex behavior? Cosyne seems to have a fondness for inviting an ecogically-related researcher to remind us computational scientists that we’re actually studying animals that exist in, you know, an environment. Last year it was ants, this year deer mice. Hopi Hoekstra gave […]... Read more »

Gordon J. Berman, Daniel M. Choi, William Bialek, & Joshua W. Shaevitz. (2013) Mapping the structure of drosophilid behavior. arXiv. arXiv: 1310.4249v1

  • March 1, 2014
  • 04:39 PM

#cosyne14 day 2: what underlies our neural representation of the world?

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Now that I’ve been armed with a tiny notepad, I’m being a bit more successful at remembering what I’ve seen. Connectivity and computations The second day started with a talk by Thomas Mrsic-Flogel motivated by the question of, how does the organization of the cortex give rise to computations? He focused on connectivity between excitatory neurons in […]... Read more »

Ganmor E, Segev R, & Schneidman E. (2011) Sparse low-order interaction network underlies a highly correlated and learnable neural population code. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(23), 9679-84. PMID: 21602497  

  • February 28, 2014
  • 11:47 AM

Cosyne, Day 1

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

To sum up day 1: I forgot my phone charger and all my toiletries and managed to lose my notebook by the end of the first lecture…! But I brought my ski gear, so there’s that. Mental priorities. Tom Jessel gave the opening talk on motor control. The motor cortex must send a command, or […]... Read more »

  • February 20, 2014
  • 02:03 PM

Friends with benefits

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

tl;dr: Rodents will help each other get out of trouble, though they will help each other more if they are related. Social learning in rodents can require information transmission between ACC and amygdala, and the strength of synapses in mPFC dictates social status. He wanders into the room and stops – someone else is peering […]... Read more »

Ben-Ami Bartal I, Rodgers DA, Bernardez Sarria MS, Decety J, & Mason P. (2014) Pro-social behavior in rats is modulated by social experience. eLife. PMID: 24424411  

Ben-Ami Bartal I, Decety J, & Mason P. (2011) Empathy and pro-social behavior in rats. Science (New York, N.Y.), 334(6061), 1427-30. PMID: 22158823  

Jeon D, Kim S, Chetana M, Jo D, Ruley HE, Lin SY, Rabah D, Kinet JP, & Shin HS. (2010) Observational fear learning involves affective pain system and Cav1.2 Ca2 channels in ACC. Nature neuroscience, 13(4), 482-8. PMID: 20190743  

  • January 28, 2014
  • 10:21 AM

Communication among animals (aka, I wasn’t droppin’ no eaves sir, honest.)

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

I have terrible hearing. I’m not hearing-impaired in any actual way, but whenever there is a lot of background noise – terrible music at a bar, the burbling of friends at a big party – I just cannot understand what people are saying even when they’re right nearby. I honestly spend most of time responding […]... Read more »

Tobias JA, Planqué R, Cram DL, & Seddon N. (2014) Species interactions and the structure of complex communication networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(3), 1020-5. PMID: 24395769  

  • December 11, 2013
  • 02:07 PM

Why do we cry? (Part 2)

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

The crying was associated with a sorrowful facial expression, sobbing body movements, and a voice inflected with sadness. These physical manifestations ended with the termi- nation of stimulation and the patient described feeling sad, but could not express the trigger for the sadness or crying. Results were consistent and reproducible. I have previously wondered why […]... Read more »

Burghardt T, Basha MM, Fuerst D, & Mittal S. (2013) Crying with sorrow evoked by electrocortical stimulation. Epileptic disorders : international epilepsy journal with videotape, 15(1), 72-5. PMID: 23531727  

  • December 9, 2013
  • 12:54 PM

Sticking electrodes in humans: the need to proceed

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

“But, right now, do you think I made you stronger or weaker?” “I felt the flash and as we talked through it… it made me stronger.” I can trace my interest in neuroscience quite directly to when I was nine and my teacher showed us a video of the famous Penfield Experiments (see above, I’m pretty sure […]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2013
  • 11:56 AM

Learning to see through semantics

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Humans have a visual bias: everything in vision seems easy and natural to us, and it can seem a bit of a mystery why computers are so bad at it. But there is a reason such a massive chunk (about 30%) of cortex is devoted to it. It’s really hard! To do everything that it […]... Read more »

Frome A, Corrado GS, Shlens J, Bengio S, Dean J, Ranzato M, & Mikolov T. (2013) DeViSE: A Deep Visual-Semantic Embedding Model. NIPS. info:/

Dean T, Ruzon MA, Segal M, Shlens J, Vijayanarasimhan S, & Yagnik J. (2013) Fast, Accurate Detection of 100,000 Object Classes on a Single Machine. Proceedings of IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition. DOI: 10.1109/CVPR.2013.237  

  • November 26, 2013
  • 12:18 PM

Learning socially but not socially learning

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

How do we distinguish learning from our friends from learning because our friends happen to be around? When I was younger, Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 was the game to play, but I was sadly N64-less. Did I learn how to play Goldeneye because my friends were good at it and showed me, or because whenever I […]... Read more »

Ilan, T, Katsnelson, E, Motro, U, Feldman, M, & Lotem, A. (2013) The role of beginner’s luck in learning to prefer risky patches by socially foraging house sparrows . Behavioral Ecology. info:/10.1093/beheco/art079

  • November 20, 2013
  • 12:02 PM

When crowds aren’t so wise

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Alex Tabarrok recently related a familiar story about the ‘wisdom of the crowds’: I ask the audience to guess my weight. They all wrote their guesses on a piece of paper. All the guesses was collected and an average guess – the “consensus forecast” – was calculated, while I continued my presentation. I started my presentation […]... Read more »

  • October 10, 2013
  • 11:37 AM

Tony Movshon tells us that we need to understand our environment to understand our brain

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Tony Movshon visited San Diego this week and, as usual, gave a fantastic talk. He’s a fantastic speaker, and a great pugilist. The topic of his talk is a subject near and dear to my heart: why it’s important to understand the natural environment in order to understand how our brain works. Neuroscientists like to […]... Read more »

Freeman J, Ziemba CM, Heeger DJ, Simoncelli EP, & Movshon JA. (2013) A functional and perceptual signature of the second visual area in primates. Nature neuroscience, 16(7), 974-81. PMID: 23685719  

  • October 10, 2013
  • 09:48 AM

No, Einstein was not smart because his brain was ‘well-connected’

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

 People will never tire of hearing how smart that Einstein fellow was. And following logically from that, apparently, is the truism that people will never tire of hearing about Einstein’s brain. This organ is so fascinating that it has it’s own wikipedia page full of information gleaned by its examination after it was stolen from the dear […]... Read more »

  • October 8, 2013
  • 01:39 PM

Why do we cry?

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

I was recently reading an article on the psychology of why we cry (via): In a study published in 2000, Vingerhoets and a team of researchers found that adults, unlike children, rarely cry in public. They wait until they’re in the privacy of their homes—when they are alone or, at most, in the company of one […]... Read more »

Parvizi J, Anderson SW, Martin CO, Damasio H, & Damasio AR. (2001) Pathological laughter and crying: a link to the cerebellum. Brain : a journal of neurology, 124(Pt 9), 1708-19. PMID: 11522574  

  • September 17, 2013
  • 09:23 AM

How oxytocin regulates social reward

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Why do we care about other people? Not just why do we care for them, but why do we care about – their existence? their presence? what they do and how they make us feel? For a long time, the canonical explanation has been that the hormone oxytocin is a sort of ‘love hormone’ whereby release […]... Read more »

  • September 10, 2013
  • 01:27 PM

Social interactions in mice

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

How do you determine whether two, three, or four individuals are interacting? With people, it can be fairly straightforward: they talk, touch, and communicate with each other. That’s not necessarily true with other animals which can release olfactory pheromones which we can’t see. Mice (like dogs) also communicate through scent-marking. Further, interactions might occur indirectly; […]... Read more »

Shemesh Y, Sztainberg Y, Forkosh O, Shlapobersky T, Chen A, & Schneidman E. (2013) High-order social interactions in groups of mice. eLife. PMID: 24015357  

  • July 17, 2013
  • 01:37 PM

Transmitting behavior between groups

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Crowds chanting in unison, wolves hunting in a pack, the superorganism that is the ant colony: these are all things that require the coordination of many individuals to accomplish something that they could not on their own.  And yet, replace any individual with another and the behavior will turn out pretty much the same.  Right? […]... Read more »

  • May 30, 2013
  • 12:09 PM

Mechanisms of collective decision-making in bees

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Thomas Seeley gave a talk yesterday about how honeybees collectively decide on a new home, and how they use the evidence accumulation/drift-diffusion model to make decisions!  When bees are ready to start a new colony, they’ll find somewhere to hang out and swarm.  Foragers will then periodically wander off to try to find a good […]... Read more »

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