Neuroecology

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Understanding the neural basis of behavior in an ecological context.

neuroecology
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  • May 19, 2015
  • 12:30 PM
  • 11 views

When did we start using information theory in neuroscience?

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

This question came up in journal club a little while ago. The hypothesis that neurons in the brain are attempting to maximize their information about the world is a powerful one. Although usually attributed to Horace Barlow, the idea arose almost … Continue reading →... Read more »

Dimitrov, A., Lazar, A., & Victor, J. (2011) Information theory in neuroscience. Journal of Computational Neuroscience, 30(1), 1-5. DOI: 10.1007/s10827-011-0314-3  

MacKay, D., & McCulloch, W. (1952) The limiting information capacity of a neuronal link. The Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics, 14(2), 127-135. DOI: 10.1007/BF02477711  

von Neumann. (1956) Probabilistic logics and the synthesis of reliable organisms from unreliable components. Automata Studies. info:/

  • February 27, 2015
  • 11:17 AM
  • 211 views

How Deep Mind learns to win

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

About a year ago, DeepMind was bought for half a billion dollars by Google for creating software that could learn to beat video games. Over the past year, DeepMind has detailed how they did it. Let us say that you were … Continue reading →... Read more »

Mnih V, Kavukcuoglu K, Silver D, Rusu AA, Veness J, Bellemare MG, Graves A, Riedmiller M, Fidjeland AK, Ostrovski G.... (2015) Human-level control through deep reinforcement learning. Nature, 518(7540), 529-533. PMID: 25719670  

Volodymyr Mnih, Koray Kavukcuoglu, David Silver, Alex Graves, Ioannis Antonoglou, Daan Wierstra, & Martin Riedmiller. (2013) Playing Atari with Deep Reinforcement Learning. arXiv. arXiv: 1312.5602v1

  • February 15, 2015
  • 01:09 PM
  • 231 views

Inequality in faculty placement

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

How does your PhD institution affect your chances at a faculty position? Across disciplines, we find steep prestige hierarchies, in which only 9 to 14% of faculty are placed at institutions more prestigious than their doctorate…Under a meritocracy, the observed … Continue reading →... Read more »

Clauset A, Arbesman S, & Larremore DB. (2015) Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks. Science Advances. info:/

  • January 30, 2015
  • 11:45 AM
  • 151 views

Neanderthal neurograstronomy

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

There is a genetic basis to the food that we enjoy eating. Some people – which I call strange people – think cilantro has a strange, soapy taste at least partially because of a particular polymorphism in a odor receptor gene (OR6A2). The question … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 27, 2015
  • 10:44 AM
  • 188 views

How do we integrate information?

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Left or right? Apple or orange? Selma or Birdman? One way to make these decisions is precisely what intuition tell us it should be: we weigh up the pros and cons of each choice. Then, when we have sufficient evidence for one over the … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • December 2, 2014
  • 11:35 AM
  • 280 views

No one will remember you because society doesn’t care

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

A few years ago I was in Washington DC and, being a bit of a tourist, I randomly picked up a fact card about one of our exciting presidents. Obviously the excitement mounted: who did I get? My best buddy … Continue reading →... Read more »

Roediger, H., & DeSoto, K. (2014) Forgetting the presidents. Science, 346(6213), 1106-1109. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259627  

  • November 5, 2014
  • 12:04 PM
  • 191 views

Where do people look? Where there’s information

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

1. BusinessInsider has a great collection of pictures tracking where people actually look when they see an image. (Big takeaway: men love to look at other people’s groins.) 2. Watch the video above: people generally look at the face of the … Continue reading →... Read more »

Najemnik, J., & Geisler, W. (2005) Optimal eye movement strategies in visual search. Nature, 434(7031), 387-391. DOI: 10.1038/nature03390  

Gallup AC, Hale JJ, Sumpter DJ, Garnier S, Kacelnik A, Krebs JR, & Couzin ID. (2012) Visual attention and the acquisition of information in human crowds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(19), 7245-50. PMID: 22529369  

Watson KK, & Platt ML. (2012) Social signals in primate orbitofrontal cortex. Current biology : CB, 22(23), 2268-73. PMID: 23122847  

  • November 4, 2014
  • 02:28 PM
  • 223 views

How many smells can a smelly person smell? 1 trillion or 10?

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Earlier this year, a paper in Science attempted to answer the question: how many smells can we actually smell? At least one trillion, they claimed. Recently, Markus Meister posted a paper on arxiv which made the bold claim that we can … Continue reading →... Read more »

Bushdid, C., Magnasco, M., Vosshall, L., & Keller, A. (2014) Humans Can Discriminate More than 1 Trillion Olfactory Stimuli. Science, 343(6177), 1370-1372. DOI: 10.1126/science.1249168  

Meister M. (2014) Can Humans Really Discriminate 1 Trillion Odors?. arXiv. info:/

  • October 31, 2014
  • 11:15 AM
  • 254 views

Canonical circuits in neuroscience

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Gary Marcus, Adam Marblestone, and Thomas Dean have a nice perspective piece in Science this week on the atoms of neural computation (gated): One hypothesis is that cortical neurons form a single, massively repeated “canonical” circuit, characterized as a kind of a … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 3, 2014
  • 11:55 AM
  • 265 views

Tricksy insects sing a song of love and deceit

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Beyond a spider snacking on an unfortunate fly, the social lives of insects tend to go unrecognized. Perhaps you notice all the ants marching in a line, or bees heading back to a nest, but it all seems so mechanical, so primal. … Continue reading →... Read more »

Nakano, R., Ihara, F., Mishiro, K., Toyama, M., & Toda, S. (2014) Double meaning of courtship song in a moth. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1789), 20140840-20140840. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0840  

  • July 29, 2014
  • 12:32 PM
  • 290 views

Are silly superstitions useful because they are silly?

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

(Attention warning: massive speculation ahead.) Auguries often seem made up, useless. Is that why they are useful? Dove figured that the birds must be serving as some kind of ecological indicator. Perhaps they gravitated toward good soil, or smaller trees, or some other useful characteristic of a swidden site. After all, the Kantu’ had been […]... Read more »

  • July 28, 2014
  • 02:44 PM
  • 400 views

Watch ALL the neurons in a brain: Ahrens and Freeman continue their reign of terror

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Okay, not quite all of them. But it looks like Misha Ahrens and Jeremy Freeman are going to continue their reign of terror, imaging the whole zebrafish brain as if it’s no big deal. Yeah they’ve got almost every neuron of a vertebrate, so what? Besides figuring out that not shooting light at the eyes might […]... Read more »

Freeman, J., Vladimirov, N., Kawashima, T., Mu, Y., Sofroniew, N., Bennett, D., Rosen, J., Yang, C., Looger, L., & Ahrens, M. (2014) Mapping brain activity at scale with cluster computing. Nature Methods. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3041  

Vladimirov, N., Mu, Y., Kawashima, T., Bennett, D., Yang, C., Looger, L., Keller, P., Freeman, J., & Ahrens, M. (2014) Light-sheet functional imaging in fictively behaving zebrafish. Nature Methods. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3040  

  • July 24, 2014
  • 04:58 PM
  • 398 views

Why the new paper by Christakis and Fowler on friendship makes me queasy

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

I am a neuroscientist, and as a neuroscientist I have a strange belief that most of who we are comes from our brains. My entire career is based around understanding behavior from this neural level which I feel to be fairly justifiable. So when I see paper looking at the genetics of behavior, I expect to see at […]... Read more »

Christakis NA, & Fowler JH. (2014) Friendship and natural selection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(Supplement 3), 10796-10801. PMID: 25024208  

Ripke, S., Neale, B., Corvin, A., Walters, J., Farh, K., Holmans, P., Lee, P., Bulik-Sullivan, B., Collier, D., Huang, H.... (2014) Biological insights from 108 schizophrenia-associated genetic loci. Nature, 511(7510), 421-427. DOI: 10.1038/nature13595  

  • July 23, 2014
  • 12:46 PM
  • 363 views

As a butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo, a neuron in your head veers slightly heavenward…

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

When you look at the edge of a table, there is a neuron in your head that goes from silence to pop pop pop. As you extend your arm, a nerve commanding the muscle does the same thing. Your retina has neurons whose firing rate goes up or down depending on whether it detects a light spot […]... Read more »

Churchland, M., Cunningham, J., Kaufman, M., Foster, J., Nuyujukian, P., Ryu, S., & Shenoy, K. (2012) Neural population dynamics during reaching. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11129  

Shenoy KV, Sahani M, & Churchland MM. (2013) Cortical control of arm movements: a dynamical systems perspective. Annual review of neuroscience, 337-59. PMID: 23725001  

  • July 2, 2014
  • 09:03 AM
  • 415 views

Chimps stick grass in their ears to be cool: notes on cultural transmission

by Neuroecology in Neuroecology

1. In 2010, a female chimpanzee named Julie began repeatedly stuffing a stiff blade of grass into her ear. This Grass-in-ear behavior has affectionately been dubbed “GIEB” by the scientists who observed it.... Read more »

Huffman, M., Nahallage, C., & Leca, J. (2008) Cultured Monkeys: Social Learning Cast in Stones. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(6), 410-414. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00616.x  

Stocker R, Green DG, & Newth D. (2001) Consensus and cohesion in simulated social networks. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 4(4). info:/

Rendell L, Fogarty L, Hoppitt WJ, Morgan TJ, Webster MM, & Laland KN. (2011) Cognitive culture: theoretical and empirical insights into social learning strategies. Trends in cognitive sciences, 15(2), 68-76. PMID: 21215677  

  • June 24, 2014
  • 10:51 AM
  • 382 views

Is it okay to eat fish if they don’t have any feelings?

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

When a scientific paper begins its list of keywords with “fish cognition”, you know you’re in for a good read. Culum Brown is tired of people eating fish, and he’s not going to take it anymore. Fish, he says, are smarter than you think. We need to cast off our view of them as dumb slimy creatures and […]... Read more »

  • April 29, 2014
  • 02:32 PM
  • 351 views

Study: Men smell and that will stress you out

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

A study in Nature Methods has kicked up a bit of a fuss: In 2007, his lab observed that mice spend less time licking a painful injection—a sign that they’re hurting—when a person is nearby, even if that “person” is a cardboard cutout of Paris Hilton. Other scientists began to wonder if their own data were […]... Read more »

Isogai Y, Si S, Pont-Lezica L, Tan T, Kapoor V, Murthy VN, & Dulac C. (2011) Molecular organization of vomeronasal chemoreception. Nature, 478(7368), 241-5. PMID: 21937988  

Sorge, R., Martin, L., Isbester, K., Sotocinal, S., Rosen, S., Tuttle, A., Wieskopf, J., Acland, E., Dokova, A., Kadoura, B.... (2014) Olfactory exposure to males, including men, causes stress and related analgesia in rodents. Nature Methods. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.2935  

  • April 8, 2014
  • 11:05 AM
  • 574 views

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
  • 517 views

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
  • 334 views

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 »

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