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  • October 8, 2015
  • 12:06 PM

Behold, The Blue Brain

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

The Blue Brain project releases their first major paper today and boy, it’s a doozy. Including supplements, it’s over 100 pages long, including 40 figures and 6 tables. In order to properly understand everything in the paper, you have to go back … Continue reading →... Read more »

Markram et al. (2015) Reconstruction and Simulation of Neocortical Microcircuitry. Cell. info:/

  • September 25, 2015
  • 11:41 AM

Your friends determine your economy

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

What is it that distinguishes economies that take advantage of new products from those that don’t? Matthew Jackson visited Princeton last week and gave a seminar on “Information and Gossip in Networks”. It was sadly lacking in any good gossip (if … Continue reading →... Read more »

Banerjee, A., Chandrasekhar, A., Duflo, E., & Jackson, M. (2014) Gossip: Identifying Central Individuals in a Social Network. SSRN Electronic Journal. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2425379  

Banerjee A, Chandrasekhar AG, Duflo E, & Jackson MO. (2013) The diffusion of microfinance. Science (New York, N.Y.), 341(6144), 1236498. PMID: 23888042  

  • August 5, 2015
  • 02:03 PM

Clarity of thought, clarity of language

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

  Clarity of language leads to clarity of thought: this is the lesson of apply mathematics and logic to science. But even when we don’t have those tools, we can be careful about the words that we use when describing … Continue reading →... Read more »

Lilienfeld SO, & et al. (2015) Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases . Frontiers in Psychology. info:/

  • July 20, 2015
  • 02:54 PM

Rationality and the machina economicus

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Science magazine had an interesting series of review articles on Machine Learning last week. Two of them were different perspectives of the exact same question: how does traditional economic rationality fit into artificial intelligence? At the core of much AI work … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • May 19, 2015
  • 12:30 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 »

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