Study shows how judgment of sensory simultaneity may develop in the brain

first_imgShare Share on Facebook LinkedIn Share on Twitter Emailcenter_img Most people encounter most things by sensing them in multiple ways. As we hear the words people speak, we also see their lips move. We smell, see and hear the onions as we chop them — and we feel them with teary eyes.It turns out that the ability to judge such sensory inputs as simultaneous, and therefore likely pertaining to the same thing, is something animal brains must develop through experience. A new study using tadpoles as a model organism shows how that appears to happen.In making their findings, the scientists hope they can better understand how this sensory integration may sometimes go askew, perhaps contributing to disorders including autism. Some studies have suggested that difficulty merging sound and vision in some autism disorders may lead to language deficits. Pinterest “People have tried to distill how the brain detects this temporal coincidence,” said study corresponding author Carlos Aizenman, a professor of neuroscience at Brown University. “We created a preparation where we could study how the different inputs are combined in a single cell and what types of brain circuits are involved.”In the study online in the journal eLife, Aizenman, lead author Daniel Felch and Bard College colleague Arseny Khakhalin were able to electrically stimulate the senses of vision and vibration in the brains of tadpoles at key stages of their neural development. They did so with very precise timing (small fractions of a second apart) and then tracked the responses of neurons in the optic tectum of the tadpole brains, where sensory information is processed and integrated. In humans and other mammals, the same part of the brain is called the superior colliculus, and neurons there do the same job.The scientists found that sensory integration neurons in the optic tectum in relatively immature tadpole brains would become and remain excited by receiving two stimuli even if they were somewhat far apart in time. As the tadpole brains matured into later stages of development the same neural circuits would squelch their initial excitement if the sensory inputs came similarly far apart. More mature brains became better at determining when stimuli were nearly simultaneous and suppressing excitement when they weren’t.The results suggest that as tadpole brains mature, inhibitory neurons gain more sway in their balance with excitatory neurons, leading to more refined discrimination between sensory inputs that are truly simultaneous rather than merely proximate in time. In one experiment of the study, the scientists blocked inhibition. That stunted the tadpole brains’ ability to discriminate.Perturbing the processThe study illustrates, as others have as well, how sensory experiences shape the developing brain, Aizenman said.“The brain normally starts out poorly wired,” he said. “Activity in the brain sculpts the response of the brain to have a much more refined and fine-tuned function.”What’s new is that the research also explains the mechanism by which that happens and shows that it can be derailed.“The balance of excitation and inhibition in the brain is important for creating this type of temporal window,” Aizenman said. “If you disrupt it, you get abnormal multisensory processing.”In future work, Aizenman said he hopes to do more of that: experiment with different ways of perturbing the process at different times during development to see what effect that may have on tadpole behaviors such as finding food or avoiding danger.Tadpoles do not experience language, of course, but the results may still contribute, at a basic level, to generating hypotheses about how sensory integration may be affected in human development. Even though they develop somewhat differently and encounter different experiences, tadpoles and people share the same basic brain organization.“What’s important here are not the things that are different, but the things that are the same,” Aizenman said. “The fundamental principles are conserved.”last_img read more

Political misinformation is harder to correct than health misinformation – especially among the educated

first_imgNew research indicates that corrections have a moderate influence on belief in misinformation. The findings are published in the journal Communication Monographs.“The alarming growth of misinformation and the limited repercussions for non-institutional actors for knowingly or unknowingly misleading the public turned misinformation and its correction to one of the most pressing issues in the social sciences,” said study author Nathan Walter, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.“As communication scholars, correction of misinformation offers an extremely challenging context to examine the limits of media effects and persuasion. Unlike other areas of research that deal with the ability of messages to shape or reinforce public perceptions, this study examines the ability of messages to attenuate the influence of incorrect information.” For their study, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 65 previous studies on correcting misinformation about science, health, politics, marketing, and crime. The previous studies included a total of 23,604 participants.Walter found evidence that corrections had a moderate effect on counteracting misinformation. However, misinformation about politics was harder to correct than misinformation about health, particularly among participants who were well-educated political partisans.“We think that there are two ways to interpret the results. Optimistically speaking, while it is true that corrections can prove to be ineffective, or even counterproductive, most often, they work,” Walter told PsyPost. “In particular, studies were very successful in correcting misinformation in the context of crime news and health information, in laboratory settings, when the effect of the correction was measured immediately after the intervention.”“Realistically speaking, however, the results are also somewhat alarming because scientific and political misinformation is much harder to debunk, interventions outside the laboratory tend to produce weak effects and, as time passes, people seem to forget about the correction and remember the misinformation,” Walter explained. “Thus, it seems that the study offers enough ammunition both for the optimistic and the pessimistic points of view on correction of misinformation.​”Appeals to coherence tended to be best at correcting misinformation, compared to fact-checking and source credibility. In other words, providing alternative explanations that were internally coherent was more successful than providing ratings of the accuracy of specific statements or highlighting the credentials of a source.But the study — like all research — has some limitations.“​Meta-analyses provide useful information at the aggregate level but they lack nuance. For instance, we still need to work on understanding the underlying mechanisms that explain the power of misinformation and its imperviousness to correction,” Walter said. “In addition, the current study is Western-centric, focusing on correction of misinformation mainly in the U.S. context, while neglecting the fact that misinformation is a truly global and culturally bound phenomenon.”“Finally, while the decision to focus on experimental designs helped us to assess the causal influence of corrective messages on misinformation, it also limited the scope of studies in our corpus. Given the centrality of various social media platforms to the spread of misinformation, it would be interesting to examine whether corrective messages can reduce misleading information in naturalistic settings,” Walter said.“It is important to emphasize that this meta-analysis is meant to be read as an interim summary rather than as a definitive statement about correction of misinformation. There is much more research to be done on this topic, involving different contexts, diverse populations, and new methodologies.”The study, “How to unring the bell: A meta-analytic approach to correction of misinformation“, was authored by Nathan Walter and Sheila T. Murphy. Pinterest Share on Twitter Sharecenter_img Share on Facebook LinkedIn Emaillast_img read more

News Scan for Aug 08, 2019

first_imgPAHO reports steep rise in Americas measles casesCountries in the Americas have reported a 70% increase in the number of measles cases since mid June, according to an update yesterday from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).Since the first of the year 14 countries or territories in the region have reported 2,927 measles cases. The three countries with the most cases are the United States (1,172), Brazil (1,045), and Venezuela (417). Since the middle of June, 7 countries have reported cases, mostly of which have been in Brazil (923), the United States (128), and Venezuela (85).Given continuing imported cases and ongoing outbreaks, PAHO, a World Health Organization (WHO) regional office, urged countries to take several steps, including maintaining 95% vaccine coverage, vaccinating at-risk populations, and maintaining a vaccine stockpile for prevention and outbreak control.Aug 7 PAHO measles updateIn other measles developments, San Diego County yesterday reported its first measles case of the year, according to a statement from the county’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).The patient is an 11-month-old resident who had recently traveled to the Philippines. The baby is currently hospitalized, and health officials said he or she may have exposed others while getting care at a clinic and a hospital.Aug 7 San Diego HHSA statement CDC arbovirus report shows uptick of neuroinvasive West Nile virusThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today published an analysis of 2,813 arbovirus infections for 2018, focusing on insect-borne disease acquired domestically. As in past years, West Nile virus (WNV) made up the vast majority of cases, with 94%, but the neuroinvasive form of the disease was nearly 25% higher than the average during 2008 to 2017.More La Crosse virus disease cases were reported in 2018 than any year since 2011, and the virus continued to be the most common source of neuroinvasive arboviral disease in children. The report appears in the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).The CDC said arbovirus remained an ongoing blood and tissue safety concern, with 2018 seeing the first documented case of Powassan virus transmission from blood transfusion and two WNV cases in solid-organ recipients from the same infected donor, signaling the first transplant-related cases since 2013.Fewer Jamestown Canyon virus cases were reported in 2018 than in 2017, but at levels still higher than previous years. The CDC added that case increases in that viral diease might be linked to an increase in awareness and testing.The agency urged healthcare providers to consider arboviral infections when assessing the differential diagnosis for aseptic meningitis or encephalitis, to obtain appropriate specimens, and to promptly report cases to public health officials.Aug 9 MMWR report WHO pandemic preparedness survey finds room for improvementA new WHO survey on countries’ pandemic preparedness revealed gaps, even in high- and middle-income countries, and it determined that targeted support is needed in some low-income countries, especially in Africa. The 56-page report with a June date on it appeared recently on the WHO’s website.The 55-question survey was completed by 104 of the 194 WHO member states. Overall, 88% said they had a national flu pandemic preparedness plan, but 54% aren’t publicly available. The vast majority (88%) of countries said they plan to develop or update their plans in the next 1 to 2 years.The survey found that only 40% had tested their plans in the past 5 years and that more than half weren’t aware or were aware and had not consulted WHO guidance and planning tools. In questions to gauge capacity areas, the global score was 29.4 (63.9%) of 46 possible points, with the score for high-income countries at 75%, upper-middle 66.6%, lower-middle 59%, and low-income 38.5%.Overall, countries scored highest in preparing for an emergency and lowest in updating the status of national pandemic preparedness plans. Other gaps included establishing mechanisms to secure access to pandemic vaccine, including nonpharmaceutical measures in pandemic plans, preparing risk communications plans, developing plans to handle excess deaths, and establishing methods for conducting flu surveillance and severity assessments.June WHO pandemic preparedness surveylast_img read more

Leaders Of The Wet Lab

first_imgShrimp gobies lab Independent/Courtesy @fishguyphotosThey say it takes a village to raise a child. In the case of lagoon shrimp gobies, it took two Southampton High School classes, a teacher, and an aquarist to be the first in the world to raise the species in a laboratory setting.But the road to rearing the 150 one-centimeter juvenile fish that use a pistol shrimp’s burrow for protection from predators, but also acts as eyes for the blind crustaceans, wasn’t an easy one. Five students had worked closely alongside teacher Greg Metzger, who purchased the brood stock from a pet store, and aquarist Dan Elefante for a year to achieve the feat.After finding eggs atop the surface of the tank a few months back, students struggled to find the ideal environment to help them develop. After applying 24 hours of light — which many species require — for 20 days, all the larvae had died before metamorphosis, which is the phase the lagoon shrimp gobies needed to complete for the project to be considered a success. Although it could take a year for the shrimp gobies to lay another batch of eggs, much to the class’s surprise a clutch of eggs was found a month later. The larvae were quickly divided to be tested under different lighting conditions, and 16 hours seemed to be a sweet spot.Metzger was waiting for the larvae to change color as a sign of metamorphosis, although they began exhibiting characteristics of adults, but feared when he came in early one morning that the larvae were dying underneath a cloud of phytoplankton. As he reached for a washed-out larva at the bottom of the tank with a siphon, it scooted across the bottom. He immediately knew what that meant.“I began doing the happy dance around the lab,” Metzger said. “This wave washed over me of, ‘We did it.’ This is a settled metamorphosed fish.”The aquaculture and hatchery management teacher, who started at the school in 2001, had achieved a long-term goal of his when he began the program: to be the first to spawn something inside the school’s 2600-square-foot facility, which is currently home to 30 species of fish. It houses a greenhouse, an algae culture room, 70 oceanography system tanks, and 18 brood stock, or parent, system tanks where fish are bred. But he said it couldn’t have been made possible if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication of his students.Never Any DoubtJunior Sam Schneider, who was in Metzger’s aquaculture class, was tasked with maintaining the parent tank. He checked the pH levels, salinity, temperature, nitrate, and nitrite levels to ensure suitable living conditions, and scrubbed the tank clean. He said he never doubted what his classmates could do.“Knowing the wet lab has most everything you need to successfully raise the fish, there was no doubt we could make it happen,” he said, although he admitted he was bummed when the first batch was unsuccessful, but had an idea of what went wrong. “It was satisfying to know the lighting was right the second time around, but we were still holding our breath to see if the fish would make it to metamorphosis. And when it happened, the class was excited. This meant the hard part was over and that we had finally raised these beautiful exotic fish. I was stoked to hear that our class was the first in the world to successfully raise them.”Senior Riplee Mercer, a member of the hatchery management class, cleaned the larval fish tank, making sure there were enough rotifers and copepods, which are also raised in the lab, to feed them, and cleaned protein skimmers to keep the nitrate levels in check. Raising the zooplankton and phytoplankton was part of Mercer’s class’ responsibilities.“When I realized we could be the first to raise these gobies, I was extremely excited,” Mercer said. “Especially with Mr. Metzger always talking about wanting to achieve something of this caliber. I knew that it would show the lab’s success as a whole and put us as an up-and-coming program that could act as a model to other schools.”She too was never discouraged after the initial failure, saying although the larvae are finicky until they metamorphose — any change in temperature or water quality could wipe them out — she and her classmates knew they had to be careful.“It was super exciting to have them go through the process of real science,” Metzger said. “Students had a chance to follow the scientific method through, learn to read for accuracy, and understand how to use equipment.”Elefante added it’s helped them interpret scientific journal articles, and learn the importance of following instructions and caring for things.“It was really neat to apply what we had learned in the classroom to an experiment on these eggs inside the lab to keep them alive,” Schneider added.They Made The List Elefante also played a huge role in keeping the conditions optimal and the larvae alive. He came in early in the morning, stayed late into the night, and stopped in for hours a day on weekends. He even researched for a week straight to ensure the school was the first to achieve the feat. Elefante said he scoured the internet, reading through Facebook groups, asking questions in forums, and combing through marine fish lists; he reached out to aquaculture contacts and Marine Breeding Initiative magazine editors; and talked to research labs to keep the question circulating. He said he could see the kids’ excitement grow as he dug deeper to find the answer.“Kids were asking every day, ‘Have you heard anything yet? Do you know anything yet?’” Elefante said. “After a week no one said they got anywhere near it.”The school and its achievement will be added to CORAL Magazine’s Captive-Bred Marine Aquarium Fish List.“I’m so proud of everyone that helped and participated to allow us to get this achievement,” Mercer said. “When the larvae finally metamorphosed it was one of the best feelings ever. It was a lot of work and it really paid off.”Metzger said the school’s support also aided in his program’s triumph. While marine science and oceanography projects are common across the state, the ability to show students most of the concepts taught, using the lab, is what sets Southampton apart.And while this was one of his last initial goals, to get the program to a level where it could have a first, he now has new goals. The classes are working toward raising three other pairs of fish that have never been raised in a lab, including Rusty Angelfish, Bella Gobies, and Longnose Hawkfish. “Any time you can get a teenager excited about something school-related, it’s really rewarding,” Metzger said. “They even told their parents about it. How often does that happen?”Lagoon shrimp goby Share Greg Metzger, Dan Elefantecenter_img Greg Metzger, Dan Elefantelast_img read more

Suffolk Sheriff’s Office Will Hold Memorial Service

first_img Share Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr., right, will give a memorial address at a service on Friday. Independent/Suffolk County Sheriff’s OfficeWhile most Memorial Day services are canceled this year due the novel coronavirus, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office is forging ahead with its annual ceremony to honor its officers who have died in service.The sheriff’s office will stream the service live Friday, May 22, at 11 AM. The public can be watch from home at service, held in conjunction with the Suffolk County Correction Officers Association and the Suffolk County Deputy Sheriffs P.B.A., honors Suffolk County’s corrections officers and deputy sheriffs who have died in service since 1887.The memorial tribute includes the readings of the names of all officers who have died, as well as the traditional Presentation of Colors, the National Anthem, and the 21-Gun Salute.Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. will give the service address from the Riverhead Correctional Facility, and County Executive Steve Bellone and District Attorney Tim Sini will speak to the online audience remotely to adhere to the current social distancing regulations in place because of COVID-19.taylor@indyeastend.comlast_img read more

Oyo-7 Well Results Exceed Pre-Drill Expectations (Nigeria)

first_imgCAMAC Energy, Inc. announced it has been informed by Allied Energy PLC (“Allied”) of preliminary results from the Oyo-7 well in OML 120 offshore Nigeria.The results exceed internal pre-drill expectations. Oyo-7 commenced drilling operations on September 9, 2013. Based on logging while drilling (“LWD”) data, the well encountered gross oil pay of 133 feet (net oil pay of 115 feet) and gross gas pay of 103 feet (net gas pay of 93 feet) in the gas cap from the currently producing Pliocene reservoir, with excellent reservoir quality. The top of the reservoir was penetrated at 5,564 feet. The well is currently drilling to the planned total depth of 8,038 feet and is expected to penetrate the deep Miocene secondary objective.“We are highly encouraged by these preliminary net pay results in the Pliocene reservoir, which is the primary objective of the well,” said Dr. Kase Lawal, Chairman and CEO of CAMAC Energy. “Not only have we confirmed net oil pay results that exceed our internal expectations, but a smaller than expected gas column was also penetrated. As a result, we expect improved oil production from the horizontal section. I am proud of the technical teams at both Allied Energy and CAMAC Energy for our successful drilling operations, and look forward to updating shareholders as we complete drilling and evaluation of the deep Miocene reservoir.”[mappress]Press Release, October 17, 2013last_img read more

Chevron Pipeline in Texas Explodes

first_imgAt approximately 9.30 a.m on Thursday there was an incident at the Chevron-operated West Texas LPG system near Milford, Texas. A crew was performing excavation activities at the site when a rupture in the line was reported. Five workers at the site were immediately evacuated. All employees are accounted for, and there are no reported injuries.Chevron has initiated its emergency response procedures and is working with the appropriate local, state agencies and emergency response organizations to assess the current situation and respond to the incident.The flow of product in the pipeline has been shut-off, and residual burn continues. There is an adjacent Chevron owned 14” LPG pipeline that the company is currently monitoring. Chevron and emergency response organizations are actively monitoring the incident and taking every precaution to contain and ultimately extinguish the fire.Local unified command has established a 1.5 mile evacuation zone at the site, and approximately 700 people in the town of Milford have been asked to evacuate. The local Red Cross has mobilized to assist those impacted in the region. Chevron has also established a toll-free claims hotline for affected residents[mappress]LNG World News Staff, November 15, 2013last_img read more

Survey shows top 100 fee income up by 7.2%

first_imgFirms just outside the top 25 are prospering more than anyone as fee income continues to rise across the upper echelons of the legal market. The latest quarterly survey by Deloitte of the legal service market – covering the third quarter of 2011/12 – found strongest growth in the 26-50 rankings, where fee income grew by almost 10%. The top 100 reported their income rose by 7.2% in the three months to 31 January, compared with the same period last year. However, the growth rate slowed since the second quarter, which reported 9.8% growth. Looking over the nine months of the financial year so far, fee income has risen by 6.5%, a figure likely to remain steady in the fourth quarter. The report says that given the rise in merger activity during the year, which boosts the overall growth rate, the underlying market growth will have been a little below this figure. Higher revenues were driven by an increase in fee-earner headcount averaging 5.2% and a 2.8% rise in chargeable hours per fee earner. Nominal fees remained in line with the same period in the previous year. There is still a sharp disparity between firms’ performances. During the third quarter, a third of firms reported either growth above 18.5% or income decreases by at least 4%. Jeremy Black, partner in Deloitte’s professional services group, said: ‘The overall sector has performed well in what have been very challenging markets. On average it is anticipated that the top 100 firms will grow by 6-7% for the year ended 30 April 2012. ‘However, the overall averages hide a wide disparity between firms, with performance increasingly dependent on firms’ practice areas and geographic footprints. ‘Litigation continues to perform well, whilst corporate revenues remain lacklustre. Furthermore, those with a presence overseas, particularly in Asia, are able to bolster their performance in light of a more stagnant domestic market.’ The report added that top 100 firms had, on average, budgeted for an increase of up to 5%, reflecting the concern they felt at the start of the financial year.last_img read more

Slaughters’ banking crisis sage to helm City watchdog

first_imgA former Slaughter and May partner, who reportedly billed HM Treasury £32.9m for his work during the financial crash, has been appointed chair of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).Charles Randell, who was at the magic circle firm from 1980 to 2013, becoming a partner in 1989, will take up the role on 1 April, HM Treasury announced today. He succeeds John Griffith-Jones, who has chaired the City watchdog since its formation in 2013. The £32.9m bill, reported by the Telegraph in 2009, came from Slaughter & May’s advice to the government on the implosion of Northern Rock and the Icelandic banks crisis a decade ago.  At the time, Lord Oakeshott, then Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, criticised the Treasury for not driving a hard bargain and instead left lawyers ’like a fleet of legal taxis in Whitehall with their meters running for months on end’.The profile added that Randell ’cut his teeth’ in the 1980s as an assistant working on privatisations under the firm’s then senior partner Giles Henderson, building himself a reputation as a brilliant lawyer and familiar face in Whitehall. Another profile in the Times said Randell became known as one of the government’s closest advisers and was known for ‘having the ear of senior government figures’.Randell is an external member of the Prudential Regulation Committee of the Bank of England and a non-executive board member of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial StrategyAndrew Bailey, FCA chief executive, added: ‘I am very pleased to welcome Charles to the FCA. His experience of regulation, both during the financial crisis and more recently as a member of the Prudential Regulation Committee, means that he has a strong understanding of the challenges that the FCA faces and I look forward to tackling these with him in his new role.’last_img read more

Chinese gov’t provides equipment and training worth $2 million to Liberia’s…

first_imgLiberia’s police force is poised for a much-needed boost.The Chinese government has donated equipment and training worth two million dollars. This is a crucial time for Liberia’s police and military. They took over full control of the country’s security from the United Nations earlier this year.From Monrovia, Lennart Dodoo has more.last_img