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

S. Africa to re-open schools on June 1 in phased easing…

first_imgKWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA – 2018/11/12: Children at the Nkomo Primary School in Mnqobokazi, South Africa. The school is sponsored by the Africa Foundation, a non profit organization funded by South African luxury tourism group and hotel management company andBeyond, who divert profits from safari lodges to support community development projects in Africa. (Photo by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images) FILE PHOTO: Children at the Nkomo Primary School in Mnqobokazi, South Africa. (Photo by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)South African schools will be opened on June 1 for Grade 7 and 12 after closing to curb the spread of COVID-19, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said.The schools will re-open in a risk-adjusted and phased manner; parents who are afraid that their children can contract the virus can keep them at home, the minister said Tuesday night.“The forced closure of schools to slow down the spread of coronavirus was a necessary step to take. It remains an important step that was taken to contain the virus as quickly as possible and to save lives,” Motshekga said, ” We agreed that we needed to rise from the coronavirus pandemic working closely together and move forward albeit under different conditions.”“This is unchartered waters and that’s why we relied heavily on the advice of the experts in the medical fraternity. Countries around the world have been easing restrictions on economic activity while putting in measures to contain the spread of the virus. We have had to consider reopening schools under strict conditions as well,” she said.The government said mechanisms have been put in place to monitor the schools to ensure there is no spread of COVID-19.Medical supplies, including sanitizers and masks, have been delivered to schools, which would be sanitized before re-opening, Motshekga said.Related Containing COVID-19: Lockdown to begin in South Africa Talk Africa: Is Africa ready to re-open?center_img Talk Africa: Africa’s response to COVID-19last_img read more

Clippers scores last 13 to rally past Mavs

first_imgDallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (left) hits Los Angeles Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari on the face with the ball as he tries to pass during the second half of their game on Monday, Feb. 5 in Los Angeles. Smith was charged with an offensive foul on the play. AP [av_one_full first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=”][av_heading heading=’Clippers scores last 13 to rally past Mavs’ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ size=” subheading_active=’subheading_below’ subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading][av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]February 7, 2018[/av_textblock][av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”] Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (left) hits Los Angeles Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari on the face with the ball as he tries to pass during the second half of their game on Monday, Feb. 5 in Los Angeles. Smith was charged with an offensive foul on the play. APLOS ANGELES – After playing more than 50,000 minutes, Dirk Nowitzki has certainly made a name for himself – even if it’s still hard to spell sometimes.On a night when his last name was botched on the back of his jersey, the Dallas forward became the sixth player in NBA history to reach 50,000 career minutes.He finished with 12 points but the Mavericks collapsed down the stretch in a 104-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.Nowitzki said he didn’t notice until after the game that his name was misspelled on his uniform.“I actually just saw it,” he explained. “I had no idea. It happens. I guess it sums up our season.”Danilo Gallinari had 28 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 24 seconds left, and the Clippers scored the last 13 points of the game to rally past a Mavs team that went scoreless over the final 4:42.Tobias Harris had 19 points for Los Angeles, and Lou Williams added 15 off the bench.“This felt like a steal game, because we didn’t play well and they shot the heck out of the ball,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “To steal a game like this, you feel like you got two games.”With the Clippers up by one after Gallinari’s free throws, DeAndre Jordan won a jump ball with 4.5 seconds remaining and tipped it to Avery Bradley for a fast-break layup that made it 104-101.Yogi Ferrell had a chance to tie it with 0.4 seconds to play, but he stepped out of bounds before his shot bounced off the rim.“When you’re playing from in front, you’ve got to protect the ball and get good shots and we struggled to do both,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks with 23 points and Devin Harris added 16 off the bench.Nowitzki passed Elvin Hayes (exactly 50,000 minutes) for fifth place on the career list in the regular season. Nowitzki has played an additional 5,895 minutes in the playoffs. Next among active players on the regular-season minutes list is Utah’s Joe Johnson at 43,806. (AP)[/av_textblock][/av_one_full]last_img read more

Alabama men’s hoops to face Oregon in Birmingham

first_imgCoach Avery Johnson and the Alabama men basketball team’s nonconference schedule takes shape.Coach Avery Johnson and the Alabama men basketball team’s nonconference schedule takes shape.TUSCALOOSA – Alabama men’s basketball is returning to Birmingham after a five-year absence to begin a “home-and-home” series with Oregon, the school announced Friday morning.While the rest of the Crimson Tide’s first nonconference schedule under Avery Johnson is still in flux, with several game contracts still being finalized, Alabama was able to confirm the two-year series with the Pac-12 foe.The first game of the matchup will be Dec. 21 at Legacy Arena of the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, marking the first time the Tide will play basketball in the state’s largest city since facing Oklahoma State in 2011.“We are looking forward to playing a quality team such as Oregon, but we are even more thrilled for the opportunity to play in front of our fans in Birmingham at Legacy Arena,” Johnson said in a statement. “This is something that will be exciting for the University of Alabama fan base, our players and our staff. It’s been five years since an Alabama men’s basketball team has played in Birmingham, so this is something we hope to continue to do on a yearly basis.”The Tide will complete the series with a road game in Eugene, Oregon, during the 2016-17 campaign.Although Alabama’s first nonconference schedule under Johnson is still taking shape, several opponents are already known, including a road game at Dayton on Nov. 17 and a home game against Norfolk State on Jan. 2, according to both the schools’ nonconference schedules released online Thursday.The Tide is also believed to be playing Xavier on Nov. 26 in the first game of the Orlando Classic with a potential matchup with either Wichita State or Southern Cal in the second round, according to a report by’s Jon Rothstein.An Alabama spokesperson has also confirmed a home-and-home series with Clemson beginning this season but couldn’t confirm a date for either game.The Tide also travels to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to complete the back end of a home-and-home series with Southern Miss after the Golden Eagles lost 81-67 in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 20 of last season.The rest of the Tide’s nonconference schedule is expected to be announced in the near future.Alabama men’s basketball 2015-16 nonconference scheduleAs of July 24Nov. 17 at DaytonNov. 26 vs. Xavier in Orlando ClassicNov. 27 vs. Wichita State or Southern Cal in Orlando ClassicDec. 21 vs. Oregon in BirminghamJan. 2 vs. Norfolk State in TuscaloosaTBA at ClemsonTBA at Southern MissGo Mobile, Montgomery! Download our apps herelast_img read more