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  • June 14, 2011
  • 03:56 AM
  • 1,292 views

Consciousness? FFS...

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

An interesting paper on the neurobiology of conscious awareness: Unconscious High-Level Information Processing.The authors propose that consciousness may be associated, not with activation in any given area of the brain, but with recurrent information processing between areas, a kind of neural ping-pong.When presented with sensory information, say the sight of an object, signals travel up through the brain from "primary" sensory areas to "higher" areas associated with more complicated processing. They call this the Fast Feedforward Sweep, or "FFS". Maybe not the best acronym.Anyway, depending on the nature of the stimulus, this can lead to activation in almost any part of the brain. However, they say that it's not enough to generate consciousness; only if the later areas feedback to the earlier areas, and start a recurrent processing loop, does this happen.This stands in contrast to the popular view, which seems to fit with common sense, that primary areas are unconscious and that consciousness is directly associated with activity in the higher areas, in particular, the prefrontal cortex (PFC).The authors refer to fMRI and EEG studies showing that even "high level" processes, such as selective attention to stimuli, and inhibition of an action, can be triggered by subconscious cues, and that this is associated with activation in the prefrontal cortex - unconscious activation.The details of these studies are fairly arcane but the point is that the prefrontal cortex is generally agreed to be the most developed, "highest level" part of the brain. If anywhere in the brain was going to be the seat of the soul, it's the PFC.This shouldn't come as a surprise, though. While it's tempting to look for a part of the brain which "does" conscious experience - the "me module" - Daniel Dennet pointed out a while ago that this temptation is motivated by a fundamental confusion.Likewise, while it seems common sense that conciousness is the "highest mental function" and therefore must be located in the highest brain area, this is a presumption: consciousness is a mystery, and we don't know if it's a high level function or not, or whether that question even makes sense.Nor should the fact that consciousness isn't an inevitable consequence of high-level cognition come as a shock: in fact, that would be impossible. As Rawls pointed out in The Concept of Mind, this would create an infinite regression. Any conscious experience has to come from somewhere.Right now I'm concious of choosing certain words rather than others in typing this post, in a conscious attempt to make it read better. But I'm not aware of all of the rules and experiences that guide my choices. I just feel that some words work. This feeling seems to come out of nowhere, or rather, out of the words themselves.It isn't, of course, it's a product of calculations taking place in my brain, but I've no idea what they are. I wouldn't want to be, either: I'm too busy typing.van Gaal S, & Lamme VA (2011). Unconscious High-Level Information Processing: Implication for Neurobiological Theories of Consciousness. The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry PMID: 21628675... Read more »

  • June 14, 2011
  • 03:00 AM
  • 781 views

Group therapy helps MS sufferers cope with depression

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Evaluation of an adjustment group for people with multiple sclerosis and low mood: a randomized controlled trial From Multiple Sclerosis This new study finds group therapy helps MS sufferers cope with the disease and saves the NHS money. Offering Multiple Sclerosis sufferers emotional support through group therapy sessions could improve their quality of life and [...]... Read more »

  • June 14, 2011
  • 03:00 AM
  • 733 views

Group therapy helps MS sufferers cope with depression

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Evaluation of an adjustment group for people with multiple sclerosis and low mood: a randomized controlled trial From Multiple Sclerosis This new study finds group therapy helps MS sufferers cope with the disease and saves the NHS money. Offering Multiple Sclerosis sufferers emotional support through group therapy sessions could improve their quality of life and [...]... Read more »

  • June 14, 2011
  • 01:04 AM
  • 1,182 views

On the Purported Evidence for Feasting at Pueblo Alto

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Many recent interpretations of Chaco Canyon see it as a site of pilgrimage, and this is often specifically seen as taking the form of regular region-wide ritual events involving communal feasting, construction work on the massive buildings in the canyon, trade involving various mundane and exotic items, and ritual breakage of pottery and deposition of [...]... Read more »

  • June 14, 2011
  • 12:15 AM
  • 1,166 views

Academic Networking

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

Who are the movers and shakers in your field? You can use social network theory on your bibliographies to find out ...... Read more »

SAID, Y., WEGMAN, E., SHARABATI, W., & RIGSBY, J. (2008) Social networks of author–coauthor relationships. Computational Statistics , 52(4), 2177-2184. DOI: 10.1016/j.csda.2007.07.021  

  • June 13, 2011
  • 11:33 PM
  • 2,814 views

Computers and Electrifying Bacteria

by Paige Brown in From The Lab Bench

Computer-based simulations that use an organism's hereditary information are revealing previously unknown but essential life functions of special bacteria that can be modified to help clean our water and produce electricity for our alternative energy needs... Read more »

  • June 13, 2011
  • 10:51 PM
  • 1,295 views

Article review: Inconvenient truths about effective teaching

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

At the CDEM meeting during the SAEM national meeting this past week, the keynote speaker (Dr. Charles Hatem from Harvard) mentioned a great editorial article called "Inconvenient Truths About Effective Clinical Teaching."Here's a summary of the opinion article from Lancet:Clinician-educators are increasingly pressured to do more with less time and support (i.e. release from clinical responsibilities). Learners are the victims of this calculated move.The author talks about 8 habits to emulate as an educator, in the setting of these changing times. This is especially helpful to review as we are about to start a new academic year with fresh interns and medical students in the Emergency Department.1. Think out loud.This lets learners understand our thought-processes as we apply population-based research to our individual patient. This translational process is often ambiguous with lots of gray areas. Understanding our clinical reasoning process, rather than just the end result of ordering particular tests or treatments, is an invaluable lesson for learners."If our profession is serious about lifelong learning, we must recognise that learning can’t happen without humility. Teachers who humbly think out loud help to show the way."2. Activate the learner."Experts agree that adult education is a tango: it takes two. The dance will fail, no matter how expert the teacher, if the learner is not actively, even passionately, engaged."The most effective teachers use the democratic style, where learners are encouraged to think and act autonomously in real-time. The trick is to "activate" learner initiative while "protecting them from themselves" to avoid errors. With time pressures, it's easy to fall back to an autocratic approach (do what the teacher says). It's a constant struggle to employ a democratic style of teaching. In reality in the ED, we teach using a hybrid approach - sometimes autocratic, sometimes democratic.3. Listen smart.Great patient care is all about taking a good history. Similarly, great clinical teaching is all about listening to the learner. What's his/her knowledge base, how is his/her clinical reasoning skills, and does s/he see the big picture?Assessing a learner's presentations and discussions often requires that you (as the educator) independently talk to the patients to ensure that the facts are correct.4. Keep it simple.Learners are constantly learning and processing various information when working clinically.  Boiling down complex medical issues to a few simple teaching points can be difficult for the educator, but it is most effective for the learner. Also, I find that you don't have to unload all of your knowledge on the learner. Pick 1-2 concise teaching points targeted to the level of the learner and focus on them.  5. Wear gloves.This is critical. Put on gloves and go to the patient's bedside. Having a learner see your approach to bedside care, empathy, and communication are invaluable. We often take for granted the art of patient care and we can best teach it by demonstrating to others.6. Adapt enthusiastically.Things rarely go exactly as planned on a shift. Instead of fearing surprises, use these unexpected occurrences (eg. patient clinical deterioriation, medication side effect) as teaching opportunities.7. Link learning to caring.Teach about empathy and professionalism. Patient care involves actually caring about the individual patient. Patients are more than just about their disease. "Understand the patient's illness as well as their disease." 8. Kindle kindness.Patients can sense genuine kindness and caring. Be a role model in how you talk with patients. There is a difference between indifferent politeness and genuine kindness.Learners are more receptive to feedback when spoken with kindness, no matter how critical your comments are. For me, I picture myself as a coach in (rather than an evaluator of) their lifelong learning process, and frame their feedback accordingly. ReferenceReilly BM. Inconvenient truths about effective clinical teaching. Lancet. 2007; 370(9588): 705-11. PMID: 17720022.... Read more »

  • June 13, 2011
  • 10:51 PM
  • 1,393 views

Article review: Inconvenient truths about effective teaching

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

At the CDEM meeting during the SAEM national meeting this past week, the keynote speaker (Dr. Charles Hatem from Harvard) mentioned a great editorial article called "Inconvenient Truths About Effective Clinical Teaching."Here's a summary of the opinion article from Lancet:Clinician-educators are increasingly pressured to do more with less time and support (i.e. release from clinical responsibilities). Learners are the victims of this calculated move.The author talks about 8 habits to emulate as an educator, in the setting of these changing times. This is especially helpful to review as we are about to start a new academic year with fresh interns and medical students in the Emergency Department.1. Think out loud.This lets learners understand our thought-processes as we apply population-based research to our individual patient. This translational process is often ambiguous with lots of gray areas. Understanding our clinical reasoning process, rather than just the end result of ordering particular tests or treatments, is an invaluable lesson for learners."If our profession is serious about lifelong learning, we must recognise that learning can’t happen without humility. Teachers who humbly think out loud help to show the way."2. Activate the learner."Experts agree that adult education is a tango: it takes two. The dance will fail, no matter how expert the teacher, if the learner is not actively, even passionately, engaged."The most effective teachers use the democratic style, where learners are encouraged to think and act autonomously in real-time. The trick is to "activate" learner initiative while "protecting them from themselves" to avoid errors. With time pressures, it's easy to fall back to an autocratic approach (do what the teacher says). It's a constant struggle to employ a democratic style of teaching. In reality in the ED, we teach using a hybrid approach - sometimes autocratic, sometimes democratic.3. Listen smart.Great patient care is all about taking a good history. Similarly, great clinical teaching is all about listening to the learner. What's his/her knowledge base, how is his/her clinical reasoning skills, and does s/he see the big picture?Assessing a learner's presentations and discussions often requires that you (as the educator) independently talk to the patients to ensure that the facts are correct.4. Keep it simple.Learners are constantly learning and processing various information when working clinically.  Boiling down complex medical issues to a few simple teaching points can be difficult for the educator, but it is most effective for the learner. Also, I find that you don't have to unload all of your knowledge on the learner. Pick 1-2 concise teaching points targeted to the level of the learner and focus on them.  5. Wear gloves.This is critical. Put on gloves and go to the patient's bedside. Having a learner see your approach to bedside care, empathy, and communication are invaluable. We often take for granted the art of patient care and we can best teach it by demonstrating to others.6. Adapt enthusiastically.Things rarely go exactly as planned on a shift. Instead of fearing surprises, use these unexpected occurrences (eg. patient clinical deterioriation, medication side effect) as teaching opportunities.7. Link learning to caring.Teach about empathy and professionalism. Patient care involves actually caring about the individual patient. Patients are more than just about their disease. "Understand the patient's illness as well as their disease." 8. Kindle kindness.Patients can sense genuine kindness and caring. Be a role model in how you talk with patients. There is a difference between indifferent politeness and genuine kindness.Learners are more receptive to feedback when spoken with kindness, no matter how critical your comments are. For me, I picture myself as a coach in (rather than an evaluator of) their lifelong learning process, and frame their feedback accordingly. ReferenceReilly BM. Inconvenient truths about effective clinical teaching. Lancet. 2007; 370(9588): 705-11. PMID: 17720022.... Read more »

  • June 13, 2011
  • 09:47 PM
  • 2,177 views

Alien Invasions: Do They Deserve Their Bad Rep?

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

Recently, in a post titled "Ecologists: Time to End Invasive-Species Persecution", Brandon Keim discussed a comment published in Nature which argued that the ecological community unfairly vilifies the various plants and animals we've transported around the globe. In some sense, the authors are right, at least as far as saying that not all alien species should be considered bad or needing removal.

Straight from the beginning, though, the authors attack a dichotomy that doesn't exist. They write that a "native-versus-alien species dichotomy" is counterproductive, and that new, pragmatic approaches are needed. This makes it sound like scientists and managers label every plant or animal as A or B, and those in A are allowed to stay and those in B are eradicated. To an ecologist, though, there is no "dichotomy" - there are a range of labels that apply to a variety of situations. Specifically, there is already a strong distinction between invasive species and introduced, non-native or alien species - not to mention game species, fisheries species, etc.

I don't know of a single removal program that seeks to eradicate every species in an area that wasn't there 100 years ago. Removal programs don't target all "non-natives" - they target invasives.

Invasive species get their own category, as well they should. They are specifically defined by the US government as "alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health." Almost half of the threatened and endangered species are at risk due to the impacts of invasive species. In the US alone, invasive species cause an estimated $140 billion dollars in environmental damages and losses every year1.

Take the species I study: lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles). Lionfish were first sighted in the Atlantic in the late 1990s. In the past decade, they have become ubiquitous from Brazil to New York. They're a classic invasive species: they grow quickly, breed year round, have no natural predators or diseases in their invasive range, and they are causing serious ecological damage. Studies have found they reduce the recruitment of larval fishes by 79% on average2, and they are causing a shift from coral dominated to algal dominated ecosystems3. The lionfish hardly stand alone. Hundreds of species from rats and mice to cane toads cause serious damage to ecosystems on a daily basis.

So do we over-vilify invasive species? No, we don't.

The debate about invasive species really hits home in Hawaii, where 25% (maybe more) of the local flora and fauna aren't just native, they're endemic, which means they are found nowhere else in the world. It's estimated that somewhere around 25 new species are introduced to Hawaii every year, but thankfully, most of these do not become invasive. Indeed, of the 13,000 or so species of plants that have been introduced to Hawaii, only about 1% are considered invasive. Those that are deserve the title and the removal efforts that tend to go with it. When invasive species take over natural habitats in Hawaii, they very directly and quickly drive species towards extinction. Not surprisingly, Hawaii has a number of invasive species removal programs targeting species that are or might be a problem.

I couldn't believe the authors chose to picture Miconia (Miconia calvescens) removal in Hawaii as their lead image, especially since they then didn't even bother to talk about it. Yes, a lot of effort is spent preventing the spread of Miconia in Hawaii, but it's for damn good reason - all Hawaiian biologists and managers need to do is take a look at Tahiti, where it's referred to as "green cancer". A single Miconia was introduced to Tahiti in 1937. Within a half a century, the plant took over. By the 1990s, the plant had spread to 70% of the island's forested areas, over a third of which were near monotypic, meaning the Miconia had out-competed and overrun all the other native species of trees4.

On Oahu, Miconia has not had that kind of impact because we have actively prevented it. If we were to stop these removal efforts, there is little doubt that Miconia would spread. One study estimated that it would take less than a century for Micona to take over Oahu like is has Tahiti5. That study also estimated what would happen if we stopped control efforts for the next 40 years; the cost of doing nothing, based on loss of native habitat and species, changes in watershed properties, and other ecosystem damages would be $627 million.

This is the species that Davis and his colleagues chose as the front image for saying we unnecessarily persecute non-native species?

But, of course, the authors don't talk about Miconia, or any of the removal programs in Hawaii. They instead cherry-pick their examples, cite their own work, and ignore the vast majority of the science from the past ten years which supports invasive species management.

I wouldn't be so bothered by this short essay, except that more than ever, management programs need to be supported. If only the authors' claim that there is "a pervasive bias against alien species that has been embraced by the public, conservationists, land managers and policy-makers" were true. But sadly, many politicians and people just don't care. Just earlier today, my grandfather was watching a Fox News segment called "The Money Hole", in which John Stossel started ranting and raving about all the ways in which the US wastes tax payer money. One of his examples? The $500,000 spent on removing brown tree snakes from Guam - one of the nastiest invasive species around, responsible for the extinction of ten out of the twelve native bird species that once lived there as well as a slew of other damages.

I'm actually shocked this paper was published by Nature. I'm even more shocked such an essay wasn't peer-reviewed and the authors were paid for it. Of course, I generally would find it hard to trust an essay where the vast majority of the cited papers are written by the coauthors, and those that aren't are outdated by a decade. How can they deride the management plans currently in use when they don't actually evaluate the current efforts?

By dishing out blanket criticisms towards all invasive management programs, the authors provide fuel to the fire of those who attack environmental work on a daily basis. Conservation programs and scientific agencies which study the practicality, necessity, and effectiveness of them are already first on the chopping block when budgets are cut. They're struggling for funding in these harsh economic times, and articles like this one only seek to unfairly undermine their credibility when they need it most.

Comment in Question: Davis, M., Chew, M., Hobbs, R., Lugo, A., Ewel, J., Vermeij, G., Brown, J., Rosenzweig, M., Gardener, M., Carroll, S., Thompson, K., Pickett, S., Stromberg, J., Tredici, P., Suding, K., Ehrenfeld, J., Philip Grime, J., Mascaro, J., & Briggs, J. (2011). Don't judge species on their origins Nature, 474 (7350), 153-154 DOI: 10.1038/474153a

... Read more »

Davis, M., Chew, M., Hobbs, R., Lugo, A., Ewel, J., Vermeij, G., Brown, J., Rosenzweig, M., Gardener, M., Carroll, S.... (2011) Don't judge species on their origins. Nature, 474(7350), 153-154. DOI: 10.1038/474153a  

Kimberly M. Burnett, Brooks A Kaiser, & James Roumasset. (2007) Invasive Species Control over Space and Time: Miconia calvescens on Oahu, Hawaii. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics,. info:/

  • June 13, 2011
  • 04:31 PM
  • 1,241 views

Protecting Fishermen, not just fish

by Rebecca Nesbit in The birds, the bees and feeding the world

Creating a marine protection area isn't just about protecting fish stocks and keeping people out; it's about the livelihoods of fishermen and their communities. Food security and incomes depend on their careful management.
... Read more »

Peterson A, & Stead S. (2011) Rule breaking and livelihood options in marine protected areas. Environmental Conservation. info:/10.1017/S0376892911000178

  • June 13, 2011
  • 03:59 PM
  • 735 views

Lapatinib boosts effects of apoptosis-inducing drugs in colorectal cancer

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

I’m a subscriber to Science Translational Medicine and one of the things I really like about it is finding little gems like this – shared by Science Magazine on Twitter: Breast cancer drug lapatinib boosts effects of apoptosis-inducing drugs in … Continue reading →
... Read more »

  • June 13, 2011
  • 03:43 PM
  • 789 views

Back from Paris

by Marco Frasca in The Gauge Connection

It is several days that I have no more posted on the blog but for a very good reason: I was in Paris for the Eleventh Workshop on Non-Perturbative Quantum Chromodynamics (see here). It has been a beautiful chance to see Paris with the eyes of a tourist and being immersed in a lot of [...]... Read more »

P. Castorina, V. Greco, D. Jaccarino, & D. Zappalà. (2011) A reanalysis of Finite Temperature SU(N) Gauge Theory. arXiv. arXiv: 1105.5902v1

Irene Amado, Karl Landsteiner, & Francisco Pena-Benitez. (2011) Anomalous transport coefficients from Kubo formulas in Holography. JHEP 05 (2011) 081. arXiv: 1102.4577v3

H. M. Fried, Y. Gabellini, T. Grandou, & Y. -M. Sheu. (2009) Gauge Invariant Summation of All QCD Virtual Gluon Exchanges. Eur.Phys.J.C65:395-411,2010. arXiv: 0903.2644v2

  • June 13, 2011
  • 03:02 PM
  • 945 views

Peer Reviewed Monday – Expertise Reversal Theory

by Anne-Marie Deitering in info-fetishist

Okay. So I am pretty sure that the actual article I am pointing to here (probably behind a pay wall – sorry) is not peer-reviewed.  It is the editors’ introduction to a special issue of the journal Instructional Science.  In this introduction they tell us that there are five empirical research reports and two commentary [...]... Read more »

  • June 13, 2011
  • 02:43 PM
  • 708 views

Limited or Lazy: Materials and Methods are Lacking Methods.

by ianmisner in LaneLab@URI

Creating a useful methods section in technology heavy papers.... Read more »

Denoeud F, Roussel M, Noel B, Wawrzyniak I, Da Silva C, Diogon M, Viscogliosi E, Brochier-Armanet C, Couloux A, Poulain J.... (2011) Genome sequence of the stramenopile Blastocystis, a human anaerobic parasite. Genome biology, 12(3). PMID: 21439036  

Déquard-Chablat M, Sellem CH, Golik P, Bidard F, Martos A, Bietenhader M, di Rago JP, Sainsard-Chanet A, Hermann-Le Denmat S, & Contamine V. (2011) Two nuclear life-cycle-regulated genes encode interchangeable subunits c of mitochondrial ATP synthase in Podospora anserina. Molecular biology and evolution. PMID: 21273631  

  • June 13, 2011
  • 01:30 PM
  • 1,062 views

Reducing the Risk for Chronic Pain

by Kim Kristiansen in Picture of Pain

Presenting results from a resent published study indicating ways to provide better outcomes after three months for patients with acute low back pain. www.dolotest.com... Read more »

Kim Kristiansen, M.D. (2011) Reducing the Risk for Chronic Pain. Picture of Pain Blog. info:/hhttp://blog.dolotest.com/?p

  • June 13, 2011
  • 01:24 PM
  • 591 views

Is the Vuvuzela a Public Health Threat?

by clark in Now Hear This

Just call it a germ megaphone: A new study suggests that the vuvuzela may be a singularly effective way of spreading a cold, the flu, or worse.... Read more »

  • June 13, 2011
  • 01:14 PM
  • 684 views

I hate to suggest a Nobel Prizewinner is wrong…but…

by Mary in OpenHelix

He is. But it’s not his fault. A lot of people have this wrong. There’s an article in the Australian press that is getting some buzz. Nobel Laureate Barry Marshall (of ulcer-causing bacteria identification fame) is talking about the personal genomics wave that’s coming our way. It’s been picked up and re-tweeted quite a bit, [...]... Read more »

McGuire, A., & Majumder, M. (2009) Two cheers for GINA?. Genome Medicine, 1(1), 6. DOI: 10.1186/gm6  

  • June 13, 2011
  • 12:35 PM
  • 797 views

It's good to give thanks: The benefits of gratitude

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind

When someone does something nice for you, how does it make you feel? Do you experience gratitude in response to their act of kindness? Or does it leave you with a sense of indebtedness because now you owe them a kind act in return? Close relationships, and romantic relationships in particular, are characterized by the small acts of kindness we do for each other. Today you will be doing the dishes, paying for dinner, or taking out the trash, and tomorrow he will be taking you to the airport, putting gas in the car, or buying the groceries. Many of these small acts become so commonplace in relationships that they go unnoticed (how often do you thank your partner for taking out the trash, washing your dishes, or picking up the groceries, especially if it's become their "job"?). However, when you do notice those small acts, and feel grateful for your partner’s thoughtful behaviors, research shows that both you and your partner benefit.

Read More-... Read more »

  • June 13, 2011
  • 12:27 PM
  • 1,135 views

Is the sensorimotor hypothesis based on laboratory artifacts?

by Björn Brembs in bjoern.brembs.blog

Most neuroscientists would subscribe to the sensorimotor hypothesis, according to which brains mainly evaluate sensory input to compute motor output. For instance, Mike Mauk wrote now over ten years ago: “brain function is ultimately best understood in terms of input/output transformations and how they are produced” [1]. Tony Dickinson recognized already in 1985 that “Indeed, so pervasive is the basic assumption of this model that it is common to refer to any behaviour as a ‘response’ and thus by implication […] assume that there must be an eliciting stimulus.” [2]. Textbooks to this day mostly begin with a graph showing sensory input entering the brain (usually via the eyes) and then motor-output leaving it.However, more and more information is now accumulating that to the extent that these stimulus-response relationships actually exist, they may be the exception, rather then the rule of what brains are doing when they're not in a laboratory experiment. Perhaps most recently, in the area of human brain research this change in perception has also begun. Marcus Raichle's "Two views of brain function" [3] provides plenty of evidence against the sensorimotor hypothesis. There are many more examples of this kind of evidence. For me personally, the most eye-opening one was this famous video by Ken Catania: If all behavior were always organized according to stimulus-response schemes such as the C-start response in fish, animals would be extremely vulnerable not only to predators (or prey), but of course also to competitors. Evolution is a competitive business: if you're too predictable, you lose.In our labs, reproducibility is key to success. This is precisely the reason why escape responses are so well-studied: these are the exceptions where animals have specialized in speed and sacrificed unpredictability in an evolutionary trade-off. I would hypothesize that no species would survive for long if all other behaviors sacrificed unpredictability in this way,More likely, brains need to balance input-output processing with output-input processing, with the latter probably being both the more prevalent and the ancestral form of behavioral control. It is this delicate balance that brains must constantly strike to survive, procreate and be successful. If we want to understand what the brains we study are really doing when they are not in the lab, we need to take a step back and design more experiments that don't require a response, but an action. This process has already started, but the realization that we have been heading down the stimulus-response direction for too long has not widely set in yet, IMHO.The stimulus-response approach has been hugely successful for the most derived and simplified forms of behavior - and we're still far from done with the task. Now comes the vastly more complex task of understanding how brains decide which action to take next, when there is no simple stimulus providing unambiguous information. Many labs have already started to embark on this task. In our lab, we study animals in the complete absence of discrete sensory stimulation, in order to find out how brains create "something out of nothing". Which actions are you studying?This post was originally written for the launch of the new social network for neuroscientists, NeurOnline (@SfN).[1] Mauk, M. (2000). The potential effectiveness of simulations versus phenomenological models Nature Neuroscience, 3 (7), 649-651 DOI: 10.1038/76606[2] Dickinson, A. (1985). Actions and Habits: The Development of Behavioural Autonomy Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 308 (1135), 67-78 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.1985.0010[3] Raichle, M. (2010). Two views of brain function Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14 (4), 180-190 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.01.008... Read more »

Dickinson, A. (1985) Actions and Habits: The Development of Behavioural Autonomy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 308(1135), 67-78. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.1985.0010  

Raichle, M. (2010) Two views of brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(4), 180-190. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.01.008  

  • June 13, 2011
  • 11:59 AM
  • 1,181 views

Antibiotic resistance and corporate agriculture

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, over the weekend, Nicholas Kristof wrote a nice piece in the New York Times in which he laid out the basic facts and statistics regarding the cavalier use of antibiotics in agriculture. His column is full of interesting (i.e., depressing) figures, one of the most striking of which is that the agricultural use of antibiotics in the state of North Carolina exceeds the medical use of antibiotics for the entire United States.

Anyway, the basic punchline is this: when someone in your family is hospitalized or killed by some food-borne, antibiotic-resistant pathogen, you can thank the huge agricultural corporations and the millions of lobbyist dollars they have spent blocking food-safety legislation.

Happy eating!

These full-page comics come out badly here on the blog, so to see a more readable version, go to the Darwin Eats Cake website.


Best URL for sharing: http://www.darwineatscake.com/?id=34
URL for hotlinking or embedding: http://www.darwineatscake.com/img/comic/34.jpg
Sørensen SJ, Bailey M, Hansen LH, Kroer N, & Wuertz S (2005). Studying plasmid horizontal transfer in situ: a critical review. Nature reviews. Microbiology, 3 (9), 700-10 PMID: 16138098

... Read more »

Sørensen SJ, Bailey M, Hansen LH, Kroer N, & Wuertz S. (2005) Studying plasmid horizontal transfer in situ: a critical review. Nature reviews. Microbiology, 3(9), 700-10. PMID: 16138098  

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