×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Linking Drought and Climate Change: Difficult To Do

wherrera Warming may increase average world rainfall. (184 comments)

See: http://www.engineeringtoolbox....

Since the water carrying ability of saturated air goes up with temperature, there should be a trend toward heavier rainfall with temperature increases. Of course, places that are in a "rain shadow" like most deserts would not be expected to benefit as much as places near large bodies of water.

2 days ago
top

fMRI Data Reveals How Many Parallel Processes Run In the Brain

wherrera To the wielder of the fMRI hammer.... (91 comments)

...to the one using the hammer, there is a tendency for everything to look like a nail. Identifying fMRI correlates may not actually indicate the number of cognitive components in play, any more than counting the number and location of gasoline stations tells us much detail of what people in a city are doing. At most, it gives us some useful hints.

about a month ago
top

Privacy Vulnerabilities In Coursera, Including Exposed Student Email Addresses

wherrera So use a unique online student email. (31 comments)

I think most students who are savvy enough to use Coursera ought to be able to create a student-only email account for the purpose.

about 3 months ago
top

A Better Way To Make Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Limbs

wherrera electrodes take up space in the brain regions (28 comments)

The only way this could work is if the electrodes can be made much,much thinner than paper thin, and even then they might irritate nearby tissue. It's a huge technical challenge. Better to use a smaller electrode surface area and train the patient to signal to the electrodes.

about 4 months ago
top

Figuring Out Where To Live Using Math

wherrera The exact details of the home's location matter. (214 comments)

The topography of the zoning and building layout matter. Consider two neighborhoods which are 2-mile squares in shape. One neighborhood has a commercial district in a single corner, the other neighborhood has two such districts at opposite corners of its square. The second neighborhood may score twice as walkable, but what matters to the home's individual walkableness is how close it sits to one of those districts, since you presumably want to walk to the store and to an office in a corner that has a commercial district.

Choose a place you would like to walk, shop and work, then find a home located within a walking distance from those places, and you may have MANY good options, more than your zone-based averaging will reveal.

about 4 months ago
top

Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass

wherrera unavoidable? (170 comments)

"The NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."

Almost all the US population and much of the rest of the world's people seen as.. just bycatch?

about 5 months ago
top

Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy

wherrera In other words... (772 comments)

One's understanding of science and theory formation in general is independent of whether a theory (even a true one) is believed. Only ideologues (see warming denial, global) would need to think otherwise.

about 6 months ago
top

Biodegradable Fibers As Strong As Steel Made From Wood Cellulose

wherrera Re:Biodegradable? (82 comments)

The first rain storm should do it.

about 6 months ago
top

Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

wherrera DARPA has something that would work. (552 comments)

DARPA has a small implantable chip that will do what you need it to do, assuming the patient is truly fully awake. They have monkeys working a robotic arm with brain signals alone.

about 7 months ago
top

Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

wherrera Check the slight angle change just after the roll (65 comments)

There is a variable angle change just after the initial turn away from the threat that allows the fly to be unpredictable. Otherwise the predator can predict the fly will evade directly away and anticipate where the fly will be. Very clever.

about 8 months ago
top

How Cochlear Implants Are Being Blamed For Killing Deaf Culture

wherrera reductum ad absurdum... (510 comments)

...that all cultures are equally to be valued. Otherwise, why not create more varieties of people with partial physical deficits, so as to have more such cultures?

about 8 months ago
top

The Neuroscience of Computer Programming

wherrera Sigh. Yet another fMRi study with poor controls. (161 comments)

The control groups should have been two other reading selections designed to bracket programming code reading: for example, reading mathematics, such as algebraic proofs, versus reading in an unfamiliar non-math vocabulary like a dense legal contract. It's possible that all would have looked similar, or that two but not three would have been similar, or all different. We just don't know.

And don't let me even get started on the fact that most fMRI studies use far too few subjects and then use absurd values for N like thousands of MRI mapped vertex points in a single subject to reach "significance" (a technique which would be considered a statistical cheat in any other field).

about 10 months ago
top

It's Not Memory Loss - Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information

wherrera Obligate fish story... (206 comments)

A story is told about ichthyologist David Scott Jordan. Jordan and a colleague were walking across campus one day when a student asked Dr. Jordan a question, which, upon answering, Jordan asked the student's name. Jordan's colleague asked him why he didn't remember his student's names. Jordan replied, "Every time I remember the name of a student, I forget the name of a fish!"

about a year ago
top

Open Source Beehives Designed To Help Save Honeybee Colonies

wherrera google this phrase: (172 comments)

"monsanto treats seeds with systemic insecticide"

1 year,6 days
top

Tesla Fires and Firestorms: Let's Breathe and Review Some Car Fire Math

wherrera OK, here is some math. (264 comments)

According to the US Bureau of Transportation,there are over 250 million cars on the road in the US. There are 150,000 fires in those vehicles a year __according to the OP__.

There are 20,000 Tesla cars, with 3 fires.

Relative risk = ( 3 / 20000 ) / ( 150000 / 250000000 ) = 0.00015 / 0.0006 = 0.25.

Get a Tesla, so as to avoid vehicle fires. Maybe? Depends on whether the reported stats are correct.

about a year ago
top

Synchronized Virtual Reality Heartbeat Triggers Out-of-Body Experiences

wherrera Out-of-body is not near-death (183 comments)

This news item and the gizmag.com link both confuse the study's method of tricking the body into being confused about where the body is and the near-death experience of being outside the body completely.

about a year ago
top

Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

wherrera Simulating completely or partially? (393 comments)

What exactly are "the functions of all 86 billion neurons"? I sense massive oversimplification here. Neurons have lots and lots of functions we have no idea how to simulate exactly, such as all the details of the thousands of networked internal metabolic mechanisms of any large mammalian cell, which most neural network simulations simply neglect.

Furthermore, we have plenty of evidence that the non-neuronal components of the brain (glia and oligodendroglia) massively influence brain functioning, and may be required for adequate cognition. Furthermore we have no way of knowing if a brain-in-a-vat will work the way a brain in the body, with all its connections, works. The above issues are just a start to the limitations of the scheme.

about a year and a half ago
top

"Lazarus Project" Clones Extinct Frog

wherrera Have you ever hiked around bison? Thought not. (154 comments)

Herding bison? Bison are not endangered in at least past of the American West. Bison are not afraid of people or mountain cyclists, and are quite willing to trample and gore them if annoyed, and are annoyed fairly easily. They can run 40 mph for over a mile, can jump 5 vertical feet, and can walk right through and over most ordinary fences.

I very much doubt the older DNA has more placid traits.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

top

PHYTONOSIS: Acanthocystis turfacea chlorella virus 1 and Cognitive Impairment

wherrera wherrera writes  |  about a month ago

wherrera (235520) writes "So, what are phytonoses? Phytonoses are diseases which can spread from plant to human. Do they exist? Apparently, yes. Just in from the NIH and the National Academy of Sciences:

A group led by Dr. Robert Yolken at Johns Hopkins University has been studying the links between viral infections and brain development. They were analyzing viruses taken from the throats of 33 healthy adults who were participating in a study that involved the assessment of cognitive functioning. Unexpectedly, the researchers discovered genetic sequences from Acanthocystis turfacea chlorella virus 1 (ATCV-1). ATCV-1 is a type of Chlorovirus, which infects green algae. These viruses are common in fresh water, such as lakes and ponds, but weren’t thought to infect humans or animals.

To further investigate, the group teamed with Dr. James Van Etten, an expert on algal viruses at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Their work was supported in part by NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Results appeared online on October 27, 2014, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A sequence-specific assay detected ATCV-1 in throat samples from 40 of 92 (44%) people in the study. The team next examined the link between ATCV-1 and performance on a battery of cognitive tests. ATCV-1 was associated with decreases on tests of visual processing. There was no difference on tests of general knowledge.

Studies in people can involve many complex factors, so the scientists infected a group of mice with ATCV-1. The exposed mice performed worse than control mice in several cognitive tests, such as navigating mazes. The researchers next studied gene expression in the hippocampus, a brain region essential for learning, memory, and behavior. Exposure to ATCV-1 was associated with significant changes in the regulation of over 1,000 genes.

“People have conducted studies looking for more conventional viruses and bacteria in throat swabs, but the way those studies were done meant that they could have easily missed the ones that we work with,” Van Etten says.

More study will be needed to learn how ATCV-1 may alter cognitive functioning. If confirmed, these findings hint that other yet-unknown viruses may have subtle effects on human health and behavior.
So, there are many questions. Does the viral presence cause or follow from brain pathology? If it is a cause, is the sub-minimal cognitive impairment reversible if virus is removed? Is the causative pathophysiology actually invasion of brain as a very low-grade encephalitis, or is the action via a remote toxic effect? Especially, is this organism a newly found cause of the many thousands of cases of unidentified meningoencephalitis and encephalitis seen yearly?

There is much of human virology yet to be learned."

Link to Original Source
top

Biologists Demonstrate Inheritance of Traumatic Memories in Mice

wherrera wherrera writes  |  about a year ago

wherrera (235520) writes "One of the implications of the current Mendelian synthesis in molecular genetics is the idea that natural selection operates via selecting on random variations in the gene pool, which themselves are not influenced by the environmental experiences of the reproducing organisms. Changes of a given organism's body due to experience, such as conditioning, trauma, and memory, are usually assumed to only affect the gene pool of the next generation by influencing how many progeny are produced and raised by the prior generation. This is, however, not the whole story.

Epigenetics is the study of how gene expression changes during the growth and development of an organism. For example, the fertilized egg will divide and grow, not just into a clump of egg cells, but a fully differentiated organism containing many different kinds of specialized cells and tissues. Most of these calls contain the same genetic information as the original fertilized ovum, but the DNA has been subtly modified to make specialized groups of RNA and thus proteins.

The biology of epigenetics thus explains how the same DNA information produces different effects in different cells. Can such changes be inherited? Certainly in plants, they can be. It can be shown that sprouting root tissue from a tree often produces a differently shaped plant than sprouting a branch from the same tree. One way that this occurs is via methylation of the cytosine of a DNA region to make it into nonfunctional, mutation-promoting 5-methycytosine. When such changes in DNA--either in its cytosine or its associated histones--are passed to offspring, this has been called genetic imprinting.

In the journal Nature Neuroscience, Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler seem to have found a way that rodents use such genetic imprinting to create a survival advantage: via inheritance of fear of a certain smell. The researches seem to have found that conditioning an olfactory stimulus as adversive makes that stimulus' adversiveness inheritable in the offspring, and that this information is passed via a decreased methylation of the mouse's sperm DNA encoding those particular smell receptors as adversive to the mouse.

A future question is how a signal given to the nose can actually change the methylation of DNA in produced sperm. But we may have here an explanation for the rapid development of innate fear of a predator (including man) in the offspring of animals newly exposed to such.

Will Lamark score a partial comeback in biology? Time will tell."

Journals

top

Biologists Demonstrate Inheritance of Traumatic "Memories" in Mice

wherrera wherrera writes  |  about a year ago

"One of the implications of the current Mendelian synthesis in molecular genetics is the idea that natural selection operates via selecting on random variations in the gene pool, which themselves are not influenced by the environmental experiences of the reproducing organisms. Changes of a given organism's body due to experience, such as conditioning, trauma, and memory, are usually assumed to only affect the gene pool of the next generation by influencing how many progeny are produced and raised by the prior generation. This is, however, not the whole story.

Epigenetics is the study of how gene expression changes during the growth and development of an organism. For example, the fertilized egg will divide and grow, not just into a clump of egg cells, but a fully differentiated organism containing many different kinds of specialized cells and tissues. Most of these calls contain the same genetic information as the original fertilized ovum, but the DNA has been subtly modified to make specialized groups of RNA and thus proteins.

The biology of epigenetics thus explains how the same DNA information produces different effects in different cells. Can such changes be inherited? It appears that they can be, for at least a couple of generations. One way that this occurs is via methylation of the cytosine of a DNA region to make it into nonfunctional, mutation-promoting 5-methycytosine. When such changes in DNA--either in its cytosine or its associated histones--are passed to offspring, this has been called genetic imprinting.

In the journal Nature Neuroscience, Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler seem to have found a way that rodents use such genetic imprinting to create a survival advantage: via inheritance of fear of a certain smell. The researches seem to have found that conditioning an olfactory stimulus as adversive makes that stimulus' adversiveness inheritable in the offspring, and that this information is passed via a decreased methylation of the mouse's sperm DNA encoding those particular smell receptors as adversive to the mouse.

A future question is how a signal given to the nose can actually change the methylation of DNA in produced sperm. But we may have here an explanation for the rapid development of innate fear of a predator (including man) in the offspring of animals newly exposed to such.

Are these changes a kind of primitive genetic memory? It would seem so, though they are not stored the way ordinary memories would be.

Will Lamark score a partial comeback in biology? Time will tell.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?