July 16, 2013
Neuroscience: Path of Plaque Buildup in Brain Shows Promise as Early Biomarker for Alzheimer's Disease

neurosciencestuff:

The trajectory of amyloid plaque buildup—clumps of abnormal proteins in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease—may serve as a more powerful biomarker for early detection of cognitive decline rather than using the total amount to gauge risk, researchers from Penn Medicine’s Department of Radiology…

(Source: uphs.upenn.edu)

June 26, 2013
"Too often, we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve."

— Roger Lewin (via schwarlax)

(via pauldateh)

June 21, 2013
photojojo:

This is not four photos edited together into one.
This is indeed a photo of a single scene. So how’d they do it? Here’s a video showing how Bela Borsodi made it come together!
This is not four photos; It’s a single photo!
via Kottke

photojojo:

This is not four photos edited together into one.

This is indeed a photo of a single scene. So how’d they do it? Here’s a video showing how Bela Borsodi made it come together!

This is not four photos; It’s a single photo!

via Kottke

June 10, 2013

143human:

MY LATEST ART VIDEO, I will follow everyone that reblogs this video! I promise you it’ll be worth your time. Artist: Johnny Tarajosu

June 9, 2013
space-pics:

“Land Before Time” Composite of the Milky Way over Ruby Beach [OC][2000X1334]http://space-pics.tumblr.com/

space-pics:

“Land Before Time” Composite of the Milky Way over Ruby Beach [OC][2000X1334]

http://space-pics.tumblr.com/

June 7, 2013
neurosciencestuff:

Researchers Discover How Brain Circuits Can Become Miswired During Development
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have uncovered a mechanism that guides the exquisite wiring of neural circuits in a developing brain — gaining unprecedented insight into the faulty circuits that may lead to brain disorders ranging from autism to mental retardation.
In the journal Cell, the researchers describe, for the first time, that faulty wiring occurs when RNA molecules embedded in a growing axon are not degraded after they give instructions that help steer the nerve cell. So, for example, the signal that tells the axon to turn — which should disappear after the turn is made — remains active, interfering with new signals meant to guide the axon in other directions.
The scientists say that there may be a way to use this new knowledge to fix the circuits.
“Understanding the basis of brain miswiring can help scientists come up with new therapies and strategies to correct the problem,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Samie Jaffrey, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology.
“The brain is quite ‘plastic’ and changeable in the very young, and if we know why circuits are miswired, it may be possible to correct those pathways, allowing the brain to build new, functional wiring,” he says.
Disorders associated with faulty neuronal circuits include epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia, mental retardation and spasticity and movement disorders, among others.
In their study, the scientists describe a process of brain wiring that is much more dynamic than was previously known — and thus more prone to error.
Proteins Sense the Environment to Steer the Axon
During brain development, neurons have to connect to each other, which they do by extending their long axons to touch one another. Ultimately, these neurons form a circuit between the brain and the target tissue through which chemical and electrical signals are relayed. In this study, researchers investigated neurons that travel up the spinal cord into the brain. “It is very critical that axons are precisely positioned in the spinal cord,” Dr. Jaffrey says. “If they are improperly positioned, they will form the wrong connections, which can lead to signals being sent to the wrong target cells in the brain.”
The way that an axon guides and finds its proper target is through so-called growth cones located at the tips of axons. “These growth cones have the ability to sense the environment, determine where the targets are and navigate toward them. The question has always been — how do they know how to do this? Where do the instructions come from that tell them how to find their proper target?” Dr. Jaffrey says. The team found that RNA molecules embedded in the growth cone are responsible for instructing the axon to move left or right, up or down. These RNAs are translated in growth cones to produce antenna-like proteins that steer the axon like a self-guided missile.
“As a circuit is being built, RNAs in the neuron’s growth cones are mostly silent. We found that specific RNAs are only read at precise stages in order to produce the right protein needed to steer the axon at the right time. After the protein is produced, we saw that the RNA instruction is degraded and disappears,” he says.
“If these RNAs do not disappear when they should, the axon does not position itself properly — it may go right instead of left — and the wiring will be incorrect and the circuit may be faulty,” Dr. Jaffrey says.
RNAs have Tremendous Power over Brain Development
The research finding answers a long-standing puzzle in the quest to understand brain wiring, says Dr. Dilek Colak, a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Jaffrey’s laboratory.
“There have been a series of discoveries over the last five years showing that proteins that control RNA degradation are very important for brain development and, when they are mutated, you can have spasticity or other movement disorders,” Dr. Colak says. “That has raised a major question — why would RNA degradation pathways be so critical for properly creating brain circuits?
“What we show here is that not only does RNA need to be present in growth cones to give instructions, it then also needs to be removed from the growth cones to take away those instructions at the right time,” she says. “Both those processes are critical and it may explain why there are so many different brain disorders associated with ineffective RNA regulation.”
“The idea that control of brain wiring is located in these RNA molecules that are constantly being dynamically turned over is something that we didn’t anticipate,” Dr. Jaffrey adds. “This tells us that regulating these RNA degradation pathways could have a tremendous impact on brain development. Now we know where to look to tease apart this process when it goes awry, and to think about how we can repair it.”
(Image: Chad Baker)

neurosciencestuff:

Researchers Discover How Brain Circuits Can Become Miswired During Development

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have uncovered a mechanism that guides the exquisite wiring of neural circuits in a developing brain — gaining unprecedented insight into the faulty circuits that may lead to brain disorders ranging from autism to mental retardation.

In the journal Cell, the researchers describe, for the first time, that faulty wiring occurs when RNA molecules embedded in a growing axon are not degraded after they give instructions that help steer the nerve cell. So, for example, the signal that tells the axon to turn — which should disappear after the turn is made — remains active, interfering with new signals meant to guide the axon in other directions.

The scientists say that there may be a way to use this new knowledge to fix the circuits.

“Understanding the basis of brain miswiring can help scientists come up with new therapies and strategies to correct the problem,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Samie Jaffrey, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology.

“The brain is quite ‘plastic’ and changeable in the very young, and if we know why circuits are miswired, it may be possible to correct those pathways, allowing the brain to build new, functional wiring,” he says.

Disorders associated with faulty neuronal circuits include epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia, mental retardation and spasticity and movement disorders, among others.

In their study, the scientists describe a process of brain wiring that is much more dynamic than was previously known — and thus more prone to error.

Proteins Sense the Environment to Steer the Axon

During brain development, neurons have to connect to each other, which they do by extending their long axons to touch one another. Ultimately, these neurons form a circuit between the brain and the target tissue through which chemical and electrical signals are relayed. In this study, researchers investigated neurons that travel up the spinal cord into the brain. “It is very critical that axons are precisely positioned in the spinal cord,” Dr. Jaffrey says. “If they are improperly positioned, they will form the wrong connections, which can lead to signals being sent to the wrong target cells in the brain.”

The way that an axon guides and finds its proper target is through so-called growth cones located at the tips of axons. “These growth cones have the ability to sense the environment, determine where the targets are and navigate toward them. The question has always been — how do they know how to do this? Where do the instructions come from that tell them how to find their proper target?” Dr. Jaffrey says. The team found that RNA molecules embedded in the growth cone are responsible for instructing the axon to move left or right, up or down. These RNAs are translated in growth cones to produce antenna-like proteins that steer the axon like a self-guided missile.

“As a circuit is being built, RNAs in the neuron’s growth cones are mostly silent. We found that specific RNAs are only read at precise stages in order to produce the right protein needed to steer the axon at the right time. After the protein is produced, we saw that the RNA instruction is degraded and disappears,” he says.

“If these RNAs do not disappear when they should, the axon does not position itself properly — it may go right instead of left — and the wiring will be incorrect and the circuit may be faulty,” Dr. Jaffrey says.

RNAs have Tremendous Power over Brain Development

The research finding answers a long-standing puzzle in the quest to understand brain wiring, says Dr. Dilek Colak, a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Jaffrey’s laboratory.

“There have been a series of discoveries over the last five years showing that proteins that control RNA degradation are very important for brain development and, when they are mutated, you can have spasticity or other movement disorders,” Dr. Colak says. “That has raised a major question — why would RNA degradation pathways be so critical for properly creating brain circuits?

“What we show here is that not only does RNA need to be present in growth cones to give instructions, it then also needs to be removed from the growth cones to take away those instructions at the right time,” she says. “Both those processes are critical and it may explain why there are so many different brain disorders associated with ineffective RNA regulation.”

“The idea that control of brain wiring is located in these RNA molecules that are constantly being dynamically turned over is something that we didn’t anticipate,” Dr. Jaffrey adds. “This tells us that regulating these RNA degradation pathways could have a tremendous impact on brain development. Now we know where to look to tease apart this process when it goes awry, and to think about how we can repair it.”

(Image: Chad Baker)

June 3, 2013

nassays:

Dope song by Nylo… You can’t listen to this with wack speakers…. Studio quality only!!! 

June 2, 2013

theartofanimation:

Desmond Wong

May 21, 2013
neurosciencestuff:

Complex brain function depends on flexibility
Over the past few decades, neuroscientists have made much progress in mapping the brain by deciphering the functions of individual neurons that perform very specific tasks, such as recognizing the location or color of an object.
However, there are many neurons, especially in brain regions that perform sophisticated functions such as thinking and planning, that don’t fit into this pattern. Instead of responding exclusively to one stimulus or task, these neurons react in different ways to a wide variety of things. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller first noticed these unusual activity patterns about 20 years ago, while recording the electrical activity of neurons in animals that were trained to perform complex tasks.
“We started noticing early on that there are a whole bunch of neurons in the prefrontal cortex that can’t be classified in the traditional way of one message per neuron,” recalls Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and a member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
In a paper appearing in Nature on May 19, Miller and colleagues at Columbia University report that these neurons are essential for complex cognitive tasks, such as learning new behavior. The Columbia team, led by the study’s senior author, Stefano Fusi, developed a computer model showing that without these neurons, the brain can learn only a handful of behavioral tasks.
“You need a significant proportion of these neurons,” says Fusi, an associate professor of neuroscience at Columbia. “That gives the brain a huge computational advantage.”
Lead author of the paper is Mattia Rigotti, a former grad student in Fusi’s lab.
Multitasking neurons
Miller and other neuroscientists who first identified this neuronal activity observed that while the patterns were difficult to predict, they were not random. “In the same context, the neurons always behave the same way. It’s just that they may convey one message in one task, and a totally different message in another task,” Miller says.
For example, a neuron might distinguish between colors during one task, but issue a motor command under different conditions.
Miller and colleagues proposed that this type of neuronal flexibility is key to cognitive flexibility, including the brain’s ability to learn so many new things on the fly. “You have a bunch of neurons that can be recruited for a whole bunch of different things, and what they do just changes depending on the task demands,” he says.
At first, that theory encountered resistance “because it runs against the traditional idea that you can figure out the clockwork of the brain by figuring out the one thing each neuron does,” Miller says.
For the new Nature study, Fusi and colleagues at Columbia created a computer model to determine more precisely what role these flexible neurons play in cognition, using experimental data gathered by Miller and his former grad student, Melissa Warden. That data came from one of the most complex tasks that Miller has ever trained a monkey to perform: The animals looked at a sequence of two pictures and had to remember the pictures and the order in which they appeared.
During this task, the flexible neurons, known as “mixed selectivity neurons,” exhibited a great deal of nonlinear activity — meaning that their responses to a combination of factors cannot be predicted based on their response to each individual factor (such as one image).
Expanding capacity
Fusi’s computer model revealed that these mixed selectivity neurons are critical to building a brain that can perform many complex tasks. When the computer model includes only neurons that perform one function, the brain can only learn very simple tasks. However, when the flexible neurons are added to the model, “everything becomes so much easier and you can create a neural system that can perform very complex tasks,” Fusi says.
The flexible neurons also greatly expand the brain’s capacity to perform tasks. In the computer model, neural networks without mixed selectivity neurons could learn about 100 tasks before running out of capacity. That capacity greatly expanded to tens of millions of tasks as mixed selectivity neurons were added to the model. When mixed selectivity neurons reached about 30 percent of the total, the network’s capacity became “virtually unlimited,” Miller says — just like a human brain.
Mixed selectivity neurons are especially dominant in the prefrontal cortex, where most thought, learning and planning takes place. This study demonstrates how these mixed selectivity neurons greatly increase the number of tasks that this kind of neural network can perform, says John Duncan, a professor of neuroscience at Cambridge University.
“Especially for higher-order regions, the data that have often been taken as a complicating nuisance may be critical in allowing the system actually to work,” says Duncan, who was not part of the research team.
Miller is now trying to figure out how the brain sorts through all of this activity to create coherent messages. There is some evidence suggesting that these neurons communicate with the correct targets by synchronizing their activity with oscillations of a particular brainwave frequency.
“The idea is that neurons can send different messages to different targets by virtue of which other neurons they are synchronized with,” Miller says. “It provides a way of essentially opening up these special channels of communications so the preferred message gets to the preferred neurons and doesn’t go to neurons that don’t need to hear it.”

neurosciencestuff:

Complex brain function depends on flexibility

Over the past few decades, neuroscientists have made much progress in mapping the brain by deciphering the functions of individual neurons that perform very specific tasks, such as recognizing the location or color of an object.

However, there are many neurons, especially in brain regions that perform sophisticated functions such as thinking and planning, that don’t fit into this pattern. Instead of responding exclusively to one stimulus or task, these neurons react in different ways to a wide variety of things. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller first noticed these unusual activity patterns about 20 years ago, while recording the electrical activity of neurons in animals that were trained to perform complex tasks.

“We started noticing early on that there are a whole bunch of neurons in the prefrontal cortex that can’t be classified in the traditional way of one message per neuron,” recalls Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and a member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

In a paper appearing in Nature on May 19, Miller and colleagues at Columbia University report that these neurons are essential for complex cognitive tasks, such as learning new behavior. The Columbia team, led by the study’s senior author, Stefano Fusi, developed a computer model showing that without these neurons, the brain can learn only a handful of behavioral tasks.

“You need a significant proportion of these neurons,” says Fusi, an associate professor of neuroscience at Columbia. “That gives the brain a huge computational advantage.”

Lead author of the paper is Mattia Rigotti, a former grad student in Fusi’s lab.

Multitasking neurons

Miller and other neuroscientists who first identified this neuronal activity observed that while the patterns were difficult to predict, they were not random. “In the same context, the neurons always behave the same way. It’s just that they may convey one message in one task, and a totally different message in another task,” Miller says.

For example, a neuron might distinguish between colors during one task, but issue a motor command under different conditions.

Miller and colleagues proposed that this type of neuronal flexibility is key to cognitive flexibility, including the brain’s ability to learn so many new things on the fly. “You have a bunch of neurons that can be recruited for a whole bunch of different things, and what they do just changes depending on the task demands,” he says.

At first, that theory encountered resistance “because it runs against the traditional idea that you can figure out the clockwork of the brain by figuring out the one thing each neuron does,” Miller says.

For the new Nature study, Fusi and colleagues at Columbia created a computer model to determine more precisely what role these flexible neurons play in cognition, using experimental data gathered by Miller and his former grad student, Melissa Warden. That data came from one of the most complex tasks that Miller has ever trained a monkey to perform: The animals looked at a sequence of two pictures and had to remember the pictures and the order in which they appeared.

During this task, the flexible neurons, known as “mixed selectivity neurons,” exhibited a great deal of nonlinear activity — meaning that their responses to a combination of factors cannot be predicted based on their response to each individual factor (such as one image).

Expanding capacity

Fusi’s computer model revealed that these mixed selectivity neurons are critical to building a brain that can perform many complex tasks. When the computer model includes only neurons that perform one function, the brain can only learn very simple tasks. However, when the flexible neurons are added to the model, “everything becomes so much easier and you can create a neural system that can perform very complex tasks,” Fusi says.

The flexible neurons also greatly expand the brain’s capacity to perform tasks. In the computer model, neural networks without mixed selectivity neurons could learn about 100 tasks before running out of capacity. That capacity greatly expanded to tens of millions of tasks as mixed selectivity neurons were added to the model. When mixed selectivity neurons reached about 30 percent of the total, the network’s capacity became “virtually unlimited,” Miller says — just like a human brain.

Mixed selectivity neurons are especially dominant in the prefrontal cortex, where most thought, learning and planning takes place. This study demonstrates how these mixed selectivity neurons greatly increase the number of tasks that this kind of neural network can perform, says John Duncan, a professor of neuroscience at Cambridge University.

“Especially for higher-order regions, the data that have often been taken as a complicating nuisance may be critical in allowing the system actually to work,” says Duncan, who was not part of the research team.

Miller is now trying to figure out how the brain sorts through all of this activity to create coherent messages. There is some evidence suggesting that these neurons communicate with the correct targets by synchronizing their activity with oscillations of a particular brainwave frequency.

“The idea is that neurons can send different messages to different targets by virtue of which other neurons they are synchronized with,” Miller says. “It provides a way of essentially opening up these special channels of communications so the preferred message gets to the preferred neurons and doesn’t go to neurons that don’t need to hear it.”

April 18, 2013

kaajoo:

World’s Most Beautiful Abandoned Places

Italian product manager and web designer Francesco Mugnai recently added a collection of images to his blog touting some of the most beautiful images of abandoned spots and modern ruins that he’d ever seen. The images Mugnai has captured come from empty castles, shuttered power plants, and dilapidated churches around the world. From a sunken yacht in Antarctica to a forever-closed amusement park in Japan, these images all make up a sort of anti-phoenix; rather than rising as new from the ashes, these husks remain preserved in decomposition, forcing viewers to confront the strange beauty of ruination.

(via pauldateh)

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