#Autism spectrum disorder (#ASD) is often associated with reduced social behavior. The presence of animals has been shown to increase social behaviors. These authors show that the expression of a variety of social behaviors are increased – and negative emotional expression decreased – in ASD children in the presence of animals (compared to the presence of toys). #science http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0057010
Changes in pupil size are often thought of as a kind of #reflex, being driven automatically by changes in #luminance. This works shows clearly how even such automatic behaviors are shaped by experience: looking at a picture of the sun – that is DARKER than the preceding image – causes pupil constriction, while equally bright images (of the moon, of pure grey, or of a scrambled sun image) cause the “expected” pupil dilation (due to luminance decrease). #science #neuroscience http://www.journalofvision.org/content/13/6/8.short
Judging things As uncertain plays an extremely important role in our lives, frequently dictating how we select our behaviors. For the first time, researchers have identified #neurons selective for #uncertainty. #neuroscience #science http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.3398.html
Long speculated and (until now) never demonstrated: researchers have found a convincing link between sensory #discrimination abilities and #IQ. Both the ability to suppress irrelevant stimuli and to discriminate motion appear to correlate with IQ score. #science http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(13)00494-6
3D imaging of a #butterfly #pupa during #chrysalis. #science http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/10/84/20130304.short
#epilepsy is (broadly) an imbalance in #brain #excitation and #inhibition. These authors found that by implanting #progenitors of inhibitory #neurons into the #hippocampus (red bar; but not the #amygdala, green bar) of rats, they could dramatically reduce the rate of epileptic seizures compared to untreated epileptic rats (blue bar). #science #neuroscience
A protocol combining #TRNS (TransCranial Noise Stimulation) and training can enhance #math #learning. #science #neuroscience http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(13)00486-7
I’m currently doing some human psychophysics experiments using some dynamic color stimuli that my PI Rich Krauzlis and I developed. The stimuli were inspired by a variant of Random Dot Kinematograms (RDKs), which were initially popularized by Bill Newsome. The variant was used by Rich and his former post-doc Alex Zénon in work that resulted in this paper. The underlying motivation for both is the use of stimuli that lend themselves to the application of Signal Detection Theory (SDT). Here’s a (somewhat low quality) example of the color version:
What’s going on here is that each check’s color is drawn from Gaussian distribution on the DKL plane. Further, each check only lives for 8 frames; once the check’s lifetime is over, it is recolored with a value drawn from the underlying distribution. Finally, halfway through the video, the mean saturation of the distribution increases.
In our experiments, we present these stimuli in the periphery while subjects fixate a spot in the center of the screen, and ask them to report these changes in saturation. We vary the magnitude of the saturation change and see how this affects their ability to detect the change. Here’s the code I used to generate the sequence of images in MATLAB (note that this is optimized for a particular display, in a later post I’ll explain how to modify for other displays).
The annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS) was stimulating and fun. This was the final year that the meeting took place in Naples, Fl. Next year it’s on to St. Pete Beach, Fl.
I presented the results from some human psychophysics experiments in a poster entitled: “Novel Color Stimuli for Stuyding Spatial Attention”, along with Amar Bogadhi, and Rich Krauzlis. We got some extremely useful feedback and now plan to conduct two control experiments before writing up and submitting a manuscript based on the work. Here’s an image of the poster that links to the original PDF: