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'Multi-dimensional universe' in brain networks: Using mathematics in a novel way in neuroscience, scientists demonstrate that the brain operates on many dimensions, not just the 3 dimensions that we are accustomed to -- ScienceDaily

Using algebraic topology in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain. The research, published today in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, shows that these structures arise when a group of neurons forms a clique: each neuron connects to every other neuron in the group in a very specific way that generates a precise geometric object. The more neurons there are in a clique, the higher the dimension of the geometric object. "We found a world that we had never imagined," says neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, "there are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions." Markram suggests this may explain why it has been so hard to understand the brain. "The mathematics usually applied to study networks cannot detect the high-dimensional structures and spaces that we now see clearly."

Blind people have differentiated brain map for 'visual' observations too

"We found that blind individuals also use the map in the visual brain," Professor Hans Op de Beeck from the KU Leuven Laboratory of Biological Psychology explains. "Their visual brain responds in a different way to each category. This means that blind people, too, use this part of the brain to differentiate between categories, even though they've never had any visual input. And the layout of their map is largely the same as that of sighted people. This means that visual experience is not required to develop category selectivity in the visual brain."

Human cognitive map scales according to surroundings -- ScienceDaily

Humans rescale their internal coordinate system according to the size of each new environment. This flexibility differs from rodents' rigid map that has a constant grid scale and empowers humans to navigate diverse places. When seeking navigational cues in any given location, humans automatically align their internal compass with the corners and shape of the space. In contrast, rodents do so relative to the walls of the environment through physical exploration. The nature of the coordinate system differs between humans and rodents -- Cartesian and hexagonal respectively. The findings illuminate the fabric of the human memory and spatial navigation, which are vulnerable to disease and deterioration. Deeper knowledge of these neuronal mechanisms can inform the development of techniques to prolong the health of this part of the brain and combat diseases such as Alzheimer's.

The secrets of the world's happiest cities | Society | The Guardian

Researchers for Hewlett-Packard convinced volunteers in England to wear electrode caps during their commutes and found that whether they were driving or taking the train, peak-hour travellers suffered worse stress than fighter pilots or riot police facing mobs of angry protesters. But one group of commuters report enjoying themselves. These are people who travel under their own steam, like Robert Judge. They walk. They run. They ride bicycles.

Hippocampal and prefrontal processing of network topology to simulate the future : Nature Communications

Here we tested the hypotheses that the hippocampus retrieves representations of the topological structure of the environment when new paths are entered in order to support goal-directed navigation and the lateral PFC performs path-planning via a BFS mechanism. We combined a graph-theoretic analysis of the city streets of London with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data collected from participants navigating a film simulation of London’s streets. Our analysis reveals that the right posterior hippocampus specifically tracks the changes in the local connections in the street network, the right anterior hippocampus tracks changes in the global properties of the streets and the bilateral lateral prefrontal activity scales with the demands of a BFS. These responses were only present when long-term memory of the environment was required to guide navigation.

Satnavs 'switch off' parts of the brain: Using a satnav to get to your destination 'switches off' parts of the brain that would otherwise be used to simulate different routes -- ScienceDaily

When volunteers navigated manually, their hippocampus and prefrontal cortex had spikes of activity when volunteers entered new streets. This brain activity was greater when the number of options to choose from increased, but no additional activity was detected when people followed satnav instructions. "Entering a junction such as Seven Dials in London, where seven streets meet, would enhance activity in the hippocampus, whereas a dead-end would drive down its activity. If you are having a hard time navigating the mass of streets in a city, you are likely putting high demands on your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex," explains senior author Dr Hugo Spiers (UCL Experimental Psychology). "Our results fit with models in which the hippocampus simulates journeys on future possible paths while the prefrontal cortex helps us to plan which ones will get us to our destination. When we have technology telling us which way to go, however, these parts of the brain simply don't respond to the street network. In that sense our brain has switched off its interest in the streets around us."

Mapping social space in the hippocampus

Participants played the lead role in a “choose-your-own-adventure” game, in which they interacted with cartoon characters. We found that a geometric model of social relationships, in a “social space” framed by power and affiliation, predicted hippocampal activity. Moreover, participants who reported better social skills showed stronger covariance between hippocampal activity and “movement” through “social space.” These results suggest that the hippocampus is critical for social cognition, and imply that beyond framing physical locations, the hippocampus computes a more abstract, multidimensional cognitive map. Importantly, these neural representations of social space may be relevant for psychological wellbeing. Here we report new evidence on how this model can be predictive of social behavior and cognition. We found that a number of geometric variables, extracted from participants’ behavior in the game, correlated robustly with trait scores: participants with higher social anxiety tended to give less power to the game’s characters; and participants who reported less social avoidance and higher self-efficacy showed increased exploration of the social space. Additionally, we found that lower hippocampal volumes predicted lower fidelity tracking of social distance in the posterior cingulate cortex.

This device can tell how conscious you are

Being conscious is about more than simply being awake -- it's also made up of "noticing and experiencing", Chennu says. "When someone is conscious, there are patterns of synchronised neural activity racing across the brain, that can be detected using EEG and quantified using our software."

The many lies of GPS

And if you and a friend do the same ride, your files will be different. Each error is small individually, Anderson notes, “but everything has a compounding effect of small variables that overlap, so the cumulative error at the end of the activity can be a few minutes, or even a few tenths of a mile.”

Brain has internal ‘odometer’ and ‘stopwatch’

To prove the contrary, researchers put rats on treadmills and recorded the activity of grid cells, keeping either distance or duration of running unchanged, and only varying the speed. As a result, 92% of grid cells in rats emitted signals at specific moments: for instance, one cell would fire 8 seconds into the run, not taking into account speed or distance covered, and another cell would emit a signal every 400 cm, not depending on speed or duration of the run. 50 percent of the cells were affected by distance, another half by time, and around 40 percent by both factors. "Space and time are ever-present dimensions by which events can be organized in memory," senior study author Howard Eichenbaum, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Boston University, said in the official press release.

Decision trees

“Every moment is a moment of decision, and every moment turns us inexorably in the direction of the rest of our lives.” Quote by Mary Balogh

Mapping with must three words (of 40k)

"Precise GPS coordinates would mean 18 digits," says What3Words' founder Chris Sheldrick, "but we wanted something that humans could actually remember. People have flawless recollection for three words. A dictionary of 40,000 words is enough to fill those 57 trillion squares with unique combinations - you can't do it any other way."

Car makers buy mapping company from Nokia

BMW AG, Audi AG and Daimler AG will buy Nokia Oyj’s digital-map unit for 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) to gain technology for connected cars that will eventually be the basis for self-driving vehicles. The world’s three largest makers of luxury cars will each acquire an equal share of Nokia’s HERE division, and the transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year, they said Monday. Nokia said its net proceeds on the sale will total slightly more than 2.5 billion euros. While there has previously been limited cooperation on auto parts, a joint acquisition on this scale involving BMW, Volkswagen AG’s Audi division and Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler is unprecedented. The deal underscores the German competitors’ push for self-driving systems independent of technology giants such as Google Inc

How brand-new words are spreading across America

You can see, for example, how on fleek exploded almost simultaneously across the country last year. The phrase, which roughly translates to perfect or on point, was a linguistic surprise hit. It didn’t start with a celebrity or brand trying to coin a new phrase. What set it off was Kayla Newman, a not-yet-famous Vine user, saying, “Finna get crunk. Eyebrows on fleek.” From there it took off, fast. On fleek got picked up by IHOP, Taco Bell, and Kim Kardashian. Now it is fully in the lexicon, used regularly on Twitter as though it existed for many years, not just one. It is fundamentally a borderless word, native to the internet. The same is true of some other emerging words identified by Grieve, like amirite (“Am I right?”) and faved (to favorite a tweet).

Maps as libraries

“It’s almost like a repository of intelligence, a database where you can put everything you know about a place in the days before computers,” he says. Related Stories For These Post-Soviet Nations, Big Oil Offers Hope and Fear By GREG MILLER Strategic Defense: Military Uses of the Moon and Asteroids By DAVID S. F. PORTREE Photos: The Ruins of the USSR’s Secret Nuclear Cities By ZACHARY SLOBIG “They managed to turn so much information into something that’s so clear and well-presented,” Kent says. “There are layers of visual hierarchy. What is important stands out. What isn’t recedes. There’s a lot that modern cartographers could learn from the way these maps were made.”

Inside the Secret World of Russia's Cold War Mapmakers | WIRED

Soviets loved maps

They had mapped nearly the entire world at three scales. The most detailed of these three sets of maps, at a scale of 1:200,000, consisted of regional maps. A single sheet might cover the New York metropolitan area, for example. […]They mapped all of Europe, nearly all of Asia, as well as large parts of North America and northern Africa at 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 scales, which show even more features and fine-grained topography. Another series of still more zoomed-in maps, at 1:25,000 scale, covers all of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as hundreds or perhaps thousands of foreign cities. At this scale, city streets and individual buildings are visible. […] The Soviets produced hundreds of remarkably detailed 1:10,000 maps of foreign cities, mostly in Europe, and they may have mapped the entire USSR at this scale[…] All in all, Watt estimated that the Soviet military produced more than 1.1 million different maps.

Who are the chosen ones? The use of historical names in today's Hungary - Hungarian Spectrum

When we thought that at last the frenzy of street name changes had died down, the Christian Democrats, who don’t seem to have enough on their plate, realized that there are still some buildings that were named after the wrong people. After weeks of wrangling, it was decided that the famous Ságvári Gymnasium in Szeged must change its name. As a student, Endre Ságvári (1913-1944) became interested in Marxism. First he was a member of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party, and later, in 1940, he joined the illegal communist party. During the war he organized anti-war rallies, and after the German occupation he was one of the few who tried to organize a resistance movement against the Germans. He was tracked down by the authorities, and on July 27 he was surrounded by four gendarmes, on whom he pulled a gun. He wounded three of them. After throwing his gun away, he ran out of the building but was mortally wounded by one of the gendarmes. One of the four gendarmes also died later in the hospital.

Unlocking the organization with simple network mapping

Our client asked us to map cooperation in their organization because they had the feeling something might not be quite right.When together we looked at the network map, our client immediately recognized the bottleneck:the Head of Customer Services. This manager’s centrality was constraining the speed, spread and quality of information flow, creating a major HR risk. If this person were occupied, then the exchange of information between the Customer Service department and the rest of the organization would be seriously impaired. And on top of all of this, given that all information in the organization flowed through this same person, all information had the same “imprint” and was colored by the values and opinions of this person.

Tatiana Trouvé Unwinds History in Public Art Project

when Tatiana Trouvé, a highly regarded sculptor who works in Paris, was asked by the Public Art Fund to create a work relating to the park, her instincts told her to dream big. The piece she made, “Desire Lines,” which goes on view Tuesday at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza near 60th Street and Fifth Avenue, is — in a manner of thinking — the size of the park itself. It is composed of miles of colored rope that, if unwound from the various-sized wooden spools that hold them, would stretch along every inch of the 212 paths, by Ms. Trouvé’s count, that snake through the park’s 843-acre rectangle. […] Like the Borges short story about a map so large and detailed it corresponds precisely to the territory it maps (“In the deserts of the West, still today, there are tattered ruins of that map, inhabited by animals and beggars”), Ms. Trouvé’s installation plays in the netherworld between the real and the represented. That seems only fitting because, as she said in an interview last week, she came to know the park first through studying maps and pictures and only later set foot in the thing itself.

A Path With Heart by Carlos Castaneda

You must always keep in mind that a path is only a path. Each path is only one of a million paths. If you feel that you must now follow it, you need not stay with it under any circumstances. Any path is only a path. There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping a path if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on a path or to leave it must be free of fear and ambition. I caution you: look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone this one question. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same. They lead nowhere. They are paths going through the brush or into the brush or under the brush of the Universe. The only question is: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then it is a good path. If it doesn’t, then it is of no use.

The literary map of London is just beautiful

Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the form or the tale that has not yet arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own. Scientists too, as J. Robert Oppenheimer once remarked, “live always at the ‘edge of mystery’ – the boundary of the unknown.” But they transform the unknown into the known, haul it in like fishermen; artists get you out into that dark sea.
The pleasure of contemplating the world on a map might be likened to that of reading certain novels. In both cases, we are placed in a privileged position vis a vis a reality which we usually only glimpse from a limited perspective. With a world map, we rise above the constraints of our segment of land so as to hold the globe in our gaze, much as with novels, we may be granted intimate access to minds beyond our own. But of course, like a novel, a map can only ever be a model and reduction of reality. The journeys we make through the landscape look precariously unlike the lines we trace on a map — and it is here that the lost motorist moans. However, it seems we cannot do without abbreviations of complexity in order to make sense of our world, in order to get to our destination.
Our guide explained that the horses, despite being extraordinarily intelligent beings, had a hard time making sense of seeing their friends appear out of nowhere, then disappear into the distance. Falling out of sight held the terror of being forever lost. My horse was calling out, making sure his friend was still there – that neither was lost. Underneath the geographic disorientation, one can imagine, lies a primal fear of losing control.
The word “lost” comes from the Old Norse los, meaning the disbanding of an army, and this origin suggests soldiers falling out of formation to go home, a truce with the wide world. I worry now that many people never disband their armies, never go beyond what they know. Advertising, alarmist news, technology, incessant busyness, and the design of public and private space conspire to make it so.