Heated debate over a high-profile project of the European Commission to simulate the entire brain on a supercomputer – a long needed “paradigm-shift” in neuroscience, or an over-hyped, over-funded boondoggle destined to fail, at the expense of other smaller, cheaper, less sexy researches?
Researchers say European commission-funded initiative to simulate human brain suffers from ‘substantial failures’
From The Guardian
Many researchers refused to join on the grounds that it was too premature to attempt a simulation of the entire human brain. Photograph: Sebastian Kaulitzki /Alamy
The world’s largest project to unravel the mysteries of the human brain has been thrown into crisis with more than 100 leading researchers threatening to boycott the effort amid accusations of mismanagement and fears that it is doomed to failure.
By Russell Brandom for The Verge
(Images from Facebook’s DeepFace scan)
If you’re worried about Big Brother and computerized facial recognition, this summer has given you plenty of reason to be scared. Law enforcement has been toying with facial recognition for a while, but the FBI is getting set to deploy its own system, called Next Generation Identification (NGI for short), planned to be fully operational this summer. NGI will bring together millions of photos in a central federal database, reaching all 50 states by the end of the year. After years of relative anonymity, it’s easy to think 2014 is the year that law enforcement will finally know you by face. Read More
By Dr Llewellyn Cox, Principal, LieuLabs
On an otherwise unremarkable Saturday in June 2014, a group of computer scientists, public figures, and celebrities gathered at London’s Royal Society. They were all there for one reason — to engage in a text-based chat game to determine if a computer could pass the “iconic” Turing test.
A few hours later, the results were in. Professor Warwick of Reading University announced that a chatbot had successfully tricked 33% of the judges into thinking it was a real boy, and had therefore become the first computer to have passed the Turing test:
It is fitting that such an important landmark has been reached at the Royal Society in London, the home of British science and the scene of many great advances in human understanding over the centuries. This milestone will go down in history as one of the most exciting. — Prof. Kevin Warwick
Within hours, breathless tweets, likes and pins swept across the internet, announcing this amazing result to the world, or at least across the subculture that apparently really f***ing loves science, but doesn’t seem to have much time or inclination toward actual critical analysis. A day or so later came the rebuttals and debunkings from the more inquisitive corners of the online universe. So what really happened, and what does a machine passing a Turing test mean for society?
By Morgan Kelly for Princeton University News
So accustomed are we to metaphors related to taste that when we hear a kind smile described as “sweet,” or a resentful comment as “bitter,” we most likely don’t even think of those words as metaphors. But while it may seem to our ears that “sweet” by any other name means the same thing, new research shows that taste-related words actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words with the same meaning.
Researchers from Princeton University and the Free University of Berlin report in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience the first study to experimentally show that the brain processes these everyday metaphors differently than literal language. In the study, participants read 37 sentences that included common metaphors based on taste while the researchers recorded their brain activity. Each taste-related word was then swapped with a literal counterpart so that, for instance, “She looked at him sweetly” became “She looked at him kindly.”
Researchers from Princeton University and the Free University of Berlin found that taste-related metaphors such as “sweet” actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words such as “kind” that have the same meaning. If metaphors in general elicit a similar emotional response, that could mean that figurative language presents a “rhetorical advantage” when communicating with others. (Photo illustration by Matilda Luk, Office of Communications)
By Courtney Seiter for the Buffer Blog
Every day it seems like we feel hundreds of different emotions – each nuanced and specific to the physical and social situations we find ourselves in.
According to science, it’s not that complicated by a long shot. A new study says we’re really only capable of four “basic” emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted.
But much like the “mother sauces” of cooking allow you to make pretty much any kind of food under the sun, these four “mother emotions” meld together in myriad ways in our brains to create our layered emotional stews.
Robert Plutchik’s famous “wheel of emotions” shows just some of the well known emotional layers.
In this post we’ll take a close look at each of the four emotions, how they form in the brain and the way they can motivate us to surprising actions. Read More
Republished from BBC News | Health
Learning a second language could improve reading and intelligence skills
Learning a second language can have a positive effect on the brain, even if it is taken up in adulthood, a University of Edinburgh study suggests.
Researchers found that reading, verbal fluency and intelligence were improved in a study of 262 people tested either aged 11 or in their seventies.
A previous study suggested that being bilingual could delay the onset of dementia by several years. The study is published in Annals of Neurology.
The big question in this study was whether learning a new language improved cognitive functions or whether individuals with better cognitive abilities were more likely to become bilingual. Dr Thomas Bak, from the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said he believed he had found the answer.
Using data from intelligence tests on 262 Edinburgh-born individuals at the age of 11, the study looked at how their cognitive abilities had changed when they were tested again in their seventies. Read More
Working to unravel the secrets of sleep, gene by gene.
By Sumathi Reddy for the Wall Street Journal
In a lab at the University of California, San Francisco, a husband-and-wife team is working to unravel the secrets of sleep, gene by gene.