LabRigger: New blog for neuroscientist-engineers

Today one of our readers brought a new blog to my attention.

LabRigger is a how-to blog with a fresh look (kudos for the design and typography) that already has many interesting and relevant posts up for scientists who like to build. (You know who you are…) Furthermore, it seems especially geared toward neuroscientists and physiology folks. I’ve already added this one to my browser’s bookmarks.

Here are some of my favorites from quickly perusing the site: Printable bolt size charts, Tips on intrinsic optical imaging, Comparison of high NA, low mag objectives, and my favorite, Catalogs as textbooks. (I still remember a neuroscience faculty member here at MIT who told me that he brings science catalogs along on his vacations as “leisure reading” to stay up-to-date on new tools and to generate ideas for experiments.) In fact, I wanted to read just about every post on this blog and I think you will too! And if you’re the author of this blog, please introduce yourself in the comments, too.

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The Third Reviewer


Neuroscientists love talking about recent papers (lambasting, exalting), but currently the options for doing this online are bad. You have to log in, with your real name, at whichever journal published the paper. So you’re not going to write anything critical, lest the author be angry at you, nor are you going to go back and follow it up, because it’s such a hassle to find the paper again on the journal site. Enter The Third Reviewer.

It’s a centralized commenting location for all major neuroscience papers. Every recently published paper has a page that you can find by browsing or searching. You can leave comments anonymously, and you can request follow-up emails when others comment. ThirdReviewer currently indexes all papers from 11 major journals, including Neuron, Nature, J Neurosci, and Nature Neuroscience.

Check it out and opine: The Third Reviewer

Neural Interfaces workshop, conference, June 20-23 (student status letter due tomorrow)

1. Beyond Brain Machine Interface: From Senses to Cognition
Co-sponsored by IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and Army Research Office
June 20, 2010, Long Beach, CA
Travel fellowships, poster abstracts, and registration:
http://tnsre.bme.jhu.edu/

2. 39th Neural Interfaces Conference
Co-sponsored by NIH Deep Brain Stimulation Consortium
June 21-23, 2010, Long Beach, CA
Free registration for students (Faculty Advisor letter due May 21)
Program, registration, and further information:
http://www.neuralinterfaces2010.com/
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What does it really mean to be "smart?"

CNN News ran a segment last month on the meaning and impact of intelligence on a person’s life, as measured through a test such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale which gives an “IQ.” Dr. John Gabrieli of MIT displays brain scans that  show functional differences between brains of low IQ and high IQ subjects while completing intelligence tests in an MRI scanner. The higher IQ brain shows less activity than the lower IQ brain during the same task, indicating that smarter brains are more efficient.

The findings on IQ mentioned in the report are remarkable. The standing debate on the importance of IQ is also on display here. Researchers have found that 25% of what makes one successful can be attributed to IQ -but Dr. Gabrieli points to findings that increases in IQ are linked to “a better paying job, a healthy future, more stability in your family life.” This makes the prospect of “training intelligence” to increase IQ scores all the more alluring and relevant. A demonstration of a computer working memory task that is used to “train intelligence” is featured in the segment.

Watch the segment here:

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/health/2010/03/22/am.cho.intelligence.part1.cnn

Read more about the working memory task featured in the segment:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2008/04/25/0801268105.abstract

-A Neurodudes Reader

IBM Cat Brain Simulation Scuffle: Symbolic?

You’ve probably read by now about the announcement by IBM’s Cognitive Computing group that they had created a “computer system that simulates and emulates the brain’s abilities for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition” at the “scale of a cat cortex”.    For their work, the IBM team led by Dharmendra Modha was awarded the ACM Gordon Bell prize, which recognizes “outstanding achievement in high-performance computing”.

A few days later, Henry Markram, leader of the Blue Brain Project at EPFL, sent off an e-mail to IBM CTO Bernard Meyerson harshly criticizing the IBM press release, and cc’ed several reporters. This brought a spate of shock media into the usually placid arena of computational neuroscience reporting, with headlines such as “IBM’s cat-brain sim a ‘scam,’ says Swiss boffin: Neuroscientist hairs on end”, and “Meow! IBM cat brain simulation dissed as ‘hoax’ by rival scientist”.  One reporter chose to highlight the rivalry as cat versus rat, using the different animal model choice of the two researchers as a theme.  Since then, additional criticisms from Markram have appeared online.

Find out more after the jump.

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