Papers for the month of October 2013

"Thought is a Material: Talking with Mel Bochner about Space, Art, and Language"
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25:12:2015-2024

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.This is an interview with Mel Bochner, a New York City artist who, despite disliking the term “conceptual art,” is sometimes credited with staging the world’s first conceptual art exhibition in 1966. The common thread connecting his early work is a preoccupation with the kinds of abstract categories (e.g., space and number) that relate objects to one another (rather than the objects themselves) and how the mind represents such relations in distinct formats.

"The many layers of specification and plasticity in the neocortex"
Neuron, 79(5):829-31

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.The identity of neocortical neurons is determined both by their laminar location as well as their specific inputs. We review work that demonstrates the close interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic forces in shaping cell identify and function during early postnatal development.

"Their pain, our pleasure: stereotype content and schadenfreude"
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1299:52

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.People often fail to empathize with others, and sometimes even experience schadenfreude—pleasure at others’ misfortunes. One potent predictor of schadenfreude is envy, which, according to the stereotype content model, is elicited by high-status, competitive targets. Here we review our recent research program investigating the relationships among stereotypes, envy, schadenfreude, and harm.

"MR Diffusion Histology and Micro-Tractography Reveal Mesoscale Features of the Human Cerebellum."
Cerebellum, 12:923-31

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.This paper describes the visualization of mesoscale features of the human cerebellum using diffusion tensor imaging and describes the use of micro-tractography to reconstruct axonal projections.

"Speed-dependent contribution of callosal pathways to ipsilateral movements"
The Journal of Neuroscience, 33(41):16178-88

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.The functional contribution of transcallosal inhibition targeting the voluntary active limb remains unknown. Together, our results demonstrate a widespread contribution of transcallosal inhibition to ipsilateral movements of different speeds with a functional role during rapid movements; at faster speeds, decreased transcallosal inhibition in the preparatory phase may contribute to start movements rapidly, while the increase in the execution phase may contribute to stop the movement. We argue that transcallosal pathways enable signaling of the time of discrete behavioral events during ipsilateral movements, which is amplified by the speed of a movement.

"Response to Susilo and Duchaine: beyond neuropsychological dissociations in understanding face and word representations."
Trends Cogn Sci, doi:pii: S1364-6613(13)00214-3.:00214-3

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.This is a response to a paper by Susilo and Duchaine [Dissociations between faces and words: comment on Behrmann and Plaut. Susilo T, Duchaine B. Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Oct 17. doi:pii: S1364-6613(13)00209-X.] We welcome the opportunity to clarify our theoretical position in light of comments by Susilo and Duchaine. Our central claim is that face and word processing are carried out by a distributed network of partially specialized cortical regions, with the degree of specialization varying across individuals (partly as a function of language lateralization). Thus, and perhaps not surprisingly, Susilo and Duchaine are adopting an overly all-or-none perspective when they mischaracterize our views as implying that cortical regions are ‘not specialized for particular categories’or that ‘individuals with prosopagnosia will always have some deficits in word recognition while individuals with alexia will always have some deficits in face recognition’. Rather, on our view, cortical regions are not dedicated to categories, and patients with severe face or word impairments will, as a population, tend to be more moderately impaired in the other domain, as well.

"Fine-grained temporal coding of visually-similar categories in the ventral visual pathway and prefrontal cortex"
Front. Psychol., 4:684

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.Humans are remarkably proficient at categorizing visually-similar objects. To better understand the cortical basis of this categorization process, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record neural activity while participants learned–with feedback–to discriminate two highly-similar, novel visual categories. We hypothesized that although prefrontal regions would mediate early category learning, this role would diminish with increasing category familiarity and that regions within the ventral visual pathway would come to play a more prominent role in encoding category-relevant information as learning progressed. Early in learning we observed some degree of categorical discriminability and predictability in both prefrontal cortex and the ventral visual pathway. Predictability improved significantly above chance in the ventral visual pathway over the course of learning with the left inferior temporal and fusiform gyri showing the greatest improvement in predictability between 150 and 250 ms (M200) during category learning. In contrast, there was no comparable increase in discriminability in prefrontal cortex with the only significant post-learning effect being a decrease in predictability in the inferior frontal gyrus between 250 and 350 ms (M300). Thus, the ventral visual pathway appears to encode learned visual categories over the long term. At the same time these results add to our understanding of the cortical origins of previously reported signature temporal components associated with perceptual learning.

"Robotics for computer scientists: what's the big idea?"
Computer Science Education, 23(4)

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