Boys rescued from Thai cave were sedated with ketamine

In 2016, we published a study on the role of ketamine in disrupting cortical information transfer. It continues to be critical for anesthesia, but is also gaining traction as a useful therapeutic for depression, and has historically been used to model schizophrenia. It’s a fascinating drug and nice to see positive, science-based applications.

Post mortem examination of Parkinson’s disease brains suggests decline in mitochondrial biomass, reversed by deep brain stimulation of subthalamic nucleus

All roads lead to mitochondria (it seems)—the “power house” of our cells. This paper suggests that DBS has a positive affect on mitochondrial volume in the brain region that houses dopamine cells. We know that DBS alters a number of physiologic parameters, and while it’s likely that changes in mitochondria are temporally downstream of the immediate therapeutic effects, it remains an interesting finding because of other theories regarding mitochondrial dysfunction and Parkinson’s disease.

Mice infer probabilistic models for timing

Reinforcement learning (RL) suffers when tasks change. For example, RL does not have a built-in mechanism to switch between modes of exploitation and exploration, which is critical to mapping optimal rewards in a variable environment. Here, Dudman and Li show that mice—like humans—model rewards on highly flexible probability distributions.

Optimality and heuristics in perceptual neuroscience

Why are there errors in our decisions? Is it that noise gets into a perfect signal, or that decision machinery is inherently probabilistic? This paper argues the latter. From the perspective of optimal coding—where optimal means metabolically efficient—it offers a useful lens through which we can view modern findings in neuroscience and behavior research.

A Scalable Population Code for Time in the Striatum

Mello et al. find that the majority of neurons encoding time in the striatum, a central basal ganglia structure, contract and dilate their firing based on the task interval. These results highlight how neural activity is translated into optimally timed motor actions.

How silent is the brain: is there a “dark matter” problem in neuroscience?

Whether there is an underlying neural code that can explain information transfer in the brain has yet to be determined. This paper explores the idea that more neurons than we currently appreciate may live near dormancy and how those quasi-quiescent states contribute to computation in the brain.

A Tradeoff in the Neural Code across Regions and Species

There are a few theories about what makes us intelligent. Brain weight or volume? Neuron size or count? But what about the neural code itself? This paper explores that possibility that humans encode information better than other species, albeit, with some interesting tradeoffs.

Contribution of different life cycle stages to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with three balanced dietary patterns

Dietary lifestyle affects our environment—but it’s a convoluted landscape. It seems everyone has an agenda that leads to reductionist viewpoints. This paper takes a “cradle to grave” (or “farm to fork”) approach to analyzing dietary impact on the environment.

Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies

800 grams (28.2 ounces) sounds like a lot of fruits and vegetables in a day, but it is one of the best nutritional strategies to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (24%), stroke (33%), cardiovascular disease (28%), cancer (14%) and all-cause mortality (31%).

Analyzing Payment Based Question and Answering Service

What happens when Siri and Wolfram Alpha fail us? We are still in need of humans to interpret and answer questions. This paper explores how expert knowledge and crowdsourcing overlap with the monetary and social benefits of popular Q&A systems.

Simple Algorithmic Principles of Discovery, Subjective Beauty, Selective Attention, Curiosity & Creativity

A framework by which we can understand beauty, why we desire it, and how to maximize finding it through the process of discovery. The theory suggests that our actions search for novelty that is compressible.

Optogenetic Stimulation of Frontal D1 Neurons Compensates for Impaired Temporal Control of Action in Dopamine-Depleted Mice

A look at how D1 dopamine receptors might play a role in temporal processing (based on an action performed). Interestingly, a 2 Hz (delta band) stimulation improves performance.

Double dissociation of single-interval and rhythmic temporal prediction in cerebellar degeneration and Parkinson’s disease

This paper is one among many that contrast the presumes (and tested) roles of the basal ganglia and cerebellum in performing actions that are either rhythmic or based on single intervals.