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Scientists use machine learning to discover how the brain processes abstract thoughts

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A team of researchers has used the latest techniques in the realm of artificial intelligence, such as automatic learning, to interpret scans of the human brain to discover how the latter is activated, and specifically which regions of the brain start to work more intensively when they create abstract concepts in the mind.

In a study published in Cerebral Cortexoggi, scientists describe experiments that have been conducted on newcomers using functional magnetic resonance to scan their brains. The results were then screened using machine science software and the results allowed the identification of models for each of the 28 abstract concepts studied by the researchers, concepts belonging to seven categories: mathematics, science, social science, law, metaphysics, and religion.

According to the researchers, abstract concepts such as justice, consciousness and ethics are based on three dimensions of meaning. The first is language: a person must first understand words in order to build meaning. The second dimension defines abstract concepts in terms of reference, while the third dimension is rooted in social constructions.

According to Marcel Just, Professor of Psychology at DO Hebb University, one of the authors of the study, “people have a unique ability to construct abstract concepts that are not anchored in the physical world, but we often take that ability for granted.” The brain itself, according to the researcher, would work similarly to an indexing system, like a library catalog, to define the meanings of abstract concepts.

“Most of our understanding of how the brain processes objects and concepts is based on how our five senses perceive information,” says Robert Vargas, a CMU student in Just’s lab and first author of the article. “It is difficult to describe the neural environment of abstract thoughts because many of the brain’s mental tools for processing them are abstract.”

According to Vargas himself, the most exciting thing behind this study is that some concepts, such as spirituality, can be neurally similar in a few people whose experiences of life and spirituality were mostly different. This means that it is possible to predict nerve activation patterns for some abstract concepts that go beyond the unique experiences of the people themselves.

“For me, this is proof that we have identified some elements of the brain’s indexation system – verbal representation, external/internal effects and social dimension – that our brains use to encode concepts that have no physical manifestation in the world,” reports the researcher in a press release presenting the study.


Related Articles and Sources:

http://www.ccbi.cmu.edu/projects_knowledge.html

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Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

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Drones that can see from 150 meters high used in Scotland to find missing persons.

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The Scottish police are starting to use a new drone system integrated with artificial intelligence, called the Remote Control Aircraft System (RPAS), to detect a person by facial recognition from a distance of up to 150 meters. The system, equipped with advanced cameras and neural computer networks, can actually identify a person, including movement, by recognizing facial features and comparing them with images in a database.

At present, this system is mainly used to search for missing persons or, in any case, for persons who need help or have been lost, as explained by Nicholas Whyte, one of the heads of the Scottish Air Support Unit, who makes some statements about this advanced system on the BBC website. The data collected by the drones are processed in real-time, and the recognition software, which is remotely activated, can distinguish between everything from a person, through an animal, to a vehicle with its license plate, even when these objects are in motion.

To train the software, managers have used hundreds of hours of footage from the same police officers in different contexts, locations and situations. Moreover, the software itself “does not require advanced supercomputers” because Professor Carl Schaschke, a researcher from the University of West Scotland, one of the institutions that worked with the Scottish police to develop this technology, indicates that even a trivial smartphone is sufficient to manage the software. The same system also requires only two police officers to manage one drone, one to pilot it and the other to use recognition software.

At the moment, Scottish political leaders have distributed three drones to be used across Scotland, and the formal launch of the system should take place on Thursday. Of course, such technology, with these particular features, raises concerns about all privacy and civil liberties issues, but the Scottish leaders themselves suggest that it is not a spy drone, but only a ‘police tool’ to help and find people.


Related Articles and Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-50262650

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Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
Jane@abc14news.com
Jane Baker
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A fossil of a huge sea monster from 150 million years ago, a pliosaurus, was found in Poland

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A fossil of what phys.org calls the “150 millionth sea monster” was found by two researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences. Daniel Tyborowski and Błażej Błażejowski found a fossil in a wheat field near the village of Krzyżanowice. It is a pliosaurus fossil (Pliosauroidea), a marine reptile that lived in Jurassic and Cretaceous areas and had a large head and a generally large body and very massive toothed jaws.

The fossil is about 10 meters long and according to researchers belongs to the pliosaurus, which lived from 145 to 163 million years ago. Apart from being the first pliosaurus fossil in Poland, this fossil opened the way to other fossil remains of various other nearby creatures, including ancient crocodiles and turtles. According to researchers, this area used to be a tropical environment with many animals, perhaps created by an archipelago with lagoons and various small pools, almost ideal for all kinds of reptiles.

Hungry reptiles were hungry reptiles: there were several species and almost all of them were at the top of their food chains. In the millions of years in which they have existed, they have reached enormous proportions with some specimens that could be similar in size to those of modern plowing. They were very long and relatively narrow with a crocodile-like muzzle, with massive teeth and large fins. According to the researchers, they fed on almost every living animal they could find in this environment, from the reptiles themselves to the mammals that might have emerged in search of water food near them.

Researchers believe that there are still other interesting fossils to be found in the area, which is why they continue to work in the area.


Related Articles and Sources:

https://phys.org/news/2019-11-million-year-old-sea-monster-fossil-poland.html

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016787819301063?via%3Dihub

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7629681/Bones-30-foot-long-Jurassic-sea-monster-massive-jaws-cornfield-Poland.html

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliosauroidea

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Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
Jane@abc14news.com
Jane Baker
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Microbial skin protects sharks from infection as a result of wounds

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Microbials, i.e. groups of bacteria and microorganisms living in the body (or above it in the case of skin microorganisms), are not only very important for humans but also for animals, as confirmed by further research. This time, scientists from the Red Sea Research Centre of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) investigated the microbiological communities living on saithe shark skin (Carcharhinus melanopterus).

It has happened several times that those who study these sharks have observed them with noticeable wounds on their bodies, but almost never with signs of infection around the wounds themselves. To understand this phenomenon, an international team of researchers collected various samples of skin mucus from the backs and gills of sloe sharks living around Seychelles, namely around the Amirante Islands. In addition, they sequenced RNA genes to identify bacteria.

As Claudia Pogoreutz explains, one of the researchers who conducted the study, the researchers found no signs of infection around the wounds. This suggests that the skin of these sharks is not readily infective and that it is the bacterial communities, precisely those on the skin, that are the main reason: “We really need to investigate the bacterial functions and innate immunity of sharks to understand what really happens and how wound healing in sharks is mediated,” says the researcher in a press release presenting the research that has emerged in the Animal Microbiome.

Scientists have also found differences in the bacterial communities of shark skin depending on where he lived, even when he was only a few miles away, but relatively isolated. According to scientists, these differences are dictated by the environmental conditions in which these sharks live, by conditions that may vary, such as temperature, population density, nutrient availability and water pollution levels.

Pogoreutz herself suggests that there are still many things to understand with regard to shark skin micro-organisms.


Related Articles and Sources:

https://animalmicrobiome.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42523-019-0011-5

Image Credit:

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/EP8MjFiUSbM/maxresdefault.jpg

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
Jane@abc14news.com
Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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