Brain may be far more flexible than thought

first_imgThe human brain has a region of cells responsible for linking sensory cues to actions and behaviors and cataloging the link as a memory. Cells that form these links have been deemed highly stable and fixed.Now, the findings of a Harvard Medical School (HMS) study conducted in mice challenge that model, revealing that the neurons responsible for such tasks may be less stable, yet more flexible than previously believed.The results, published Aug. 17 in the journal Cell, cast doubt on the traditional notion that memory formation involves hardwiring information into the brain in a fixed and highly stable pattern.The researchers say their results point to a critical plasticity in neuronal networks that ensures easier integration of new information. Such plasticity allows neuronal networks to more easily incorporate new learning, eliminating the need to form new links to separate neurons every time. Furthermore, the researchers said, once a memory is no longer needed, neurons can be more easily reassigned to other important tasks.“Our experiments point to far less stability in neurons that link sensory cues to action than we would have expected and suggest the presence of much more flexibility, and indeed a sort of neuronal efficiency,” said study senior author Chris Harvey, an assistant professor of neurobiology at HMS. “We believe this trade-off ensures the delicate balance between the ability to incorporate new information while preserving old memories.”The Harvard Medical School study involved experiments with mice repeatedly running through a virtual maze over the course of a month. Analyzing images of brain activity in a brain region involved in navigational decision-making, the researchers noted that neurons did not stabilize into a pattern. Instead, the set of neurons forming the mice’s maze-running memories kept changing for the duration of the study. In fact, neurons kept switching roles in the memory pattern or left it altogether, only to be replaced by other neurons.“Individual neurons tended to have streaks where they’d do the same thing for a few days, then switch,” Harvey said. “Over the course of weeks, we began to see shifts in the overall pattern of neurons.”The experiments are part of the research team’s ongoing efforts to unravel the mysteries of memory formation and, specifically, how the brain captures external cues and behaviors to perform recurring tasks such as navigating a space using landmarks. Imagine a person driving a familiar route to the grocery store who sees the bank and turns right at that corner without even having to think about it consciously.To mimic that process, mice in the study were trained to run down a virtual passage — a computer-generated maze displayed on large screens in front of a treadmill — and turn right if they were given a black cue or left if they were given a white cue. Researchers imaged hundreds of neurons in the part of the brain responsible for spatial decision-making as the mice were galloping down the virtual maze.Once the navigational links were firmly established in the mice’s brains over the course of a few weeks, the researchers expected the activity of the neurons to look the same from day to day. During maze runs that occurred within 24 hours of each other that was, indeed, the case. Neurons that activated in response to the white cue could be distinguished from neurons that activated in response to the black cue. However, over the course of several weeks the line between cues in individual neurons blurred, and the memory pattern began to drift across neurons, the researchers observed. A neuron that had been associated with the black cue would lose its specialization and be replaced by another, or it might even become associated with the white cue. This came as a surprise to the researchers.“We were so sure that the neurons would be doing the same thing every day that we designed the study expecting to use the stable pattern as a baseline,” said study first author Laura Driscoll, a graduate student in the Neurobiology Department. “After we realized the neurons were changing roles, we had to rethink parts of the study.”The researchers tested how the pattern changed when they added shapes as a third cue while the mice were navigating the maze. After some reassignment of individual neurons as the mice learned the new cue, the researchers found very little change to the overall activity pattern. This finding supports the idea that neuronal networks that store memories stay flexible in order to incorporate new learning, the researchers say.The researchers hypothesize that neuronal stability may differ across various brain regions, likely depending on how often the skill or memory they encode needs to be modified. For a task like navigation, which frequently requires the brain to incorporate new information, it would make sense that the neurons remain flexible, Harvey said. However, more instinctual physical responses, such as blinking, may be hardwired with little neuronal drift over time.The results provide a fascinating early glimpse into the complexities of memory formation, Driscoll said. To elucidate the big picture of memory formation and storage across brain regions, researchers say they hope to study other areas of the brain involved with different types of decision-making and memories.“I hope this research inspires people to think of memory as something that is not static,” Harvey said. “Memories are active and integrally connected to the process of learning.”Co-authors on the study included Noah Pettit, Matthias Minderer, and Selmaan Chettih.This work was supported by a Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, the Searle Scholars Program, the New York Stem Cell Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation, a NARSAD Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Young Investigator Award, National Institutes of Health grants from the National Institute of Mental Health BRAINS program (R01MH107620) and from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (R01NS089521), an Armenise-Harvard Foundation Junior Faculty Grant, an Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Center Predoctoral Fellowship and Junior Faculty Award, the Albert J. Ryan Fellowship, and the Stuart H.Q. & Victoria Quan Fellowship.last_img read more

Hawaii Club prepares for its annual Luau

first_imgThe Hawaii Club will host its biggest event of the year, its annual Luau, this Saturday evening in the Dahnke Ballroom of the Duncan Student Center.The club will present a showcase of hula and Tahitian dances, along with popular authentic Hawaiian food, a photo booth and lei and tea leaf bracelet making stations.Sophomore Stephanie Araki, co-president of the Hawaii Club, said the club works with Hawaiian alumni in order to organize the event, and many alumni and relatives fly to Notre Dame to help with and attend the luau. “The alumni who fly in bring with them all of the foliage and flowers that we use in our stage decorations and centerpieces, so what everyone sees here is imported directly from Hawaii, which furthers the connection between our event and Hawaii,” Araki said.An important aspect of the luau is the entertainment portion, which features a number of dances choreographed by sophomore Tia Williams, vice president of the Hawaii Club, and sophomore Veronica Perez.“We have a women’s slow dance, a women’s fast dance, a men’s dance, a couples dance and a kahiko dance which is choreographed to a chant instead of a melody. For our finale, we like to do a well-known song, so it is usually a ‘Lilo and Stitch’ song,” Williams said.Williams said learning hula is a great way to learn more about Hawaiian culture and the language, specifically because every move is related to the lyrics which the performers are taught when they learn the dance.In between the dances, the emcee will explain some characteristics of Hawaiian culture and play some traditionally Hawaiian games to foster an understanding for Hawaiian society, Perez said.Hawaii’s separation from the rest of the United States produces a unique environment from other states, sophomore Kiana Caranto said.While functioning as a celebration of Hawaiian culture, Caranto said the luau is also meant to foster positive, familial sentiments indicative of Hawaiian attitudes.“Everyone in Hawaii takes family very seriously. I’m sure you have heard of ohana, which is the Hawaiian term for family,” Caranto said. “We also talk a lot about the concept of aloha and the aloha spirit, which encourages Hawaiians to be very welcoming and to act very much like a large family.”Araki said the organizers hope the luau will give students insights on general cultural differences and similarities, while also providing for an opportunity to appreciate Hawaiian culture.“Luaus in Hawaii are to welcome special guests into the community and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Araki said. “We’re trying to show everybody that we are family and we want everyone to be a part of our family as well.”Tags: Hawaii club, hula, luau, ohanalast_img read more

No People Test Positive For Coronavirus In Chautauqua County

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Justin Gould / WNYNewsNow.MAYVILLE – No people have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus as of 4 p.m. Thursday, according to an announcement from Chautauqua County officials during a press conference. “I am assuming the novel Coronavirus is circulating here (in Chautauqua County),” Chautauqua County Commissioner of Health Christine Schuyler said. “We know the virus is in our communities. That’s called community spread.”“If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.”There are 35 people in precautionary quarantine, according to Schuyler. Schuyler acknowledged there’s no vaccine. Schuyler said the county has “very limited” supplies for testing. She adds that she recommended to health care providers to be selective for who should be tested.Schuyler says officials have worked to reach out to the local Amish community throughout the situation. She says their schools are currently closed.Schuyler, however, said it’s important for the panic to be “dampened.”Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel said that there isn’t a definitive time for businesses to return to normal. Wendel said state officials will re-assess the situation in two week cycles.Wendel said, as soon as his office receives more information, he’ll release it to the public.The County Executive is asking people to take preventative measures, like washing hands, and be safe.“We have to be in our best fighting condition,” Schuyler adds.When asked if the County should cancel the Chautauqua Institution season, he said it would be “a little premature.” Wendel adds that President Michael Hill has coordinated with the County throughout the process.State Senator George Borrello, during the conference, called for New York State to utilize Lakeshore Hospital during the pandemic.Dr. Robert Burke said that cooperation between officials has been “marvelous.” Burke, along with Schuyler, Sheriff Jim Quatttrone and Wendel, are a part of a Coronavirus task force.last_img read more

Downy Mildew

first_imgGeorgia vegetable farmers should be on alert as downy mildew disease has been spotted in at least three southern Georgia counties this spring. Additional counties could follow as weather conditions remain favorable for the disease into early June, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension plant pathologist Bhabesh Dutta.Cucurbit crops — like cucumbers, melons, squashes and pumpkins — are susceptible to the disease. Dutta ranks downy mildew among the top diseases in cucurbit crops, along with Fusarium wilt and Phytophthora fruit rot.Downy mildew disease can destroy plant foliage and cause the leaves to curl and die. Without healthy leaves and vines, a plant is vulnerable to blisters and sunscald during hot days, conditions most of Georgia has experienced since early May.Much of the state has not experienced a substantial rainfall event since the weekend of May 11, and many growers have had no relief from temperatures that reached or eclipsed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.“We really need some balanced days, not full-blown sunshine with 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day like we’ve experienced here recently, and also not heavy dew nights,” Dutta said. “We need some cloudy days, but most importantly, we need some rain.”High temperatures during the day, followed by dew at night and in the early morning hours for the past three weeks, have led to the disease developing in cucurbit fields in Crisp, Decatur and Lowndes counties.“Most of our growers are doing preventative sprays for downy mildew. We do have fairly effective fungicides that can manage downy mildew. I think growers are diligently following UGA recommendations and they should continue to do so,” Dutta said.Growers need to be aware of what downy mildew symptoms look like and the damage it can inflict on vegetable crops. The pathogen thrives in wet, humid conditions and needs moisture on the surface of the plant for successful spore germination and further infection.The pathogen that causes downy mildew can’t survive a hard frost, so it overwinters in frost-free regions like southern Florida. During May and early June, wind currents blow the spores into Georgia.For up-to-date information about potential diseases impacting Georgia’s vegetable production, see read more

Hempstead Man Nabbed for Courthouse Bomb Threats

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York An admitted drugged driver was arrested for calling in bomb threats at a Nassau County courthouse near his Hempstead home where he was scheduled to be sentenced on Monday morning, authorities said.Melbis Hernandez, who had pleaded guilty in January to driving while under the influence of drugs, was about to be sentenced at First District Court on Main Street when he called in a pair of bomb threats shortly after 9 a.m., according to Nassau County police and court records.The building was evacuated, searched and found not to have any explosives inside. Investigators found that the second call came from a nearby payphone.The 25-year-old suspect was apprehended later the same day and charged with two counts of falsely reporting an incident.He will be arraigned Tuesday at the same courthouse to which he allegedly called in the bomb threats.last_img read more

Wake the sleeping giant: Your unengaged members

first_img 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Jesse Boyer Web: Details If your credit union or bank is like many DIgitalMailer clients, the number of unengaged – and unprofitable – customers is staggering: between 20 percent and 30 percent. For an institution that serves 50,000 consumers, that’s 10,000 to 15,000 people … and loads of potential new business for the taking.It’s time to wake them up!Huge opportunityFor today’s financial institutions, there’s a real opportunity for growth by focusing on the number of unengaged members noted in the annual reports on profitability.Reactivation and growth from unengaged members should be an ongoing strategy among marketers – with good reason. We know the cost to land a new customer is seven times more than maintaining an existing one, so motivating them to be more active with your institution could bump up your bottom line.But is your credit union doing all it can to make these important connections? Consider my colleague: To obtain the lowest rate, he financed his credit union car loan indirectly through a local car dealer (opening an account with a $5 deposit was a no brainer to get the great rate). After the loan was paid off, he became the typical “unengaged” member. When I asked why he didn’t use more services, he said he rarely heard from the credit union – only a handful of newsletters over four years.A wake-up call for financial institutions: Don’t assume members know your products or that they all connect through the same communication channel.Instead, develop a marketing plan to attract inactive members. Make it a priority for the new year, incorporating current technologies and mobile communications when possible. Doing so is both efficient and cost-effective. One proven, best-in-class strategy to consider is onboarding programs that include new-user surveys.Significant insightFinancial institutions have found success turning traditional new account openings into an onboarding process that includes a short survey to measure the needs and behaviors of new members.While the survey can measure satisfaction with the account opening experience, it also can offer insights into why they opened the new account, their preferred communication channels, their financial goals and their use of financial services at other institutions – all valuable information to help reengage members. Some institutions expand their surveys to include questions that help determine key life events that might be around the corner – such as a marriage, new baby, college tuition or retirement. You also may learn who in the household will be the primary manager of the new account and key decision maker.Another tip: Think of those unengaged as new members. Assume they are unaware of the many products and services available to them. You can easily modify your new member welcome campaigns and surveys toward educating those who are inactive. Share with them the benefits of working with your institution and invite them to participate in all you have to offer. Reach out to them … it might be just the nudge they need.Today, reconnecting your unengaged memberss can be fast, convenient and inexpensive. All you need is a list of their email addresses and DigitalMailer can provide the surveys and email engine to get you started. With a deeper knowledge of those who are unengaged and the right technology to personalize onboarding communications, you can expect sizable results.last_img read more

Florida Lawyer Charged With Extorting N.F.L. Player in Robbery Case

first_imgMr. Baker, 23, whom the Giants selected as the 30th overall pick of the 2019 N.F.L. draft and started in 15 of 16 games in his rookie season last year, was charged on Aug. 5 with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault. He was released by the team in early September. On Monday, Broward County prosecutors dropped all charges against Mr. Baker.- Advertisement – The lawyer representing three men who accused two N.F.L. players of robbery and assault in Florida was arrested on Monday morning and charged with attempting to extort roughly $800,000 from one of the athletes in exchange for having his clients alter their testimony.Four men accused the players of robbing them at gunpoint at a cookout on May 13, but three of them later recanted their testimony and the fourth refused to answer prosecutors’ questions, according to a statement from the Broward County state attorney.- Advertisement – A spokesperson for the New York Giants declined to comment via email. Mr. Dunbar, 28, still plays for the Seattle Seahawks, but the team announced on Nov. 13 that he was out with a knee injury.The case against Mr. Baker unraveled as the men who accused him began to change their story, or became uncooperative altogether. According to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Dean came under investigation in August after information emerged that he was trying to extort Mr. Baker.“The alleged victims and the known witnesses have become uncooperative and their credibility is inalterably tarnished,” Assistant State Attorney Paul R. Valcore said in a statement on Monday. One of Mr. Baker’s accusers refused to answer questions, and prosecutors moved to have that accuser held in contempt of court, Mr. Valcore said. The charges stem from the incident in May in Miramar, Fla., where, witnesses claimed, three men robbed people at a cookout of $70,000 in cash and jewelry after one of the men pulled a gun. The witnesses identified New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, Seattle Seahawks safety Quinton Dunbar and a man wearing a red mask as the perpetrators. The man in the red mask was never identified, and charges against Mr. Dunbar were dropped in August, according to The Miami Herald. – Advertisement – William DeanCredit…Broward County Sheriff’s Office William A. Dean, 50, the managing partner of the Florida law firm Ford, Dean & Rotundo, was charged in Broward County on Monday with soliciting payments for three clients in exchange for their changing their testimony or ceasing to cooperate with prosecutors. A woman who answered the phone at Ford, Dean & Rotundo said Mr. Dean was unavailable to speak. Further calls asking the firm for comment on Mr. Dean’s arrest resulted in the line being disconnected. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday that investigators believed that Mr. Dean wanted Mr. Baker to pay each of his clients more than $266,000 in exchange for either changing their testimony or refusing to cooperate further with prosecutors in the case. “Evidence in the case reveals that Dean told Baker’s attorney that his clients would do ‘anything you want, so long as the money is right,’” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.Mr. Dean was arrested by Broward County sheriff’s deputies and U.S. marshals in North Miami Beach early Monday morning.Citing a continuing investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Broward Sheriff’s Office, a spokeswoman for Broward County declined to comment further about the case against Mr. Dean.Bradford Cohen, Mr. Baker’s lawyer, said on Monday that his client was the victim of a shakedown, and that Mr. Dean had originally sought $1.5 million. No money ever changed hands, Mr. Cohen said.“These guys wanted money to go away,” Mr. Cohen said of the men who accused Mr. Baker, noting that the accusers’ testimony changed over time. “I hope the N.F.L. will look at this case and let cases play out before they decide to suspend a player.”Asked why the case was filed against Mr. Baker when there supposedly were dubious witnesses, Mr. Cohen said: “Because it was a high-profile case. Your fame is a detriment when you have a criminal case against you.” – Advertisement –last_img read more

Jumbo picks up North Sea decommissioning job from TAQA

first_imgJumbo, a provider of heavy lift transportation solutions, has been awarded an offshore decommissioning project in the North Sea by Abu Dhabi’s national energy company TAQA.MV Fairplayer; Source: JumboJumbo said on Friday that the deal with TAQA would involve the removal, transportation, and disposal of three subsea protection domes and piles.According to the company, the removal operation will take place in the offshore series of fields located in the P15 block 35 kilometers northwest of Hoek van Holland in the Dutch North Sea at a water depth of 26-28 meters.Jumbo added that the project was part of a North Sea decommissioning program, where much of the offshore oil and gas infrastructure is reaching the end of its productive life and must be safely removed.The company’s MV Fairplayer vessel was chosen to execute this project in 2019/2020. The team will recover and transport three subsea protection domes, each with a dry weight of 150 tonnes as well as removing nine piles. Furthermore, the pipelines and umbilicals at each dome will be buried with mattresses.It is worth noting that TAQA has proven and probable reserves of 12.5 mmboe in its Dutch portfolio and a total average daily production of 7.4 mboed.last_img read more

Ninteenth meeting of the council of ministers of CARIFORUM

first_imgLocalNews Ninteenth meeting of the council of ministers of CARIFORUM by: – November 24, 2011 23 Views   no discussions Image via: repeatingislands.comRoseau, Dominica –November 24, 2011– The Annual Meeting of CARIFORUM will be held in Dominica on November 25, 2011 at the Fort Young Hotel.This nineteenth meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) will be chaired by Dominica’s Minister for Employment, Trade, Industry and Diaspora Affairs, Honourable Dr. John Collin McIntyre.This CARIFORUM meeting is being held at a critical time in the EU-CARIFORUM relationship particularly, as the EU is currently looking at a new Aid Policy which inevitably will impact on a number of CARIFORUM states. Against this background, the meeting will pay close attention to the success of the region as it relates to its programme under the 10th EDF.The Council will also look closely at requests made by the EU for Political dialogue with CARIFORUM. The issues which the CARIFORUM representatives would like to form part of any political dialogue with the EU will be thoroughly discussed as part of the internal discussions by the Council of Ministers.Also forming part of the nineteenth CARIFORUM Meeting will be the outcome of the Trade and Development Committee on review of the EPA between the EU and CARIFORUM.All CARIFORUM Members States including Cuba and the Dominican Republic are expected to be represented at this high level meeting. A two day meeting of Senior Officers held here in Dominica which preceded this nineteenthCARIFORUM Meeting discussed proposals to be placed before the Council.Press ReleaseGovernment Information Service Share Sharing is caring!center_img Share Tweet Sharelast_img read more

DOJ to subpoena Pimentel for ‘quarantine breach’

first_img Prohibited acts under this law are punishable by a fine of P20,000 to P50,000 and/or one to six months of imprisonment. DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said the Justice department will immediately schedule a preliminary investigation on the complaint against Pimentel on an appropriate date given the Luzon-wide lockdown./PN DOJ Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said the preliminary investigation against COVID-19-positive senator is tentatively scheduled on May 20. Quicho slapped Pimentel with a complaint for allegedly violating Republic Act No. 11332 when he accompanied his then pregnant wife at the Makati Medical Center on March 24, despite undergoing testing for coronavirus disease or COVID-19 on March 20. Pimentel was only informed that he had tested positive for COVID-19 while at the hospital and that he immediately left.center_img Republic Act 11332 prohibits the “non-cooperation of persons or entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern,” and the “non-cooperation of persons who have been identified as having the notifiable disease, or those affected by the health event of public concern.” MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to subpoena Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Tuesday for supposedly violating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) quarantine protocol. Lawyer Rico Quicho, who filed the case against Pimentel, said that he received an order from the DOJ requiring him to appear within five days from the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine with hard copies of his complaint and annexes and to swear to his complaint under oath.last_img read more