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My daughters and I collaborated in a nice cross disciplinary study.

Here is what I am reading today:

“(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at Harvard University has found that the drug Valproate (valproic acid—normally used as a mood stabilizer) appears to offer a reset switch of sorts—those that take it find a part of their brain, the researchers say, resorting to that of a child—open to suggestion—and able to allow for learning to gain (absolute) perfect pitch. In their paper published in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, the researchers describe a study they undertook of Valproate, where mice given the drug were able to develop skills generally only possible learned as pups and where human volunteers were able make gains in learning to have perfect pitch.”

“Deanna Barch talks fast, as if she doesn’t want to waste any time getting to the task at hand, which is substantial. She is one of the researchers here at Washington University working on the first interactive wiring diagram of the living, working human brain….

“When it comes to other events of 2014, partisans largely agree on what they are looking forward to. The Olympics and Super Bowl are high on both parties’ lists, while the World Cup ranks much lower; roughly equal shares are looking forward to this summer’s international soccer tournament (22% overall). However, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they are especially looking forward to the Academy Awards (36% vs. 20%).”

“Recently, Casali et al have presented a quantitative metric. It provides, according to the authors, a numerical measure of consciousness, separating vegetative states from minimally conscious states. The study provides hints of being able to identify the enigmatic locked-in state, in which the subject is conscious but is unable to communicate with the external world due to motor deficits. What is most interesting is the claim that the measures provide scientific insight into consciousness, by providing an objective measure.”

“We hope you’re not afraid of heights, because this even made our palms sweat. What you see below is a mountain in China called Mt. Hua Shan. At its base, you’ll find a gigantic set of stone stairs, called “the Heavenly Stairs.””

“Friends come and go, but the number of close friends you have may remain surprisingly constant. That’s the main result from a new study in which researchers used cell phone data from British secondary school students as they transitioned to university to track how many close social connections they maintained. The research also suggests that people have distinct social “signatures,” or patterns of intimacy with others, which they tend to maintain over time.”


Alexandra Grundler · January 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm

I found the article about friendship very interesting, though not at all surprising. I know from personal experience, first and foremost, and of course the observation of others around me that friendships are not always lasting. Especially at the age of preadolescence to young adulthood, one may find the drift from friend group to another. I had always assumed this was due to the fact that everyone changes so drastically that the friend groups simply follow suit with that change. Upon second review, that may be a misguided assumption. It seems to me that since we retain the same preference in number and amount of intimacy needed within our friend group and not the actual friends themselves, that we are actually changing much less than we think we are (Or, rather, I thought we were). Also upon reflection of my life choices in the aspect of friends, I think change was primarily made to further the development of myself rather than distinctive changes in myself or my character (or anyone elses for that matter). Our friends may change, but we remain the same.

Alexandra Grundler · January 10, 2014 at 10:55 am

The world’s most dangerous trail looks incredible. As a lover of the great outdoors, I am very tempted to put this on my bucket list. On the other hand, I have never considered myself much of an adrenaline junkie and am, therefore, very uneasy at the sight of this trail. One thing I think would be an incredibly interesting study is to neurologically study what I termed “uneasiness.” I think that is really undermining it. I think for me it would be much closer to a panic attack. But anyway, if MEG recordings could be mobilized, that would be a fascinating study.

jgabovich · January 21, 2014 at 10:20 pm

It is interesting to see how some adrenaline could affect a person’s decisions. Adrenaline can either cause an impulsive decision that is later regretted or lead the person to reach new heights and in this case it is meant quite literally. I would be curious to find out how many people complete this treacherous journey each year. Any number more than 1 is very shocking because although most people realize it is a very dangerous trail that could easily end in death the interest to complete it continues. I would imagine that after going this far outside of your comfort zone, nothing else would seem frightening. But I wonder is this a healthy way of stepping out of your comfort zone or is it possible to develop anxiety due to this seemingly stressful journey? If so, why are people willing to travel up this mountain. The tea house does not seem like a reward worth risking one’s life for so people are most likely doing it for the thrill rather than some reward at the end. But how much thrill is too much?

jnlui · March 10, 2014 at 11:12 am

The article on friendship is really relate able, because in this day in age many people deem popularity or social status on the amount of Facebook friends or social media connections one has. But once we get rid of those platforms, many times the most popular people have just as many friends as those who have average amount of social media friends. If anything, they may have even less “real” friends. It is interesting to see now how relationships have changed especially with different forms of communication, and how close certain people are depending on there interactions of communications. At the end of the day though it goes to show that talking verbally or in person is still the fastest most reliable way to get to truly know someone.

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