Mapping molecular neighborhoods


At first glance, it seems counterintuitive. To learn more about how cells go awry causing disease, it seems logical to focus on the minutiae of a cell's molecular components: the specific genes, proteins, and small molecules that change over time leading to a disease state. Instead, Ernest Fraenkel, MIT associate professor in the Department of Biologic Engineering, first takes a macro view for finding new ways to understand and cure diseases. "When you are faced with making any sense of the 10,000 or 20,000 molecules that are present within a cell and evolve during disease, you need an entirely new approach to figure out what is really important among all the changes you see," Fraenkel explains. He develops computational and laboratory experimental methods to uncover the molecular pathways that go awry in disease and search for new strategies and intervention targets.

A rational decision making framework for inhibitory control

Neural Information Processing Systems

Intelligent agents are often faced with the need to choose actions with uncertain consequences, and to modify those actions according to ongoing sensory processing and changing task demands. The requisite ability to dynamically modify or cancel planned actions is known as inhibitory control in psychology. We formalize inhibitory control as a rational decision-making problem, and apply to it to the classical stop-signal task. Using Bayesian inference and stochastic control tools, we show that the optimal policy systematically depends on various parameters of the problem, such as the relative costs of different action choices, the noise level of sensory inputs, and the dynamics of changing environmental demands. Our normative model accounts for a range of behavioral data in humans and animals in the stop-signal task, suggesting that the brain implements statistically optimal, dynamically adaptive, and reward-sensitive decision-making in the context of inhibitory control problems.

An Intelligent Nutritional Assessment System

AAAI Conferences

Higher life expectancies lead to an increased prevalenceof dementia in older adults, which is projected torise dramatically in the future. The link between malnutritionand dementia highlights the need to closelymonitor nutrition as early as possible. However, currentself-report assessment methods are labor-intensive,time-consuming and inaccurate. Technology has the potentialof assisting in nutritional analysis by alleviatingthe cognitive load of recording food intake and lesseningthe burden of care for the elderly. Therefore, we proposean intelligent nutritional assessment system thatwill monitor the dietary patterns of older adults with dementiaat their homes. Our computer vision-based systemconsists of food recognition and portion estimationalgorithms that, together, provide nutritional analysisof an image of a meal. We create a novel food imagedataset on which we achieve an 87.2% recognition accuracy.We apply several well-known segmentation andrecognition algorithms and analyze their suitability tothe food recognition problem.

Using Sensor Technology to Monitor Disruptive Behavior of Persons With Dementia

AAAI Conferences

An anticipated increase in the number of people withdementia will lead to an escalation in health and socialcare spending unless it is altered by a major breakthroughin treatment or prevention. Behavioral symptomsassociated with dementia (BSD) are some of themost difficult problems faced by caregivers. Severalmeasurement issues have hampered the progress oftimely intervention for BSD. Sensor technology mayoffer a solution to the early detection of BSD that willguide the development of tailored interventions. Similarly,a clinical conceptualization of BSD and its measurementissues can facilitate the engineering of sensornetworks and algorithms for activity recognition. Multidisciplinarycollaboration and the consideration of ethicalissues will improve the adoption of these technologiesin healthcare research.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promotes fitness 'entrepreneur' who claims vaccines cause autism

The Independent - Tech

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has appeared on a podcast with a controversial fitness personality who has promoted scientifically disproven claims that vaccinations cause autism. Host Ben Greenfield – who tweeted in February that "vaccines do indeed cause autism" – thanked Mr Dorsey for an "epic podcast". The Twitter boss responded: "Great conversation and appreciate all you do to simplify the mountains of research focused on increasing one's healthspan! We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view. His appearance comes as other tech firms like Facebook and Pinterest are cracking down on anti-vaccine content on their platforms. However, Twitter claimed Mr Dorsey was unaware of the host's controversial opinions. A Twitter spokesperson told The Independent that Mr Dorsey did not know about Mr Greenfield's views on vaccinations and that his podcast appearance was not an endorsement of those beliefs. Sheen fought a legal battle against ex-wife Denise Richards to try and ...