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Author Correction: Cortical response selectivity derives from strength in numbers of synapses


In this Article, a funding statement was inadvertently omitted from the Acknowledgements section. The following sentence should be added at the end of the Acknowledgements: 'This work was supported by NIH grant R01 EY011488 (D.F.), NIH grant K99 EY031137 (B.S.), the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, and the Max Planck Society.' The original Article has been corrected online.

Fruit Fly Brain Hacked For Language Processing

Discover - Top Stories

One of the best-studied networks in neuroscience is the brain of a fruit fly, in particular, a part called the mushroom body. This analyzes sensory inputs such as odors, temperature, humidity and visual data so that the fly can learn to distinguish friendly stimuli from dangerous ones. Neuroscientists have long known how this section of the brain is wired. It consists of a set of cells called projection neurons that transmit the sensory information to a population of 2,000 neurons called Kenyon cells. The Kenyon cells are wired together to form a neural network capable of learning. This is how fruit flies learn to avoid potentially hazardous sensory inputs -- such as dangerous smells and temperatures -- while learning to approach foodstuffs, potential mates, and so on.

Four AI technologies that could transform the way we live and work


Joy Buolamwini from the MIT Media Lab says facial-recognition software has the highest error rates for darker-skinned females. New applications powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are being embraced by the public and private sectors. Their early uses hint at what's to come. In June 2020, IBM, Amazon and Microsoft announced that they were stepping back from facial-recognition software development amid concerns that it reinforces racial and gender bias. Amazon and Microsoft said they would stop selling facial-recognition software to police until new laws are passed in the United States to address potential human-rights abuses.

Google Reveals Major Hidden Weakness In Machine Learning

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Machine learning involves training a model with data so that it learns to spot or predict features. The Google team pick on the example of training a machine learning system to predict the course of a pandemic. Epidemiologists have built detailed models of the way a disease spreads from infected individuals to susceptible individuals, but not to those who have recovered and so are immune. Key factors in this spread are the rate of infection, often called R0, and length of time, D, that an infected individual is infectious. Obviously, a disease can spread more widely when it is more infectious and when people are infectious for longer.

London A.I. Lab Claims Breakthrough That Could Accelerate Drug Discovery

NYT > Technology

If DeepMind's methods can be refined, he and other researchers said, they could speed the development of new drugs as well as efforts to apply existing medications to new viruses and diseases. The breakthrough arrives too late to make a significant impact on the coronavirus. But researchers believe DeepMind's methods could accelerate the response to future pandemics. Some believe it could also help scientists gain a better understanding of genetic diseases along the lines of Alzheimer's or cystic fibrosis. Still, experts cautioned that this technology would affect only a small part of the long process by which scientists identify new medicines and analyze disease.

Building a chemical blueprint for human blood


Our blood transports many chemicals besides oxygen and carbon dioxide. Some of these molecules provide useful indicators of the state of our health. Indeed, measuring such biomarkers is a common feature of clinical blood tests. Other molecules present, such as hormones and drugs, directly affect health by modulating processes such as metabolism and immune responses. Writing in Nature, Bar et al.1 shed light on the factors that affect the recipe for human blood's chemical brew.

Should you send your kids back to school? A physician's guide


Should you send your children back to school? First consider COVID-19's local impact and your state's response No matter where you live or work, every parent of a school-age child is facing the same tough question: Should I send my kids back to school as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on? To gain a better understanding on how parents can be more informed about a safe return to school, I asked a practicing physician and one of my colleagues to provide practical and subject matter expert advice. Technology makes the shift possible, but challenges abound. Dr. Geeta Nayyar, M.D., M.B.A., is a nationally recognized leader in healthcare information technology, a physician executive, a frequently sought-after public speaker, and an author with unique perspectives that bridge clinical medicine, business, communications, and digital health.

Are Clogged Blood Vessels the Key to Treating Alzheimer's Disease?

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Citizen Science Salon is a partnership between Discover and In 2016, a team of Alzheimer's disease researchers at Cornell University hit a dead end. The scientists were studying mice, looking for links between Alzheimer's and blood flow changes in the brain. For years, scientists have known that reduced blood flow in the brain is a symptom of Alzheimer's disease. More recent research has also shown that this reduced blood flow can be caused by clogged blood vessels -- or "stalls." And by reversing these stalls in mice, scientists were able to restore their memory.

Artificial-intelligence tools aim to tame the coronavirus literature


New AI technologies are helping scientists to sort through the wealth of COVID-19 papers -- hopefully hastening the research process.Credit: Adapted from Getty The COVID-19 literature has grown in much the same way as the disease's transmission: exponentially. But a fast-growing set of artificial-intelligence (AI) tools might help researchers and clinicians to quickly sift through the literature. Driven by a combination of factors -- including the availability of a large collection of relevant papers, advances in natural-language processing (NLP) technology and the urgency of the pandemic itself -- these tools use AI to find the studies that are most relevant to the user, and in some cases to extract specific findings from the results. Beyond the current pandemic, such tools could help to bridge fields by making it easier to identify solutions from other disciplines, says Amalie Trewartha, one of the team leads for the literature-search tool COVIDScholar, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. The tools are still in development, and their utility is largely unproven.

Zipline drones deliver supplies and PPE to US hospitals

BBC News - Technology

Drone firm Zipline has been given the go-ahead to deliver medical supplies and personal protective equipment to hospitals in North Carolina. The firm will be allowed to use drones on two specified routes after the Federal Aviation Administration granted it an emergency waiver. It is the first time the FAA has allowed beyond-line-of-sight drone deliveries in the US. Experts say the pandemic could help ease some drone-flight regulations. Zipline, which has been negotiating with the FAA, wants to expand to other hospitals and eventually offer deliveries to people's homes.