Complexity Digest 2008.46    14-Nov-2008

PDF files of our annual editions are available at www.comdig.de/AnnualEditions.html

A
letter from Gottfried Mayer to our readers and friends is at http://www.comdig.de/GMLetter.html
  Archive: http://comdig.unam.mx
  "I think the next century will be the century of complexity." Stephen Hawking, 2000.

  1. Biology, Politics, and the Emerging Science of Human Nature, Science
  2. E-Science: The Added Value For Modern Discovery, Computer
  3. Being Human: Language: A Social History Of Words, Nature
  4. Entrained Rhythmic Activities Of Neuronal Ensembles As Perceptual Memory Of Time Interval, Nature
  5. Consciousness and Anesthesia, Science
  6. Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and the Neurogenetics of Sociality, Science
    1. Wanted: Math Gene, Science
  7. Human Genes Are Multitaskers - Up To 94% Of Human Genes Can Generate Different Products., Nature
    1. DNA Chunks, Chimps And Humans: Marks Of Differences Between Human And Chimp Genomes, Innovations-report
  8. The "Neuro" in Neurogenetics, Science
  9. "Who" Is Saying "What"? Brain-Based Decoding of Human Voice and Speech, Science
  10. Spontaneous Changes of Neocortical Code for Associative Memory During Consolidation, Science
    1. Reverse Hierarchies And Sensory Learning, Phil. Tran. Biol. Sc.
  11. Camouflage And Visual Perception, Phil. Tran. Biol. Sc.
  12. Robots Show That Brain Activity Is Linked To Time As Well As Space, ScienceDaily
  13. How Evolution Learns From Past Environments To Adapt To New Environments, ScienceDaily
  14. Neuroscience: Overcoming Inhibitions, Science
  15. The Forest, Its Biodiversity, And Human Intrusion, Innovations-report
    1. Population Biology: Case Of The Absent Lemmings, Nature
  16. Climate Change: Chinese Cave Speaks of a Fickle Sun Bringing Down Ancient Dynasties, Science
  17. Oil Company Blamed For Mud-Volcano Eruption, Nature
  18. Complexity: 5 Questions, complexes.blogspot.com
  19. Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Networks
    1. Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda, NY Times
  20. Links & Snippets
    1. Other Publications
    2. Webcast Announcements
    3. Conference Announcements
    4. Other Announcements

  1. Biology, Politics, and the Emerging Science of Human Nature, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Unbeknownst to most political scientists, psychologists and behavioral geneticists began using twin studies in the 1980s to study variation in social attitudes, and these studies suggested that both genes and environment played a role. However, this early work did not specifically pursue the question of whether political orientations were heritable, and political scientists remained largely unaware of the heritability of social attitudes until 2005. In that year, the American Political Science Review published a reanalysis of political questions on a social attitude survey of twins that suggested that liberal and conservative ideologies are heritable.

  2. E-Science: The Added Value For Modern Discovery, Computer Bookmark and Share

    Excerpt: Traditionally, science has been divided into two conceptual branches-theoretical and experimental-which have been the source of scientific discovery and results for many centuries. Since the introduction of electronic digital computing, however, a new approach based on computer simulation has emerged and is increasingly being adopted as one of the most successful modern methods for experimental scientific discovery. One of the main reasons for the success of e-Science has been the rapid development of novel computer technologies that has led to the creation of complex and powerful distributed systems (...).

  3. Being Human: Language: A Social History Of Words, Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: The evolution of language probably occurred in concert with the evolution of many of the other traits we associate with being human, such as the ability to fashion tools or a strong propensity to learn. If this is true, it suggests that we shouldn't be trying to understand one characteristically human trait in isolation from the others. Moreover, instead of the brain being a collection of separate modules, each dedicated to a specific trait or capacity, humans are likely to have a complex cognitive architecture that is highly interconnected on multiple levels.

  4. Entrained Rhythmic Activities Of Neuronal Ensembles As Perceptual Memory Of Time Interval, Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: After repetitive visual conditioning stimulation (CS) of zebrafish larvae, we observed rhythmic post-CS activities among specific tectal neuronal ensembles, with a regular interval that closely matched the CS. Visuomotor behaviour of the zebrafish larvae also showed regular post-CS repetitions at the entrained time interval that correlated with rhythmic neuronal ensemble activities in the tectum. Thus, rhythmic activities among specific neuronal ensembles may act as an adjustable 'metronome' for time intervals in the order of seconds, and serve as a mechanism for the short-term perceptual memory of rhythmic sensory experience.

  5. Consciousness and Anesthesia, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: When we are anesthetized, we expect consciousness to vanish. But does it always? Although anesthesia undoubtedly induces unresponsiveness and amnesia, the extent to which it causes unconsciousness is harder to establish. For instance, certain anesthetics act on areas of the brain's cortex near the midline and abolish behavioral responsiveness, but not necessarily consciousness. Unconsciousness is likely to ensue when a complex of brain regions in the posterior parietal area is inactivated.

  6. Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and the Neurogenetics of Sociality, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: There is growing evidence that the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin modulate complex social behavior and social cognition. These ancient neuropeptides display a marked conservation in gene structure and expression, yet diversity in the genetic regulation of their receptors seems to underlie natural variation in social behavior, both between and within species. Human studies are beginning to explore the roles of these neuropeptides in social cognition and behavior and suggest that variation in the genes encoding their receptors may contribute to variation in human social behavior by altering brain function.

    1. Wanted: Math Gene, Science Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: The team found a modest correlation between spatial and logical reasoning skills and certain variations in this gene.

      But this study is one of very few to find any connection between genes and IQ--and it has yet to be replicated. This situation reflects a major paradox. Cognitive abilities are among the most genetically influenced of human behavioral traits: In studies over the years, scientists have estimated that somewhere between 40% to 80% of the variation in individual IQ scores in a given population is attributable to individual genetic differences. This is comparable to the genetic influence on height. Yet IQ genes have so far been impossible to nail down.


  7. Human Genes Are Multitaskers - Up To 94% Of Human Genes Can Generate Different Products., Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Most genes are made from sections of DNA found at different locations along a strand. The data encoded in these fragments are joined together into a functional messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule that can be used as a template to generate proteins.

    But researchers have found that the same gene can be assembled in different ways, sometimes leaving out a piece, for example, or including a bit of the intervening DNA sequence.

    (...)

    This process, called alternative splicing, can produce mRNA molecules and proteins with dramatically different functions, despite being formed from the same gene.


    1. DNA Chunks, Chimps And Humans: Marks Of Differences Between Human And Chimp Genomes, Innovations-report Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: Researchers have carried out the largest study of differences between human and chimpanzee genomes, identifying regions that have been duplicated or lost during evolution of the two lineages. (...) "By looking at only one 'reference' sequence for human or chimpanzee, as has been done previously, it is not possible to tell which differences occur only among individual chimpanzees or humans and which are differences between the two species. (...) Rather than examining single-letter differences in the genomes (so-called SNPs), the researchers looked at copy number variation (CNV) - the gain or loss of regions of DNA. (...)

  8. The "Neuro" in Neurogenetics, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: One area of neurogenetics seeks the molecular basis for complex behaviors that range from mate choice in flies and social status in fish, to fidelity in voles and humans. Our intuition tells us that it should be easier to identify the mechanism underlying a simple reflex behavior (escape from threat) than a complex one (mate selection). But recent findings suggest that apparently simple genetic mechanisms may underlie some ostensibly complex behaviors. The field is just beginning to identify mechanisms for adaptive behaviors that are both parsimonious and profound.

  9. "Who" Is Saying "What"? Brain-Based Decoding of Human Voice and Speech, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Can we decipher speech content ("what" is being said) and speaker identity ("who" is saying it) from observations of brain activity of a listener? Here, we combine functional magnetic resonance imaging with a data-mining algorithm and retrieve what and whom a person is listening to from the neural fingerprints that speech and voice signals elicit in the listener's auditory cortex. These cortical fingerprints are spatially distributed and insensitive to acoustic variations of the input so as to permit the brain-based recognition of learned speech from unknown speakers and of learned voices from previously unheard utterances.

  10. Spontaneous Changes of Neocortical Code for Associative Memory During Consolidation, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: After learning, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) gradually comes to modulate the expression of memories that initially depended on the hippocampus. We show that during this consolidation period, neural firing in the mPFC becomes selective for the acquired memories. After acquisition of memory associations, neuron populations in the mPFC of rats developed sustained activity during the interval between two paired stimuli, but reduced activity during the corresponding interval between two unpaired stimuli. These new patterns developed over a period of several weeks after learning, with and without continued conditioning trials.

    1. Reverse Hierarchies And Sensory Learning, Phil. Tran. Biol. Sc. Bookmark and Share

      Abstract: Revealing the relationships between perceptual representations in the brain and mechanisms of adult perceptual learning is of great importance, potentially leading to significantly improved training techniques both for improving skills in the general population and for ameliorating deficits in special populations. In this review, we summarize the essentials of reverse hierarchy theory for perceptual learning in the visual and auditory modalities and describe the theory's implications for designing improved training procedures, for a variety of goals and populations.
      • Source: Review. Reverse Hierarchies And Sensory Learning, M. Ahissar, M. Nahum, I. Nelken, S. Hochstein, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0253, Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 2008/11/04
      • Contributed by Pritha Das - prithadas01ayahoo.com

  11. Camouflage And Visual Perception, Phil. Tran. Biol. Sc. Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: How does an animal conceal itself from visual detection by other animals? This review paper seeks to identify general principles that may apply in this broad area. It considers mechanisms of visual encoding, of grouping and object encoding, and of search. In most cases, the evidence base comes from studies of humans or species whose vision approximates to that of humans. The effort is hampered by a relatively sparse literature on visual function in natural environments and with complex foraging tasks. (...) Finally, the paper considers how we may understand the processes of search for complex targets in complex scenes. (...)
    • Source: Review. Camouflage And Visual Perception, T. Troscianko, C. P. Benton, P. G. Lovell, D. J. Tolhurst, Z. Pizlo, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0218, Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 2008/11/06
    • Contributed by Pritha Das - prithadas01ayahoo.com

  12. Robots Show That Brain Activity Is Linked To Time As Well As Space, ScienceDaily Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Humanoid robots have been used to show that that functional hierarchy in the brain is linked to time as well as space. Researchers from RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan, have created a new type of neural network model which adds to the previous literature that suggests neural activity is linked solely to spatial hierarchy within the animal brain. (...) An animal's motor control system contains a functional hierarchy, whereby small, reusable parts of movements are flexibly integrated to create various action sequences. For example, the action of drinking a cup of coffee can be broken down into a combination of small movements (...).

  13. How Evolution Learns From Past Environments To Adapt To New Environments, ScienceDaily Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: The evolution of novel characteristics within organisms can be enhanced when environments change in a systematic manner, according to a new study (...) suggest that in environments that vary over time in a non-random way, evolution can learn the rules of the environment and develop organisms that can readily generate novel useful traits with only a few mutations. (...) The ability to generate novelty is one of the main mysteries in evolutionary theory. (...) began with the observation that environments in nature seemingly vary according to common rules or regularities. They proposed that organisms can learn how previous environments changed, and then use this information (...).

  14. Neuroscience: Overcoming Inhibitions, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: Two reasons why injured neurons of the central nervous system fail to regenerate are inhibition by myelin proteins and a signaling pathway that blocks axon growth.

    Nervous system injuries and neurological diseases often result in loss of sensation and paralysis that are irreversible. This is in part because neurons in the central nervous system are unable to regrow long cellular processes (axons) after they are damaged. Thus, neurons lose the interconnections that are vital for nervous system function. On page 967 and 963 of this issue, Atwal et al. (1) and Park et al. (2) reveal two molecular mechanisms that contribute to this failure to regenerate, pointing to new potential therapeutics.


  15. The Forest, Its Biodiversity, And Human Intrusion, Innovations-report Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: The forest is managed and used by humans to produce energy, build, regulate certain ecological processes (floods, erosion), provide recreational areas, etc. It is also an important reservoir for biological diversity, a key element in tomorrow's forest productivity. Cemagref's "Forest, nature, and biodiversity" project, (...) aims to compare the biodiversity of harvested and unharvested forests to determine the response of biodiversity to forest harvesting. This approach, hitherto unheard of in France, should provide tools to better manage forest resources. (...)

    1. Population Biology: Case Of The Absent Lemmings, Nature Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: They first demonstrate statistically that climate change means that Norway now gets a lot of the wrong sort of snow. Lemmings do well when warmth from the ground melts a small layer of snow above it, leaving a gap between ground and snow. This subnivean space provides warmth and allows lemmings to feed in relative safety from many of the animals that eat them. Climate change now means that the subnivean space does not exist for as much of each year as it used to. Worse still, the space itself is less likely to form: warmer temperatures mean that snow melts and refreezes, producing a sheet of ice that prevents lemmings from feeding on the moss.

  16. Climate Change: Chinese Cave Speaks of a Fickle Sun Bringing Down Ancient Dynasties, Science Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: A 1.2-meter-long chunk of stalagmite from a cave in northern China recorded the waning of Asian monsoon rains that helped bring down the Tang dynasty in 907 C.E., researchers report on page 940 of this week's issue of Science. A possible culprit, they conclude: a temporary weakening of the sun, which also seems to have contributed to the collapse of Maya civilization in Mesoamerica and the advance of glaciers in the Alps.

  17. Oil Company Blamed For Mud-Volcano Eruption, Nature Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: PT Lapindo Brantas, the oil company, says the cause was an earthquake that had struck two days beforehand.

    But the majority of scientists attending the meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, voted that the tremors had hit too far away for them to be responsible. Some researchers presented data showing that the pressure created by the company's drilling was sufficient to break a path for deep mud to rupture the surface.


  18. Complexity: 5 Questions, complexes.blogspot.com Bookmark and Share

    Excerpts: This volume consists of short, interview-style contributions by leading figures in the field of complexity, based on five questions. The answers trace their personal experience and expose their views on the definition, aspects, problems and future of complexity. The aim of the book is to bring together the opinions of researchers with different backgrounds on the emerging study of complex systems. In this way, we will see similarities and differences, agreements and debates among the approaches of different schools. Paperback: 156 pages
    • Source: Complexity: 5 Questions, Carlos Gershenson (Editor),, DOI: ISBN-10: 8792130135, complexes.blogspot.com, 08/11/11

  19. Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Networks Bookmark and Share


    1. Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda, NY Times Bookmark and Share

      Excerpts: The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

      These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said.


  20. Links & Snippets Bookmark and Share


    1. Other Publications Bookmark and Share

      1. Methods Derived From Nonlinear Dynamics For Analysing Heart Rate Variability, J. Rittweger, P. E. di Prampero, N. Maffulli, M. V. Narici, 2008/10/31, Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2008.0232
      2. Nonlinear Dynamic And Pattern Bifurcations In A Model For Spatial Patterns In Young Mussel Beds, R.-H. Wang, Q.-X. Liu, G.-Q. Sun, Z. Jin, J. van de Koppel, 2008/11/04, Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2008.0439
      3. Computer That Reacts To Thought A Lifeline For Brain Injured, 2008/11/06, ScienceDaily & University of Portsmouth
      4. Rocks Could Be Harnessed To Sponge Vast Amounts Of CO2 From Air: Proposed Method Would Speed Natural Reactions A Million Times, 2008/11/07, Innovations-report
      5. Bullies May Enjoy Seeing Others In Pain, 2008/11/07, ScienceDaily & University of Chicago
      6. The Top 10 Greatest Geeks Of All Time: Magnificent Minds That Shaped The World Of Computing, I. Thomson, S. Nichols, 2008/11/08, vnunet.com
      7. Intelligent Social Network Analysis Using Granular Computing, R. R. Yager - yagerapanix.com, Nov. 2008, Online 2008/09/18, International Journal of Intelligent Systems, DOI: 10.1002/int.20314
      8. The Uncertain Future Of Human Security In The UN, T. Owen - taylor.owenajesus.ox.ac.uk, Sep. 2008, International Social Science Journal, DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2451.2008.00629.x
      9. The Influence Of Chinese Perceptions Of Modernisation On The Value Of Education: A Case Study Of Chinese Students In New Zealand, L. Bai - limin.baiavuw.ac.nz, Sep. 2008, China: An International Journal, DOI: 10.1142/S0219747208000149

    2. Webcast Announcements Bookmark and Share

      1. Can Ants Solve Traffic Jams?, Danielle Parsons, Slatev.com, 08/07/22

        As roads and highways become ever more clogged, Danielle Parsons tells us how researchers are studying ways to learn from nature's own traffic-flow experts: ants.

      2. 7th Intl Conf on Complex Systems (ICCS), Boston, MA, 07/10/28-11/02
      3. Reseau Nationale des Systemes Complexes , (in French), 2007
      4. World Economic Forum , Davos, Switzerland, 08/01/22-27
      5. TED Talks, TED Conferences LLC , since 2006
      6. Talking Robots: The PodCast on Robotics and AI, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland, 06/11/03
      7. Potentials of Complexity Science for Business, Governments, and the Media 2006, Budapest, Hungary, 06/08/03-05
      8. 6th Intl Conf on Complex Systems (ICCS), Boston, MA, 06/06/25-30
      9. Artificial Life X, 10th Intl Conf on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, Bloomington, IN, USA. 2006/06/03-07
      10. 6th Understanding Complex Systems Symposium, Urbana-Champaign, Il, 06/05/15-18
      11. Ralph Abraham on Complexity Digest, , Calcutta, India, 05/12/27
      12. An Afternoon with Michael Crichton, Washington, 05/11/06
      13. Illuminating the Shadow of the Future, Ann Arbor, Mi 05/09/23-25
      14. Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems - Brainstorming Meeting, Paris, France 05/09/19-23
      15. Complexity, Science & Society Conference 2005, U. Liverpool, UK 2005/09/11-14
      16. ECAL 2005 - VIIIth European Conference on Artificial Life, Canterbury, Kent, UK 2005/09/5-9
      17. T. Irene Sanders, Executive Director and Founder, The Washington Center for Complexity & Public Policy, 05/08/27, QuickTime video (10:38 min), Podcast
      18. North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity 2005 Conference, Virtual Conference Network, St. Pete's Beach, Florida, 05/06/09-11
      19. Understanding Complex Systems - Computational Complexity and Bioinformatics, Virtual Conference Network, Urbana-Champaign, Il, UIUC, 05/05/16-19
      20. Nonlinearity, Fluctuations, and Complexity, with a celebration of the 65th birthday of Gregoire Nicolis. , Complexity Session, Universite' Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, 05/03/16
      21. 1st European Conference on Complex Systems, Torino, Italy, 04/12/5-7
      22. From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology: A Tribute to Francisco Varela (1946-2001), Paris, France, 2004/06/18-20
      23. Evolutionary Epistemology, Language, and Culture, Brussels, Belgium, 04/05/26-28
      24. International Conference on Complex Systems 2004, Boston, 04/05/16-21
      25. Nonlinear Dynamics And Chaos: Lab Demonstrations, Strogatz, Steven H., Internet-First University Press, 1994
      26. CERN Webcast Service, Streamed videos of Archived Lectures and Live Events
      27. Dean LeBaron's Archive of Daily Video Commentary, Ongoing Since February 1998
      28. Edge Videos


    3. Conference Announcements Bookmark and Share

      1. 2008 IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on Web Intelligence (WI-08), Sydney, Australia, 08/12/09-12
      2. "Approaching Complexity" Workshop, IT Revolutions, Venice, 08/12/17-19
      3. COMPLEX'2009, First Intl Conf on Complex Systems: Theory and Applications, Shanghai, China, 09/02/23-25
      4. 3rd Biennial International Transdisciplinary Seminar on the Complexity Approach, Camaguey, Cuba. 09/02/23-27
      5. Models and Simulations 3 Conference, Charlottesville, USA 09/03/05-07
      6. 2nd Conf on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI-09.org), Arlington, Virginia, 09/03/06-09
      7. 2009 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence, Nashville, Tennessee, USA,09/03/30-04/02
      8. 7th Annual Bio-IT World Conference & Expo, 09/04/27-29, Boston, MA
      9. 2nd Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference (CHAOS2009), Chania, Crete, Greece, 09/06/01-05
      10. 2009 Intl Conf of the System Dynamics Society, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 09/07/26-30
      11. 5th Intl Conf on Fractals and Dynamic Systems in Geoscience, Townsville, Australia, 09/08/13-14


    4. Other Announcements Bookmark and Share

      1. A short notice from Dean LeBaron

        Dear ComDig Readers,

        Our editor, Dr. Gottfried Mayer, is affectionately esteemed by many of you -- as readers, you know he devotes himself unselfishly to widening our knowledge of complexity science. He was recently diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and given a timetable of a very few years. Knowing Gottfried, you can imagine that, in addition to the customary processes of chemotherapy, he would explore other frontier therapies, especially those arising out of interdisciplinary applications of complexity. These are expensive ... if he can find them.

        Many of you have sent your good wishes and indicated your desire to assist. With Gottfried's permission, I am posting this note with information, below, about how to send contributions to him. Please indicate the source since Gottfried will want to express his warm gratitude.

        I know that Gottfried, the good scientist that he is, will explain from time to time what he is doing and what the results are ... and we will follow his progress with great interest and hope.

        Dean LeBaron
        Publisher, Complexity Digest

        Bank Information:

        If your contribution is made by check:
        Please mail the check, payable to "Gottfried Mayer", to:
        Manufacturers & Traders Trust
        2080 Western Avenue
        20 Mall
        Guilderland, NY 12084 USA
        (on the back of the check, please write: "For Deposit Only: Account # 983 338 3814")

        If your contribution is made by wire:
        Manufacturers & Traders Trust
        2080 Western Avenue
        20 Mall

        Guilderland, NY 12084 USA
        SWIFT Code# MANTUS33
        UID: 209 791
        ABA routing # 022 00 00 46 [for US wire transfers]
        Account # 983 338 3814
        Ref. Gottfried Mayer




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