Science (category filter × )

Study shows, for the first time, that giving Oxytocin to men with autism can have lasting positive effects

nieuws.kuleuven.be
  • Scientists tested Oxytocin on a group of 40 adult men with autism (half of them were given placebo).
  • First, the team tested how much Oxytocin the men’s bodies produced.
  • Secondly, the men were given Oxytocin (in nasal spray) for four weeks.
  • This generated positive effects (less repetitive behavior, easier relationship forming) for up to a year after receiving the Oxytocin.
  • But this study is just the first step, a lot more studies will have to be performed before Oxytocin is used in a drug for autistic patients.

First use of computer simulations to explain cultural anthropology

u-tokyo.ac.jp
  • First-of-its-kind study combines computer simulations and cultural anthropology in an attempt to explain how universal social structures are created.
  • While the simulation is still basic, it already provided insights into how incest taboo develops—it comes from a desire to have spouses that are different from us.
  • The team will continue working on the simulation, and it might be especially useful for anthropologists to explain what they observe in real communities.

Reinforcement learning might be the best path to advanced AI, because it’s the same algorithm that brains use

technologyreview.com
  • Brains acquire skills through reinforcement learning -- like AI, but with dopamine instead of reward functions.
  • New research from DeepMind shows just how closely reinforcement-learning AI and brains are connected.
  • They’re attempting to explain the brain’s dopamine system through the lens of a new algorithm, which predicts rewards as a distribution (as opposed to a number).
  • After a test with mice, they found evidence that the brain does indeed use distributional reward predictions to improve its learning algorithm.
  • The fact that brains use it validates reinforcement learning as a promising path to advanced AI, and opens up new avenues for neuroscientific research.

Elusive mathematical mystery one step closer to being solved

quantamagazine.org
  • New clues to a notoriously unsolvable mathematical conundrum.
  • Mathematician Terence Tao used Partial Differential Equations to model the progression of the Collatz conjecture.
  • The key question therein is whether all numbers reach 1 after a process of multiplying by 3 and adding 1 (if it’s odd) and dividing by 2 (if it’s even).
  • Tao’s answer is that almost all numbers eventually reach a value close to 1.
  • It’s the closest that anybody has gotten to solving the Collatz conjecture, but it’s still not complete, and will probably require more than differential equations to solve.

Degeneration of neurons in rat brains stopped with pre- and probiotic treatment

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • Rat-based study of whether modifying gut microbiota could help neurons in the brain live longer.
  • After being a treatment of pro- and prebiotics, the rat brains showed some improvement.
  • It shows that loss of memory and cognition can indeed be slowed down by modifying the gut microbiota (at least in rats).
  • Further studies will attempt to apply these findings in order to derive treatments against neurodegeneration and inflammation caused by aging and strokes.

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Categories

  • Science Science (59) Study shows, for the first time, that giving Oxytocin to men with autism can have lasting positive effects
  • Psychology Psychology (64) You’re more likely to make a decision when you breathe out
  • Cosmos Cosmos (29) Astronomers witness the dragging of space-time in stellar cosmic dance
  • History History (14) Humans survived off rodents in the mountains during the last ice age, study says
  • Society Society (65) The start-up bubble is finally bursting (a little bit)
  • Medicine Medicine (65) Scientists discover powerful antibiotic using AI
  • Technology Technology (70) Polymer patch could reduce negative effects of cardiac scar tissue
  • Nature Nature (45) Scientists are trying to save bees with special bacteria for bee gut microbiome