The brain is integrally involved with eyes to make vision meaningful and responsive.A computer is useless without software. In the same way, the “hardware” of the eyes does not see anything. It’s the integration of the eyes with the brain and with programmed processes that allows us to make sense of the visual world—including reading this article right now. Here are a few of the fascinating ways this interaction works, as revealed in new scientific discoveries.Circuit in the Eye Relies on Built-in Delay to See Small Moving Objects (Science Daily). A programmed delay keeps us from getting overwhelmed with detail when moving our heads. “When we move our head, the whole visual world moves across our eyes,” the article says. “Yet we can still make out a bee buzzing by or a hawk flying overhead, thanks to unique cells in the eye called object motion sensors.” The programmed delay ensures that “information from the central field of view and from the periphery arrive at the object motion sensor at the same time.” All this involves specific cells, proteins and genes at the molecular level, but that’s why you can detect the difference between a hawk flying slowly and the clouds in the background.Neuroscience: Tiny Eye Movements Link Vision and Attention (Current Biology). You try to hold a camera steady, but eyes are not like cameras. “A new study shows that the tiny eye movements we make while holding our gaze on a point of interest are associated with brief, attention-like changes in the sensitivity of visual neurons,” Adam P. Morris writes. These movements, indeed, are essential to vision, even though we are unaware of them.Textbooks sometimes use the analogy of a camera to teach students about human vision. Although the analogy has value, it encourages the false notion that our brain constructs our visual experience from still images of the outside world. The brain’s cameras — the eyes — are never truly stationary, even when we feel that our gaze is locked on a point in the visual scene. As a result, the input to the brain is a jerky, drifting, and disjointed image stream. How does the brain make sense of this input? A study by Chen et al. published recently in Current Biology suggests that a class of tiny eye movements known as ‘microsaccades’ are closely linked with mechanisms that prioritize how visual information is processed over space and time. Recording from single neurons in alert macaque monkeys, the authors show that neurons in the frontal eye fields and superior colliculus become especially sensitive to visual input just before the onset of these tiny eye movements (Figures 1A,B). Moreover, this enhancement is spatially specific — albeit coarsely — such that the region of the visual field that is prioritized depends on the direction of the eye movement (Figures 1C,D). These changes in visual sensitivity resemble those seen in experiments that manipulate visual attention. This suggests that, even at very fine temporal and spatial scales, sensory and oculomotor systems act in concert to coordinate visual processing.Morris has no explanation for how this arose, except to say in passing it makes for a nice “evolutionary strategy for vision in primates” (see “sophoxymoronia” in the Darwin Dictionary).How the brain can stop action on a dime (Science Daily). Don’t take for granted your ability to slam on the brakes when seeing a red light. Rapid response is critical for everyday function. Neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins identified the part of the brain that makes this possible: the basal forebrain, a part of the brain mostly known for regulating sleep. Counterintuitive as that sounds, the researchers pinpointed the area during experiments with rats offered rewards in response to flashing lights. “Understanding how these cells are involved in this form of self-control expands our knowledge of the normal brain circuits involved in everyday decision-making,” one of the researchers explained, “and will be absolutely critical to developing future treatments and therapies for diseases and disorders with impaired reactive inhibition as a symptom.”Shifts of Gamma Phase across Primary Visual Cortical Sites Reflect Dynamic Stimulus-Modulated Information Transfer (PLoS Biology). This technical paper relates “complex and flexible behavior” to the individual neurons that fire in the visual cortex. “By recording neural activity and measuring information flow between multiple locations in visual cortex during the presentation of Hollywood movies,” they say, “we found that the arrangement of the phase of gamma oscillations at different locations indicated the presence of waves propagating along the cortical tissue.” As they watched the watchers, they found that “the propagation of gamma oscillations may reconfigure dynamically the directional flow of cortical information during sensory processing.”We’ve all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk (Current Biology). Perhaps you’ve done the finger experiments that reveal your blind spot. Since the optic nerve contains no rods or cones, its exit from the retina leaves a portion of vision absent. You would be aware of holes in the visual field if your brain did not “fill in” those spots with similar details detected by the retina surrounding those spots. For what it’s worth, Australian researchers found that you can reduce the size of the blind spot by about 10% with training, but it only works with one eye at a time. What’s worthwhile, Science Daily notes, is that similar training might help those with macular degeneration partially compensate for lost vision.Attentive tracking of sound sources (Current Biology). Just as the brain can make the eyes focus on something interesting in the visual field, it can tune the ears to pay closer attention to a sound in a noisy environment. We’ve all experienced the “cocktail party problem,” trying to focus on a friend’s voice in a noisy room. Researchers found that even when nothing about a sound is kept constant (timbre, pitch, or semantics), participants were able to “track sound sources through feature space with a movable focus of attention.”Update 9/23/15: Like a foreman, brain region keeps us on task (Science Daily). “If you sometimes feel like you have a little foreman in your head who keeps you on track while you work step-by-step through a sequence of tasks, you aren’t far off,” this article begins. “In new research, Brown University scientists report evidence that a particular part of the brain is responsible for exactly that function.” This everyday task of internally monitoring our inputs is routed through a network called the “rostrolateral prefontal cortex (RLPFC), an area of neurons situated in the front of your brain.” It’s the first step in cognitive control of our actions. “The health consequences are big” when this area is disrupted.“The seeing eye, and the hearing ear, the Lord has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12).Do you see why studying creation in detail promotes worship of the Creator who designed these things? That’s why we report them. They’re not just sterile facts. They’re realities that call for a response. The right response is exhibited in Psalm 104, Psalm 111:1-4, and Psalm 139. The wrong response is to be unthankful in spite of the clear evidence for design (Romans 1:18-21).Jeremiah condemned “foolish and senseless people who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not” (Jeremiah 5:21, cited by Jesus in Mark 8:18). Eyes were created for seeing (and understanding); ears were made for hearing (and perceiving) the truth about God (Isaiah 6), because their design points to Him.You can respond rightly today. Come to the light (John 3:16-21). Repent of your unthankfulness. Open your eyes, and glorify God for your body, and with your body. Then the light will fill your whole being with joy (Matthew 6:22-23).Heaven above is softer blue,Earth around is sweeter green;Something lives in every hueChristless eyes have never seen:Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,Since I know, as now I know,I am His, and He is mine.—George Wade Robinson (Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
24 November 2015She was encouraged by the growing number of men who were getting involved in the fight against the abuse of women and children, said the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, speaking at an International Men’s Day event in Soshanguve, Tshwane on 21 November.Bishop @PeMkhize attending International Men’s Day programme with Minister Susan Shabangu pic.twitter.com/lpGjBqmF8q— Faith Center Malvern (@FaithCenterJhb) November 19, 2015The minister, along with First Lady Tobeka Zuma, urged men to get involved in the 16 Days of Activism campaign and create a culture in which women and children were protected and could feel safe.International Men’s Day is an annual event observed in November. It is designed to focus on men’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive male role models. It is also an opportunity for men to celebrate their contributions to the community, family, marriage and child care.Our bishop @PeMkhize with some of SA Men on the year nominees and Minister Susan Shabangu pic.twitter.com/4elEAIlFn5— Faith Center Malvern (@FaithCenterJhb) November 19, 2015Shabangu said while men were primarily looked up to as the nurturers of boys, women should also be involved. Both parents had the responsibility of raising children.Zuma said men must be part of the solution to end the abuse of women and children. “Not reporting abuse means you are part of the problem,” she said. The first lady also called on fathers to spend more time talking to their sons about gender violence and teaching them to respect women. “Fathers should not only spend time reading newspapers. They should give themselves time to spend with the boy child. Real men don’t abuse.”Men who attended the event said that they were determined to work together with women to fight against gender violence as well as play their part in encouraging others to do the same.Ephraim Baloyi, who attended, said he was positive about the role women played in society, and that they should, along with children, be protected at all costs. “Men,” Baloyi said, “are supposed to love and take care of their families. They should not abuse their children. Men who abuse their wives and children should be locked up in jail.”The minister also called on police officers to take the plight of men who were being abused just as seriously as that of women and children. “We are all human beings. We all feel the pain, and we all must be protected,” she said.The International Men’s Day celebration and awareness campaign is part of the South African government’s theme for #16Days, #CountMeIn: Together Moving a Non-Violent South Africa Forward.Source: South African Government News Agency
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Much of Ohio has seen wave after wave of rain storms in June of 2015, leaving overly saturated fields of recently planted corn and soybeans under water. Bill Mullen of Seed Consultants has some useful advice as to what to watch for once the rain subsides.
As many as 12 Ministers, including 10 new, were sworn in when Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik carried out a major Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday. While six leaders were sworn in as new Cabinet Ministers and four took oath as new Ministers of State, two sitting Ministers of State were elevated and sworn in as Cabinet Ministers.The new Ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor S.C. Jamir. The Chief Minister, many of his Ministers and other dignitaries attended the ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan here.The six who took oath as new Cabinet Ministers are Surjya Narayan Patro, Niranjan Pujari, Prafulla Samal, Maheswar Mohanty, Sashi Bhusan Behera and Pratap Jena. The four new Ministers of State who were administered oath are Nrusingha Charan Sahu, Ananta Das, Susanta Singh and Chandra Sarathi Behera.The two Ministers of State who were elevated to the rank of Cabinet Ministers and administered oath of office and secrecy are Prafulla Mallik and Ramesh Chandra Majhi. The portfolios are to be allocated to the new Ministers later in the day. The portfolios of many sitting Ministers are also likely to be changed, according to sources. This is Mr. Patnaik’s first Cabinet reshuffle since he took charge as Chief Minister for the fourth consecutive term in May, 2014.As many as 10 Ministers had resigned on Saturday to pave the way for the Cabinet reshuffle that Mr. Patnaik carried out to give new momentum to his government and revamp the Biju Janata Dal by engaging the leaders who quit as Ministers. Mr. Pujari, who was sworn in as Cabinet Minister, had resigned as Speaker on Friday. The post of Speaker is still lying vacant.
Napoli goalscorer Llorente: I really wanted to face Liverpoolby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveNapoli striker Fernando Llorente was delighted to score in victory over Champions League opponents Liverpool.Llorente was part of the Tottenham team beaten by the Reds in last season’s final.The veteran said: “I wanted to play against the Reds, I’m happy because we showed we could live with the big names. These three points are very important, but it’s just the first game: we still need a lot. “We have to think about game after game, it will be hard. “Scoring at the San Paolo is something incredible, I didn’t imagine starting this adventure like this.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
zoomImage Courtesy: Royal Caribbean International The ultra-luxury and expedition cruising company, Silversea Cruises, has officially joined the family of Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL).On July 31, the companies informed that they have closed on RCL’s acquisition of a two-thirds stake in Silversea after receiving final approval from regulators.The investment unites two leading players in the cruise industry and fills out RCL’s portfolio of cruise brands across all key market segments.“We are proud to officially welcome Silversea’s industry-leading team to the RCL family,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.Regulators green-lighted Royal Caribbean’s purchase of a 66.7% equity stake in Silversea Cruises, based on an enterprise value of approximately USD 2 billion. Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio will remain Executive Chairman of Silversea and retain a 33.3% stake.The companies also announced Project Invictus, a multi-year initiative to take Silversea’s ultra-luxury offerings to the next level. Project Invictus enhancements range from product upgrades to magnified ship revitalization programs.The first Invictus enhancements will begin rolling out on the Silver Muse on August 19. Immediately thereafter, these and other enhancements will be implemented fleet wide, impacting a wide variety of onboard features and strengthening Silversea’s reputation.Silversea’s growing fleet of ultra-luxury ships will also benefit from an upgrade. The planned renovation of Silver Whisper in December 2018 will be much more comprehensive than initially anticipated. Moreover, Silversea’s Silver Wind will also enter into an enhanced dry dock in December 2018.Both vessels will join the overarching plan for a fleet-wide “Musification” which will take inspiration from the design of the very successful cruise line’s flagship, Silver Muse. The plan will be completed shortly after with an enhanced dry dock of the Silver Shadow.With Silversea joining the RCL lineup alongside Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises and Pullmantur Cruceros, the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fleet now numbers 59 ships with an additional 15 on order.
HALIFAX – A national prisoners’ advocate is praising a 20-day peaceful protest by inmates at a Halifax jail as a rare and effective tactic that sets an example for similar efforts at the country’s provincial lockups.Inmates at Nova Scotia Central Correctional Facility, often called the Burnside jail, joined a prisoner strike in the United States on Aug. 21.A group in the prison prepared and circulated their 10-point plan for basic improvements in health care, rehabilitation, exercise, visits, clothing, food, air quality and library access.By the time the legislature resumed sitting on Thursday, the prisoners’ petitions had gained widespread media coverage and political responses as a group of advocates, lawyers and community leaders outside the facility circulated their requests.The protest is set to conclude this weekend.Kassandra Churcher, national executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, says the inmates’ strategy has been noticed nationally as an innovative way for provincial inmates to gain public and political attention for their grievances.“This is unusual. It’s good to see that sense of community, solidarity and focus being prisoner-led,” she said in a telephone interview.“It speaks to their ability to mobilize around their common concerns … It’s powerful,” she said.Emma Halpern, the regional director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, said the campaign has resonated because it has made requests ordinary citizens can relate to, such as better access to family visits.The prisoners argue the visits should be possible given that recently purchased body scanners have drastically reduced the risk of contraband smuggling.“I think most people would feel that mothers and children should have regular contact. It’s the best thing for our society and it’s essential for rehabilitation and reintegration,” said Halpern.Justice Minister Mark Furey responded to some of the items on the list on Thursday, and though he made few firm commitments, he told reporters “it’s important we have these discussions and ensure the rights of those incarcerated in our facility are respected.”Asked about family visits, he said the body scanners have improved the security concerns and may open up an avenue for more visits.“The opportunity to revisit the policy and determine what family visits may look like going forward is a real discussion,” he said.He argued some of the prisoners’ complaints, such as the lack of sufficient air circulation amidst the summer heat wave, are being addressed as the facility is modernized to bring in so-called “direct supervision” — where guards work in closer contact with prisoners.“The renovations with the direct supervision will address the air circulation issues that have been brought to our attention,” he said.He disagreed with the prisoners’ criticisms of their food, saying, “the facility follows the Canada Food Guide. We’re providing nutritional meals in that environment.”In addition, he said that there are no plans to agree to allowing a request for prisoners to have their own clothing due to security concerns around the potential of what he called a “micro economy” in the trade of clothing.He said improvements are being considered for exercise facilities, while noting new outdoor “airing courts” for inmates are under construction, and they will include outdoor exercise equipment.Regarding demands for more rehabilitation programs, the province issued a written release saying six new program officer positions have been created for the facility for this year, and that this fall more programs on addictions, emotion management and trauma will be delivered.“Additionally, we are developing incentive-based programs for inmates as well as having conversations regarding the formation of an inmate committee at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility,” said the release.The prisoners have asked for more timely access to their medication and to medical tests, and for better access to specialists and care for chronic conditions.That has also drawn a response, though no formal commitment to change, from the province’s health authority.Kristen Lipscombe, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said in an email that “healthcare services in correctional facilities should be at the same standard/level as those services that are available in the community.”“We will continue to monitor and respond to feedback we receive from individuals who are incarcerated. We will also continue to monitor our wait times and adjust as necessary with changes to an individual’s health status while they are incarcerated.”She said with nurses delivering medications to offenders up to four times per day, one of the issues is the availability of correctional officers.Sheila Wildman, a law professor at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law, said in an interview the protest’s results remain uncertain.“This was a success in terms of prisoners having managed, against all odds, to voice their concerns in a way that provoked public debate and awareness about the conditions of their confinement, and eventually provoked a formal government response,” said Wildman, who is a member of the advocacy group East Coast Prison Justice Society.“But let’s wait and see what concrete initiatives come out of this before we pronounce on whether or how it was a success.”Senator Kim Pate, who has participated in a national tour of Canadian prisons, says she believes the conditions in provincial jails are generating rising anger among inmates — and will bring similar prisoner actions elsewhere.“Given the frustration of prisoners across the country, we may well see more such protests,” she wrote in an email.— Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.