Papers of the week, 05/26 – 06/01

In an attempt to make myself write more blog posts – and actually clear out my Google Reader of ‘to-read’ papers – I’ll be posting every Saturday with papers that I think are relevant and interesting.  I am also thinking of posting links to relevant popular press articles on Wednesdays, with some amount of commentary in between.


Evolution of a vertebrate social decision-making network

“We analyzed expression profiles for 10 neurochemical genes across 12 brain regions important for decision-making in 88 species representing five vertebrate lineages…We also find evidence that different brain regions have experienced different selection pressures, because spatial distribution of neuroendocrine ligands are more flexible than their receptors across vertebrates. Our analysis suggests that the diversity of social behavior in vertebrates can be explained, in part, by variations on a theme of conserved neural and gene expression networks.”

Prefrontal neurons represent winning and losing during competitive video shooting games between monkeys

First off, who needs a quote for a paper like this?  But here you go: “Monkeys performed more quickly and more accurately in the competitive than in the noncompetitive games, indicating that they were more motivated in the competitive than in the noncompetitive games. LPFC neurons showed differential activity between the competitive and noncompetitive games showing winning- and losing-related activity. Furthermore, activities of prefrontal neurons differed depending on whether the competition was between monkeys or between the monkey and the computer.”

Linking agent-based models and stochastic models of financial markets

“…After reviewing selected empirical and theoretical evidence documenting the behavior of traders, we construct an agent-based model to quantitatively demonstrate that “fat” tails in return distributions arise when traders share similar technical trading strategies and decisions…”

Agent-based simulations of emotion spreading in online social networks

“Our results demonstrate that (i) aggregated group behaviors may arise from individual emotional actions of agents; (ii) collective states characterized by temporal correlations and dominant positive emotions emerge, similar to the empirical system; (iii) nature of the driving signal—rate of user’s stepping into online world, has profound effects on building the coherent behaviors”

Mice take calculated risks

“We find that mice adjust their behavior in response to a change in probability more quickly and abruptly than can be explained by differential reinforcement. Our results imply that mice represent probabilities and perform calculations over them to optimize their behavior, even when the optimization produces negligible material gain.”

Response of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex predicts altruistic behavior

“…activity in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex—a region consistently involved in understanding others’ mental states—predicts both monetary donations to others and time spent helping others. These findings address long-standing questions about the proximate source of human altruism by suggesting that prosocial behavior results, in part, from our broader tendency for social-cognitive thought.”

Evolutionary trade-offs, Pareto optimality, and the geometry of phenotype space

“Using the Pareto front concept from economics and engineering, we find that best–trade-off phenotypes are weighted averages of archetypes—phenotypes specialized for single tasks. For two tasks, phenotypes fall on the line connecting the two archetypes, which could explain linear trait correlations, allometric relationships, as well as bacterial gene-expression patterns. For three tasks, phenotypes fall within a triangle in phenotype space, whose vertices are the archetypes, as evident in morphological studies, including on Darwin’s finches.”

Encoding of reward expectation by monkey anterior insular neurons

“Over one-quarter of 131 responsive neurons were activated when the current trial would (certain or uncertain) be rewarded if performed correctly. These same neurons failed to respond in trials that were certain, as indicated by the cue, to be unrewarded. Another group of neurons responded when the reward was delivered, similar to results reported previously. The dynamics of population activity in anterior insula also showed strong signals related to knowing when a reward is coming.”


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