science: sound and otherwise

Les Schaffer godzilla at
Mon Aug 28 12:44:08 MDT 2000

a couple abstracts from the latest issue of Science magazine's
"Editors' Choice: Highlights of the recent literature", emailed the
other day.

les schaffer


will try to get to the origal paper to see how this interesting and
important aspect of data analysis is proceeding:

CLIMATOLOGY: Extreme Weather
H. Jesse Smith

Instrumental records show that global average annual surface
temperatures increased by about 0.5 {o}C over the course of the
twentieth century.  Climate change is a more complex phenomenon than
can be illustrated by this one number, however, and it is of
importance to quantitate how other aspects of climate have varied.

Easterling et al. describe the existing evidence for changes in
several of these properties--daily maximum and minimum temperatures,
glacial and snow cover, precipitation, cloudiness, and soil
moisture--in an attempt to construct a more comprehensive picture of
global climate change. They use these data to address three
fundamental, yet vexing questions: Is the planet getting warmer? Is
the hydrologic cycle changing? Are weather and climate becoming more
extreme or variable? The short answer to all of these questions,
taking into account an admittedly incomplete data set, is "yes."  More
detailed analyses of existing data, performed with due caution
regarding possible systematic biases and uncertainties, are needed. --

J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 105, 20101 (2000).

should i file this next piece under Neurosciece, or Dumb, dumb, and

for the record, so Comrade Abdo doesnt think i __support__ this way of
thinking, i am not now, nor have i ever been, a neuroscientist doing
research on the genetic basic of capitalism in the homo sapien brain.

NEUROSCIENCE: Hot Streaks and Day Traders
Peter R. Stern

The behavior of most animals is driven by instincts that promote the
survival of the individual. Gratification of instincts usually is
experienced as reward, which has been studied in animal experiments
and also has spawned an extensive literature on the human brain areas
involved.  Humans, however, also can experience more abstract types of
reinforcement, and the underlying brain circuitry for these more
complex types of reward is much less well mapped.

Elliott et al. studied the neural responses of subjects participating
in a card gambling task where they received only abstract financial
rewards or penalties. They found increased activity in right midbrain
regions and the right ventral striatum when individuals were winning,
and an increased activity in the hippocampus and parahippocampus when
subjects were losing.  In addition, during a winning streak when
reward was increasing rapidly, there was a unique response in the
anterior medial thalamus, pallidum, and the subgenual cingulate. These
experiments reveal a complex pattern of activity in the human brain
reward system with specific activation of sites in a context-sensitive
way, and they offer a glimpse of the multitude of the processes that
occur in the brain of a gambler or perhaps a trader in the equity
markets. -- PRS

J. Neurosci. 20, 6159 (2000).


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