Friday, December 09, 2011


Smart swarms of bacteria inspire robotics

"Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a computational model that better explains how bacteria move in a swarm -- and this model can be applied to human-made technologies, including computers, artificial intelligence, and robotics. (…) Studying the principles of bacteria navigation will allow researchers to design a new generation of smart robots that can form intelligent swarms, aid in the development of medical micro-robots used to diagnose or distribute medications in the body, or "de-code" systems used in social networks and throughout the Internet to gather information on consumer behaviors. Full news piece @ ScienceDaly

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Stop Signals in Collective Decision-Making by Honeybee Swarms

"Honeybee swarms and complex brains show many parallels in how they make decisions. In both, separate populations of units (bees or neurons) integrate noisy evidence for alternatives and when one population exceeds a threshold the alternative it represents is chosen. We show that a key feature of a brain—cross inhibition between the evidence-accumulating populations—also exists in a swarm as it chooses its nesting site. Nest-site scouts send inhibitory stop signals to other scouts producing waggle dances, causing them to cease dancing, and each scout targets scouts reporting sites other than her own. An analytic model shows that cross inhibition between populations of scout bees increases the reliability of swarm decision-making by solving the problem of deadlock over equal sites." Full article @ Science

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Brain Evolution at a Distance

It is that RNA computational layer once again...

"Scientists and philosophers alike have long grasped for the essence that makes humans human, and one answer lies in the brain. Specifically, human brains express genes in different patterns than those of related species, but what causes those changes is unknown. Comparing gene expression in three primate species—human, chimpanzee, and the rhesus macaque—across post-natal development, researchers, publishing today (December 6) in PLoS Biology, found that the most drastic expression changes are found in genes that are controlled at a distance by trans regulators, instead of locally by cis regulators." News artcle @ The Scientist

M. Somel et al., “MicroRNA-driven developmental remodeling in the brain distinguishes humans from other primates,” PLoS Biology, 9: e1001214, 2011.

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