March 31, 2005

Speech/music development in birds

Great piece on Fresh Air the other day on bird sounds. Includes info. on bioacoustics and how birds learn their songs.

On March 29, Terri Gross interviewed Donald Kroodsma, specialist in the interpretation of bird songs. His new book, The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong, describes how birds communicate and why. She also talked to Don Stap, an ornithologist. His new book Birdsong, details the work and passions of people who analyze the sounds of birds. Stap followed Kroodsma from the lab into the field to write his account of the researcher at work.

March 28, 2005

Cool Video Site

Check out!

The content includes 30-60 minute movies from the early 1900s (including silent films!), almost 500 documentaries from NASA, the Digital Himalaya Project from the 1930s, advertisements from the 1950s, CHI materials from the Ass'n for Computing Machinery, and television PSAs for reproductive health in Yemen.

There are some great educational videos appropriate for use in schools, especially in the sciences. There are a handful of entries on the word "brain", and many animated films.

The search is very good -- you can limit to color, b&w, by length, and silent or with sound. The majority of these images are either in the public domain or otherwise available for educational use, but check the Copyright Statement for more information.

Warning: you may spend a lot of time at this site!

More new books!

Mind Hacks; by Tom Stafford, Matt Webb. publisher: O’Reilly, 2004. for more info.

Mindreading : an integrated account of pretence, self-awareness, and understanding other minds; by Shaun Nichols and Stephen P. Stitch. publisher: Oxford, 2003. for more info.

Philosophy of the Brain: The Brain Problem (Adv. in Consciousness Research, 52); by Georg Northoff. publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2004. for more info.

Synesthesia : perspectives from cognitive neuroscience; by Lynn C. Robertson and Noam Sagiv, eds.. publisher: Oxford, 2004. for more info.

The web programmer's desk reference: a complete cross-reference to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript ; by Issi Camy, Lazaro. publisher: O’Reilly, 2004. for more info.

March 24, 2005

A New Company to Focus on Artificial Intelligence

March 24, 2005
Technology: A New Company to Focus on Artificial Intelligence
New York Times
The technologist and the marketing executive who co-founded Palm Computing
are starting a new company to license software technologies based on a
theory of how the mind works.

" ... Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky will remain involved with what is now called PalmOne, but on Thursday they plan to announce the creation of Numenta, a technology development firm that will conduct research in an effort to extend Mr. Hawkins's theories. Those ideas were initially sketched out last year in his book "On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines," co-written with Sandra Blakeslee."

March 23, 2005

More new books!

Animal: Definitive visual guide to the world's wildlife; by editors-in-chief, David Burnie & Don E. Wilson. publisher: Smithsonian / DK, 2001. for more info.

Children's learning from educational television : Sesame Street and beyond; by Shalom M. Fisch. publisher: Erlbaum, 2004. for more info.

Cognitive Science : A Philosophical Introduction; by Rom Harre . publisher: Sage, 2002. for more info.

Introduction to machine learning; by Alpaydin, Ethem. publisher: MIT, 2004. for more info.

The act of thinking; by Derek Melser. publisher: MIT, 2004. for more info.

The cradle of thought : exploring the origins of thinking; by Peter Hobson. publisher: Oxford, 2004. for more info.

The nature of play : great apes and humans; by edited by Anthony D. Pellegrini, Peter K. Smith. publisher: Guilford Press, 2005. for more info.

The origin of mind : evolution of brain, cognition, and general intelligence; by David C. Geary . publisher: APA, 2005. for more info.

There's something about Mary : essays on Phenomenal consciousness and Frank Jackson's knowledge argument ; by edited by Peter Ludlow, Yujin Nagasawa and Daniel Stoljar . publisher: MIT, 2004. for more info.

Three Dimensions of Learning: Contemporary Learning Theory in the Tension Field Between the Cognitive, the Emotional and the Social; by Knud Illeris. publisher: Krieger Pub. Co. , 2004. for more info.

March 20, 2005

Why do cats purr?

I posed this question to Brain Boost last week, and I can't stop thinking about the (possible) answer. It's not really current news, but it's so interesting I'm posting it anyway:

"A purring cat is not necessarily a happy one; many species-including cheetahs and some lions-also purr when wounded or anxious. Some researchers speculate that this lovely rumble may serve a function: to heal fractures and strengthen bones. In an as yet unpublished study from the Fauna Communications Research Institute in Hillsborough, N.C., investigators determined that the frequency at which many cats purr, between 27 and 44 hertz for house cats, matches the frequency that seems to help human bones strengthen and grow. If correct, the theory may explain why cats heal so quickly after injury." -Scientific American; June2001, Vol. 284 Issue 6, p32.

I can't find the study (I think it's still unpublished), but you can read more about it in this Scientific American article (Hampshire only at that URL).

Lexicographers: the next generation

Read about the next gen of lexicographers, including a 33-year-old editor-in-chief of the Oxford American Dictionary, and the 38-year-old "second-in-command" at the American Heritage Dictionary who has the phonetic vowel chart tatooed across his back. And many more!

March 19, 2005
Arts: In Land of Lexicons, Having the Last Word
Erin McKean is part of the next wave of top lexicographers who have already or may soon take over guardianship of the nation's language.

March 15, 2005

New Web Sites in Linguistcs

Added a few new sites to the "Doing Research in Linguistics" page:
- History of the English Language Annotated links are arranged chronologically and range from Pre History to American & Present Day English. Page hasn't been updated since August 2002.
- Interactive IPA Chart Includes the full inventory of IPA symbols and pronounciations in initial, intervocalic (between two vowels), and final position. Free Flashplayer required.
- Old English Aerobics Anthology of Old English texts and a collection of on-line exercises, all keyed to Peter S. Baker's 2003 Introduction to Old English . Includes a "workout room" (online exercises), a glossary, and an annotated anthology of old English texts.

March 10, 2005

BrainBoost: Very cool natural language search engine

BrainBoost is a new natural language search engine that seems to work pretty well. You can browse answers to questions like "What is a Calorie" (in the Nutrition category) and "How Much Profit Did Google Have in 2004" (in the Business category) and you can also ask your own. My research indicats that it properly identified Amherst as one place where Uma Thurman lived while growing up. And it provided lots of sites explaining why cats purr, including many which suggest that cats purr in part to help their bones and muscles grow strong.

For the computer scientists among you, "Brainboost uses Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing techniques to go the extra mile, by actually answering questions, in plain English."

The logo's great, too. (Thanks to Tara Calishain's ResearchBuzz for this cool time-waster)

March 09, 2005

How Emotional Memories are Stored

Report of an interesting study at Duke on how emotional memories are stored long term.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | DURHAM, N.C. -- Researchers exploring the brain structures involved in recalling an emotional memory a year later have found evidence for a self-reinforcing "memory loop" -- in which the brain's emotional center triggers the memory center, which in turn further enhances activity in the emotional center.

March 04, 2005

"New Thinking about the Brain" on the Connection

WBUR's radio show "The Connection" discussed "New Thinking about the Brain" today. Guests Earl Miller, Professor of Neuroscience and Associate Director of The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and Matt Wilson, Professor of Neuroscience also of The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. They discuss learning & memory and studies they're doing on both the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus.

Link includes RealAudio link to hear the show. At the bottom of the page are links to more Connection shows about consciousness and the brain.

March 02, 2005

New Web Sites

Added to Hampshire's "Doing Research in Computer Science" page:
- Covers many aspects of simulated games, including evolution, game design, and probability. Also includes lecture notes on broad topics in game theory. Java may be required for your browser.

Added to Hampshire's "Doing Research in Animal Behavior" page:
- ARKive Images, information, and some sound & movie files of British and endangered animals. Includes useful links and annotations related to each species.

And to Hampshire's Image Resources page:
- FaganFinder List of image search engines, sorted by type (search engines, regional & historical, science, art, and clip art). Very comprehensive.
- Imagebase Lots of high-quality, somewhat random images. Search or browse categories like transportation and Appalachian cultural history. From Virginia Tech.

March 01, 2005

More new books ...

Lots of books for the animal behaviorists this time...

Animals in translation : using the mysteries of autism to decode animal behavior ; by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson.. publisher: Scribner, 2005. for more info.
Ant Colony Optimization; by Marco Dorigo and Thomas St├╝tzle. publisher: MIT, 2004. for more info.
Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior; by Marc Bekoff. publisher: Greenwood, 2004. for more info.
mind -- a brief introduction; by john r searle. publisher: Oxford, 2004. for more info.
The Genesis of Animal Play : Testing the Limits; by Gordon M. Burghardt . publisher: MIT, 2005. for more info.