July 21, 2014

Four Readings and an Open Science Argument

Here are some papers from my reading queue. Four readings on human culture, behavior, and evolution, and one feature (set of readings) on Open Science. 

Four Readings......

Here are four readings from the reading queue on human culture, behavior, and evolution. The picture below (only tangentially related to the first paper) is from [1].

The first paper [2] is on the genetic architecture of economic and political preferences. Using a SNP analysis, the authors demonstrate that such traits have a polygenicarchitecture (e.g. many genes, small effect size for each). Studies that are underpowered (and no one really knows what the appropriate sample sizes should be) can potentially generate many false positive associations between genes and behavior. Nevertheless, understanding the presence of key variants for social preferences might help us understand why some people seem to be inherently "liberal" or "conservative".

The second paper [3] presents us with a premise that equates (or perhaps confounds) the psychophysiology of political ideologies with the roots of more general ideological bias. Are we really looking at "natural" differences between liberals and conservatives? Or does this simply demonstrate that high-profile social issues with already polar liberal and conservative positions [4] are undergirded by strong emotional responses? The standard evolutionary psychology explanation is a bit contrived as well. But it goes well with the previous article.

Crossmodal and cross-cultural comparisons, unite! In this study [5], people from several different cultures were asked to make both "congruent" and "incongruent" associations between smells and colors. The authors come to the conclusion that cultural context through experience has both statistical (covariance) and semantic (linguistic) components.

The fourth article [6] is a gateway article to several recent studies in the area of neuroplasticity. The gateway leads to the work being done in the laboratory of Michael Stryker [7]. Learn about the "neural volume control knob" and much, much more.

.....And An Open Science Argument

Here are some additional readings on networking and open science from my reading queue. The first is a paper on the life-cycle of a preprint on the arXiv [8] The top image is Figure 2 in the paper. The other two readings advocate for the use of open access protocols and social media to disseminate research [9] and counter cultural biases towards keeping research behind laboratory doors [10].


[2] Benjamin, D.J. et.al    The genetic architecture of economic and political preferences. PNAS, 10:1073/ pnas.1120666109 (2014).

[4] Related to this is the concept of the news filter bubble. One recent paper on this phenomenon: Koutra, D., Bennett, P., and Horvitz, E.   Events and Controversies: influences of a shocking news event on information seeking. arXiv, 1405.1486 (2014).

[5] Ren et.al   Cross-Cultural Color-Odor Associations. PLoS One, 9(7), e101651 (2014).

[6] Stix, G.   Neuroplasticity: new clues to just how much the adult brain can change. Scientific American blog, July 14 (2014).

[7] Two notable publications:
a) Fu, Y., Tucciarone, J.M., Espinosa, S., Sheng, N., Darcy, D.P., Nicoll, R.A., Huang, J., and Stryker, M.P.   A Cortical Circuit for Gain Control by Behavioral State. Cell, 156, 1139–1152 (2014).

b) Niell, C.M. and Stryker, M.P.   Modulation of Visual Responses by Behavioral State in Mouse Visual Cortex. Neuron, 65, 472-479 (2010).

[8] Shuai, X., Pepe, A., and Bollen, J.   How the Scientific Community Reacts to Newly Submitted Preprints: Article Downloads, Twitter Mentions, and Citations. PLoS One, 7(11), e47523 (2012).

[9] Allen , E.   “All research should be OA”. We agree! ScienceOpen blog, July 14 (2014).

[10] Konkiel, S.   How to become an academic networking pro on LinkedIn. ImpactStory blog, April 24 (2014).

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