Community Newsletter: Animal Modeling, Cannabis and Autism, a New Editor | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurene Boglio

Twitter can feel like a zoo at times, and this week two behavioral modeling studies had our newsfeeds buzzing.

The first was a new preprint shared by Benjamin Cowley, a computational neuroscientist at Princeton University, in which he and his colleagues used a deep neural network, or “deep network,” to model the visual system of a fruit fly. “Deep networks are excellent for predicting visual neurons. However, they are unable to tell us which artificial neuron corresponds directly to a biological neuron… until now! Cowley wrote.

His results showed “that visual projection neurons at the interface between the eye and the brain form a distributed population code that collectively shapes social behavior.

“Here, biological and artificial knockouts predict neural activity and distributed function in complex brain areas. I am dazzled“, tweeted Cori Bargmanneuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York.

Dan O’Sheaa neuroscientist from Stanford University in California, was also enthusiastic about the article, noting that “it emphasizes the maneuverability of the visual flight system.”

There were plenty of other tweets that we don’t have room to share, but they had one thing in common: great excitement about this work and its implications for the future of neuroscience.

Other fly modeling work has also been buzzing on Twitter – and this one included mice too. The team in question announced the release of a new dataset “from real-world behavioral neuroscience experiments.”

The dataset “consists of mouse (9 mil frames) and fly (4 mil frames) social interactions to study behavioral representation learning!” tweeted Jennifer Sungraduate student at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Anne Kennedyassistant professor of neuroscience at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, who contributed to the dataset and was featured in a Spectrum profile article this week, shared her excitement in a quote tweet.

It may seem like a wacky concept, but back and forth on Twitter can be peaceful, polite, and productive. As proof, we offer you one of these conversations triggered by a Twitter user @drdebahassistant professor of psychology at the University of New Orleans in Louisiana, after tweeting information about her participation in an investigation into cannabis use in autism.

“Really interesting area of ​​researchbut I’m really not a fan of how some of the ‘demographic’ questions about autism are asked,” the Twitter user said. @science_enby answered.

They went into more detail in a series of tweets, discussing issues such as available ranges in response to a question asking when a the diagnosis of autism has been receivedtweeting, “I would say there is a lot more difference between being diagnosed at 3 vs 17 than between 75 and 85.”

@science_enby also pointed to issues with the answers available for the survey question asking respondents about the level of support, tweeting, “It’s really weird seeing different autistic traits assigned to different “levels of support”.

“I hear and receive all these returns!” replied @drdebah, who responded with explanations but also promises to address some issues and clarify others in any post about the study.

” Thanks for the answers ! I really enjoy the difficulty of turning complex experiments in analyzable variables“, tweeted @science_enby in a final response.

Finally, the Society for Neuroscience announced the appointment of Sabine Kastner like the next editor-in-chief of Journal of Neuroscience.

Princeton Neuroscience Institute called the nomination “fantastic news for Sabine and the field! in a quote tweet.

In response, Nicole C. Rustassociate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, called Kastner a “excellent choice.”

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in autism research, feel free to email [email protected].

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