Selective Inhibition of Mirror Invariance for Letters Doubles Reading Fluency

Ana Raquel Torres, Natália B. Mota, Nery Adamy, Janaina Weissheimer, Angela Naschold, Mauro Copelli, Felipe Pegado and Sidarta G. Ribeiro

Mirror invariance, a visual mechanism that emerges early in human development, enables a prompt recognition of mirror images. This visual capacity, useful to recognize objects, faces, and places from both left and right perspectives is also present in primates, pigeons, and cephalopods. Notwithstanding, the same visual mechanism is suspected to be the source of a specific difficulty for a relatively recent human invention-reading-by creating confusion between mirror-letters (eg, bd in the Latin alphabet). Here we show that mirror invariance represents a major leash for reading fluency acquisition in first graders. We used a causal approach, specifically targeting mirror invariance for letters and observing an unprecedented twofold increase in reading fluency. This gain is achieved with as little as 7.5 hours of multisensory-motor training for mirror letters, mostly with eyes closed, in a synergic combination with post-training sleep. Indeed, the magnitude, automaticity, and duration of this learning were greatly enhanced by sleep, which keeps the gains perfectly intact even after 4 months, being critical to double reading fluency with such short training. The results were consistently replicated in three randomized controlled trials using an ecologically valid school-based design. They not only reveal an extreme case of cognitive plasticity in humans (ie, the inhibition of at least~ 25 million years-old visual mechanism in just three weeks) for a cultural activity (reading) but at the same time also show a simple and cost-effective way to unleash the reading fluency potential of millions of children worldwide.

The effect of graph connectivity on metastability in a stochastic system of spiking neurons

Morgan André and Léo Planche

We consider a continuous-time stochastic model of spiking neurons. In this model, we have a finite or countable number of neurons which are vertices in some graph G where the edges indicate the synaptic connection between them. We focus on metastability, understood as the property for the time of extinction of the network to be asymptotically memory-less, and we prove that this model exhibits two different behaviors depending on the nature of the specific underlying graph of interaction G that is chosen.

Structural differences between REM and non-REM dream reports assessed by graph analysis

Sidarta Ribeiro, Joshua M Martin, Danyal Wainstein, Natalia B Mota, Sergio A Mota-Rolim, John Fontenele Araújo and Mark Solms

Dream reports collected after rapid eye movement sleep (REM) awakenings are, on average, longer, more vivid, bizarre, emotional and story-like compared to those collected after non-REM. However, a comparison of the word-to-word structural organization of dream reports is lacking, and traditional measures that distinguish REM and non-REM dreaming may be confounded by report length. This problem is amenable to the analysis of dream reports as non-semantic directed word graphs, which provide a structural assessment of oral reports, while controlling for individual differences in verbosity. Against this background, the present study had two main aims: Firstly, to investigate differences in graph structure between REM and non-REM dream reports, and secondly, to evaluate how non-semantic directed word graph analysis compares to the widely used measure of report length in dream analysis. To do this, we analyzed a set of 125 dream reports obtained from 19 participants in controlled laboratory awakenings from REM and N2 sleep. We found that: (1) graphs from REM sleep possess a larger connectedness compared to those from N2; (2) measures of graph structure can predict ratings of dream complexity, where increases in connectedness and decreases in randomness are observed in relation to increasing dream report complexity; and (3) measures of the Largest Connected Component of a graph can improve a model containing report length in predicting sleep stage and dream complexity. These results indicate that dream reports sampled after REM awakening have on average a larger connectedness compared to those sampled after N2 (i.e. words recur with a longer range), a difference which appears to be related to underlying differences in dream complexity. Altogether, graph analysis represents a promising method for dream research, due to its automated nature and potential to complement report length in dream analysis.

Binding of Filamentous Actin to CaMKII as Potential Regulation Mechanism of Bidirectional Synaptic Plasticity by β CaMKII in Cerebellar Purkinje Cells

Thiago M. Pinto, Maria J. Schilstra, Antonio C. Roque and Volker Steuber

Calcium-calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) regulates many forms of synaptic plasticity, but little is known about its functional role during plasticity induction in the cerebellum. Experiments have indicated that the β isoform of CaMKII controls the bidirectional inversion of plasticity at parallel fibre (PF)-Purkinje cell (PC) synapses in cerebellar cortex. Because the cellular events that underlie these experimental findings are still poorly understood, we developed a simple computational model to investigate how β CaMKII regulates the direction of plasticity in cerebellar PCs. We present the first model of AMPA receptor phosphorylation that simulates the induction of long-term depression (LTD) and potentiation (LTP) at the PF-PC synapse. Our simulation results suggest that the balance of CaMKII-mediated phosphorylation and protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B)-mediated dephosphorylation of AMPA receptors can determine whether LTD or LTP occurs in cerebellar PCs. The model replicates experimental observations that indicate that β CaMKII controls the direction of plasticity at PF-PC synapses, and demonstrates that the binding of filamentous actin to CaMKII can enable the β isoform of the kinase to regulate bidirectional plasticity at these synapses.

Microwave-Assisted Growth of Silver Nanoparticle Films with Tunable Plasmon Properties and Asymmetrical Particle Geometry for Applications as Radiation Sensors

E. J. Guidelli, L. F. Araujo, A. C. A. Assunção, I. C. S. Carvalho, D. R. Clarke and O. Baffa

We report a simple and fast microwave-assisted method to grow silver nanoparticle films with tunable plasmon resonance band. Microwaving time controls nucleation and growth as well as particle agglomeration, cluster formation, particle morphology, and the plasmonic properties. Films produced with times shorter than 30 s presented a single well-defined plasmon resonance band (~ 400 nm), whereas films produced with times longer than 40 s presented higher wavelength resonances modes (> 500 nm). Plasmon band position and intensity can be easily tuned by controlling microwaving time and power. SEM and AFM images suggested the growth of asymmetrical silver nanoparticles. Simulated extinction spectra considering particles as spheres, hemispheres, and spherical caps were performed. The films were employed to enhance the sensitivity of ionizing radiation detectors assessed by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) via plasmon-enhanced luminescence. By tuning the plasmon resonance band to overlap with the OSL stimulation (530 nm), luminescence enhancements of greater than 100-fold were obtained, demonstrating the importance of tuning the plasmon resonance band to maximize the OSL intensity and detector sensitivity. This versatile method to produce silver nanoparticle films with tunable plasmonic properties is a promising platform for developing small-sized radiation detectors and advanced sensing technologies.

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