SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

423

Intact tropical forests, free from substantial anthropogenic influence, store and sequester large amounts of atmospheric carbon but are currently neglected in international climate policy. We show that between 2000 and 2013, direct clearance of intact tropical forest areas accounted for 3.2% of gross carbon emissions from all deforestation across the pantropics. However, full carbon accounting requires the consideration of forgone carbon sequestration, selective logging, edge effects, and defaunation. When these factors were considered, the net carbon impact resulting from intact tropical forest loss between 2000 and 2013 increased by a factor of 6 (626%), from 0.34 (0.37 to 0.21) to 2.12 (2.85 to 1.00) petagrams of carbon (equivalent to approximately 2 years of global land use change emissions). The climate mitigation value of conserving the 549 million ha of tropical forest that remains intact is therefore significant but will soon dwindle if their rate of loss continues to accelerate.

419

The human brain undergoes significant functional and structural changes in the first decades of life, as the foundations for human cognition are laid down. However, non-invasive imaging techniques to investigate brain function throughout neurodevelopment are limited due to growth in head-size with age and substantial head movement in young participants. Experimental designs to probe brain function are also limited by the unnatural environment typical brain imaging systems impose. However, developments in quantum technology allowed fabrication of a new generation of wearable magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology with the potential to revolutionise electrophysiological measures of brain activity. Here we demonstrate a lifespan-compliant MEG system, showing recordings of high fidelity data in toddlers, young children, teenagers and adults. We show how this system can support new types of experimental paradigm involving naturalistic learning. This work reveals a new approach to functional imaging, providing a robust platform for investigation of neurodevelopment in health and disease.

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156

The main contributors to sea-level rise (oceans, glaciers, and ice sheets) respond to climate change on timescales ranging from decades to millennia. A focus on the 21st century thus fails to provide a complete picture of the consequences of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on future sea-level rise and its long-term impacts. Here we identify the committed global mean sea-level rise until 2300 from historical emissions since 1750 and the currently pledged National Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement until 2030. Our results indicate that greenhouse gas emissions over this 280-y period result in about 1 m of committed global mean sea-level rise by 2300, with the NDC emissions from 2016 to 2030 corresponding to around 20 cm or 1/5 of that commitment. We also find that 26 cm (12 cm) of the projected sea-level-rise commitment in 2300 can be attributed to emissions from the top 5 emitting countries (China, United States of America, European Union, India, and Russia) over the 1991-2030 (2016-2030) period. Our findings demonstrate that global and individual country emissions over the first decades of the 21st century alone will cause substantial long-term sea-level rise.

150

Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with risk of dementia, but whether temporal changes in cardiorespiratory fitness influence the risk of dementia incidence and mortality is still unknown. We aimed to study whether change in estimated cardiorespiratory fitness over time is associated with change in risk of incident dementia, dementia-related mortality, time of onset dementia, and longevity after diagnosis in healthy men and women at baseline.

144

To assess the validity of the WHO concept of intrinsic capacity in a longitudinal study of ageing; to identify whether this overall measure disaggregated into biologically plausible and clinically useful subdomains; and to assess whether total capacity predicted subsequent care dependence.

143

Researchers and educators have long wrestled with the question of how best to teach their clients be they humans, non-human animals or machines. Here, we examine the role of a single variable, the difficulty of training, on the rate of learning. In many situations we find that there is a sweet spot in which training is neither too easy nor too hard, and where learning progresses most quickly. We derive conditions for this sweet spot for a broad class of learning algorithms in the context of binary classification tasks. For all of these stochastic gradient-descent based learning algorithms, we find that the optimal error rate for training is around 15.87% or, conversely, that the optimal training accuracy is about 85%. We demonstrate the efficacy of this ‘Eighty Five Percent Rule’ for artificial neural networks used in AI and biologically plausible neural networks thought to describe animal learning.

143

Loot boxes are items in video games that may be paid for with real-world money, but which contain randomised contents. There is a reliable correlation between loot box spending and problem gambling severity: the more money gamers spend on loot boxes, the more severe their problem gambling tends to be. However, it is unclear whether this link represents a case in which loot box spending causes problem gambling; a case in which the gambling-like nature of loot boxes cause problem gamblers to spend more money; or whether it simply represents a case in which there is a general dysregulation in in-game spending amongst problem gamblers, nonspecific to loot boxes. The multiplayer video game Heroes of the Storm recently removed loot boxes. In order to better understand links between loot boxes and problem gambling, we conducted an analysis of players of Heroes of the Storm (n = 112) both before and after the removal of loot boxes. There were a complex pattern of results. In general, when loot boxes were removed from Heroes of the Storm, problem gamblers appeared to spend significantly less money in-game in contrast to other groups. These results suggest that the presence of loot boxes in a game may lead to problem gamblers spending more money in-game. It therefore seems possible that links between loot box spending and problem gambling are not due to a general dysregulation in in-game spending amongst problem gamblers, but rather are to do with specific features of loot boxes themselves.

129

Climate change-driven alterations in Arctic environments can influence habitat availability, species distributions and interactions, and the breeding, foraging, and health of marine mammals. Phocine distemper virus (PDV), which has caused extensive mortality in Atlantic seals, was confirmed in sea otters in the North Pacific Ocean in 2004, raising the question of whether reductions in sea ice could increase contact between Arctic and sub-Arctic marine mammals and lead to viral transmission across the Arctic Ocean. Using data on PDV exposure and infection and animal movement in sympatric seal, sea lion, and sea otter species sampled in the North Pacific Ocean from 2001-2016, we investigated the timing of PDV introduction, risk factors associated with PDV emergence, and patterns of transmission following introduction. We identified widespread exposure to and infection with PDV across the North Pacific Ocean beginning in 2003 with a second peak of PDV exposure and infection in 2009; viral transmission across sympatric marine mammal species; and association of PDV exposure and infection with reductions in Arctic sea ice extent. Peaks of PDV exposure and infection following 2003 may reflect additional viral introductions among the diverse marine mammals in the North Pacific Ocean linked to change in Arctic sea ice extent.

115

We identified a PSEN1 (presenilin 1) mutation carrier from the world’s largest autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease kindred, who did not develop mild cognitive impairment until her seventies, three decades after the expected age of clinical onset. The individual had two copies of the APOE3 Christchurch (R136S) mutation, unusually high brain amyloid levels and limited tau and neurodegenerative measurements. Our findings have implications for the role of APOE in the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.