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Concept: Name


Creation and use of the scientific names of animals are ruled by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Until recently, publication of new names in a work produced with ink on paper was required for their availability. A long awaited amendment to the Code issued in September 2012 by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature now allows publication of new names in online-only works, provided that the latter are registered with ZooBank, the Official Register of Animal Names. With this amendment, the rules of zoological nomenclature have been aligned with the opportunities (and needs) of our digital era. However, possible causes for nomenclatural instability remain. These could be completely removed if the Code-compliant publication of new names will be identified with their online registration, under suitable technological and formal (legal) conditions. Future developments of the ZooBank may provide the tool required to make this definitive leap ahead in zoological nomenclature.

Concepts: Animal, Taxonomy, Noun, Binomial nomenclature, Name, International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, Nomenclature, International Code of Botanical Nomenclature


Despite knowing a familiar individual (such as a daughter) well, anecdotal evidence suggests that naming errors can occur among very familiar individuals. Here, we investigate the conditions surrounding these types of errors, or misnamings, in which a person (the misnamer) incorrectly calls a familiar individual (the misnamed) by someone else’s name (the named). Across 5 studies including over 1,700 participants, we investigated the prevalence of the phenomenon of misnaming, identified factors underlying why it may occur, and tested potential mechanisms. We included undergraduates and MTurk workers and asked questions of both the misnamed and the misnamer. We find that familiar individuals are often misnamed with the name of another member of the same semantic category; family members are misnamed with another family member’s name and friends are misnamed with another friend’s name. Phonetic similarity between names also leads to misnamings; however, the size of this effect was smaller than that of the semantic category effect. Overall, the misnaming of familiar individuals is driven by the relationship between the misnamer, misnamed, and named; phonetic similarity between the incorrect name used by the misnamer and the correct name also plays a role in misnaming.

Concepts: Person, Individual, Member of Parliament, Evidence, Name, Nomenclature, Names, .jobs


Recent research reported the surprising finding that even 6-mo-olds understand common nouns [Bergelson E, Swingley D (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109:3253-3258]. However, is their early lexicon structured and acquired like older learners? We test 6-mo-olds for a hallmark of the mature lexicon: cross-word relations. We also examine whether properties of the home environment that have been linked with lexical knowledge in older children are detectable in the initial stage of comprehension. We use a new dataset, which includes in-lab comprehension and home measures from the same infants. We find evidence for cross-word structure: On seeing two images of common nouns, infants looked significantly more at named target images when the competitor images were semantically unrelated (e.g., milk and foot) than when they were related (e.g., milk and juice), just as older learners do. We further find initial evidence for home-lab links: common noun “copresence” (i.e., whether words' referents were present and attended to in home recordings) correlated with in-lab comprehension. These findings suggest that, even in neophyte word learners, cross-word relations are formed early and the home learning environment measurably helps shape the lexicon from the outset.

Concepts: Understanding, Structure, Noun, Lexeme, Reference, Name, Nomenclature, Lexicon


There is compelling evidence that context strongly influences our choice of words (e.g., whether we refer to a particular animal with the basic-level name “bird” or the subordinate-level name “duck”). However, little is known about whether the context already affects the degree to which the alternative words are activated. In this study, we explored the effect of a preceding linguistic context on the phonological activation of alternative picture names. In Experiments 1 to 3, the context was established by a request produced by an imaginary interlocutor. These requests either constrained the naming response to the subordinate level on pragmatic grounds (e.g., “name the bird!”) or not (e.g., “name the object!”). In Experiment 4, the context was established by the speaker’s own previous naming response. Participants named the pictures with their subordinate-level names and the phonological activation of the basic-level names was assessed with distractor words phonologically related versus unrelated to that name (e.g., “birch” vs. “lamp”). In all experiments, we consistently found that distractor words phonologically related to the basic-level name interfered with the naming response more strongly than unrelated distractor words. Moreover, this effect was of comparable size for nonconstraining and constraining contexts indicating that the alternative name was phonologically activated and competed for selection, even when it was not an appropriate lexical option. Our results suggest that the speech production system is limited in its ability of flexibly adjusting and fine-tuning the lexical activation patterns of words (among which to choose from) as a function of pragmatic constraints. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Effect, Linguistics, Language, Phonetics, Noun, Name, Lexicography, .jobs


An improved and expanded nomenclature for genetic sequences is introduced that corresponds with a ranking of the reliability of the taxonomic identification of the source specimens. This nomenclature is an advancement of the “Genetypes” naming system, which some have been reluctant to adopt because of the use of the “type” suffix in the terminology. In the new nomenclature, genetic sequences are labeled “genseq,” followed by a reliability ranking (e.g., 1 if the sequence is from a primary type), followed by the name of the genes from which the sequences were derived (e.g., genseq-1 16S, COI). The numbered suffix provides an indication of the likely reliability of taxonomic identification of the voucher. Included in this ranking system, in descending order of taxonomic reliability, are the following: sequences from primary types - “genseq-1,” secondary types - “genseq-2,” collection-vouchered topotypes - “genseq-3,” collection-vouchered non-types - “genseq-4,” and non-types that lack specimen vouchers but have photo vouchers - “genseq-5.” To demonstrate use of the new nomenclature, we review recently published new-species descriptions in the ichthyological literature that include DNA data and apply the GenSeq nomenclature to sequences referenced in those publications. We encourage authors to adopt the GenSeq nomenclature (note capital “G” and “S” when referring to the nomenclatural program) to provide a searchable tag (e.g., “genseq”; note lowercase “g” and “s” when referring to sequences) for genetic sequences from types and other vouchered specimens. Use of the new nomenclature and ranking system will improve integration of molecular phylogenetics and biological taxonomy and enhance the ability of researchers to assess the reliability of sequence data. We further encourage authors to update sequence information on databases such as GenBank whenever nomenclatural changes are made.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Biology, Taxonomy, Noun, Biological classification, Name, Nomenclature


We examine developmental interactions between context, exploration, and word learning. Infants show an understanding of how nonsolid substances are categorized that does not reliably transfer to learning how these categories are named in laboratory tasks. We argue that what infants learn about naming nonsolid substances is contextually bound - most nonsolids that toddlers are familiar with are foods and thus, typically experienced when sitting in a highchair. We asked whether 16-month-old children’s naming of nonsolids would improve if they were tested in that typical context. Children tested in the highchair demonstrated better understanding of how nonsolids are named. Furthermore, context-based differences in exploration drove differences in the properties attended to in real-time. We discuss what implications this context-dependency has for understanding the development of an ontological distinction between solids and nonsolids. Together, these results demonstrate a developmental cascade between context, exploration, and word learning.

Concepts: Ontology, Demonstration, Learning, Developmental psychology, Knowledge, Metaphysics, Name, Category of being


Histone variants are non-allelic protein isoforms that play key roles in diversifying chromatin structure. The known number of such variants has greatly increased in recent years, but the lack of naming conventions for them has led to a variety of naming styles, multiple synonyms and misleading homographs that obscure variant relationships and complicate database searches. We propose here a unified nomenclature for variants of all five classes of histones that uses consistent but flexible naming conventions to produce names that are informative and readily searchable. The nomenclature builds on historical usage and incorporates phylogenetic relationships, which are strong predictors of structure and function. A key feature is the consistent use of punctuation to represent phylogenetic divergence, making explicit the relationships among variant subtypes that have previously been implicit or unclear. We recommend that by default new histone variants be named with organism-specific paralog-number suffixes that lack phylogenetic implication, while letter suffixes be reserved for structurally distinct clades of variants. For clarity and searchability, we encourage the use of descriptors that are separate from the phylogeny-based variant name to indicate developmental and other properties of variants that may be independent of structure.

Concepts: DNA, Histone, Nucleosome, Chromatin, Name


In 2008, the authors published a review that highlighted an emerging trend for medical schools to change their names to those of wealthy donors. Since 2008, the names of ten benefactors have been added to the medical schools receiving their gifts. Twenty-three of the 141 U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education are currently named after donors. Large donations have the potential to positively affect all stakeholders by improving the resources that are available for research, teaching, and clinical care, but the rapid increase in the naming of medical schools after wealthy benefactors raises important concerns for those same stakeholders. In this perspective, the authors explore such concerns and identify mitigating strategies that institutions facing these issues in the future can use to ensure that the benefit associated with a gift outweighs any adverse impact. The authors argue for a strong presumption of impropriety when a donor possesses a conflict of interest with the potential to affect clinicians' judgment. They go on to assess how donors' control of funds may have an impact on institutional mission and research agenda, and analyze the right of an organization to remove a benefactor’s name for alleged wrongdoing. The perspective considers how renaming may negatively affect brand recognition and the associated impact on students, residents, faculty, and alumni. Finally, it concludes with an analysis of taxpayer-funded organizations and the concern that educational renaming will lead to a slippery slope in which other public goods are effectively purchased by wealthy donors.

Concepts: Education, Physician, Pediatrics, Medical school, Medical education, Name, Doctor of Medicine, .jobs


Electrocorticograms (ECoG) provide a unique opportunity to monitor neural activity directly at the cortical surface. Ten patients with subdural electrodes covering ventral and lateral anterior temporal regions (ATL) performed a picture naming task. Temporal representational similarity analysis (RSA) was used, for the first time, to compare spatio-temporal neural patterns from the ATL surface with pre-defined theoretical models. The results indicate that the neural activity in the ventral subregion of the ATL codes semantic representations from 250 msec after picture onset. The observed activation similarity was not related to the visual similarity of the pictures or the phonological similarity of their names. In keeping with convergent evidence for the importance of the ATL in semantic processing, these results provide the first direct evidence of semantic coding from the surface of the ventral ATL and its time-course.

Concepts: Scientific method, Cognitive psychology, Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Code, Lobe, Evidence law, Name


The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) approves unique gene symbols and names for human loci. As well as naming genomic loci, we manually curate genes into family sets based on shared characteristics such as function, homology or phenotype. Each HGNC gene family has its own dedicated gene family report on our website, . We have recently redesigned these reports to support the visualisation and browsing of complex relationships between families and to provide extra curated information such as family descriptions, protein domain graphics and gene family aliases. Here, we review how our gene families are curated and explain how to view, search and download the gene family data.

Concepts: Gene, Evolution, Biology, Protein family, Name, HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee, Nomenclature, Gene nomenclature