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

Concept: Signal


Cephalopods show behavioral parallels to birds and mammals despite considerable evolutionary distance [1, 2]. Many cephalopods produce complex body patterns and visual signals, documented especially in cuttlefish and squid, where they are used both in camouflage and a range of interspecific interactions [1, 3-5]. Octopuses, in contrast, are usually seen as solitary and asocial [6, 7]; their body patterns and color changes have primarily been interpreted as camouflage and anti-predator tactics [8-12], though the familiar view of the solitary octopus faces a growing list of exceptions. Here, we show by field observation that in a shallow-water octopus, Octopus tetricus, a range of visible displays are produced during agonistic interactions, and these displays correlate with the outcome of those interactions. Interactions in which dark body color by an approaching octopus was matched by similar color in the reacting octopus were more likely to escalate to grappling. Darkness in an approaching octopus met by paler color in the reacting octopus accompanied retreat of the paler octopus. Octopuses also displayed on high ground and stood with spread web and elevated mantle, often producing these behaviors in combinations. This study is the first to document the systematic use of signals during agonistic interactions among octopuses. We show prima facie conformity of our results to an influential model of agonistic signaling [13]. These results suggest that interactions have a greater influence on octopus evolution than has been recognized and show the importance of convergent evolution in behavioral traits. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Concepts: Signal, Mollusca, Cuttlefish, Chromatophore, Cephalopod, Octopus, Prima facie


Model organisms subject to dietary restriction (DR) generally live longer. Accompanying this lifespan extension are improvements in overall health, based on multiple metrics. This indicates that pharmacological treatments that mimic the effects of DR could improve health in humans. To find new chemical structures that extend lifespan, we screened 30 000 synthetic, diverse drug-like chemicals in Caenorhabditis elegans and identified several structurally related compounds that acted through DR mechanisms. The most potent of these NP1 impinges upon a food perception pathway by promoting glutamate signaling in the pharynx. This results in the overriding of a GPCR pathway involved in the perception of food and which normally acts to decrease glutamate signals. Our results describe the activation of a dietary restriction response through the pharmacological masking of a novel sensory pathway that signals the presence of food. This suggests that primary sensory pathways may represent novel targets for human pharmacology.

Concepts: Human, Caenorhabditis elegans, Caenorhabditis, Nematode, Model organism, Rhabditidae, Signal, Sensory system


Auxin is a key regulator of plant growth and development, but the causal relationship between hormone transport and root responses remains unresolved. Here we describe auxin uptake, together with early steps in signaling, in Arabidopsis root hairs. Using intracellular microelectrodes we show membrane depolarization, in response to IAA in a concentration- and pH-dependent manner. This depolarization is strongly impaired in aux1 mutants, indicating that AUX1 is the major transporter for auxin uptake in root hairs. Local intracellular auxin application triggers Ca2+signals that propagate as long-distance waves between root cells and modulate their auxin responses. AUX1-mediated IAA transport, as well as IAA-triggered calcium signals, are blocked by treatment with the SCFTIR1/AFB- inhibitor auxinole. Further, they are strongly reduced in the tir1afb2afb3 and the cngc14 mutant. Our study reveals that the AUX1 transporter, the SCFTIR1/AFBreceptor and the CNGC14 Ca2+channel, mediate fast auxin signaling in roots.

Concepts: Protein, Causality, Cell membrane, Electrochemistry, Signal, Root, Hair, Trichome


Contamination of the electroencephalogram (EEG) by artifacts greatly reduces the quality of the recorded signals. There is a need for automated artifact removal methods. However, such methods are rarely evaluated against one another via rigorous criteria, with results often presented based upon visual inspection alone. This work presents a comparative study of automatic methods for removing blink, electrocardiographic, and electromyographic artifacts from the EEG. Three methods are considered; wavelet, blind source separation (BSS), and multivariate singular spectrum analysis (MSSA)-based correction. These are applied to data sets containing mixtures of artifacts. Metrics are devised to measure the performance of each method. The BSS method is seen to be the best approach for artifacts of high signal to noise ratio (SNR). By contrast, MSSA performs well at low SNRs but at the expense of a large number of false positive corrections.

Concepts: Electrophysiology, Signal processing, Electroencephalography, Signal, Electromyography, Signal-to-noise ratio, Corrections, Electrocardiography


Inflammasomes are multiprotein complexes that serve as a platform for caspase-1 activation and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) maturation as well as pyroptosis. Though a number of inflammasomes have been described, the NLRP3 inflammasome is the most extensively studied. NLRP3 inflammasome is triggered by a variety of stimuli, including infection, tissue damage and metabolic dysregulation, and then activated through an integrated cellular signal. Many regulatory mechanisms have been identified to attenuate NLRP3 inflammasome signaling at multiple steps. Here, we review the developments in the negative regulation of NLRP3 inflammasome that protect host from inflammatory damage.

Concepts: Inflammation, Signal, Regulation, Caspase 1, Inflammasome


Many experimental therapies for autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), aim to bias T cells toward tolerogenic phenotypes without broad suppression. However, the link between local signal integration in lymph nodes (LNs) and the specificity of systemic tolerance is not well understood. We used intra-LN injection of polymer particles to study tolerance as a function of signals in the LN microenvironment. In a mouse MS model, intra-LN introduction of encapsulated myelin self-antigen and a regulatory signal (rapamycin) permanently reversed paralysis after one treatment during peak disease. Therapeutic effects were myelin specific, required antigen encapsulation, and were less potent without rapamycin. This efficacy was accompanied by local LN reorganization, reduced inflammation, systemic expansion of regulatory T cells, and reduced T cell infiltration to the CNS. Our findings suggest that local control over signaling in distinct LNs can promote cell types and functions that drive tolerance that is systemic but antigen specific.

Concepts: Immune system, Lymph node, Multiple sclerosis, Lymphatic system, Signal, Autoimmune diseases, Lymph, Lymph vessel


Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is thought to control a wide range of reward, punishment, and uncertainty-related behaviors. However, how it does so is unclear. Here, in a Pavlovian procedure in which monkeys displayed a diverse repertoire of reward-related, punishment-related, and uncertainty-related behaviors, we show that many ACC-neurons represent expected value and uncertainty in a valence-specific manner, signaling value or uncertainty predictions about either rewards or punishments. Other ACC-neurons signal prediction information about rewards and punishments by displaying excitation to both (rather than excitation to one and inhibition to the other). This diversity in valence representations may support the role of ACC in many behavioral states that are either enhanced by reward and punishment (e.g., vigilance) or specific to either reward or punishment (e.g., approach and avoidance). Also, this first demonstration of punishment-uncertainty signals in the brain suggests that ACC could be a target for the treatment of uncertainty-related disorders of mood.Rewards or punishments elicit diverse behavioral responses; however, the neural circuits underlying such flexibility are unclear. Here Monosov shows that this diversity could be supported by neurons in the anterior cingulate that represent expected value and uncertainty in a valence-specific manner.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Human brain, Cerebrum, Signal, Brodmann area 24, Anterior cingulate cortex, Cingulate cortex


This paper presents a method for detecting psychological stress levels. It aims to explore the feasibility of using a single physiological signal to create a more practical alternative for detecting stress in people than current multiple physiological signals approaches involve. In particular, the approach explored uses linear discriminant analysis (LDA) based on the electrodermal activity (EDA) signal which aims at discriminating between three stress levels: low, medium and high. We used the MIT Media lab ‘stress database’ from which we selected eleven ‘foot’ based EDA data sets for our experiments. Using this eighteen EDA features were extracted from (sixty-six) five-minutes data segments equating to three driving conditions: at rest, on the open road (highway) and city driving. After that, Fisher projection and Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) were used to classify the stress levels with feature vectors, that included both leaving one out and test cross-validation strategy. The results showed that these methods achieved recognition rate of 81.82% which we argue, while less that multiple signal systems, may be a better balance between recognition performance and computational load, that could be a promising line of research for the development of practical personal stress monitors.

Concepts: Psychometrics, Signal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Media Lab, Media Lab Europe, MIT School of Architecture and Planning, Nicholas Negroponte, Mitchel Resnick


Faces play a key role in signaling social cues such as signals of trustworthiness. Although several studies identify the amygdala as a core brain region in social cognition, quantitative approaches evaluating its role are scarce.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuroanatomy, Sociology, Cerebrum, Signal, Meta-analysis, Quantitative research, Play


Urbanization can radically disrupt natural ecosystems through alteration of the sensory environment. Habitat disturbances are predicted to favor behaviorally flexible species capable of adapting to altered environments. When artificial light at night (ALAN) is introduced into urban areas, it has the potential to impede reproduction of local firefly populations by obscuring their bioluminescent courtship signals. Whether individual fireflies can brighten their signals to maintain visibility against an illuminated background remains unknown. In this study, we exposed male Aquatica ficta fireflies to diffused light of varying wavelength and intensity, and recorded their alarm flash signals. When exposed to wavelengths at or below 533 nm, males emitted brighter signals with decreased frequency. This is the first evidence of individual-level light signal plasticity in fireflies. In contrast, long wavelength ambient light (≥ 597 nm) did not affect signal morphology, likely because A. ficta cannot perceive these wavelengths. These results suggest long wavelength lighting is less likely to impact firefly courtship, and its use in place of broad spectrum white lighting could augment firefly conservation efforts. More generally, this study demonstrates benefits of bioluminescent signal plasticity in a “noisy” signaling environment, and sheds light on an important yet understudied consequence of urbanization.

Concepts: Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Signal, Wavelength, Lighting, Firefly, Bioluminescence, Phengodidae