In human beings, the cerebellum occupies only 10 percent of the brain volume, yet has approximately 69 billion neurons; that is 80 percent of the nerve cells in the brain.
In the book Evolution of the Cerebellar Sense of Self, published by Oxford University Press in January, co-authors David Bodznick and John Montgomery use an evolutionary perspective to explain cerebellar research to a wide audience. Bodznick is professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior at Wesleyan, and Montgomery is professor of biology and marine science at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
The cerebellum first arose in jawed vertebrates such as sharks, and early vertebrates also have an additional cerebellum-like structure in the hindbrain. Shark cerebellum-like structures function as so-called adaptive filters to discriminate ‘self’ from ‘other’ in sensory inputs.
According to Bodznick, “it is likely that the true cerebellum evolved from these cerebellum-like precursors, and that their adaptive filter functionality was adopted for motor control; paving the way for the athleticism and movement finesse that we see in all swimming, running, climbing and flying vertebrates,” he said.
This book will be of interest to neuroscientists, neurologists and psychologists, in addition to computer scientists, and engineers concerned with machine/human interactions and robotics.
Breakfast at O’Rourke’s, published by Wesleyan University Press.
A Wesleyan alumnus from Chicago. A faculty film aficionado. A martial arts teacher and that teacher’s teacher, a tenth-degree black belt visiting from Germany. Four elementary school students, here as a reward for good deeds, along with their principal and school nurse.
This is breakfast at O’Rourke’s, and the scene this morning is a lot like owner Brian O’Rourke’s namesake everything-and-the-kitchen-sink breakfast: an eclectic mix of ingredients combined in ways you would never expect. You never know what you’re going to get, but it always works, and it’s always delicious.
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Norman Shapiro, the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, is the author and translator of Creole Echoes: The Francophone French Poetry of 19th-Century Louisiana, a new addition to Second Line Press, New Orleans’ Louisiana Heritage Series, published Dec. 1.
Shapiro also previously contributed to the Louisiana Heritage Series, New Orleans Poems in Creole and French (2013), a title, which covers almost all the French and Louisiana Creole poetry of noted intellectual Jules Choppin between 1830-1914.
Future translated works to be published by Second Line Press include, two plays of poet and playwright Victor Séjour— “The Fortune-Teller” (La Tireuse de cartes), a five act play in prose based on the celebrated Mortara Affair, and the five-act formal-verse drama, “The Jew of Seville” (Diégarias).
More details on Shapiro’s work is online here.
Based on the senior thesis of Jared Lefkowitz ’12, “A Tale of Two Lakes: The Newberry Volcano Twin Crater Lakes, Oregon, USA,” was published online, Nov. 25, by the Geological Society of London, U.K, as part of the volume, Geochemistry and Geophysics of Active Volcanic Lakes. The study is co-authored by Lefkowitz; Ellen Thomas, research professor in earth and environmental science; and Johan Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor in Earth Science. Varekamp also is professor of environmental science, adjunct professor in Latin American studies, and chair of the Geological Society of America’s Limnogeology Division. Thomas also is the University Professor in the College of Integrates Sciences.
The chapter examines the complex ecosystems of Newberry Volcano’s two small crater lakes, East Lake and Paulina Lake, which are of interest to scientists because of the presence of highly toxic components and the signs gas-charging in East Lake. “These factors present natural hazards, which may change when new volcanic activity is initiated,” Varekamp explained. The presence of nearby “seismic triggers or disrupted lake stratification gives scientists a situation to monitor, as these factors can cause sudden intense CO2 degassing in the very different chemistries and gas contents of the two lakes.”
The authors’ abstract is online here.
Additionally, Varekamp contributed papers on Taal Lake in the Philippines and on the Copahue Volcano crater lake in Argentina. Both of these chapters will be published in the same volume in the upcoming weeks.
David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics, is the author of a new paper published in the European Economic Review titled “WTO Dispute Determinants.”
In the paper, Kuenzel investigates what factors drive the decisions of World Trade Organization member countries to engage in trade disputes with each other. “Understanding the determinants of the dispute pattern is crucial, since the WTO can only function properly if its dispute settlement mechanism is equally accessible to all member countries,” Kuenzel said.
The paper presents a new theory and empirical evidence to show that trade policy flexibility, which is defined as the difference between the tariff rate a country is legally allowed to set and the tariff rate it actually applies, is the key to understanding the WTO dispute pattern. Less trade policy flexibility constrains WTO members’ legal policy options when responding to adverse shocks in the world economy, and leads more frequently to the application of illegal trade barriers.
Countries with less trade policy flexibility, Kuenzel says, are also more likely to gain from dispute filings, since WTO rulings have to be enforced by countries themselves through the threat of applying higher tariffs rates.
“Importantly, the results in the paper illustrate that the WTO’s current emphasis on providing subsidized legal advice to developing countries is not making the WTO dispute settlement mechanism more accessible,” he says. “While the subsidy helps poorer members to file disputes and increases the likelihood of winning a case, developing countries still lack the power to enforce WTO rulings due to their much greater trade policy flexibility relative to other WTO member groups, which substantially diminishes the economic incentive for low-income members to initiate a dispute.”
Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the author of two papers in leading journals for psychiatry and psychology on his work with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). The RDoC is a framework to drive translational research to improve psychiatric diagnosis and develop new and better treatments.
In the October issue of World Psychiatry, Sanislow reports on ongoing RDoC work, including the consideration of adding the domain “Motor Systems” to the RDoC. Early this month, Sanislow participated in a workshop at NIMH to review the evidence for research constructs having to do with disruptions of movement related to psychopathology.
In the November issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Sanislow argues for the need to research connections between internal mechanisms and core dimensions of human suffering and dysfunction. In Sanislow’s lab at Wesleyan, students learn methods to study alterations in cognitive and neural processes, and ways to clarify how such alterations relate to clinical symptoms. Sanislow began work on the RDoC when it started in 2009, and he continues to serve as member of the NIMH Internal Working Group for the project.
Wesleyan University, 1910-1970: Academic Ambition and Middle-Class America, by David Potts ’60 is the winner of the 2016 Homer D. Babbidge Jr. Award “for the best study of a significant aspect of Connecticut history.”
The book, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2015, has received critical acclaim from a variety of sources including, History of Education Quarterly and Connecticut History Review. Reviews in American History states, “Wesleyan University, 1910-1970 is one of the strongest institutional histories of an American college or university and covers in vivid detail every conceivable aspect of the institution, from finances and board priorities, to professors’ abilities and student aspirations, from building projects, to town-gown relations.”
Potts’ book also won the Wesleyan’s James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award for “writings by a member of the Wesleyan family that conveys unusual insight and understanding of current or past events.” Additionally, his first volume on Wesleyan’s history, Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England, published by Yale Press, 1992, also won the Babbidge Award.
Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, is a co-author of a paper titled “The impact of junk-food diet during development on ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’.” The paper was recently published in The Behavioral Brain Research Journal. His co-authors include Wesleyan alumni Ellen Nacha Lesser ’15, Aime Arroyo-Ramirez ‘16, and Sarah Jingyi Mi ’16.
The research looked at the developmental impacts of a chronic junk-food diet throughout development and how it blunts pleasure and affects motivation. The study found that chronic exposure to a junk-food diet resulted in large individual differences in weight gain (gainers and non-gainers) despite resulting in stunted growth as compared to chow-fed controls. Behaviorally, junk food exposure attenuated conditioned approach (autoshaping) in females, particularly in non-gainers. In contrast, junk-food exposed rats that gained the most weight were willing to work harder for access to a food cue (conditioned reinforcement), and were more attracted to a junk-food context (conditioned place preference) than non-gainers.
Read the full article here.
Kali Gross, professor of African American studies, details the 1887 crime of the disembodied torso found near a pond outside Philadelphia, and the subsequent, scandal-driven trial of Hannah Mary Tabbs and George Wilson, in her most recent book Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America, published February 2, 2016.
Gross explains in an editorial published on her website, her use of “detectives’ notes, trial and prison records, local newspapers, and other archival documents to reconstruct this ghastly who-done-it true crime in all its scandalous detail and in doing so, gives the crime context by analyzing it against broader evidence of police treatment of black suspects and violence within the black community.”
Copies of Gross’ Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Oxford University Press.
Laura Patey (photo by John Noltner for “A Peace of My Mind: American Stories”)
Laura Patey, associate dean for student academic resources, was featured in the newest book of the series, A Peace of My Mind: American Stories, by award-winning photographer and author, John Noltner. In his book, Noltner drove 40,000 miles across the country to ask people the simple question, “What does peace mean to you?” This resulted in the stories of “58 people from diverse backgrounds, who share stories of hope, redemption, and forgiveness, paired with compelling color portraits.”
Patey’s personal story highlights the peace she has finally found with embracing her own identity, with a focus on her experience adopting her sons out of foster care and how her experience of not fitting in when she was younger made her into an advocate for the marginalized in society. She also spoke of her challenges of coming out and being accepted. In the end, she has found peace now that she realizes “it’s not about having people tolerate or accept you, it’s about embracing your identity.”
An excerpt of Dean Patey’s story, along with her full audio interview was published on the website for the Peace of My Mind Project. Moreover, her story was highlighted in one of Noltner’s blog posts as a tool he was able to use to connect with a young student who was having her own trouble and felt isolated dealing with the reality of her own similar family situation.
Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, is a co-author of a paper titled, “How feedback improves children’s numerical estimation,” published in the August 2016 issue of the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. Barth’s co-authors are former members of her Cognitive Development Lab, which include Shipra Kanjlia ’11 and Jennifer Garcia ’10, former lab managers Jessica Taggart and Elizabeth Chase, and former postdoctoral fellow Emily Slusser, PhD.
The paper explores one theory of children’s cognitive development that there are fundamental developmental changes in the ways children think about numbers. This theory says numbers are arranged on a different mental scale for younger children. Changes in children’s estimates following corrective feedback have been interpreted as support for that theory.
Barth’s team tested this study and wrote about the results. “This study with second-grade children shows that the changes observed in estimation following corrective feedback are more consistent with a different theory of children’s numerical development,” said Barth. “Instead of thinking of numbers in a fundamentally different way with development, children are probably changing by gaining knowledge of numerical ordering and magnitude, and gaining facility with measurement processes.”
Read the full abstract here.
Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, is a co-author of a paper titled, “Methyl transfer by substrate signaling from a knotted protein fold,” published in the August 2016 issue of the Nature Structural & Molecular Biology newsletter.
The paper describes the protein TrmD, an enzyme that catalyzes tRNA modification, but unlike most proteins, TrmD has an “interesting knotted configuration, which is not common,” Taylor said.
The paper demonstrates that even in proteins with knotted configurations, the internal protein movements and dynamics are important for binding, signaling and catalysis.
“This is exciting because one might expect knotted proteins to be more static in their structure due to the knot, where the amino acids wrap in on themselves, but the evidence suggests that protein dynamics are just as important in these types (knotted configurations) of proteins,” she said.