Memory-guided behaviors employ spatial “maps” in the brain

A new study seems to show that the brains of rats—and by extension ours as well—use a spatial “mapping” system to encode more than just space.

This suggests that mammalian brains encode “continuous, task-relevant variables” in “common circuit mechanisms” that can “represent diverse behavioural tasks, possibly supporting cognitive processes beyond spatial navigation.” (Mapping of a non-spatial dimension by the hippocampal–entorhinal circuit)

It does seem that we do a lot of thinking, remembering, and associating in systematic or roughly systematic ways. And it does seem that these systems resemble spatial ones.

Ever notice how amazing it can feel to stumble upon a new view of a spatial system you already know well? “So that’s where the duct goes through the wall!” Or, “I never realized that Bob’s Street intersects Jones right here!”

When we explore our psychological “maps” in interpersonal settings using FIML techniques, we gain access to details that reorganize those “maps” in a similar way to the example above. Small insights can yield amazing results.

Typically, normal psychological maps are distorted impressions of the psychological space around us. FIML allows us to see in our psychological “maps” a level of detail or resolution that cannot be gained in any other way.

Understanding verbal, emotional, semiotic, and associative details is key to understanding our “psychological locations” in this world.

American chestnut tree may return due to genetic modification

Excellent article on the probable return of the American chestnut tree. This appears to be a good use of genetic modification. It will return an important wild species to its natural habitat.

…By splicing a single gene from wheat into the tree’s genome, scientists from the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) have engineered blight-resistant saplings.

This year, the team plans to apply for approval from U.S. and Canadian regulators to distribute the plant. If they are successful, the tree would be the first genetically modified organism released with the goal of reintroducing an endangered species to the wild, rather than producing a commercial agricultural crop. (Science finds a way to bring back the American chestnut tree)

Could Mysterious Cosmic Light Flashes Be Powering Alien Spacecraft?

Bizarre flashes of cosmic light may actually be generated by advanced alien civilizations, as a way to accelerate interstellar spacecraft to tremendous speeds, a new study suggests. (Source)

In Buddhist cosmology, there exist billions of world-systems, each of which contains billions of worlds. This has always sounded like a description of galaxies to me.

The hypothesis that “fast radio bursts” could be evidence of alien spacecraft is presented in the linked article, which also has a link to the study itself.