In fish schools the density varies per location and often individuals are sorted according to familiarity and/or body size. High density is considered advantageous for protection against predators and this sorting is believed to be advantageous not only to avoid predators but also for finding food. In this paper, we list a number of mechanisms and we study, with the help of an individual-based model of schooling agents, which spatial patterns may result from them. In our model, schooling is regulated by the following rules: avoiding those that are close by, aligning to those at intermediate distances, and moving towards others further off. Regarding kinship/familiarity, we study patterns that come about when agents actively choose to be close to related agents (i.e., 'active sorting'). Regarding body size, we study what happens when agents merely differ in size but behave according to the usual schooling rules ('size difference model'), when agents choose to be close to those of similar size, and when small agents avoid larger ones ('risk avoidance'). Several spatial configurations result: during 'active sorting' familiar agents group together anywhere in the shoal, but agents of different size group concentrically, whereby the small agents occupy the center and the large ones the periphery ('size difference model' and 'active sorting'). If small agents avoid the risk of being close to large ones, however, small agents end up at the periphery and large ones occupy the center ('risk avoidance'). Spatial configurations are also influenced by the composition of the group, namely the percentage of agents of each type. Furthermore, schools are usually oblong and their density is always greatest near the front. We explain the way in which these patterns emerge and indicate how results of our model may guide the study of spatial patterns in real animals.
Neolamprologus pulcher is a cooperatively breeding cichlid fish, in which helpers stay in their natal territory and help with brood care, territory defense, and maintenance. In this study we investigated helper effects by an experimental group size reduction in the field. After this manipulation, focal helpers in reduced groups tended to feed less, and small helpers visited the breeding shelter significantly more often than same-sized helpers in control groups. No evidence was found that remaining helpers compensated for the removed helpers by increasing territory defense and maintenance behavior. Breeders, however, did show a lower defense rate, possibly caused by an increase in brood care effort. Survival of fry was significantly lower in removal than control groups, which provides the first experimental proof in a natural population of fish that brood care helpers do effectively help. The data suggest that in small, generally younger, helpers, kin selection may be an important evolutionary cause of cooperation. Large helpers, however, who are generally older and less related to the breeders than small helpers are suggested to pay to be allowed to stay in the territory by helping. All group members benefit from group augmentation.
Brain aging research relies mostly on cross-sectional studies, which infer true changes from age differences. We present longitudinal measures of five-year change in the regional brain volumes in healthy adults. Average and individual differences in volume changes and the effects of age, sex and hypertension were assessed with latent difference score modeling. The caudate, the cerebellum, the hippocampus and the association cortices shrunk substantially. There was minimal change in the entorhinal and none in the primary visual cortex. Longitudinal measures of shrinkage exceeded cross-sectional estimates. All regions except the inferior parietal lobule showed individual differences in change. Shrinkage of the cerebellum decreased from young to middle adulthood, and increased from middle adulthood to old age. Shrinkage of the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortices, the inferior temporal cortex and the prefrontal white matter increased with age. Moreover, shrinkage in the hippocampus and the cerebellum accelerated with age. In the hippocampus, both linear and quadratic trends in incremental age-related shrinkage were limited to the hypertensive participants. Individual differences in shrinkage correlated across some regions, suggesting common causes. No sex differences in age trends except for the caudate were observed. We found no evidence of neuroprotective effects of larger brain size or educational attainment.
When we observe someone performing an action, do our brains simulate making that action? Acquired motor skills offer a unique way to test this question, since people differ widely in the actions they have learned to perform. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study differences in brain activity between watching an action that one has learned to do and an action that one has not, in order to assess whether the brain processes of action observation are modulated by the expertise and motor repertoire of the observer. Experts in classical ballet, experts in capoeira and inexpert control subjects viewed videos of ballet or capoeira actions. Comparing the brain activity when dancers watched their own dance style versus the other style therefore reveals the influence of motor expertise on action observation. We found greater bilateral activations in premotor cortex and intraparietal sulcus, right superior parietal lobe and left posterior superior temporal sulcus when expert dancers viewed movements that they had been trained to perform compared to movements they had not. Our results show that this 'mirror system' integrates observed actions of others with an individual's personal motor repertoire, and suggest that the human brain understands actions by motor simulation.
Background. Most recurrences in women with breast cancer receiving 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen occur after 5 years. The MA.17 trial, which was designed to determine whether extended adjuvant therapy with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole after tamoxifen reduces the risk of such late recurrences, was stopped early after an interim analysis showed that letrozole improved disease-free survival. This report presents updated findings from the trial. Methods: Postmenopausal women completing 5 years of tamoxifen treatment were randomly assigned to a planned 5 years of letrozole (n = 2593) or placebo (n = 2594). The primary endpoint was disease-free survival (DFS); secondary endpoints included distant disease-free survival, overall survival, incidence of contralateral tumors, and toxic effects. Survival was examined using Kaplan-Meier analysis and log-rank tests. Planned subgroup analyses included those by axillary lymph node status. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: After a median follow-up of 30 months (range = 1.5-61.4 months), women in the letrozole arm had statistically significantly better DFS and distant DFS than women in the placebo arm (DFS: hazard ratio [HR] for recurrence or contralateral breast cancer = 0.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.45 to 0.76; P<.001; distant DFS: HR = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.43 to 0.84; P=.002). Overall survival was the same in both arms (HR for death from any cause = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.57 to 1.19; P=.3). However, among lymph node-positive patients, overall survival was statistically significantly improved with letrozole (HR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.38 to 0.98; P=.04). The incidence of contralateral breast cancer was lower in women receiving letrozole, but the difference was not statistically significant. Women receiving letrozole experienced more hormonally related side effects than those receiving placebo, but the incidences of bone fractures and cardiovascular events were the same. Conclusion: Letrozole after tamoxifen is well-tolerated and improves both disease-free and distant disease-free survival but not overall survival, except in node-positive patients.
We investigated large-scale systems organization of the whole human brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data acquired from healthy volunteers in a no-task or 'resting' state. Images were parcellated using a prior anatomical template, yielding regional mean time series for each of 90 regions (major cortical gyri and subcortical nuclei) in each subject. Significant pairwise functional connections, defined by the group mean inter-regional partial correlation matrix, were mostly either local and intrahemispheric or symmetrically interhemispheric. Low-frequency components in the time series subtended stronger inter-regional correlations than high-frequency components. Intrahemispheric connectivity was generally related to anatomical distance by an inverse square law; many symmetrical interhemispheric connections were stronger than predicted by the anatomical distance between bilaterally homologous regions. Strong interhemispheric connectivity was notably absent in data acquired from a single patient, minimally conscious following a brainstem lesion. Multivariate analysis by hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling consistently defined six major systems in healthy volunteers - corresponding approximately to four neocortical lobes, medial temporal lobe and subcortical nuclei - that could be further decomposed into anatomically and functionally plausible subsystems, e.g. dorsal and ventral divisions of occipital cortex. An undirected graph derived by thresholding the healthy group mean partial correlation matrix demonstrated local clustering or cliquishness of connectivity and short mean path length compatible with prior data on small world characteristics of non-human cortical anatomy. Functional MRI demonstrates a neurophysiological architecture of the normal human brain that is anatomically sensible, strongly symmetrical, disrupted by acute brain injury, subtended predominantly by low frequencies and consistent with a small world network topology.
Previous research in non-human primates has shown that the superior longitudinal fascicle (SLF), a major intrahemispheric fiber tract, is actually composed of four separate components. In humans, only post-mortem investigations have been available to examine the trajectory of this tract. This study evaluates the hypothesis that the four subcomponents observed in non-human primates can also be found in the human brain using in vivo diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI). The results of our study demonstrated that the four subdivisions could indeed be identified and segmented in humans. SLF I is located in the white matter of the superior parietal and superior frontal lobes and extends to the dorsal premotor and dorsolateral prefrontal regions. SLF II occupies the central core of the white matter above the insula. It extends from the angular gyrus to the caudal-lateral prefrontal regions. SLF III is situated in the white matter of the parietal and frontal opercula and extends from the supramarginal gyrus to the ventral premotor and prefrontal regions. The fourth subdivision of the SLF, the arcuate fascicle, stems from the caudal part of the superior temporal gyrus arches around the caudal end of the Sylvian fissure and extends to the lateral prefrontal cortex along with the SLF II fibers. Since DT-MRI allows the precise definition of only the stem portion of each fiber pathway, the origin and termination of the subdivisions of SLF are extrapolated from the available data in experimental material from non-human primates.
Brain activation during motor imagery has been the subject of a large number of studies in healthy subjects, leading to divergent interpretations with respect to the role of descending pathways and kinesthetic feedback on the mental rehearsal of movements. We investigated patients with complete spinal cord injury (SCI) to find out how the complete disruption of motor efferents and sensory afferents influences brain activation during motor imagery of the disconnected feet. Eight SCI patients underwent behavioral assessment and functional magnetic resonance imaging. When compared to a healthy population, stronger activity was detected in primary and all non-primary motor cortical areas and subcortical regions. In paraplegic patients the primary motor cortex was consistently activated, even to the same degree as during movement execution in the controls. Motor imagery in SCI patients activated in parallel both the motor execution and motor imagery networks of healthy subjects. In paraplegics the extent of activation in the primary motor cortex and in mesial non-primary motor areas was significantly correlated with the vividness of movement imagery, as assessed by an interview. The present findings provide new insights on the neuroanatomy of motor imagery and the possible role of kinesthetic feedback in the suppression of cortical motor output required during covert movements.
In unicolonial populations of ants, individuals can mix freely within large networks of nests that contain many queens. It has been proposed that the absence of aggression in unicolonial populations stems from a loss of nest mate recognition, but few studies have tested this hypothesis. We investigated patterns of aggression and nest mate recognition in the unicolonial wood ant, Formica paralugubris. Little aggression occurred, even between workers from nests separated by up to 5 km. However, when aggression took place, it was directed toward non-nest mates rather than nest mates. Trophallaxis (exchange of liquid food) occurred very frequently, and surprisingly, workers performed significantly more trophallaxis with non-nest mates than with nest mates (bias 2.4:1). Hence, workers are able to discriminate nest mates from non-nest mates. Higher rates of trophallaxis between non-nest mates may serve to homogenize the colony odor or may be an appeasement mechanism. Trophallaxis rate and aggression level were not correlated with geographical distance and did not differ within and between two populations separated by several kilometers. Hence, these populations do not represent differentiated supercolonies with clear-cut behavioral boundaries. Overall, the data demonstrate that unicoloniality can evolve despite well-developed nest mate recognition. Reduced levels of aggression might have been favored by the low rate of interactions with foreign workers, high cost of erroneously rejecting nest mates, and low cost of accepting foreign workers.