ARVO 2014 Poster

For the past few days, I’ve been at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Tomorrow is the final day, and I’m presenting my poster in the session just before the closing keynote. It’s titled Cortical patterning genes are associated with individual differences in visual orientation perceptionPDF of session abstracts ]I’ll be in Exhibit Hall SA from 10:45–11:45 am for the all posters session, then again from 12:00–1:45 pm.

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Talk at UC Riverside

Next week, I’m leaving to spend a few weeks in the U.S. My first stop is the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside—we collaborate with Sara Mednick‘s team of sleep researchers there. I’m going to give a brown bag lunch talk on Wednesday, April 30th at 12:10pm in the Goldman Library.

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Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Conference 2013

I’m at the annual meeting of the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society at Monash University in Melbourne. Tomorrow, I’m presenting a poster based on our work investigating the genetic basis of a visual phenotype related to autism and schizophrenia.

You can download the poster here.

Poster Session 1: Friday 29th November 2013 at 15:00–16:30
Location: Building K, Monash University, Caulfield Campus
Poster 015: Genetic associates of a visual endophenotype of autism and schizophrenia

Variants in the 1q21 risk region are associated with a visual endophenotype of autism and schizophrenia

I’ve recently published a paper with my Cambridge collaborators in the journal Genes, Brain and Behavior. There is a lot of research currently looking into the genetics of psychological disorders. But we now know that most result from a very complex interplay of multiple genetic and environmental factors, which makes traditional genetic approaches less useful than we might hope. One promising approach is to investigate the genetics of psychological endophenotypes—these are traits linked to a disorder, but which are likely to have a relatively simple relationship with genetic mechanisms. Basic visual functions seem to be ideal candidates for this sort of study, because in many cases we know a lot about the underlying physiology.

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(Yes)today’s TED talks

For today, a couple of old TED talks I’ve revisited recently.

Dan Dennett/On Our Consciousness
I often don’t agree Dan Dennett says, but I always love how he says it. Here’s an old talk in which he discusses the degree to which we (don’t) have insight into our own consciousness. He also seems to take credit for predicting change blindness.

Peter Donnelly/How Stats Fool Juries
Here, Donnelly puts across some excellent material on our perception of random sequences. Heads and tails; adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine. He goes on to consider how our poor grasp of this sort of statistical reasoning can lead to genuinely terrible consequences.

I’m professionally indebted to Donnelly for his work on HapMap and with WTCCC. Interestingly, both Dennett and Donnelly open with jokes about being boring at parties.

Bobby McFerrin/The Pentatonic Scale
And finally, this wonderful piece from Bobby McFerrin.

Fry’s planet word

I quite enjoyed the first episode (“Babel”) of Stephen Fry’s new series on language, Planet Word, which screened tonight on BBC2. It’s not hard-hitting science, but it doesn’t set out to be. Highlights include a discussion with Wolfgang Enard about the FOXP2 “language” gene; an interview with editor and writer Robert McCrum on his recovery from a stroke that severely impaired his speech (documented in his novel, My Year Off); and what I thought was a rather disturbing conversation with d’Armond Speers, who attempted to raise his son to speak Klingon—though it is interesting that it didn’t really work. It also mentioned MIT’s Deb Roy, who fitted his house with cameras to capture his child’s acquisition of language, which prompted me to revisit his fascinating TED talk.

Planet Word is currently available on iPlayer (again, I’d guess this is U.K. only, sorry, but the clip below seems to be freely available on YouTube).