Community Newsletter: Python primer, pandemic friendship effects, human brain power-up | Spectrum


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Fall is upon us here in New York and the school year is beginning anew. This week, several tweets and threads about school and learning caught the attention of our Twitter feeds.

“Are you an aspiring or practicing neuroscientist who wants it? learn Python free?” Patrick Bloniasz, a graduate student in computational neuroscience at Boston University in Massachusetts, posed the question to any lifelong learner willing to master a new skill using the programming language, and the response was great. Bloniasz explained that Mark Kramer , also from Boston University, has created a freely available virtual book on the subject.

In a thread describing the various learning modules, or notebooks, in the book (15 in total), Bloniasz also offered to “make one study group with people on Zoom to go through these notebooks!”

That looks great! My comp may need to be retooled. method class at @NDSUPsychology around it,” replied Ben Balas, a professor of psychology at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

“That is a great resourceand a nice hands-on way to learn some Python!” tweeted Jake Ahern, a PhD student in Neurodynamics at the University of Bristol in the UK.

Ona Marija Singh, a doctoral student at Hannover Medical School in Lower Saxony, Germany, tweeted that she was “starting to learn dissect brains just today, wow, that’s a sign.”

“I dream of moving Computational Neurosciencebut my university never offered such courses!” tweeted Emina, a molecular biologist from Croatia.

Bloniasz replied: “You will be great! 😀 let me know if I can be of any help. By the way, I enjoyed quickly skimming your blog!” what Emina said made her day.

To draw our attention to younger learners, Laura Fox, a PhD student at the University of York in the UK, shared her article, which was published in autism “Examining the Impact of COVID-19 and School Transition on autistic children friendship.”

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The work “illuminates the diversity of needs among autistic children and calls for a personalized approach to transitional support…” Fox explained in the thread.

Annis Stenson, lecturer in student engagement at the University of York, called the study a “important new paper‘ in a quote tweet.

“New Paper, led by the Fabulous @laura_j_fox what the school transition looked like autistic children during COVIDand how the experience is related to the development and maintenance of friendships,” responded study co-author Kathryn Asbury, director of the GenOmics And Life Stories group at the University of York.

Speaking of learning, have you ever wondered what lies behind modern humans’ cognitive abilities? A new study in Science suggests that “a single amino acid change helps explain ours cognitive power compared to Neanderthals,” tweeted Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California.

The study’s researchers compared genome sequences from modern humans to those of Neanderthals and found “that an amino acid swap encoded in the TKTL1 gene” played a role in the design of the modern human brain.

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However, some researchers were skeptical. “It’s intriguing, but are we really supposed to believe that TKTL1 is a driver of human cognition?” wrote Jonathan Sebat, professor of psychiatry and cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, in a quote tweet.

Karol Estrada of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, also had doubts, tweeting: “I bet my colleagues are working on it Genetics of Cognitive Skills will have something to say about that.”

Fascinating if true. Much more work is needed to evaluate the mutation,” tweeted Jason Locasale of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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That’s it for this week’s community newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in the field of autism research, please feel free to email [email protected].

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