TCIN 2014 Symposium Schedule: Tuesday November 4, 2014

TCIN 2014 Symposium Schedule

Date: Tuesday November 4, 2014
Venue: Lecture Theatre LB 11, Lloyd Building, Trinity College

Coffee: 0930-1000.

Symposium start: 1000

Our Plenary speakers in 2014:

Prof. Kate Jeffrey, UCL: lab

Prof. Bruno Poucet: lab

Prof Lissette Mendez de la Prida: lab

Plus a host of locals: Dr Marian Tsanov, Niamh McGuinness, Dr Jens Hillebrand, Prof Andrew Harkin, Prof Connail McCory, and Prof Mary Cannon.

Reception: 1700

Download the Symposium_Schedule_TCIN_2014

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Why you need lots of good quality sleep: Sleep loss affects work performance, ethics, memory and health

Sleep is hugely under-rated as a cognitive enhancer – proper sleep is a necessity

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See Wikipedia:Sleep deprivation). Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

for learning and memory, processes at the core of cognition. But sleep has lots more functions than enhancing cognition. Insomnia is a grim condition, and sleep deprivation causes all sorts of interesting problems, not least at work. Thesleep-deprived are at much greater risk of  behaving unethically: “… sleep quantity is positively related to self-control resources and negative associated with unethical behavior. In a cross-sectional field study examining unethical behavior in a variety of work settings, low levels of sleep, and low perceived quality of sleep, were both positively related to unethical behavior as rated by the supervisor, and cognitive fatigue mediated the influence of sleep quantity. In an experience sampling field study, we found similar effects within-individuals.” (pdf). Without sufficient sleep, you are much more likely to take dodgy short-cuts – ones that you would not contemplate if you were properly rested.

The sleep-deprived are more likely to suffer occupational injuries, even on oil rigs.Additionally, “sleep timing and duration affect a number of endocrine, metabolic, and neurological functions that are critical to the maintenance of individual health. If left untreated, sleep disorders and chronic short sleep are associated with an increased risk of:

Take the World Sleep Survey.

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Sharpen your thinking about business advice: Sensitivity, specificity and base rates

Dry muesli mix, served with milk and banana

Dry muesli mix, served with milk and banana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your news feed might have pieces about how to get better at business (or indeed your living your life). They might have a seemingly empirical basis, and offer numbers of great specificity: the ten ways the successful manage their time; the fifteen books the very rich have read (and you must read too); the six and a half things that all happy people do; the three things the best managers do; the fourteen things the highly motivated do every day; six and a half things to do get love, respect and loyalty; the nine and quarter things you must do in order to have a successful start-up, etc. Listicles, articles or books which apparently enumerate the traits needed to succeed, in other words.

You know the kind of thing – self-help books are full of this stuff, and the internet is clogged with it.

There’s a problem, and it should be obvious: if things were as easy as adopting the twelve-teen habits of the rich, the famous, the highly-motivated, the loved and the respected, then everyone would be doing it, and it should work for everyone (ignoring the role that luck and a hundred other extraneous and extrinsic variables might also play).

So – what to make of this barrage of advice? Some of it may be well-founded – it may indeed be the case that the very successful have all read fifteen books in common with each other. However, the problem here is the false positive rate – lots of people who aren’t rich or in charge of major multinationals may have read exactly the same books (or whatever).

Are there useful cognitive tools for thinking about such advice?

Here’s one such tool, taken directly from biomedicine.

Diagnostic tests in biomedicine can seem like complicated things: you take a bodily fluid (saliva, blood, for example) or a measurement of bodily function (like temperature or blood pressure), and you put these through some form of diagnostic algorithm, and you get a diagnosis. A flu, or whatever the tests indicate.

But of course it’s not that simple – a high temperature is a very specific measurement, but it lacks sensitivity. In other words, having a high temperature might be common to sunbathers, marathon runners, respiratory tract infections, the flu, or faulty air conditioning. A high temperature is specific, but not sensitive – because it is a feature of many conditions. And you need to know the base rate. During a flu epidemic, a high temperature, plus other biological markers (plus the epidemic itself – the base rate), will tend to suggest a diagnosis of the flu (rather than other possible causes).

So how does any of this relate to business practice? Simple really: being aware of thinking about sensitivity, specificity and base rate concepts together provides a powerful and elegant cognitive tool for thinking about what advice to adopt or to act on.

When offered advice that is of high specificity, you must also ask about it’s sensitivity. It’s not a lot of use to know that the following list of business leaders all eat muesli for breakfast; after all, lots of non-business leaders do too. Muesli-eating has very high specificity, but very low sensitivity (because lots of non-business leaders also eat muesli), and it is confounded by very high base rates – lots of people in the population at large also eat muesli.

Knowing sensitivity, specificity and base rate information helps you engage in differential diagnosis (another useful biomedical term): to be able assess advice that is causally useful, among the other alternatives available.

Knowing that business leaders all eat muesli is useless. Knowing that successful ones focus on something specific (like cashflow and profits, or customer relations, or whatever); knowing that ones who fail do not; that ones who are failing adopt practice x, and that this turns their business around, starts to put you in a very different place when considering advice that comes apparently with high specificity: 97% of CEOs eat muesli for breakfast! But so does 30% of the population at large, so eating muesli mightn’t be much use in turning you into the next CEO of Large Company Inc.

There’s a nice treatment of these concepts on wiki at sensitivity and specificity and differential diagnosis.

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The Economic Impact of Irish Higher Education Institutions – Preliminary results

Originally posted on Brian M. Lucey:

360px-Quesnay_TableauSo, what do higher education institutions add to the economy? A lot? a little? How would we know anyhow? A recent working paper suggests some answers.

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Interview with George Hook

English: George Hook

English: George Hook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently did an interview with George Hook on Newstalk regarding the Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award I hold with Professor John Aggleton at Cardiff University.

The interview is from 23.30 to 36.30 on the Newstalk site.

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Virtual Reality Research — Some Early Problems with Data Reanalysis and Risks of Open Data

Originally posted on The Scholarly Kitchen:

She Blinded Me with Science

She Blinded Me with Science (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, Stephen Colbert interviewed Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic. Ever the provocateur, Colbert immediately challenged Wieseltier to state his critique of modern culture in 10 words or less. This is what Wieseltier came up with on the spot:

Too much digital, not enough critical thinking, more physical reality.

Ten words exactly. Colbert was duly impressed.

I encountered this critique a day after reading a number of articles with issues of data access (open data) and data reanalysis at their core. One of these also touches on the seemingly endless attempts to link vaccines and autism, despite repeated results showing no link, including said reanalysis itself. Overall, early signs indicate that there are significant responsibilities coming our way as we make data more accessible, and we will need to carefully consider how to proceed.

In August, the BioMed…

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Acute phase plasma proteins are altered by electroconvulsive stimulation.

Acute phase plasma proteins are altered by electroconvulsive stimulation.
J Psychopharmacol. 2014 Sep 29. pii: 0269881114552742. [Epub ahead of print]

Glaviano A, O’Donovan SM, Ryan K, O’Mara S, Dunn MJ, McLoughlin DM.

Download the paper.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective antidepressant treatment, but its molecular mechanisms of action remain to be fully elucidated. To better understand the effects of ECT, we conducted a proteomic study to characterize global changes in plasma protein abundance induced by electroconvulsive stimulation (ECS) in the animal model equivalent of ECT. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered a single or repeat (10 sessions) course of ECS, and compared with sham-ECS administered animals. Quantitative differential protein expression analysis was performed, using 2-dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis (2D DiGE), on immunodepleted plasma. Proteins were selected for identification by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS): 150 protein spots were significantly altered following a single ECS and 178, following repeated ECS. In total, 18 proteins were identified by LC-MS/MS. Many of these were acute-phase response proteins, previously reported to be increased in depressed patients. Changes in the abundance of two proteins of interest were confirmed by other measures. Repeat ECS was found to significantly reduce plasma levels of haptoglobin and apolipoprotein A-IV, although these changes were no longer evident 4 weeks after the repeated ECS. Our results implicate the immune system-induced acute phase protein response in ECS action while identifying potential plasma biomarkers for ECS.

Animal model, apolipoprotein, biomarkers, electroconvulsive stimulation, electroconvulsive therapy, electroshock, haptoglobin, plasma, protein profile, repeated therapy

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