Phil 12.21.18

7:00 – 4:30 ASRC PhD/NASA/NOAA

  • Spatial Representations in the Human Brain
    • While extensive research on the neurophysiology of spatial memory has been carried out in rodents, memory research in humans had traditionally focused on more abstract, language-based tasks. Recent studies have begun to address this gap using virtual navigation tasks in combination with electrophysiological recordings in humans. These studies suggest that the human medial temporal lobe (MTL) is equipped with a population of place and grid cells similar to that previously observed in the rodent brain. Furthermore, theta oscillations have been linked to spatial navigation and, more specifically, to the encoding and retrieval of spatial information. While some studies suggest a single navigational theta rhythm which is of lower frequency in humans than rodents, other studies advocate for the existence of two functionally distinct delta–theta frequency bands involved in both spatial and episodic memory. Despite the general consensus between rodent and human electrophysiology, behavioral work in humans does not unequivocally support the use of a metric Euclidean map for navigation. Formal models of navigational behavior, which specifically consider the spatial scale of the environment and complementary learning mechanisms, may help to better understand different navigational strategies and their neurophysiological mechanisms. Finally, the functional overlap of spatial and declarative memory in the MTL calls for a unified theory of MTL function. Such a theory will critically rely upon linking task-related phenomena at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Understanding how single cell responses relate to ongoing theta oscillations during both the encoding and retrieval of spatial and non-spatial associations appears to be key toward developing a more mechanistic understanding of memory processes in the MTL.
  • Three Kinds of Spatial Cognition
    • Nora S. Newcombe (Scholar)
    • Spatial cognition is often (but wrongly) conceptualized as a single domain of cognition. However, humans function in more than one way in the spatial world. We navigate, as do all mobile animals, but we also manipulate objects using distinctive hands with opposable thumbs, unlike other species. In fact, an important characteristic of human adaptation is the ability to invent tools. Of course, another central asset is human symbolic ability, which includes the ability to spatialize thought in abstractions such as maps, graphs, and analogies. Thus, there are at least three kinds of spatial cognition with three separable functions. Navigation involves moving around the environment to find food and shelter, and to avoid danger. It draws on several interconnected neural subsystems that track movement and encode the location of external entities with respect to each other and the moving self (i.e., extrinsic coding), and it integrates these inputs to achieve best‐possible estimates. Human navigation is characterized by a great deal of individual variation. Tool use and invention involves the mental representation and transformation of the shapes of objects (i.e., intrinsic coding). It relies on substantially different neural subsystems than navigation. Like navigation, it shows marked individual differences, which are related to variations in learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Spatialization is an aspect of human symbolic skill that cuts across multiple cognitive domains and involves many kinds of spatial symbol systems, including language, metaphor, analogy, gesture, sketches, diagrams, graphs, maps, and mental images. These spatial symbol systems are vital to many kinds of learning, including in STEM. Future research on human spatial cognition needs to further delineate the origins, development, neural substrates, variability, and malleability of navigation, tool use, and abstract spatial thinking, as well as their interconnections to each other and to other cognitive skills.
  • A little bit adding to Normal Accidents notes
  • Working on saving out to history and item table
  • Turns out that if you want to retrieve floats from a postgres table using psycopg2, you have to register a custom handler:
    DEC2FLOAT = psycopg2.extensions.new_type(
        lambda value, curs: float(value) if value is not None else None)
  • Learned about dollar-quoting as per
  • To execute big inserts with psycopg2, you need to set autocommit = True
    self.conn = psycopg2.connect(config_str)
    self.conn.autocommit = True
  • And you should use try/catch
    def query_no_result(self, sql: str) -> bool:
            desc = self.cursor.statusmessage
            return True
            print("unable to execute: {}".format(sql))
            return False