Small changes in word choice can lead to dramatically different interpretations of narratives. How does the brain accumulate and integrate such local changes to construct unique neural representations for different stories? In this study we created two distinct narratives by changing only a few words in each sentence (e.g. “he” to “she” or “sobbing” to “laughing”) while preserving the grammatical structure across stories. We then measured changes in neural responses between the two stories. We found that the differences in neural responses between the two stories gradually increased along the hierarchy of processing timescales. For areas with short integration windows, such as early auditory cortex, the differences in neural responses between the two stories were relatively small. In contrast, in areas with the longest integration windows at the top of the hierarchy, such as the precuneus, temporal parietal junction, and medial frontal cortices, there were large differences in neural responses between stories. Furthermore, this gradual increase in neural difference between the stories was highly correlated with an area’s ability to integrate information over time. Amplification of neural differences did not occur when changes in words did not alter the interpretation of the story (e.g. “sobbing” to “crying”). Our results demonstrate how subtle differences in words are gradually accumulated and amplified along the cortical hierarchy as the brain constructs a narrative over time.
Khanna, Jaya; Medvigy, David; Fueglistaler, Stephan; Walko, Robert
More than 20% Amazon rainforest has been cleared in the past three decades triggering important hydroclimatic changes. Small-scale (~few kilometers) deforestation in the 1980s has caused thermally-triggered atmospheric circulations that increase regional cloudiness and precipitation frequency. However, these circulations are predicted to diminish as deforestation increases. Here we use multi-decadal satellite records and numerical model simulations to show a regime shift in the regional hydroclimate accompanying increasing deforestation in Rondônia, Brazil. Compared to the 1980s, present-day deforested areas in downwind western Rondônia are found to be wetter than upwind eastern deforested areas during the local dry season. The resultant precipitation change in the two regions is approximately ±25% of the deforested area mean. Meso-resolution simulations robustly reproduce this transition when forced with increasing deforestation alone, showing a negligible role of large-scale climate variability. Furthermore, deforestation-induced surface roughness reduction is found to play an essential role in the present-day dry season hydroclimate. Our study illustrates the strong scale-sensitivity of the climatic response to Amazonian deforestation and suggests that deforestation is sufficiently advanced to have caused a shift from a thermally- to a dynamically-driven hydroclimatic regime.
Fractures in geological formations may enable migration of environmentally relevant fluids, as in leakage of CO2 through caprocks in geologic carbon sequestration. We investigated geochemically induced alterations of fracture geometry in Indiana Limestone specimens. Experiments were the first of their kind, with periodic high-resolution imaging using X-ray computed tomography (xCT) scanning while maintaining high pore pressure (100 bar). We studied two CO2-acidified brines having the same pH (3.3) and comparable thermodynamic
disequilibrium but different equilibrated pressures of CO2 (PCO2 values of 12 and 77 bar). High-PCO2 brine has a faster calcite dissolution kinetic rate because of the accelerating effect of carbonic acid. Contrary to expectations, dissolution extents were comparable in the two experiments. However, progressive xCT
images revealed extensive channelization for high PCO2, explained by strong positive feedback between ongoing flow and reaction. The pronounced channel increasingly directed flow to a small region of the fracture, which explains why the overall dissolution was lower than expected. Despite this, flow simulations revealed large increases in permeability in the high-PCO2 experiment. This study shows that the permeability evolution of dissolving fractures will be larger for faster-reacting fluids. The overall mechanism is not because more rock dissolves, as would be commonly assumed, but because of accelerated fracture channelization.
Recent advances in experimental techniques have allowed the simultaneous recordings of
populations of hundreds of neurons, fostering a debate about the nature of the collective
structure of population neural activity. Much of this debate has focused on the
empirical findings of a phase transition in the parameter space of maximum entropy
models describing the measured neural probability distributions, interpreting this phase
transition to indicate a critical tuning of the neural code. Here, we instead focus on the
possibility that this is a first-order phase transition which provides evidence that the
real neural population is in a `structured', collective state. We show that this collective
state is robust to changes in stimulus ensemble and adaptive state. We find that the
pattern of pairwise correlations between neurons has a strength that is well within the
strongly correlated regime and does not require fine tuning, suggesting that this state is
generic for populations of 100+ neurons. We find a clear correspondence between the
emergence of a phase transition, and the emergence of attractor-like structure in the
inferred energy landscape. A collective state in the neural population, in which neural
activity patterns naturally form clusters, provides a consistent interpretation for our