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A new study by researchers at UC Davis shows how our very short-term "working memory," which allows the brain to stitch together sensory information, operates. The system retains a limited number of high-resolution images for a few seconds, rather than a wider range of fuzzier impressions.

Humans rarely move their eyes smoothly. As our eyes flit from object to object, the visual system briefly shuts off to cut down visual "noise," said Steven J. Luck, professor of psychology at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain. So the brain gets a series of snapshots of about a quarter-second, separated by brief gaps.

The working memory system smoothes out this jerky sequence of images by retaining memories from each snapshot so that they can be blended together. These memories typically last just a few seconds, Luck said.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $65 million grant to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) to develop Kraken, a state of the art supercomputer. Kraken will enhance the computational power of the TeraGrid, the world's largest, most powerful and comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure for open scientific research.

"Like the gargantuan sea monsters Kraken, which inspired the naming of this supercomputer, the possibilities in scientific and engineering advances it enables are enormous, limited only by the confines of human imagination and vision beyond the frontiers of science," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement in a taped message that was played today at a luncheon in Knoxville.

Every two years NSF surveys and collects data on scientists and engineers, defined as people with a bachelor's degree or higher with science, engineering or related degrees or occupations.

NSF collects data on these individuals with three separate national surveys: the National Survey of College Graduates, the National Survey of Recent College Graduates, and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients. Collectively, these surveys are known as the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System, or SESTAT.

Anxiety gets a lot of bad press. Dwelling on the negative can lead to chronic stress and anxiety disorders and phobias, but evolutionarily speaking, anxiety holds functional value.

In humans, learning to avoid harm is necessary not only for surviving in the face of basic threats (predators or rotten food), but also for avoiding more complex social or economic threats, like enemies or questionable plans.

A team of psychologists at Stanford University have identified a region of the brain, the anterior insula, which plays a key role in predicting harm and also learning to avoid it. In a new study, Gregory Samanez-Larkin and colleagues scanned the brains of healthy adults while they anticipated losing money.

Preliminary results from DNA analysis of wolverine scat samples collected on the Tahoe National Forest do not match those of historic California wolverine populations, according to U.S. Forest Service scientists.

Geneticists with the agency’s Rocky Mountain Research Station recently began analyzing samples, when wildlife biologists with the Tahoe National Forest and California Department of Fish and Game began sending hair and scat samples they collected from wolverine detection sites on the national forest to a lab in Missoula, Mont.

The interagency effort began in March after an Oregon State University graduate student working on a cooperative project with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station photographed a wolverine, an animal whose presence has not been confirmed in California since the 1920s.

A biological process taught to every pupil studying science at high school has just become a little more complicated, thanks to a new discovery published today.

Scientists from the University of Bath have found that a protein called RASSF7 is essential for mitosis, the process by which a cell divides in two. In research published in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell, they show that the protein is essential for building the microtubules that allow the two halves of the cell to slide apart.

“What makes mitosis so interesting is that it is one of the biological processes that everyone remembers from their days at school,” said Dr Andrew Chalmers from the University’s Department of Biology & Biochemistry.