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Rapid and Direct Encoding of Numerosity in the Visual Stream

Rapid and Direct Encoding of Numerosity in the Visual StreamCereb. Cortex (2015) doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv017

“Humans are endowed with an intuitive number sense that allows us to perceive and estimate numerosity without relying on language. It is controversial, however, as to whether there is a neural mechanism for direct perception of numerosity or whether numerosity is perceived indirectly via other perceptual properties. In this study, we used a novel regression-based analytic method, which allowed an assessment of the unique contributions of visual properties, including numerosity, to explain visual evoked potentials of participants passively viewing dot arrays. We found that the human brain is uniquely sensitive to numerosity and more sensitive to changes in numerosity than to changes in other visual properties, starting extremely early in the visual stream: 75 ms over a medial occipital site and 180 ms over bilateral occipitoparietal sites. These findings provide strong evidence for the existence of a neural mechanism for rapidly and directly extracting numerosity information in the human visual pathway.”

  • See also: National Geographic –  We Are Instant Number Crunchers by Carl Zimmer: “If you have ever struggled through a math class, you may not think of numbers as natural. They may seem more like a tool that you have learn how to use, like Excel or a nail gun. And it’s certainly true that numbers pop in the archaeological record just a few thousand years ago, with the abruptness you’d expect from an invention. People then improved the number system after that, with the addition of zero and other upgrades. But scientists have found that we are actually born with a deep instinct for numbers. And a new study suggests that our number sense operates much faster than previously thought. It might be better called our number reflex.”

A New Suite of FOIA Training Resources for all Federal Employees

DOJ: “The Office of Information Policy has developed new FOIA resources designed to train all levels of the federal workforce to understand their FOIA responsibilities. These new resources were developed as part of our commitments in the U.S. Second Open Government National Action Plan, as well as the Department’s Open Government Plan 3.0. We areContinue Reading

SIGAR Publishes Newly Declassified Data

POGO – “This week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released a supplement to its January 2015 quarterly report to Congress. The supplement comes after the Pentagon’s change of heart about keeping secret a large quantity of data about the Afghan military and police. As SIGAR reported in January, the U.S. has spentContinue Reading

Most Say Government Policies Since Recession Have Done Little to Help Middle Class, Poor

Pew – Partial Recovery Seen in Jobs, Household Incomes: “The public makes sharp distinctions about which groups have benefited – and which have not – from the economic policies the government has put in place since the start of the recession. Majorities say that large banks, large corporations and the wealthy have been helped aContinue Reading

Annual Report to Congress: Federal Information Security Management Act

Annual Report to Congress, February 27, 2015: “As cyber threats continue to evolve, the Federal Government is embarking on a number of initiatives to protect Federal information and assets and improve the resilience of Federal networks. OMB, in coordination with its partners at the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), andContinue Reading

Economic Census Reveals Sharp Growth in Value of Shipments for Oil and Gas Extraction Industry

“The U.S. Census Bureau released figures today from the Economic Census showing that the value of shipments for the nation’s crude petroleum and natural gas extraction (NAICS 211111) industry climbed 28.9 percent between 2007 and 2012, despite only an 8.5 percent increase in the number of establishments over the same period. Value of shipments roseContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Defense Science and Technology, Drug Shortages, Government Efficiency and Effectiveness,, Indian Irrigation Projects, Motor Carrier Safety, Whistleblower Protection

Defense Science and Technology: Further DOD and DOE Actions Needed to Provide Timely Conference Decisions and Analyze Risks from Changes in Participation, GAO-15-278: Published: Mar 4, 2015. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 2015. Drug Shortages: Better Management of the Quota Process for Controlled Substances Needed; Coordination between DEA and FDA Should Be Improved, GAO-15-202: Published: FebContinue Reading

DOJ Announces Findings of Two Civil Rights Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri

News release: “The Justice Department announced the findings of its two civil rights investigations related to Ferguson, Missouri, today.  The Justice Department found that the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.  The Justice Department also announced that theContinue Reading

Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District – 3/4/2015

Beige Book – “Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicate that economic activity continued to expand across most regions and sectors from early January through mid-February. Six Districts noted that the local economy expanded at a moderate pace since the prior reporting period. Activity rose modestly in Philadelphia and Cleveland, while it increased slightlyContinue Reading

WSJ – Takeaways from the 2009 Fed Transcripts – “Federal Reserve officials spent 2009 worrying about the worst U.S. economic downturn they had seen in their lives, the weakness of the nascent recovery and the uncertainties surrounding their policy options. The transcripts released Wednesday of their policy meetings that year add some interesting new details to this picture, though no big surprises. We pored through them soContinue Reading

U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Report

“When PeopleForBikes launched 16 years ago as Bikes Belong, we established the mission of “getting more people riding bikes, more often.” This goal remains central in all of our work today. As we’ve grown, and as we’ve evaluated the progress of our key projects, we’ve often been frustrated by not being able to confidently answerContinue Reading

IMF Releases Updated Guidelines for Compiling Fiscal Statistics

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released today the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014 (GFSM 2014), providing updated international guidance for the compilation, reporting, and analytical use of government finance (fiscal) statistics (GFS). The GFS guidelines are the basis for fiscal analysis, and play a vital role in the development and monitoring of sound fiscalContinue Reading