Community Update: Python primer, effects of pandemic friendship, powering up the human brain | Spectrum

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Fall is fast approaching here in New York and the school year is starting again. This week, several tweets and threads about school and learning have drawn attention to our Twitter feeds.

“Are you an aspiring or practicing neuroscientist who would like to learn python free?” Patrick Bloniasz, a graduate student in computational neuroscience at Boston University in Massachusetts, posed the question to all lifelong learners ready to learn a new skill with the programming language, and the answer was significant. Bloniasz explained that Mark Kramer, also from Boston University, created a virtual book on the subject.

In a thread detailing the book’s various learning modules, or workbooks (15 in all), Bloniasz also offered to “form a learning group with people on Zoom to browse these notebooks!

It looks awesome! Maybe I need to retool my model. class of methods to @NDSUPpsychology around it,” replied Ben Balasprofessor of psychology at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

“It’s a great resourceand a nice application-oriented way to learn python!” tweeted Jake Ahern, a graduate student in neural dynamics at the University of Bristol in the UK.

Ona Marija Singhgraduate student of the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover in Lower Saxony, Germany, tweeted that she “started to learn how to dissect brains just today, wow, that’s a sign.

“I dream of going to computational neuroscience, but my university has never offered a course like this! tweeted Emina, a molecular biologist from Croatia.

Bloniasz replied: “You will be great! 😀 let me know if I can help in any way. I enjoyed quickly browsing your blog by the way! which, according to Emina, made her day.

Focusing on young learners, Laura Foxgraduate student from the University of York in the UK, shared her paper Posted in Autism “exploring the impact of COVID-19 and school transition on friendship of autistic children.”

The book “highlights diversity of needs in children with autism and calls for a personalized approach to transition support…” Fox explained in the thread.

Annis Stensonsenior lecturer in student engagement at York University, called the study “important new document” in a quote tweet.

“New journal run by the fabulous @laura_j_fox on how the school transition was shaping up autistic children during COVIDand how experience related to friendship development and retention,” the study co-author replied, Catherine Asburydirector of the GenOmics And Life Stories group at the University of York.

Speaking of learning, have you ever wondered what lies behind the cognitive abilities of modern humans? A new study in Science suggests that “a single amino acid change helps explain our cognitive power compared to Neanderthals,” tweeted Eric Topoldirector of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California.

The study researchers compared the genomic sequences of modern humans with those of Neanderthals and found “that an amino acid substitution encoded in the TKTL1 gene” plays a role in shaping the modern human brain.

Some researchers, however, were skeptical. “It’s fascinating, but are we really supposed to believe that TKTL1 is an engine of human cognitive ability?” wrote Jonathan Sebatprofessor of psychiatry and cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, in a quote tweet.

Karol Estrade from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, also had doubts, tweeting “I bet my colleagues working on genetics of cognitive ability will have something to say about it.

Fascinating so true. Much more work is needed to assess the mutation,” tweeted Jason Locasale from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in autism research, feel free to email [email protected].

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Sam D. Gomez