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Dogs are hypersocial with humans, and their integration into human social ecology makes dogs a unique model for studying cross-species social bonding. However, the proximal neural mechanisms driving dog-human social interaction are unknown. We used fMRI in 15 awake dogs to probe the neural basis for their preferences for social interaction and food reward. In a first experiment, we used the ventral caudate as a measure of intrinsic reward value and compared activation to conditioned stimuli that predicted food, praise, or nothing. Relative to the control stimulus, the caudate was significantly more active to the reward-predicting stimuli and showed roughly equal or greater activation to praise versus food in 13 of 15 dogs. To confirm that these differences were driven by the intrinsic value of social praise, we performed a second imaging experiment in which the praise was withheld on a subset of trials. The difference in caudate activation to the receipt of praise, relative to its withholding, was strongly correlated with the differential activation to the conditioned stimuli in the first experiment. In a third experiment, we performed an out-of-scanner choice task in which the dog repeatedly selected food or owner in a Y-maze. The relative caudate activation to food- and praise-predicting stimuli in Experiment 1 was a strong predictor of each dog’s sequence of choices in the Y-maze. Analogous to similar neuroimaging studies of individual differences in human social reward, our findings demonstrate a neural mechanism for preference in domestic dogs that is stable within, but variable between, individuals. Moreover, the individual differences in the caudate responses indicate the potentially higher value of social than food reward for some dogs and may help to explain the apparent efficacy of social interaction in dog training.

Concepts: Predation, Sociology, Motivation, Classical conditioning, Choice, Dog, Dog health, Microeconomics


Modern medicine has generally viewed the concept of “psychosomatic” disease with suspicion. This view arose partly because no neural networks were known for the mind, conceptually associated with the cerebral cortex, to influence autonomic and endocrine systems that control internal organs. Here, we used transneuronal transport of rabies virus to identify the areas of the primate cerebral cortex that communicate through multisynaptic connections with a major sympathetic effector, the adrenal medulla. We demonstrate that two broad networks in the cerebral cortex have access to the adrenal medulla. The larger network includes all of the cortical motor areas in the frontal lobe and portions of somatosensory cortex. A major component of this network originates from the supplementary motor area and the cingulate motor areas on the medial wall of the hemisphere. These cortical areas are involved in all aspects of skeletomotor control from response selection to motor preparation and movement execution. The second, smaller network originates in regions of medial prefrontal cortex, including a major contribution from pregenual and subgenual regions of anterior cingulate cortex. These cortical areas are involved in higher-order aspects of cognition and affect. These results indicate that specific multisynaptic circuits exist to link movement, cognition, and affect to the function of the adrenal medulla. This circuitry may mediate the effects of internal states like chronic stress and depression on organ function and, thus, provide a concrete neural substrate for some psychosomatic illness.

Concepts: Neuroanatomy, Brain, Cerebral cortex, Cerebrum, Limbic system, Frontal lobe, Premotor cortex, Brodmann area 24


Behaviours such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and unhealthy alcohol consumption are leading risk factors for death. We assessed the Canadian burden attributable to these behaviours by developing, validating, and applying a multivariable predictive model for risk of all-cause death.

Concepts: Death, Yeast, Saudi Arabia, Life expectancy, Canada, Ontario, Government of Canada


Scan matching, an approach to recover the relative position and orientation of two laser scans, is a very important technique for indoor positioning and indoor modeling. The iterative closest point (ICP) algorithm and its variants are the most well-known techniques for such a problem. However, ICP algorithms rely highly on the initial guess of the relative transformation, which will reduce its power for practical applications. In this paper, an initial-free 2D laser scan matching method based on point and line features is proposed. We carefully design a framework for the detection of point and line feature correspondences. First, distinct feature points are detected based on an extended 1D SIFT, and line features are extracted via a modified Split-and-Merge algorithm. In this stage, we also give an effective strategy for discarding unreliable features. The point and line features are then described by a distance histogram; the pairs achieving best matching scores are accepted as potential correct correspondences. The histogram cluster technique is adapted to filter outliers and provide an accurate initial value of the rigid transformation. We also proposed a new relative pose estimation method that is robust to outliers. We use the lq-norm (0 < q < 1) metric in this approach, in contrast to classic optimization methods whose cost function is based on the l₂-norm of residuals. Extensive experiments on real data demonstrate that the proposed method is almost as accurate as ICPs and is initial free. We also show that our scan matching method can be integrated into a simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) system for indoor mapping.

Concepts: Algorithm, Euclidean geometry, Features new to Windows Vista, Point, Positioning, The Point, Simultaneous localization and mapping, Iterative Closest Point


Cognitive deficits are pervasive among people with schizophrenia and treatment options are limited. There has been an increased interest in the neurocognitive benefits of exercise, but a comprehensive evaluation of studies to date is lacking. We therefore conducted a meta-analysis of all controlled trials investigating the cognitive outcomes of exercise interventions in schizophrenia. Studies were identified from a systematic search across major electronic databases from inception to April 2016. Meta-analyses were used to calculate pooled effect sizes (Hedges g) and 95% CIs. We identified 10 eligible trials with cognitive outcome data for 385 patients with schizophrenia. Exercise significantly improved global cognition (g = 0.33, 95% CI = 0.13-0.53, P = .001) with no statistical heterogeneity (I (2) = 0%). The effect size in the 7 studies which were randomized controlled trials was g = 0.43 (P < .001). Meta-regression analyses indicated that greater amounts of exercise are associated with larger improvements in global cognition (β = .005, P = .065). Interventions which were supervised by physical activity professionals were also more effective (g = 0.47, P < .001). Exercise significantly improved the cognitive domains of working memory (g = 0.39, P = .024, N = 7, n = 282), social cognition (g = 0.71, P = .002, N = 3, n = 81), and attention/vigilance (g = 0.66, P = .005, N = 3, n = 104). Effects on processing speed, verbal memory, visual memory and reasoning and problem solving were not significant. This meta-analysis provides evidence that exercise can improve cognitive functioning among people with schizophrenia, particularly from interventions using higher dosages of exercise. Given the challenges in improving cognition, and the wider health benefits of exercise, a greater focus on providing supervised exercise to people with schizophrenia is needed.

Concepts: Better, Psychology, Improve, Randomized controlled trial, Cognition, Memory, Effect size, Meta-analysis


The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), an iconic species of the Arctic Seas, grows slowly and reaches >500 centimeters (cm) in total length, suggesting a life span well beyond those of other vertebrates. Radiocarbon dating of eye lens nuclei from 28 female Greenland sharks (81 to 502 cm in total length) revealed a life span of at least 272 years. Only the smallest sharks (220 cm or less) showed signs of the radiocarbon bomb pulse, a time marker of the early 1960s. The age ranges of prebomb sharks (reported as midpoint and extent of the 95.4% probability range) revealed the age at sexual maturity to be at least 156 ± 22 years, and the largest animal (502 cm) to be 392 ± 120 years old. Our results show that the Greenland shark is the longest-lived vertebrate known, and they raise concerns about species conservation.

Concepts: Species, Arctic Ocean, Arctic, Shark, Greenland shark, Somniosus, Pacific sleeper shark, Hákarl


Cooperation is a fundamental human trait but our understanding of how it functions remains incomplete. Indirect reciprocity is a particular case in point, where one-shot donations are made to unrelated beneficiaries without any guarantee of payback. Existing insights are largely from two independent perspectives: i) individual-level cognitive behaviour in decision making, and ii) identification of conditions that favour evolution of cooperation. We identify a fundamental connection between these two areas by examining social comparison as a means through which indirect reciprocity can evolve. Social comparison is well established as an inherent human disposition through which humans navigate the social world by self-referential evaluation of others. Donating to those that are at least as reputable as oneself emerges as a dominant heuristic, which represents aspirational homophily. This heuristic is found to be implicitly present in the current knowledge of conditions that favour indirect reciprocity. The effective social norms for updating reputation are also observed to support this heuristic. We hypothesise that the cognitive challenge associated with social comparison has contributed to cerebral expansion and the disproportionate human brain size, consistent with the social complexity hypothesis. The findings have relevance for the evolution of autonomous systems that are characterised by one-shot interactions.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Decision making, Sociology, Human brain, Cognition, Hypothesis, The Evolution of Cooperation


The four human coronaviruses (HCoVs) are globally endemic respiratory pathogens. The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus (CoV) is an emerging CoV with a known zoonotic source in dromedary camels. Little is known about the origins of endemic HCoVs. Studying these viruses' evolutionary history could provide important insight into CoV emergence. In tests of MERS-CoV-infected dromedaries, we found viruses related to an HCoV, known as HCoV-229E, in 5.6% of 1,033 animals. Human- and dromedary-derived viruses are each monophyletic, suggesting ecological isolation. One gene of dromedary viruses exists in two versions in camels, full length and deleted, whereas only the deleted version exists in humans. The deletion increased in size over a succession starting from camelid viruses via old human viruses to contemporary human viruses. Live isolates of dromedary 229E viruses were obtained and studied to assess human infection risks. The viruses used the human entry receptor aminopeptidase N and replicated in human hepatoma cells, suggesting a principal ability to cause human infections. However, inefficient replication in several mucosa-derived cell lines and airway epithelial cultures suggested lack of adaptation to the human host. Dromedary viruses were as sensitive to the human type I interferon response as HCoV-229E. Antibodies in human sera neutralized dromedary-derived viruses, suggesting population immunity against dromedary viruses. Although no current epidemic risk seems to emanate from these viruses, evolutionary inference suggests that the endemic human virus HCoV-229E may constitute a descendant of camelid-associated viruses. HCoV-229E evolution provides a scenario for MERS-CoV emergence.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Evolution, Virus, Interferon, Camel, Dromedary, Camelid


High body mass index (BMI) has become the leading risk factor of disease burden in high-income countries. While recent studies have suggested that the risk of cancer related to obesity is mediated by time, insights into the dose-response relationship and the cumulative impact of overweight and obesity during the life course on cancer risk remain scarce. To our knowledge, this study is the first to assess the impact of adulthood overweight and obesity duration on the risk of cancer in a large cohort of postmenopausal women.

Concepts: Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Cancer, Obesity, United States, Body mass index, Body shape


At a distance of 1.295 parsecs, the red dwarf Proxima Centauri (α Centauri C, GL 551, HIP 70890 or simply Proxima) is the Sun’s closest stellar neighbour and one of the best-studied low-mass stars. It has an effective temperature of only around 3,050 kelvin, a luminosity of 0.15 per cent of that of the Sun, a measured radius of 14 per cent of the radius of the Sun and a mass of about 12 per cent of the mass of the Sun. Although Proxima is considered a moderately active star, its rotation period is about 83 days (ref. 3) and its quiescent activity levels and X-ray luminosity are comparable to those of the Sun. Here we report observations that reveal the presence of a small planet with a minimum mass of about 1.3 Earth masses orbiting Proxima with a period of approximately 11.2 days at a semi-major-axis distance of around 0.05 astronomical units. Its equilibrium temperature is within the range where water could be liquid on its surface.

Concepts: Earth, Sun, Planet, Star, Astronomical unit, Proxima Centauri, Stellar classification, Red dwarf