Bookmarked The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memory by Myra A. Fernandes, Jeffrey D. Wammes, Melissa E. Meade ( Current Directions in Psychological Science)

The colloquialism “a picture is worth a thousand words” has reverberated through the decades, yet there is very little basic cognitive research assessing the merit of drawing as a mnemonic strategy. In our recent research, we explored whether drawing to-be-learned information enhanced memory and found it to be a reliable, replicable means of boosting performance. Specifically, we have shown this technique can be applied to enhance learning of individual words and pictures as well as textbook definitions. In delineating the mechanism of action, we have shown that gains are greater from drawing than other known mnemonic techniques, such as semantic elaboration, visualization, writing, and even tracing to-be-remembered information. We propose that drawing improves memory by promoting the integration of elaborative, pictorial, and motor codes, facilitating creation of a context-rich representation. Importantly, the simplicity of this strategy means it can be used by people with cognitive impairments to enhance memory, with preliminary findings suggesting measurable gains in performance in both normally aging individuals and patients with dementia.

🔖 [1903.07456] Self-Organization and Artificial Life | arXiv

Bookmarked Self-Organization and Artificial Life by Carlos Gershenson, Vito Trianni, Justin Werfel, Hiroki Sayama (
Self-organization can be broadly defined as the ability of a system to display ordered spatio-temporal patterns solely as the result of the interactions among the system components. Processes of this kind characterize both living and artificial systems, making self-organization a concept that is at the basis of several disciplines, from physics to biology to engineering. Placed at the frontiers between disciplines, Artificial Life (ALife) has heavily borrowed concepts and tools from the study of self-organization, providing mechanistic interpretations of life-like phenomena as well as useful constructivist approaches to artificial system design. Despite its broad usage within ALife, the concept of self-organization has been often excessively stretched or misinterpreted, calling for a clarification that could help with tracing the borders between what can and cannot be considered self-organization. In this review, we discuss the fundamental aspects of self-organization and list the main usages within three primary ALife domains, namely "soft" (mathematical/computational modeling), "hard" (physical robots), and "wet" (chemical/biological systems) ALife. Finally, we discuss the usefulness of self-organization within ALife studies, point to perspectives for future research, and list open questions.
Bookmarked From bit to it: How a complex metabolic network transforms information into living matter by Andreas Wagner (BMC Systems Biology)


Organisms live and die by the amount of information they acquire about their environment. The systems analysis of complex metabolic networks allows us to ask how such information translates into fitness. A metabolic network transforms nutrients into biomass. The better it uses information on available nutrient availability, the faster it will allow a cell to divide.


I here use metabolic flux balance analysis to show that the accuracy I (in bits) with which a yeast cell can sense a limiting nutrient's availability relates logarithmically to fitness as indicated by biomass yield and cell division rate. For microbes like yeast, natural selection can resolve fitness differences of genetic variants smaller than 10-6, meaning that cells would need to estimate nutrient concentrations to very high accuracy (greater than 22 bits) to ensure optimal growth. I argue that such accuracies are not achievable in practice. Natural selection may thus face fundamental limitations in maximizing the information processing capacity of cells.


The analysis of metabolic networks opens a door to understanding cellular biology from a quantitative, information-theoretic perspective.

Received: 01 March 2007 Accepted: 30 July 2007 Published: 30 July 2007

Hat tip to Paul Davies in The Demon in the Machine

Bookmarked Statistical Physics of Self-Replication by Jeremy L. England (J. Chem. Phys. 139, 121923 (2013); )
Self-replication is a capacity common to every species of living thing, and simple physical intuition dictates that such a process must invariably be fueled by the production of entropy. Here, we undertake to make this intuition rigorous and quantitative by deriving a lower bound for the amount of heat that is produced during a process of self-replication in a system coupled to a thermal bath. We find that the minimum value for the physically allowed rate of heat production is determined by the growth rate, internal entropy, and durability of the replicator, and we discuss the implications of this finding for bacterial cell division, as well as for the pre-biotic emergence of self-replicating nucleic acids.

Syndicated copy also available on arXiv:

Hat tip to Paul Davies in The Demon in the Machine

🔖 Identifying Modes of User Engagement with Online News and Their Relationship to Information Gain in Text by Nir Grinberg

Bookmarked Identifying Modes of User Engagement with Online News and Their Relationship to Information Gain in Text by Nir GrinbergNir Grinberg (
Prior work established the benefits of server-recorded user engagement measures (e.g. clickthrough rates) for improving the results of search engines and recommendation systems. Client-side measures of post-click behavior received relatively little attention despite the fact that publishers have now the ability to measure how millions of people interact with their content at a fine resolution using client-side logging. In this study, we examine patterns of user engagement in a large, client-side log dataset of over 7.7 million page views (including both mobile and non-mobile devices) of 66,821 news articles from seven popular news publishers. For each page view we use three summary statistics: dwell time, the furthest position the user reached on the page, and the amount of interaction with the page through any form of input (touch, mouse move, etc.). We show that simple transformations on these summary statistics reveal six prototypical modes of reading that range from scanning to extensive reading and persist across sites. Furthermore, we develop a novel measure of information gain in text to capture the development of ideas within the body of articles and investigate how information gain relates to the engagement with articles. Finally, we show that our new measure of information gain is particularly useful for predicting reading of news articles before publication, and that the measure captures unique information not available otherwise.

Bookmarked to read as result of reading The five ways we read online (and what publishers can do to encourage the “good” ones).

[.pdf] copy available on author’s site.

🔖 Upcoming Special Issue “Information Theory in Neuroscience” | Entropy (MDPI)

Bookmarked Special Issue "Information Theory in Neuroscience" (Entropy | MDPI)
As the ultimate information processing device, the brain naturally lends itself to be studied with information theory. Application of information theory to neuroscience has spurred the development of principled theories of brain function, has led to advances in the study of consciousness, and to the development of analytical techniques to crack the neural code, that is to unveil the language used by neurons to encode and process information. In particular, advances in experimental techniques enabling precise recording and manipulation of neural activity on a large scale now enable for the first time the precise formulation and the quantitative test of hypotheses about how the brain encodes and transmits across areas the information used for specific functions. This Special Issue emphasizes contributions on novel approaches in neuroscience using information theory, and on the development of new information theoretic results inspired by problems in neuroscience. Research work at the interface of neuroscience, Information Theory and other disciplines is also welcome. A special issue of Entropy (ISSN 1099-4300). This special issue belongs to the section "Information Theory". Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2017