Mind-Reading Rodents

Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis has taken the first steps towards turning brain-to-brain communication into reality. In his lab at Duke University, he placed two rats in separate cages and trained them to push a lever in order to get a reward of water. There were two choices of levers, left and right, and only rat A was given a cue—a LED light flashed above the correct lever. Rat B, however, had to rely on rat A, because Nicolelis wired their brains together using microelectrode implants a fraction of the size of a human hair. When rat A was given the flashing cue and stepped on the correct lever, the neurons in its motor cortex fired in a specific way. The implants translated this to binary code and sent it through the wire into rat B’s brain, where it was translated back into neural signals, and since the signals were different for the left or right lever, rat B had to interpret rat A’s thoughts in order to get the water—and results show that rat B pressed the correct lever 85% of the time. It’s a bit crude and simple, but as the research becomes more complex, it may open up a vast array of applications. Nicolelis’s next step is to connect multiple rats to the same network and observe how they adapt to the new form of communication. However, critics point out that Nicolelis is so far only connecting up localised parts of the brain. The human brain is hugely parallel and massively interconnected—so in the long run, the real challenge is to connect entire brain, allowing enormous amounts of data to flow between, or abstract thoughts could never be communicated.

(Image Credit: Gizmag)


These Students Prove That Challenging Offensive Language Needn’t Be A War Of Words

Students at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, have unveiled a project that aims to challenge offensive language based on sexual orientation and gender. 

The You Don’t Say campaign features images of students alongside explanations as to why they won’t use typically offensive terms and phrases, such as ‘that’s so gay’, ‘man up’ and ‘no homo’. The project’s Facebook page explains that the campaign “seeks to raise awareness around the misuse of language that relates to the LGBTQ community and gender issues” and that “these words dehumanize and marginalize many within the Duke community and beyond and it is important to understand why.”

“Some have said that the purpose of this campaign is to promote political correctness when we speak”, said Abhi Sanka, who took part in the project, objecting to the saying ‘no homo’. “[But] this campaign strives first to instill understanding of how words can make a difference in shaping identities. Thus, the campaign strives to push thought in a direction that can better improve the climate for marginalized communities in our society”.

To most of us, these people are just faces on a screen. But, in speaking out publicly, they’re putting themselves on a platform for their college peers to bear witness and now – thanks to the power of the interwebs – the world too. The campaign’s purpose isn’t to criticize. And it’s not to patronize. It’s simply to help people understand how loaded these terms are and, like bullets from a gun, how they can wound, regardless of intention.

The choice whether you use them - or not - is yours.

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A new word-discouragement campaign at Duke University has labeled phrases such as “Man Up,” “That’s So Gay,” and “Don’t Be a Pussy” offensive language that “delegitimizes” homosexuality and oppresses and insults people.

But as the campaign has gained national popularity, its detractors have bristled at the effort, calling it a politically correct war on words that will stifle free speech and suggesting its true aim is to redefine terms to control public opinion and – ultimately – public policy.

In fact, the “You Don’t Say” campaign creators have admitted as much.

“Language is a reflection of how we think about others and view the world,” Jay Sullivan, a student leader of the campaign, tells Duke Today. “My goal is to…. help facilitate discussion about how language affects many social issues, from race to gender and sexuality.”

The campaign consists of a series of black-and-white memes with students posing behind large pledges to avoid so-called offensive language.

“I don’t say ‘No Homo’ because it delegitimizes love and sexual identities,” says one.

“I don’t say ‘Man Up’ because the strongest people I know have cried in front of me, regardless of their age, gender or sex,” says another.

“I don’t say ‘Tranny’ because it’s insulting to transgender and genderqueer communities,” adds a third meme.

Other banned words include “bitch,” because it “insists feminism is inherently negative,” “‘fag,’ because it only serves to hurt and oppress homosexual men,” and “pussy,” as it “implies that having a certain feature is indicative of being a coward.”

The recently launched campaign has spread far and wide on social media and gained national attention in a variety of news reports. The effort is similar to the recent “Ban Bossy” campaign, and akin to other university student efforts that have banned the term “illegal immigrant” on campuses.

The campaign is a collaborative effort between a newly formed group at Duke University called Think Before You Talk and Blue Devils United, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer student advocacy group.


Backstreet Boys Medley
  • Backstreet Boys Medley
  • Speak of the Devil
  • Plead the Fifth

Duke University Speak of the Devil - BSB Medley (Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely/I Want It That Way/Quit Playin’ Games (With My Heart)/Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

OPB: Backstreet Boys

Album: Plead The Fifth

I just discovered this group by accident…. I liked the way they put these classic songs together

If you haven’t heard, the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Duke University was called out for their outrageously racist party themes. Much like how Penn State’s Chi Omega sorority held a “Mexican-themed party”, the Kappa Sig chapter is throwing an “Asia Prime” rager. A racist rager.

Now, nationally Kappa Sigma’s mission statement is outlined by five points:

  • The Fraternity should complement and enhance the educational mission of the host institution.
  • The Fraternity should promote the ideal of Brotherhood.
  • The Fraternity should actively contribute to the personal growth and development of its members.
  • The Fraternity should promote ethical behavior and decision-making.
  • The Fraternity should encourage service to others.


Now, I don’t think Duke’s Kappa Sig chapter is following those very well. Contact their national office here and let them know how you feel. Students at Duke are holding protests, including one at the West Campus Bus Stop at 1PM on Wednesday, February 6.