Citizens' science

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John F
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Citizens' science

Post by John F » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:34 am

Last year I posted here about a project based at Cornell University aimed at Alzheimer's Disease. Here's their write-up:
It has long been known that reduced blood flow in the brain is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. However, new imaging techniques have only recently enabled our collaborators at the Schaffer-Nishimura Lab (Cornell University) to make important discoveries about the mechanisms that underlie this reduced blood flow.

For instance, one such cause seems to be capillaries becoming clogged by white blood cells. By sticking to the inside walls of blood vessels, white blood cells cause “stalls” – instances where blood is no longer flowing. It seems that around 2% of the tiniest blood vessels in the brain can become stalled in Alzheimer’s, causing up to 30% reduction in overall blood flow. This is likely to contribute to further disease progression and typical Alzheimer’s symptoms. In fact, the researchers at the Schaffer-Nishimura Lab have recently demonstrated that reversing stalls in mice also reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms, such as cognitive decline and mood changes.

While the research at the Schaffer-Nishimura Lab is promising, it is also incredibly time-consuming. In fact, the data that takes about one hour to collect, takes about a week for a trained scientist to analyze. At this rate, it could take decades to find functional Alzheimer’s treatment candidates. Fortunately, the data curation step, though still too complicated for machines, involves perceptual tasks that are very easy for humans. We aim to crowdsource the data analysis to the general public through a game-like activity, which would drastically speed up the research.
Since October, I and nearly 3,000 other volunteers have been participating. We view a "movie" of blood circulation in the brain of a living mouse and rate whether there is or is not a "stall" in any of the blood vessels. This preliminary phase compares the citizen scientists' results with a sample rated by professional scientists at Cornell, to determine whether we laypeople en masse are as accurate as the professionals' and can be used in the research.

The evaluation stage is over, and we passed. Not only did we do nearly as well as the experts, in some cases we did better.
To be considered as good as experts, the Crowd [us] should reach at least 95% specificity (not catching too many stalls that aren't actually there - false positives) and 95% sensitivity (ability to catch stalls when they are present, not missing any - false negatives). The Crowd beat the target at both of these values. We demonstrated that crowd-based analysis is sufficiently accurate to replace lab-based analysis. In other words, we have now scientifically validated the use of Stall Catchers as a reliable and accurate way to analyze the Alzheimer's data. Indeed, the crowd-based analysis was so good that in a few cases it revealed errors in the original lab-based data to which it was being compared!

In practice this means we can move forward confidently in analyzing Alzheimer's research data without any expert intervention. Of course experts may spot check the data from time to time to make sure we are on track, but we have answered the basic question of "can Stall Catchers replace laboratory analysis" with a resounding YES!
This means we volunteers have actually been doing scientifically valid work on the research project and have moved it ahead significantly. We haven't been wasting our time - to the contrary, we've been saving the professionals' time by providing them with a large amount of data so they can concentrate on what they alone can do.

If you'd like to join in, play the Stallcatchers game and add to the body of data, check out this link, register, and start playing!

http://stallcatchers.com/about
John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: Citizens' science

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:58 am

The chances of contracting Alzheimer's after the age of 90 are 50/i50, which is truly frightening. Now an Academic Bowl trivia question. Ronald Reagan is known to have died from Alzheimer's. The cause of death of Gerald Ford has never been revealed, though it was probably that disease. Without looking it up, who was the first president to live to 90 and die of something else? Hint: He still holds the record for tie-breaking votes in the Senate when he was Vice President.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Citizens' science

Post by John F » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:00 am

The name that came to mind was John Quincy Adams, but Wikipedia says he was only 81 when he died. Back to you!
John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: Citizens' science

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:14 pm

John F wrote:The name that came to mind was John Quincy Adams, but Wikipedia says he was only 81 when he died. Back to you!
John Quincy (pronounced Quinzee as in the Massachusetts city named for his maternal great-grandfather) was never Vice President. No, it was his father John Adam, the first Vice President,

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lennygoran
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Re: Citizens' science

Post by lennygoran » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:29 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:The name that came to mind was John Quincy Adams, but Wikipedia says he was only 81 when he died. Back to you!
John Quincy (pronounced Quinzee as in the Massachusetts city named for his maternal great-grandfather) was never Vice President. No, it was his father John Adam, the first Vice President,


Glad you gave the answer-I was just getting ready to google-not as easy with just a tablet here in nyc-I know Adams and his rival Jefferson died on the same day or close?==July 4th? Len

jbuck919
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Re: Citizens' science

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:24 pm

lennygoran wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:The name that came to mind was John Quincy Adams, but Wikipedia says he was only 81 when he died. Back to you!
John Quincy (pronounced Quinzee as in the Massachusetts city named for his maternal great-grandfather) was never Vice President. No, it was his father John Adam, the first Vice President,


Glad you gave the answer-I was just getting ready to google-not as easy with just a tablet here in nyc know Adams and his rival Jefferson died on the same day or close?==July 4th? Len
First, apologies for misspelling Adams. Yes, they died on the same day, apparently having willed themselves to live until the 50th anniversary of the 4th of July. Jefferson died first, and his last words were "Is it the fourth?" Adams, not aware of this and having had a famous reconciliation with Jefferson, died with the words "Thomas Jefferson lives."

Now here's another question for you to answer without looking it up. What other president who was a founding father died on the fourth of July?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lennygoran
Posts: 12877
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Location: new york city

Re: Citizens' science

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:42 pm

I had to look it up-very interesting how they`re all bunched together there near the beginning of our nation. Len

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