A Network Map Arranging Itself

A map created using Quid showing news articles about neuroscience discoveries made possible with DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging). DTI reveals tracts of white matter connectivity in the brain, allowing us to see which regions of the brain are talking to one another.

An Ecosystem of DTI Discoveries

DTI Neurotech network graph

About the map: Each of those colored dots is one news story. Dots are called nodes. They are connected by lines called edges. Using natural language processing, algorithms can read the text content of articles and assess content. What is the article about? What are the key concepts? This information creates a similarity matrix of sorts, describing nodes by attributes. These attributes define the physical layout of the network. Articles most closely linked are grouped in clusters called communities.

This map shows an initial set of 550 nodes arranged into network view. Each node repels other nodes, making the communities with fewer connections move farther apart and those with more connections cluster together. It’s all generated in Quid.

A network layout is just the first step. For it to be useful, I need to understand it.

Next comes my favorite: human exploration.

It takes work to make sense of a complex ecosystem of information. Here’s my technique to tackle a network: Make a first pass, exploring each cluster. As I slowly begin to familiarize myself with the graph, I give each community a name.The cluster names are added manually, so it’s helpful to explore the largest nodes and nodes that stand out. Along the way, I save articles of interest.

DTI neurotech quid map with community labels white

Once each community is named, it’s easier to dive into details that make a big picture – the individual stories of scientific discoveries. I particularly love looking at stories that bridge two or more distinct communities.

Now that I’ve collected links, it’s time to embark upon digesting 20+ articles and abstracts spanning things like white matter connectivity associated with self esteem, the neuroscience of risk-taking, and even the links between physical fitness and brain health. Stay tuned for my completed thoughts next month in Scientific American and hit me up on Twitter if this post gave you any ideas!

network map sketch, notes, network, complex network, sketch

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Infographic series on the human body

The human body fascinates me.   It is beautiful that I am a biochemical system standing here thinking about how I exist.  I think a lot of things about the body are fantastic, so I’ve started creatively conveying things that make me think “wow.”   Here are the latest visualizations from my professional playing with Inkscapes through Sterling Health‘s Body 101 series on visualizing.org.

Your body is amazing. Over 650 skeletal muscles working together yield your bilaterally symmetrical biological frame, composed functionally of 325 working pairs of muscles and over 187 joints. How many can you feel?

I’m at about 150, up from just 100 a couple months ago. Yoga and other exercise activities that simultaneously strengthen and stretch your muscular system (including ligaments and tendons) enhance not only your posture and strength but also promote innervation and viscularization of tissue. Here’s another serving of Body 101 a la carte: during the first couple weeks of exercising a new muscle, much of the improvement is acually increased efficiency of the nervous system to communicate with muscular fibers and cells (source: hamill and knutzen, the biomechanical basis of human movement).  View on visualizing.org.

It can take up to 20 minutes for the chemicals that tell your body that you are hungry to be reabsorbed and replaced by those that signal fullness. This is why doctors recommend you stop eating when you are satiated, rather than full.

Food for thought next time your belly is on your mind.  View on visualizing.org

What are you? While philosophically this varies, biologically, you are a series of chemical reactions. The mighty brain is the end goal of your body: facilitating the growth of new neural connections and firing along those synapses that already exist. This “connectome” essentially IS you. Your brain never stops growing as long as you continually explore new things, challenge yourself with varied ideas, and think abstractly about how and who you are. I hope you remember every day how intricately complex and mindbogglingly beautiful it is that you are alive.  View on visualizing.org.

Designers, email me amy at healthsterling.com to  take part in the Body 101 project: visualizing the human machine on healthsterling.com.

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Who am I? Variety

I’m reading through a 100-row spreadsheet that is my first attempt at quantified self, or data tracking.

Until I finish a big infographic visualizing the categories, here are some wordles of things I wrote between 6/16/11 and 7/24/11.

Also, autoune demo:  Live with Passion.




Cheers.  A lot more where these came from.  Testing layouts.  Which is your favorite?

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