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- Top-down influences on ambiguous perception: the role of stable and transient states of the observer (2014)
- The world as it appears to the viewer is the result of a complex process of inference performed by the brain. The validity of this apparently counter-intuitive assertion becomes evident whenever we face noisy, feeble or ambiguous visual stimulation: in these conditions, the state of the observer may play a decisive role in determining what is currently perceived. On this background, ambiguous perception and its amenability to top-down influences can be employed as an empirical paradigm to explore the principles of perception. Here we offer an overview of both classical and recent contributions on how stable and transient states of the observer can impact ambiguous perception. As to the influence of the stable states of the observer, we show that what is currently perceived can be influenced (1) by cognitive and affective aspects, such as meaning, prior knowledge, motivation, and emotional content and (2) by individual differences, such as gender, handedness, genetic inheritance, clinical conditions, and personality traits and by (3) learning and conditioning. As to the impact of transient states of the observer, we outline the effects of (4) attention and (5) voluntary control, which have attracted much empirical work along the history of ambiguous perception. In the huge literature on the topic we trace a difference between the observer's ability to control dominance (i.e., the maintenance of a specific percept in visual awareness) and reversal rate (i.e., the switching between two alternative percepts). Other transient states of the observer that have more recently drawn researchers' attention regard (6) the effects of imagery and visual working memory. (7) Furthermore, we describe the transient effects of prior history of perceptual dominance. (8) Finally, we address the currently available computational models of ambiguous perception and how they can take into account the crucial share played by the state of the observer in perceiving ambiguous displays.

- Spike avalanches in vivo suggest a driven, slightly subcritical brain state (2014)
- In self-organized critical (SOC) systems avalanche size distributions follow power-laws. Power-laws have also been observed for neural activity, and so it has been proposed that SOC underlies brain organization as well. Surprisingly, for spiking activity in vivo, evidence for SOC is still lacking. Therefore, we analyzed highly parallel spike recordings from awake rats and monkeys, anesthetized cats, and also local field potentials from humans. We compared these to spiking activity from two established critical models: the Bak-Tang-Wiesenfeld model, and a stochastic branching model. We found fundamental differences between the neural and the model activity. These differences could be overcome for both models through a combination of three modifications: (1) subsampling, (2) increasing the input to the model (this way eliminating the separation of time scales, which is fundamental to SOC and its avalanche definition), and (3) making the model slightly sub-critical. The match between the neural activity and the modified models held not only for the classical avalanche size distributions and estimated branching parameters, but also for two novel measures (mean avalanche size, and frequency of single spikes), and for the dependence of all these measures on the temporal bin size. Our results suggest that neural activity in vivo shows a mélange of avalanches, and not temporally separated ones, and that their global activity propagation can be approximated by the principle that one spike on average triggers a little less than one spike in the next step. This implies that neural activity does not reflect a SOC state but a slightly sub-critical regime without a separation of time scales. Potential advantages of this regime may be faster information processing, and a safety margin from super-criticality, which has been linked to epilepsy.

- Fast pulse shape analysis for AGATA (2014)
- High resolution gamma spectroscopy with sophisticated detector arrays significantly contributes to nuclear structure physics. The Advanced Gamma Tracking Array (AGATA) combines gamma tracking and pulse shape analysis to achieve an efficiency and quality of the spectra that could not be reached with spectrometers of the previous generation. Tracking of the photons interacting in the detector requires a precise knowledge of the individual interaction positions. The task of the pulse shape analysis is to provide a position resolution of better than $5mm$ FWHM, a value that could not be achieved by segmentation of the detector alone. As the signals induced on the electrodes of the detectors depends on the position of interaction, the charge pulses can be used to infer the interaction position. To be able to handle high rates, algorithms that are used have to be optimized to be able to process the data in real-time. Pulse shape analysis is the most involved part of the real-time processing and requires further improvement. This work is dealing with optimizations and improvements of pulse shape analysis algorithms. The Grid Search algorithm localizes the interaction position by comparing the measured pulse shape with precomputed shapes in a database to find the best fit. Two linear filters based on orthogonal transformations have been compared and it could be concluded that the one based on a singular value decomposition of the pulse shapes works best. It speeds up the pulse shape analysis by a factor of roughly $2-3$ (depending on how it is combined with the other modifications). Further, a new method to exclude most signals from the database as best fit has been developed based on the principle of lateration. Most interaction positions can be excluded by means of a fast check and for single interactions on average only $34.8\%$ of all signals from the database have to be compared to the measured one. The overhead introduced by the method is negligible and the reduced number of comparisons almost direclty translates into increased efficiency of the algorithm. A similar method could also be applied for double interactions. Two or more interactions taking place in the same segment require special treatment as the measured signals cannot be directly compared to signals from the database. A new method to calculate the figure of merit that quantifies the fit in case of a double interaction has been introduced. Compared to the unmodified algorithm the new method finds the best fit for double interactions roughly two orders of magnitude faster. Actually, the time required to localize double interactions is almost the same as for single interactions. Apart from optimizing the algorithm, also the achievable position resolution was investigated. It strongly varies inside the volume of the detector and it crucially depends on the shape of all signals in the database and the amplitude of the noise present in the measured signals. As a first step towards a precise analytic expression for the position resolution, an estimate for the probability to find the correct position has been derived.

- Editorial : experimental tests of quantum gravity and exotic quantum field theory effects (2014)
- Physics at its core is an experimental pursuit. If one theory does not agree with experimental results, then the theory is wrong. However, it is becoming harder and harder to directly test some theories of fundamental physics at the high energy/small distance frontier exactly because this frontier is becoming technologically harder to reach. The Large Hadron Collider is getting near the limit of what we can do with present accelerator technology in terms of directly reaching the energy frontier. The motivation for this special issue was to try and collect together ideas and potential approaches to experimentally probe some of our ideas about physics at the high energy/small distance frontier. Some of the papers in this special issue directly deal with the issue of what happens to spacetime at small distance scales. In the paper by A. Aurilia and E. Spallucci a picture of quantum spacetime is given based on the effects of ultrahigh velocity length contractions on the structure of the spacetime. The work of P. Nicolini et al. further pursues the idea that spacetime has a minimal length. The consequences of this minimal length are investigated in terms of the effects it would have on the gravitational collapse of a star to form a black hole. In the article by G. Amelino-Camelia et al. the quantum structure of spacetime is studied through the Fermi LAT data on the Gamma Ray Burst GRB130427A. The article by S. Hossenfelder addressed the question of whether spacetime is fundamentally continuous or discrete and postulates that in the case when spacetime is discrete it might have defects which would have important observational consequences. ...

- Holographic screens in ultraviolet self-complete quantum gravity (2014)
- This paper studies the geometry and the thermodynamics of a holographic screen in the framework of the ultraviolet self-complete quantum gravity. To achieve this goal we construct a new static, neutral, nonrotating black hole metric, whose outer (event) horizon coincides with the surface of the screen. The spacetime admits an extremal configuration corresponding to the minimal holographic screen and having both mass and radius equalling the Planck units. We identify this object as the spacetime fundamental building block, whose interior is physically unaccessible and cannot be probed even during the Hawking evaporation terminal phase. In agreement with the holographic principle, relevant processes take place on the screen surface. The area quantization leads to a discrete mass spectrum. An analysis of the entropy shows that the minimal holographic screen can store only one byte of information, while in the thermodynamic limit the area law is corrected by a logarithmic term.

- Generalized Uncertainty Principle inspired Schwarzschild Black Holes in extra dimensions (2014)
- The Generalized Uncertainty Principle (GUP) arises from Quantum Gravity thought experiments and contains a minimal lenght. In this thesis I calculate Schwarzschild Black Holes that are modified by the GUP. These Black Holes have the property, that their temperature does not diverge for small masses, although they still posses a curvature singularity. I calculate analytically that in more than 3+1 dimensions the temperature diverges again.

- Ultraviolet improved black holes (2014)
- In this thesis, Planck size black holes are discussed. Specifically, new families of black holes are presented. Such black holes exhibit an improved short scale behaviour and can be used to implement gravity self-complete paradigm. Such geometries are also studied within the ADD large extra dimensional scenario. This allows black hole remnant masses to reach the TeV scale. It is shown that the evaporation endpoint for this class of black holes is a cold stable remnant. One family of black holes considered in this thesis features a regular de Sitter core that counters gravitational collapse with a quantum outward pressure. The other family of black holes turns out to nicely fit into the holographic information bound on black holes, and lead to black hole area quantization and applications in the gravitational entropic force. As a result, gravity can be derived as emergent phenomenon from thermodynamics. The thesis contains an overview about recent quantum gravity black hole approaches and concludes with the derivation of nonlocal operators that modify the Einstein equations to ultraviolet complete field equations.

- 238U(n, γ) reaction cross section measurement with C6D6 detectors at the n_TOF CERN facility (2014)
- The radiative capture cross section of 238U is very important for the developing of new reactor technologies and the safety of existing ones. Here the preliminary results of the 238U(n,γ) cross section measurement performed at n_TOF with C6D6 scintillation detectors are presented, paying particular attention to data reduction and background subtraction.

- Electromagnetic calorimeter for HADES experiment (2014)
- Electromagnetic calorimeter (ECAL) is being developed to complement dilepton spectrometer HADES. ECAL will enable the HADES@FAIR experiment to measure data on neutral meson production in heavy ion collisions at the energy range of 2-10 AGeV on the beam of future accelerator SIS100@FAIR. We will report results of the last beam test with quasi-monoenergetic photons carried out in MAMI facility at Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz.

- The second order hydrodynamic transport coefficient κ for the gluon plasma from the lattice (2014)
- The quark gluon plasma produced in heavy ion collisions behaves like an almost ideal fluid described by viscous hydrodynamics with a number of transport coefficients. The second order coefficient κ is related to a Euclidean correlator of the energy-momentum tensor at vanishing frequency and low momentum. This allows for a lattice determination without maximum entropy methods or modelling, but the required lattice sizes represent a formidable challenge. We calculate κ in leading order lattice perturbation theory and simulations on 1203 × 6, 8 lattices with a < 0.1 fm. In the temperature range 2Tc − 10Tc we find κ = 0.36(15)T2. The error covers both a suitably rescaled AdS/CFT prediction as well as, remarkably, the result of leading order perturbation theory. This suggests that appropriate noise reduction methods on the lattice and NLO perturbative calculations could provide an accurate QCD prediction in the near future.