A simple brain scan could identify children at risk of suffering from depression later in life, according to a new study. If implemented, the early warning test could allow doctors to carry out treatment prior to the first instance of depression, making it less likely that the patient will suffer further bouts.
Even though as many as 50,000 people die of traumatic brain injuries in the United States every year, the equipment used to measure vital stats like intracranial pressure is usually made up of decades-old technology. To address this, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have created a new sensor that's far less invasive and much safer than the existing technology.
In a development that could lead to improved understanding of memory formation and epilepsy, scientists have discovered a new way information may be traveling throughout the brain. The team has identified slow-moving brainwaves it says could be carried only by the brain's gentle electrical field, a mechanism previously thought to be incapable of spreading neural signals altogether.
Like many scientists around the world, researchers working out of UC San Diego have high hopes for how our brainwaves might one day be used to control devices, tackle neurological disorders and everything in between. But for that to happen, the devices used to monitor them not only have to be highly advanced, but comfortable and practical to wear on our heads in everyday environments. The team has now taken a promising step towards such a future, unveiling what it says to be a first-of-its-kind EEG headset that will take brain monitoring out of the lab and into homes, cars and offices.
Rett Syndrome is a rare but severe neurological disorder that causes autism-like behavior in young females. It has long been known that behind the condition is a genetic mutation, and researchers are now claiming to have found an absent molecule that facilitates regular nerve cell function and development in healthy brains. Armed with a drug that can repair this missing link, the scientists are hopeful their work can lead to effective treatments for not only Rett Syndrome, but various forms of autism-spectrum disorders as well.
The blistering advance of technology we are experiencing in the 21st century is nothing short of mind-boggling, and the rate of change being exponential, 2015 was by definition the busiest year yet. So before the Gregorian calendar keels over into 2016, let's take a wander through some of the year's most significant, salutary and attention-grabbing examples of scientific achievement, technological innovation and human endeavor.
A team of researchers at Stanford University has demonstrated the ability to manipulate states of consciousness by altering brain activity. By changing the firing rates of neurons in the central thalamus, scientists have been able to wake rats and/or send them back to sleep. This latest study on the brain's circuitry may help to develop new and effective methods to treat brain injuries and other neurological disorders.
Before cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's can be found, scientists need to develop a better understanding of how neurons in the brain communicate with one another. Researchers at the University of Michigan recently took a step towards that goal, by developing what are said to be the smallest LED probes ever implanted in a living brain.
By modifying genes to light up in one of three fluorescent colors during neural signaling, neuroscientists at Northwestern University have managed to (retrospectively) read the minds of fruit flies up to three hours after an event. This new technique could help in efforts to map the circuits within fruit fly brains, and that in turn might provide insights into the workings of the human brain.
Our brains are wondrous, incredible machines. They're slower than the earliest personal computers in terms of raw processing power, yet capable of leaps of intuition and able to store a lifetime of memories that are cross-referenced and instantly-accessible at the slightest prompting. We know so very little about how they do these things, however. But imagine for a moment if we could build a complete wiring diagram of a human brain – to map in detail every one of the hundred trillion or so synapses and roughly hundred billion neurons together with all the tiniest supporting mechanisms. What might that mean, and would it even be possible?