Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Brain

New research demonstrates that action video games can result in improved learning capabili...

You're moving ever so cautiously through the abandoned village, with one eye on the radar and the other trained on the vacant window ahead. Then in an instant the enemy appears, causing you to spray your weapon in the general vicinity, guided partly by your action hero instincts but mostly by pure hope. Thinking through these video game situations may take less than a second, but new research shows it can also enhance real-world learning capabilities, enabling the brain to better anticipate sequences of events.  Read More

A subject's hand was moved remotely by having one subject thinking about moving their hand...

Direct brain-to-brain communication has been a long-held ambition of scientists and science fiction fans alike. Recently, University of Washington (UW) researchers brought that ambition a step closer to reality by successfully conducting a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of volunteers over the internet by transmitting signals from one person’s brain to another to directly govern the motions of the receiving person’s hand.  Read More

Encapsulated toxin-producing stem cells (in blue) help kill brain tumor cells in the tumor...

When it comes to new tumor-fighting treatments, it’s often as much about location, location, location as it is the actual drug interaction. Cytoxin-producing stem cells produced by scientists at Harvard University lodge at the site of brain tumor removal to continually attack remaining tumor cells. As an alternative to drug treatments that can be invasive or ineffective, the researchers saw promising results against glioblastomas, which hold the dubious distinction of being the most common and most fatal brain cancer.  Read More

Scientists at Washington University in St Louis have devised a method for reprogramming hu...

Few diseases are as terrifying as Huntington's, an inherited genetic disorder that gradually saps away at sufferers' muscle control and cognitive capacity until they die (usually some 20 or so years after initial symptoms). But scientists at Washington University School of Medicine may have provided a new glimmer of hope by converting human skin cells (which are much more readily available than stem cells) directly into a specific type of brain cell that is affected by Huntington's.  Read More

Patient mockup of surgical robot designed to treat epilepsy by entering the brain through ...

Conventional open surgery on the brain involves drilling openings in the skull through which to access the gray matter. But what if the part of the brain needing to be accessed is located at the bottom of the brain as is the case with treating severe epileptic seizures? Generally it means more drilling. Now engineers at Vanderbilt University have developed a surgical robot that uses an alternative point of entry – the cheek.  Read More

Research conducted at the East Tennessee Sate University suggests that brain-computer inte...

By enabling users to communicate and control devices with their thoughts, brain-computer interfaces (BCI) hold almost a scary amount of potential. While they have achieved feats such as directing the flight of a quadcopter and helping victims of paralysis to communicate, sufferers of brainstem stroke with "locked-in" syndrome have so far been beyond reach. But now, a researcher at East Tennessee Sate University (ETSU) has demonstrated BCIs may in fact give brainstem stroke patients a voice again, with very specific brainwaves serving as a typing finger for a virtual keyboard.  Read More

The results of a study involving mice suggests xenon could help protect the brain after a ...

Injuries from a blow to the head are a two-stage affair, with the primary injury caused by the initial impact being followed by a secondary injury that develops in the subsequent hours and days. We have seen the development of devices like the Jolt Sensor that are designed to detect the severity of the initial impact, but there is currently no drug treatment for the secondary injury, which is largely responsible for a patient sustaining mental and physical disabilities. Now scientists at Imperial College London have found that xenon gas shows promise as such a treatment.  Read More

The Jolt Sensor is designed for sports where participants are at the risk of receiving a c...

Heightened awareness of brain injuries and their enduring impacts has seen emphasis grow on immediate concussion testing. Indeed, if some time passes before detection, an additional blow to the already injured brain can have serious consequences. The team behind the Jolt Sensor is looking to make these assessments an instantaneous affair, with a sensor that clips onto an athlete's headwear and vibrates when they receive too heavy a knock.  Read More

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) improved the memory of participants in a Northwest...

Failing memory is one of the (many) drawbacks of old age, but can also impact younger people suffering stroke, early-stage Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury and cardiac arrest. In a breakthrough that opens up the potential for new treatments for memory impairments in the young and old, researchers at Northwestern University have shown that electrical stimulation of the brain can improve memory, with the benefits lasting long after treatment.  Read More

Confocal microscope image of the artificial neural tissue developed at Tufts University

One approach to studying the brain rather than working on the whole thing at once is to examine small bits of it. With that in mind, researchers at the Tissue Engineering Resource Center at Tufts University, Boston have developed a three-dimensional brain-like tissue that is structurally similar to living rat brain tissue, functions enough like it for experimental purposes, and one that scientists have been able to keep alive for up to two months.  Read More

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