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Brain


— Science

Scientists discover a "mini-brain" in spinal cord that helps keep us balanced

By - February 1, 2015 1 Picture
Keeping ourselves upright is something most of us shouldn't need to think a whole lot about, given we've been doing it almost our entire lives. But when it comes to dealing with more precarious terrain, like walking on ice or some sort of tight rope, you might think some pretty significant concentration is required. But researchers have found that even in our moments of great instability, our subconsciousness is largely responsible for keeping us from landing on our backsides. This is due to what scientists are describing as a mini-brain, a newly mapped bunch of neurons in the spinal cord which processes sensory information and could lead to new treatment for ailing motor skills and balance. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

New nicotine vaccine may succeed at treating smoking addiction, where others have failed

By - January 22, 2015 1 Picture
If you're a smoker who's trying to quit, you may recall hearing about vaccines designed to cause the body's immune system to treat nicotine like a foreign invader, producing antibodies that trap and remove it before it's able to reach receptors in the brain. It's a fascinating idea, but according to scientists at California's Scripps Research Institute, a recent high-profile attempt had a major flaw. They claim to have overcome that problem, and are now developing a vaccine of their own that they believe should be more effective. Read More
— Sports

Linx impact assessment sensor helps identify sports concussions

By - January 9, 2015 7 Pictures
Concussions – or at least concussion discussions – are all the rage lately, particularly in relation to professional sports leagues like the NFL. BlackBox Biometrics is adding to the discussion with a small, lightweight sensor designed to track concussive forces. Derived from the company's military blast force sensor, the consumer-grade Linx IAS straps to the head via a beanie or headband and measures impacts, providing an easy-read analysis that can help athletes identify concussions. Read More
— Science

Spinal implant could one day let paralyzed people walk again

By - January 9, 2015 3 Pictures
Three years ago, scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) reported success in getting rats with severed spinal cords to walk again. They did so by suspending the animals in a harness, then using implants to electrically stimulate neurons in their lower spinal cord. Although this ultimately resulted in the rats being able to run on their previously-paralyzed hind legs, the technology still wasn't practical for long-term use in humans. Thanks to new research conducted at EPFL, however, that may no longer be the case. Read More
— Medical

Watching patients watching music videos helps detect brain injury location

By - December 21, 2014 1 Picture
Brain injuries are complicated things and even now not fully understood. Researchers at the NYU Langone Medical Center have completed a study that suggests eye tracking technology may be able to help locate and determine the extent of brain injuries as well as monitor recovery. The key to this method is its simplicity – the required eye tracking analysis can be achieved while patients watch music videos for a few minutes. Read More
— Science

Computer-based "deep neural network" as good as primates at visual object recognition

By - December 19, 2014 1 Picture
Computers aren't best suited to visual object recognition. Our brains are hardwired to quickly see and match patterns in everything, with great leaps of intuition, while the processing center of a computer is more akin to a very powerful calculator. But that hasn't stopped neuroscientists and computer scientists from trying over the past 40 years to design computer networks that mimic our visual skills. Recent advances in computing power and deep learning algorithms have accelerated that process to the point where a group of MIT neuroscientists has found a network design that compares favorably to the brain of our primate cousins. Read More
— Medical

Scientists identify promising off-switch for chronic pain

By - November 30, 2014 1 Picture
The more successful ways of reducing chronic pain such as that arising from bone cancer and chemotherapy rely on blocking certain brain pathways, but these aren't without their of side effects. Scientists at St Louis University have discovered that the pathway A3AR could be the key to mitigating pain without some of the unwanted baggage, potentially pointing to new methods of therapeutic treatment. Read More
— Medical

Protein that wakes up the brain could provide target for Alzheimer's prevention

By - November 24, 2014 1 Picture
In recent years, research has linked sleep problems to Alzheimer’s disease. This relationship involves a neurotransmitter called orexin that awakens the brain from sleep and has shown to be heightened in moderate to severe sufferers of Alzheimer’s. New research conducted at Washington University in St Louis suggests that removing the orexin protein in mice enables them to sleep longer, which could serve to hinder development of the disease. Read More
— Games

Headshot: Action video games found to improve brain's capacity to learn

By - November 16, 2014 1 Picture
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
— Science

Direct brain-to-brain interface between humans improved

By - November 10, 2014 3 Pictures
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
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