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Brain

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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