Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Brain

A test subject, wired up to the brain control interface

We've recently seen rehabilitative systems in which stroke victims use their thoughts either to move animated images of their paralyzed limbs, or to activate robotic devices that guide their limbs through the desired movements. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, have just announced an alternative approach. Their device acts as an intermediary between the brain and a non-responsive hand, receiving signals from the one and transmitting them to the other.  Read More

The tongue interface and control system assembly (Photo: National University of Singapore)

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a holiday in which we celebrate the blessings granted by Life, the Universe, and Everything. A central part of Thanksgiving traditions involves a massive feast, often featuring turkey or ham, and a selection of delicious side dishes. It may soon be possible to virtually experience such a repast as enjoyed by a character in a movie or a video game, aided by a new method for digitally actuating the sense of taste through electrical and thermal stimulation of the tongue.  Read More

Controlling virtual arms and hands with the minds could help stroke patient rehabilitation...

Earlier this year, we saw an amazing demonstration of an EEG skullcap interface that allowed a quadcopter to be controlled with only thoughts. Now the same technology is pioneering a medical therapy in which stroke patients can use their thoughts to guide a simulation, and thus rebuild damaged neurons. As the “virtual reality hands” provide customization and direct feedback of one’s progress, this could be an improvement over traditional therapy methods.  Read More

According to researchers, a multi-photon laser technique can be used to detect protein agg...

It is generally believed that aggregations of proteins are responsible for brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. However, the difficulty has been in detecting the aggregates responsible and removing them from the brain. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and Polish Wroclaw University of Technology have found a potential solution using lasers.  Read More

The Mollii garment helps keep muscle spasms and tension under control

The painful and crippling muscle spasms caused by brain injuries or neurological disorders are typically controlled using medication or even surgery. Soon, however, it may be possible for sufferers to get their muscles under control just by wearing what looks like a high-tech union suit. Known as the Mollii garment, it reportedly produces no side effects, and doesn't have to be worn all the time.  Read More

The US Department of Defense is pushing for the development of cheap, wearable systems tha...

Innovation is all about putting on the proverbial thinking cap. Now engineers are vying to produce an actual thinking cap – at least one that can measure the most rudimentary signals of thought. The US Department of Defense is pushing for the development of cheap, wearable systems that can detect the brain waves of people and display the data on smartphones or tablets.  Read More

New research has provided 'strong hope' of finding a drug to combat Alzheimer’s (Image: Sh...

A team of researchers at Yale University has completed a molecular model for Alzheimer's disease by identifying a protein that plays a key role in its onset. Promisingly, the study showed that when the activity of this protein is blocked by an existing drug, mice engineered as models for human AD recover their memories.  Read More

A special polymer material created by UCLA professor Vijay Gupta has been found to reduce ...

One of the most feared football-related injuries is concussion. With the new NFL and NCAA college seasons just about to kick off, fans will be praying that none of their team suffers any serious impact collisions that could end their season or result in memory loss or depression later in life. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) biomechanical engineering professor, Vijay Gupta, is testing a special polymer material that when applied to the inside of helmets, can reduce G-force impact by 25 percent.  Read More

A cross section of one of the 'mini brains'

Within the past few years, scientists have successfully grown organs such as kidneys and livers in laboratories. It’s possible that some day, such lab-grown organs could be used as transplants, particularly when grown from the recipient’s own cells. Now, a team at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences has succeeded in growing miniature human brains. While no one is suggesting that they could be swapped in for a patient’s existing brain, they could prove to be a boon to the field of medical research.  Read More

Reconstructed images of letters viewed by the test subjects

If someone were looking at a letter of the alphabet that was blocked from your view, would you be able to accurately guess what that letter was? Well, if you were at Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands, you might not have to guess or call in a psychic. Scientists there have used an MRI scanner and a mathematical model to read observed letters, right out of test subjects’ brains.  Read More

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