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Brain

Medical

Spinal implant could one day let paralyzed people walk again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medical

Toxin-producing stem cells fight brain tumors where it matters most

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

Medical

Converting skin cells directly into brain cells advances fight against Huntington's disease

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

Medical

Surgical robot takes a cheeky approach to brain surgery

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

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