Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Brain

The foc.us gaming headset claims to improve a gamer's abilities by stimulating specific ar...

What would you do if you wanted to improve your video game skills? Practice more often? Study game maps? Maybe get some tips from pro gamers? But why do any of that when you can just hook some electrodes to your scalp and run an electric current through your cranium? That's what Focus Labs is offering with the foc.us headset, which it claims will improve a gamer's abilities by stimulating specific areas of the brain with a low electric current.  Read More

ASMRrequests in her amazing Space Travel video

Have you ever been in a situation where a certain situation, or a certain person's voice, has made you slip into a super-relaxing trance? Have you ever felt your scalp or neck tingle as a result of some visual or auditory stimulus? If so, you're among the unknown percentage of people capable of experiencing ASMR, or the Autonomous Sensory Meridien Response. There's no science out there to confirm that the effect even exists, but for those of us that feel it, there's an emerging community of YouTube artists producing a huge array of content specifically designed to bring on scalp-tingling pleasure and extreme relaxation. Check out some of these videos to see if you're one of the lucky ones.  Read More

New hope could be on the way in the search for a treatment for Alzheimer's disease (Image:...

Although no one is announcing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease just yet, research recently conducted at the University of Southern California does at least offer a glimmer of hope. Using drugs known as TSPO (translocator protein) ligands, scientists there have successfully halted and even reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s in mice.  Read More

The Melon EEG headband that is designed to measure focus

Thinking about how accurately and effectively you are thinking is an exercise from which many of us could profit. Unfortunately, this is a serious challenge for most people. Rather like thinking about your golf swing, or just how to hit that high C, self-examination tends to modify or destroy the mental processes that were to be evaluated. Fortunately, we are in the age of personal EEG monitors, of which the latest entry is the Melon (which briefly surfaced previously as the Axio), a Kickstarter project to manufacture a headband EEG monitor designed to measure mental focus.  Read More

An iRobot PackBot navigates a school, in a demonstration of the Cognitive Patterns system

It’s sometimes easy to forget that for all their human-like qualities, robots are in fact machines. While some systems allow them to recognize basic objects, they still don’t necessarily make sense of what they’re looking at – they might see and recognize a box, for instance, but what does the presence of a box suggest to them? Now, researchers at Massachusetts-based engineering firm Aptima are developing a system known as Cognitive Patterns. It allows robots and humans to collaborate on building the robots’ understanding of the world, thus allowing them to operate on their own more effectively.  Read More

UCSF researchers have been able to cure epilepsy in adult mice by transplanting a specific...

Earlier this week we reported on a neurological implant that has been found to accurately predict the onset of epileptic seizures. But a discovery by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) could one day render such a device obsolete. By transplanting a specific type of cell into the brain, the researchers have been able to cure epilepsy in adult mice, with hopes a similar treatment could work in humans.  Read More

The small almond-sized portion of the brain known as the hypothalamus could be the body's ...

Instead of traipsing through Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León might have been better off turning his search inwards. More specifically, he should have turned his attention to a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. At least that’s what research carried out on mice by scientists at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University suggests. They found that the hypothalamus controls many aspects of aging, opening up the potential to slow down the aging process by altering signal pathways within that part of the brain.  Read More

A new brain implant can accurately predict an impending epileptic seizure (Image: Shutters...

Epilepsy seizures can range from something as subtle as a passing localized numbness to something as noticeable and potentially dangerous as wild involuntary thrashing. While some people experience symptoms before a seizure that indicate one is about to occur, others have no warning at all. A new device that is designed to be implanted between the skull and the brain surface has been found to accurately predict epilepsy seizures in humans and can indicate the risk of a seizure occurring in the coming hours.  Read More

Seniors who played the Road Tour video game reportedly experienced an improvement in their...

It’s a sad fact of life that as we age, our cognitive skills decline. In particular, the “executive function” of our mind diminishes – this function is a key aspect of our memory, attention, perception, and problem solving skills. There may be help, however. Scientists from the University of Iowa are now claiming that by playing a specific video game, test subjects aged 50 and over were able to stop and even reverse the trend.  Read More

The lights themselves can be as small as single cells, and are printed onto the end of a f...

Optogenetics is the process by which genetically-programmed neurons or other cells can be activated by subjecting them to light. Among other things, the technology helps scientists understand how the brain works, which could in turn lead to new treatments for brain disorders. Presently, fiber optic cables must be wired into the brains of test animals in order to deliver light to the desired regions. That may be about to change, however, as scientists have created tiny LEDs that can be injected into the brain.  Read More

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