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Carbon nanotubes found safe for reconnecting damaged neurons

May offer future hope for patients with spinal-cord injury
July 5, 2017

(credit: Polina Shuvaeva/iStock)

Multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) could safely help repair damaged connections between neurons by serving as supporting scaffolds for growth or as connections between neurons.

That’s the conclusion of an in-vitro (lab) open-access study with cultured neurons (taken from the hippcampus of neonatal rats) by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists in Italy and Spain, published in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine.

The study… read more

Meditation, yoga, and tai chi can reverse damaging effects of stress, new study suggests

Even a two-minute brisk walk every half hour will work wonders
July 3, 2017

Tai chi (credit: iStock)

Mind-body interventions such as meditation, yoga*, and tai chi can reverse the molecular reactions in our DNA that cause ill-health and depression, according to a study by scientists at the universities of Coventry and Radboud.

When a person is exposed to a stressful event, their sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response) is triggered, which increases production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). That molecule… read more

‘Mind reading’ technology identifies complex thoughts, using machine learning and fMRI

CMU aims to map all types of knowledge in the brain
June 30, 2017

brain semantic patterns

By combining machine-learning algorithms with fMRI brain imaging technology, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) scientists have discovered, in essense, how to “read minds.”

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to view how the brain encodes various thoughts (based on blood-flow patterns in the brain). They discovered that the mind’s building blocks for constructing complex thoughts are formed, not by words, but by specific combinations of the brain’s various sub-systems.… read more

How to capture videos of brains in real time

Watching mice think as they walk
June 28, 2017

With a new algorithm, scientists can watch individual neurons signaling within a volume of brain tissue. (credit: The Rockefeller University)

A team of scientists has peered into a mouse brain with light, capturing live neural activity of hundreds of individual neurons in a 3D section of tissue at video speed (30 Hz) in a single recording for the first time.

Besides serving as a powerful research tool, this discovery means it may now be possible to “alter stimuli in real time based on what we see going on in… read more

Smart algorithm automatically adjusts exoskeletons for best walking performance

"Human-in-the-loop optimization" assistance method could increase walking or running endurance, help stroke patients walk again sooner
June 25, 2017

exoskeleton leg ft

Researchers at the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed a new automated feedback system for personalizing exoskeletons to achieve optimal performance.

Exoskeletons can be used to augment human abilities. For example, they can provide more endurance while walking, help lift a heavy load, improve athletic performance, and help a stroke patient walk again.

But current one-size-fits-all exoskeleton devices, despite their potential, “have not improved… read more

Tactile sensor lets robots gauge objects’ hardness and manipulate small tools

June 23, 2017

A GelSight sensor attached to a robot’s gripper enables the robot to determine precisely where it has grasped a small screwdriver, removing it from and inserting it back into a slot, even when the gripper screens the screwdriver from the robot’s camera. (credit: Robot Locomotion Group at MIT)

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have added sensors to grippers on robot arms to give robots greater sensitivity and dexterity. The sensor can judge the hardness of surfaces it touches, enabling a robot to manipulate smaller objects than was previously possible.

The “GelSight” sensor consists of a block of transparent soft rubber — the “gel” of its name — with one face… read more

Two drones see through walls in 3D using WiFi signals

Researchers use commercially available equipment including tiny Raspberry Pi computer
June 21, 2017

Transmit and receive drones scenario (credit: Chitra R. Karanam and Uasamin Mostofi/ACM)

Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara have demonstrated the first three-dimensional imaging of objects through walls using an ordinary wireless signal.

Applications could include emergency search-and-rescue, archaeological discovery, and structural monitoring, according to the researchers. Other applications could include military and law-enforcement surveillance.

Calculating 3D images from WiFi signals

In the research, two octo-copters (drones) took off and flew outside… read more

Crystal ‘domain walls’ may lead to tinier electronic devices

June 19, 2017

Domain Walls is pictured (credit: Queen's University Belfast)

Queen’s University Belfast physicists have discovered a radical new way to modify the conductivity (ease of electron flow) of electronic circuits — reducing the size of future devices.

The two latest KurzweilAI articles on graphene cited faster/lower-power performance and device-compatibility features. This new research takes another approach: Altering the properties of a crystal to eliminate the need for multiple circuits in devices.

Reconfigurable nanocircuitryread more

New chemical method could revolutionize graphene use in electronics

June 16, 2017

Adding a molecular structure containing chromium, carbon, and oxygen atoms retains graphene's conductive properties. The metal atom (silver, in this experiment) to be bonded are then added to the oxygen atom on top. (credit: Songwei Che et al./Nano Letters)

University of Illinois at Chicago scientists have solved a fundamental problem that has held back the use of wonder material graphene in a wide variety of electronics applications.

When graphene is bonded (attached) to metal atoms (such as molybdenum) in devices such as solar cells, graphene’s superior conduction properties degrade.

The solution: Instead of adding molecules directly to the individual carbon atoms of graphene, the new… read more

Graphene-based computer would be 1,000 times faster than silicon-based, use 100th the power

June 15, 2017

Magnetoresistive GNR ft

A future graphene-based transistor using spintronics could lead to tinier computers that are a thousand times faster and use a hundredth of the power of silicon-based computers.

The radical transistor concept, created by a team of researchers at Northwestern University, The University of Texas at Dallas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Central Florida, is explained this month in an open-accessread more

High-speed light-based systems could replace supercomputers for certain ‘deep learning’ calculations

Low power requirements for photons (instead of electrons) may make deep learning more practical in future self-driving cars and mobile consumer devices
June 14, 2017

Optical Interference Unit ft

A team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere has developed a new approach to deep learning systems — using light instead of electricity, which they say could vastly improve the speed and efficiency of certain deep-learning computations.

Deep-learning systems are based on artificial neural networks that mimic the way the brain learns from an accumulation of examples. They can enable technologies such as face-… read more

A noninvasive method for deep-brain stimulation for brain disorders

Could make deep-brain stimulation less risky, less expensive, and more available to patients and researchers
June 11, 2017

External electrical waves excite an area in the mouse hippocampus, shown in bright green. (credit: Nir Grossman, Ph.D., Suhasa B. Kodandaramaiah, Ph.D., and Andrii Rudenko, Ph.D.)

MIT researchers and associates have come up with a breakthrough method of remotely stimulating regions deep within the brain, replacing the invasive surgery now required for implanting electrodes for Parkinson’s and other brain disorders.

The new method could make deep-brain stimulation for brain disorders less expensive, more accessible to patients, and less risky (avoiding brain hemorrhage and infection).

Working with mice, the researchers applied two high-frequency electrical currents… read more

Researchers decipher how faces are encoded in the brain

Only 205 neurons required per face; findings also have artificial intelligence applications
June 9, 2017

actual vs predicted face ft

In a paper published (open access) June 1 in the journal Cell, researchers report that they have cracked the code for facial identity in the primate brain.

“We’ve discovered that this code is extremely simple,” says senior author Doris Tsao, a professor of biology and biological engineering at the California Institute of Technology and senior author. “We can now reconstruct a face that a monkey… read more

Playing a musical instrument could help restore brain health, research suggests

June 8, 2017

Tibetan singing bowls were used to help uncover why playing a musical instrument can protect brain health. (credit: Baycrest Health Sciences)

A study by neuroscientists at Toronto-based Baycrest Rotman Research Institute and Stanford University involving playing a musical instrument suggests ways to improve brain rehabilitation methods.

In the study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience on May 24, 2017, the researchers asked young adults to listen to sounds from an unfamiliar musical instrument (a Tibetan singing bowl). Half of the subjects (the experimental group) were then… read more

33 blood-cancer patients have dramatic clinical remission with new T-cell therapy

June 7, 2017

Killer T-cells surround a cancer cell (credit: NIH)

Chinese doctors have reported success with a new type of immunotherapy for multiple myeloma*, a blood cancer: 33 out of 35 patients in a clinical trial had clinical remission within two months.

The researchers used a type of T cell called “chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T.”** In a phase I clinical trial in China, the patient’s own T cells were collected, genetically reprogrammed in a lab, and injected back into the patient. The reprogramming involved inserting an artificially designed gene… read more

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