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Imaging the brain at multiple size scales

New technique can reveal both subcellular details and long-range connections
July 27, 2016

A new technique called magnified analysis of proteome (MAP), developed at MIT, allows researchers to peer at molecules within cells or take a wider view of the long-range connections between neurons. (credit: Courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers have developed a new technique for imaging brain tissue at multiple scales, allowing them to peer at molecules within cells or take a wider view of the long-range connections between neurons.

This technique, known as “magnified analysis of proteome” (MAP), should help scientists in their ongoing efforts to chart the connectivity and functions of neurons in the human brain, says Kwanghun Chung, the… read more

Neuroscience researchers caution public about hidden risks of self-administered brain stimulation

DIY users of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) seek enhanced brain function; scientific community warns of unintended results
July 27, 2016

TheBrainDriver v.2.0 tDCS device (credit: TheBrainDriver, LLC)

“Do-it-yourself” users of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) seeking cognitive enhancement are exposing themselves to hidden risks, neuroscientists warn in an open-access Open Letter in the journal Annals of Neurology.

tDCS devices are made up of a band that wraps around one’s head with electrodes placed at specific scalp locations to target specific brain regions. The devices transmit varying levels of electrical current to the brain to achieve… read more

Flirtey drone delivers Reno 7-Eleven slurpies in first commercial drone delivery to a residence

Meanwhile, hampered by new FAA rules, Amazon Prime Air testing moves to the UK
July 27, 2016

Flirty 7-Eleven delivery (credit: 7-Eleven)

Drone delivery service Flirtey completed the first FAA-approved autonomous drone delivery to a customer’s residence on July 22, ferrying sandwiches and Slurpees from a 7-Eleven in Reno, Nevada.

The two companies plan to expand drone delivery tests in Reno and expect drone packages to include “everyday essentials” such as batteries and sunscreen in the future, according to 7‑Eleven EVP Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins.

Flirtey previously conducted the… read more

Placenta-on-a-chip models the vital mother-fetus placental barrier

Will help in studies on preterm birth
July 25, 2016

The flash-drive-sized device contains two layers of human cells that model the interface between mother and fetus. Microfluidic channels on either side of those layers allow researchers to study how molecules are transported through, or are blocked by, that interface. (credit: University of Pennsylvania)

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed the first placenta-on-a-chip that can fully model the transport of nutrients across the placental barrier — part of a nationwide effort sponsored by the March of Dimes to identify causes of preterm birth and ways to prevent it.

Prematurely born babies may experience lifelong, debilitating consequences, but the underlying mechanisms of this condition are not well understood due in part to… read more

Cinnamon may be the latest nootropic

July 25, 2016

(credit: The Great American Spice Co.)

Kalipada Pahan, PhD, a researcher at Rush University and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, has found that cinnamon improved performance of mice in a maze test.

His group published their latest findings online June 24, 2016, in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

“The increase in learning in poor-learning mice after cinnamon treatment was significant,” says Pahan. “For example, poor-learning mice took… read more

Americans worried about gene editing, brain chip implants, and synthetic blood

July 25, 2016

(iStock Photo)

Many in the general U.S. public are concerned about technologies to make people’s minds sharper and their bodies stronger and healthier than ever before, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults.

The survey covers broad public reaction to scientific advances and examines public attitudes about the potential use of three specific emerging technologies for human enhancement.

The nationally… read more

Whole-brain imaging method identifies common brain disorders

New chemical allows for measuring the density of synapses in the entire brain in vivo for the first time, using a PET scan
July 22, 2016

Human synaptic density ft

How many of the estimated 100 trillion synapses in your brain are actually functioning? It’s an important question for diagnosis and treatment of people with common brain disorders, such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), but one that could not be answered, except in an autopsy (or an invasive surgical sample of a small area).

Now a Yale-led team of researchers… read more

Distinct stages of thinking revealed by brain activity patterns

July 22, 2016

four stages ft

Using neuroimaging data, Carnegie Mellon University researchers have identified four distinct stages of math problem solving, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science.

“How students were solving these kinds of problems was a total mystery to us until we applied these techniques,” says psychological scientist John Anderson, lead researcher on the study. “Now, when students are sitting there thinking hard, we can tell… read more

Mental, physical exercises found to produce different brain benefits

July 22, 2016

(credit: iStock)

Cognitive brain training improves executive function while aerobic activity improves memory, according to a new study by the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

The study, published in an open-access paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, compared cerebral blood flow and cerebrovascular reactivity data, obtained via MRI, for two groups of healthy sedentary adults ages 56–75 years. The members of both… read more

Facebook’s internet-beaming drone completes first test flight

July 21, 2016

(credit: Facebook)

Facebook Connectivity Lab announced today the first full-scale test flight of Aquila — a solar-powered unmanned airplane/drone designed to bring affordable internet access to some of the 1.6 billion people living in remote locations with no access to mobile broadband networks.

When complete, Aquila will be able to circle a region up to 60 miles in diameter, beaming internet connectivity down from an altitude of more than… read more

New nanomaterial mimics cell membranes

Applications include water purification, fuel cells, and selective drug delivery
July 20, 2016

This simulated cross-section shows how the lipid-like peptoids interact to form a membrane. Each peptoid has two sections: a fatty-like region that interacts via benzene rings (shown in pink) with its neighbors to form a sheet. And a water-loving region that juts above or below the flat sheet. Each region can be designed to have specific functions. (credit: Chun-Long Chen/PNNL)

Materials scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a new material that performs like a biological cell membrane — a material that has long been sought for applications like water purification and drug delivery.

The “peptoid” material can assemble itself into a sheet that’s thinner, but more stable, than a soap bubble, the researchers report this week in Nature Communications. The assembled… read more

Musk’s new master plan for Tesla

July 20, 2016

Tesla Autopilot ft

Elon Musk revealed his new master plan for Tesla today (July 20) in a blog post published on Tesla’s website:

  • Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage.
  • Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments.
  • Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning.
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you

read more

Why partially automated cars should be deployed in ‘light-duty vehicles’

Could prevent or reduce the severity of up 1.3 million crashes in the U.S. a year, including 10,100 fatal wrecks
July 20, 2016

crash avoidance technologies

U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind said at a conference today (July 20) that the government “will not abandon efforts to speed the development of self-driving cars … to reduce the 94 percent of car crashes attributed to human error, despite a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S operating on an autopilot system,” Reuters reports. But autonomous vehicles must be “much safer” than human… read more

New brain map provides unprecedented detail in 180 areas of the cerebral cortex

Aims to help researchers understand brain disorders, help neurosurgeons avoid damaging important brain areas
July 20, 2016

A detailed new map by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis lays out the landscape of the cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain and the dominant structure involved in sensory perception and attention, as well as distinctly human functions such as language, tool use and abstract thinking. (credit: Matthew Glasser and Eric Young)

A detailed new map by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and associates* lays out the landscape of 180 areas of the cerebral cortex in painstaking detail; 97 of these areas have never been previously described.

The new map is intended to help researchers studying brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, dementia and epilepsy. They will be able to use it to understand… read more

US has potential to produce more than a billion tons of biomass annually by 2040

Could substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions and reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil
July 18, 2016

biomass

Oak Ridge National Laboratory | 2016 Billion-Ton Report

The U.S. has the potential to sustainably produce at least 1 billion dry tons of nonfood biomass resources annually by 2040, according to the 2016 Billion-Ton Report, jointly released by the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That amount would substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the utility and transportation sectors and (as the domestic bioeconomy… read more

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