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First multi-organ transplant that includes skull and scalp

June 5, 2015

James Boyson (credit: KPRC TV)

James Boysen, a 55-year-old software developer from Austin, Texas has become the first patient to receive a scalp and skull transplant while receiving kidney and pancreas transplants.

More than 50 health care professionals from Houston Methodist Hospital and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center assisted with or supported the double surgery over a period of more than 24 hours.

“This was a… read more

Planarian regeneration model discovered by AI algorithm

Could help improve bioengineered regeneration of complex organs
June 4, 2015

Head-trunk-tail planarian regeneration results from experiments (credit: Daniel Lobo and Michael Levin/PLOS  Computational Biology)

An artificial intelligence system has for the first time reverse-engineered the regeneration mechanism of planaria — the small worms whose extraordinary power to regrow body parts has made them a research model in human regenerative medicine.

The discovery by Tufts University biologists presents the first model of regeneration discovered by a non-human intelligence and the first comprehensive model of planarian regeneration, which had eluded human scientists for more than… read more

Next-generation energy-efficient light-based computers

New algorithm automates design of optical interconnect devices
June 4, 2015

Infrared light enters this silicon structure from the left. The cut-out patterns, determined by an algorithm, route two different frequencies of this light into the pathways on the right. This is a greatly magnified image of a working device that is about the size of a speck of dust. (credit: Alexander Piggott)

Stanford University engineers have developed a new design algorithm that can automate the process of designing optical interconnects, which could lead to faster, more energy-efficient computers that use light rather than electricity for internal data transport.

Light can transmit more data while consuming far less power than electricity. According to a study by David Miller, the MIT W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering, up to 80… read more

‘Brainprints’ could replace passwords

June 3, 2015

Sarah Laszlo, an assistant professor of Psychology, is photographed at her laboratory in Science IV. (credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University)photographer

The way your brain responds to certain words could be used to replace passwords, according to a study by researchers from Binghamton University, published in academic journal Neurocomputing.

The psychologists recorded volunteers’ EEG signals from volunteers reading a list of acronyms, focusing on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognizing words.

Participants’ “event-related potential” signals reacted differently to each acronym, enough that a computer… read more

Autistic brain is hyper-functional — needs predictable, paced environments, study finds

Challenges conventional treatments for autism
June 3, 2015

Part of the "Squeeze Machine," designed by Temple Grandin (credit: Therafin Corp.)

A new open-access study shows that social and sensory overstimulation drives autistic behaviors and supports the unconventional view that the autistic brain is actually hyper-functional. The research offers new hope, with therapeutic emphasis on paced and non-surprising environments tailored to the individual’s sensitivity.

For decades, autism has been viewed as a form of mental retardation, a brain disease that destroys children’s ability to learn, feel and empathize, thus leaving… read more

Improving the experience of the audience with digital instruments

June 2, 2015

Virtual content being displayed on stage and overlapping the instruments and the performers (credit: Dr Florent Berthaut)

University of Bristol researchers have developed a new augmented-reality display that allows audiences to better appreciate digital musical performances

The research team from the University’s Bristol Interaction and Graphics (BIG) has been investigating how to improve the audiences experience during performances with digital musical instruments, which are played by manipulating buttons, mic, and various other controls.

Funded by a Marie Curie grant, the IXMI project, led by Florent Berthaut, aims to… read more

Missing link found between brain, immune system

June 2, 2015

Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA's discovery. (credit: University of Virginia Health System)

Overrturning decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.

The finding could have significant implications for the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

“It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always… read more

Robot servants push the boundaries in HUMANS

New TV series set to premiere June 28 on AMC
June 2, 2015

(credit: AMC)

AMC announced today HUMANS, an eight-part TV science-fiction thriller that takes place in a parallel present featuring sophisticated, life-like robot servants and caregivers called Synths (personal synthetics).

The show explores conflicts as the lines between humans and machines become increasingly blurred.

The series is set to premiere on AMC June 28 with HUMANS 101: The Hawkins family buys a Synth, Anita. But… read more

Emulating animals, these robots can recover from damage in two minutes

The kind of robot you'd want to take on a hazardous mission
June 1, 2015

This is one of the robots introduced in the paper 'Robots that can adapt like animals.' (credit: Antoine Cully)

Researchers in France and the U.S. have developed a new technology that enables robots to quickly recover from an injury in less than two minutes, similar to how injured animals adapt. Such autonomous mobile robots would be useful in remote or hostile environments such as disaster areas, space, and deep oceans.

The video above shows a six-legged robot that adapts to keep walking even if two of its legs… read more

MIT cheetah robot now jumps over obstacles autonomously

First four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously
June 1, 2015

MIT researchers have trained their robotic cheetah to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously (credits: Haewon Park, Patrick Wensing, and Sangbae Kim)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology| MIT cheetah robot lands the running jump

The MIT researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making it the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.

The robot estimates an obstacle’s height and distance, gauges the best distance from which to jump, and adjusts… read more

Scientists recover ‘lost’ memories using brain stimulation by blue light

Amnesia is a fixable result of retrieval impairment, not damage
May 29, 2015

(credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT)

MIT researchers have found they were able to reactivate memories in mice that could not otherwise be retrieved, using optogenetics — in which proteins are added to neurons to allow them to be activated with light.

The breakthrough finding, in a paper published Thursday (May 28) in the journal Science, appears to answer a longstanding question in neuroscience regarding amnesia.

Damaged or blocked memory?

Neuroscience researchers have for… read more

Light electric stimulation of the brain may improve memory for people with schizophrenia

May 29, 2015

Transcranial direct-current stimulation device (credit: GoFlow)

Lightly stimulating the brain with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may improve short-term memory in people with schizophrenia, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The tDCS procedure involves placing sponge-covered electrodes on the head and passing a weak electrical current between them.

David Schretlen, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns… read more

A 99% biodegradable computer chip

May 29, 2015

A cellulose nanofibril (CNF) computer chip rests on a leaf. (credit: Yei Hwan Jung, Wisconsin Nano Engineering Device Laboratory)

University of Wisconsin-Madison and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researchers have jointly developed a wood chip in an effort to alleviate the environmental burden* of electronic devices.

Well, actually, a wood-substrate-based semiconductor chip. They replaced the silicon substrate portion in a conventional chip with environment-friendly cellulose nanofibril (CNF). CNF is a flexible, biodegradable material made from wood, as the researchers note in an… read more

Psychedelic drugs should be legally reclassified, says psychiatrist

Pre-1967 research showed "beneficial change in many psychiatric disorders"
May 28, 2015

(credit: Salvador Dali)

Psychedelic drugs such as LSD are much less harmful than claimed and should be legally reclassified to allow further research on their medical use, says James Rucker, a psychiatrist and honorary lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London.

These substances “were extensively used and researched in clinical psychiatry” before their prohibition in 1967 and many trials of these drugs in the 1950s and 1960s… read more

Medical ‘millirobots’ could replace invasive surgery

Using a “Gauss gun” principle, an MRI machine drives a “millirobot” through a hypodermic needle into your spinal cord and guides it into your brain to release life-threatening fluid buildup ...
May 28, 2015

Millirobot components (credit: Aaron T. Becker et al./Proceedings of the IEEE)

University of Houston researchers have developed a concept for MRI-powered millimeter-size “millirobots” that could one day perform unprecedented minimally invasive medical treatments.

This technology could be used to treat hydrocephalus, for example. Current treatments require drilling through the skull to implant pressure-relieving shunts, said Aaron T. Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston.

But MRI scanners alone don’t produce enough force to… read more

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