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Where is imagination located in the human brain?

September 18, 2013


Imagination lies in a widespread neural network — the brain’s “mental workspace” — that consciously manipulates images, symbols, ideas and theories and gives humans the laser-like mental focus needed to solve complex problems and come up with new ideas, Dartmouth researchers conclude in a new study.

“Our findings move us closer to understanding how the organization of our brains sets us apart from other species and provides… read more

BRAIN initiative report lists detailed research priorities

September 18, 2013


A scientific team has released a report that identifies research priorities for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, Science Insider reports.

The report lists nine top research priorities. It highlights the need for cheaper, faster technologies that can trace connections between individual brain cells and record large networks of cells acting in synchrony.

It calls for development of tools that can… read more

How to turn your iPad into a mobile 3D scanner

September 18, 2013

(Credit: Occipital)

Occipital just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Structure, a portable 3D sensor that straps to the back of your iPad. It should ship by next February for $329 (early adopter package), TechCrunch reports.

Got rhythm? You can learn languages and reading better

The surprising link between music, rhythmic abilities and language skills; can music training help you learn to read?
September 18, 2013

Mechanical metronome (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Northwestern University researchers have found biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds.

The study has significant implications for reading, according to Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

The study demonstrates that accurate beat-keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement.

The experimentread more

New room-temperature magnetic semiconductor material holds promise for ‘spintronics’ data-storage devices

September 17, 2013

Cross-section transmission electron micrograph of SSO/c-YSZ/Si<br />
(001) heterostructure

Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a new compound that can be integrated into silicon chips and is a dilute magnetic semiconductor — meaning that it could be used to make “spintronic” devices, which rely on magnetic force to operate, rather than electrical currents.

“Spintronics” refers to technologies used in solid-state devices that take advantage of the inherent “spin” in electrons and their… read more

It’s time to turn cache management of multicore memory over to software, MIT research shows

September 17, 2013


In today’s computers, moving data to and from main memory consumes so much time and energy that microprocessors have their own small, high-speed memory banks, known as “caches,”  which store frequently used data.

Managing the caches has traditionally required  fairly simple algorithms that can be hard-wired into the chips. But to meet consumers’ expectations for steadily increasing computational power, chipmakers have had to begin equipping their chips with more… read more

Will phase-change memory replace flash memory?

September 17, 2013


Phase-change memory, a new material built from aluminum and antimony, shows promise for next-generation data-storage devices.

Phase-change memory relies on materials that change from a disordered, amorphous structure to a crystalline structure when an electrical pulse is applied. The material has high electrical resistance in its amorphous state and low resistance in its crystalline state — corresponding to the 1 and 0 states of binary data.… read more

A radical new holistic view of health based on cooperation and disease based on competition

September 16, 2013

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Researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center have developed a radical holistic view of health — seeing it as a cooperative state among cells, while they see disease as result of cells at war that fight with each other for domination.

Their unique approach is backed by experimental evidence. The researchers show a network of genes in cells, which includes the powerful tumor suppressor p53,… read more

A cosmic factory for making building blocks of life

September 16, 2013


Scientists have discovered a “cosmic factory” for producing the building blocks of life, amino acids.

The team from Imperial College London, the University of Kent, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that when icy comets collide into a planet, amino acids can be produced.

These essential building blocks are also produced if a rocky meteorite crashes into a planet with an icy surface.… read more

Dogs dig sociable robots

Will robot-dog games replace cat videos?
September 16, 2013


Dogs react sociably to robots that behave socially towards them, even if the devices look nothing like a human, Gabriella Lakatos of the Hungarian Academy of Science and Eötvös Loránd University and associates have found.

The researchers used a customized human-sized PeopleBot with two arms and Mickey Mouse cartoon-style four-fingered hands. One of its robotic arms makes simple gestures and grasps objects.

It was programmed to either perform… read more

‘Terminator’ polymer regenerates itself

September 16, 2013

T-1000 terminator

Scientists have developed the first self-healing polymer that can spontaneously achieve healing in the absence of a catalyst.

Self-healing polymers have been able to mend themselves by reforming broken cross-linking bonds, but that requires an external catalyst (trigger) to promote bond repair, such as heat, light, or specific environmental conditions, such as pH.

Ibon Odriozola at the CIDETEC Centre for Electrochemical Technologies in Spain used a poly(urea–urethane)… read more

Proteins that are vital to long-term memory

September 16, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found a group of proteins called Wnts that are essential to the formation of long-term memories.

These proteins send signals from the outside to the inside of a cell, inducing a cellular response that is crucial for normal functioning of the adult brain (and aspects of embryonic development, including stem cell differentiation).… read more

Cell phones transforming health care in Africa

September 16, 2013


In a little over a decade, Africa has gone from a region with virtually no fixed-line telecoms infrastructure to a continent where one in six of the billion inhabitants now owns a cell phone, creating one of the largest, low-cost distributed sensor networks we’ve ever seen, with the potential to completely transform global health care, MIT Technology Review reports.

But ultimately the biggest impact may well come… read more

Data glasses controlled by eye movements

September 15, 2013


Fraunhofer COMEDD researchers have developed eye-controlled data glasses that overlay data on the real world and let you flip through pages using eye motions.

The camera sensors integrated into the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen track the wearer’s eye movements and an image processing program calculates the exact position of their pupils in real time.

An invisible infrared light source in the glasses… read more

Voyager 1 embarks on historic journey into interstellar space

September 13, 2013


NASA‘s Voyager 1 spacecraft is now officially the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun.

New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside… read more

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