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Scientists discover origin of a giant synapse

May 28, 2013

The calyx of Held (orange) is a type of giant synapse, which synapses onto MNTB neurons (green) and relays excitatory information to these neurons. The neurons in turn send inhibitory outputs to a number of targets in the auditory brain stem and thus act as a master source of well-timed inhibition for the lower auditory system. (Credit: University of Colorado School of Medicine)

EPFL scientists have revealed a mechanism responsible for the creation of giant synapses in the brain that allow us to efficiently process auditory information.

Humans and most mammals can determine the spatial origin of sounds with remarkable acuity. To accomplish this small daily miracle, the brain has developed a circuit that’s rapid enough to detect the tiny lag that occurs between the moment the auditory information reaches one of… read more

IQ predicted by ability to filter visual motion

May 28, 2013

University of Rochester students participate in photo illustrating a news release. A simple visual task that measures the brain’s unconscious ability to suppress motion predicts IQ, according to a new study. photo taken in Rush Rhees Library May 15, 2013. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Individuals whose brains are better at automatically suppressing background motion perform better on IQ tests, according to a new University of Rochester.study.

The test is the first purely sensory assessment to be strongly correlated with IQ and may provide a non-verbal and culturally unbiased tool for scientists seeking to understand neural processes associated with general intelligence.

“Because intelligence is such a broad construct, you can’t… read more

Warrior Web to augment soldiers’ endurance

May 27, 2013

(credit: DARPA)

DARPA‘s Warrior Web program seeks to create a soft, lightweight under-suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue common for soldiers, who often carry 100-pound loads for extended periods over rough terrain.

DARPA envisions Warrior Web augmenting the work of soldiers’ own muscles to significantly boost endurance, carrying capacity and overall warfighter effectiveness — all while using no more than 100W of power.… read more

Slowing the aging process using only antibiotics

May 27, 2013

Lightmatter_lab_mice

Why is it that within a homogeneous population of the same species, some individuals live three times as long as others?

EPFL researchers investigated this question and found the mechanism responsible for aging hidden deep within mitochondria.

The were able to dramatically slow aging down in worms by administering antibiotics to the young, achieving a lifespan extension of 60 percent.

Mitochondia: biological timekeepersread more

How to convert an iPhone into a handheld biosensor

May 27, 2013

University of Illinois researchers developed a cradle and app for the iPhone to make a handheld biosensor that uses the phone’s own camera and processing power to detect any kind of biological molecules or cells. (Credit: Brian T. Cunningham?University of Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app for the iPhone (Android version in the works) that uses the phone’s built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules.

Having such sensitive biosensing capabilities in the field could enable on-the-spot tracking of groundwater contamination,  map the spread of pathogens (using the phone’s GPS),… read more

Privacy challenges of wearable computing

May 27, 2013

EyeTap (credit: Steve Mann)

“I’ve experienced both sides” of the privacy debate on Google Glass, Nick Bilton writes in The New York Times.

But other gadgets have plenty of privacy-invading potential too, he says. Memoto, a tiny, automatic camera that looks like a pin you can wear on a shirt, can snap two photos a minute and later upload it to an online service.

Apple is… read more

Google to use blimps to provide wireless in Africa, Southeast Asia

May 27, 2013

(Credit: Google)

Google plans to build and help run wireless networks in emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, connecting a billion or more new people to the Internet.

The goal is to provide Internet access to dwellers outside of major cities where wired Internet connections aren’t available, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

As part of the plan, Google has also worked on making special balloons or… read more

Growing new brains with infrared light [exclusive]

May 24, 2013

Illustration of the "neuronal beacon" for guiding axon growth direction (credit: B. Black et al./Optics Letters)

University of Texas, Arlington, scientists have discovered a way to control the growth or repair of neurons and neuron circuits, using a non-invasive “neuronal beacon” (near-IR laser beam) — essentially rewiring brains, or even creating new ones.

This major discovery, just published today in Optics Letters, promises to enable several new applications, UT Arlington assistant professor of physics Samarendra Mohanty said in an exclusive interview with KurzweilAI:

    read more

    Baby’s life saved with 3D printed device to restore breathing

    May 24, 2013

    A baby’s life was saved with this groundbreaking 3-D printed device that restored his breathing (credit: University of Michigan Health System)

    A bioresorbable splint used for first time, successfully stopped life-threatening tracheobronchomalacia, a case featured in New England Journal of Medicine.

    Every day, a baby, Kaiba, stopped breathing, his collapsed bronchus blocking the crucial flow of air to his lungs. Parents April and Bryan Gionfriddo watched helplessly.

    They found hope at the University of Michigan, where a new, bioresorbable device that could help Kaiba was… read more

    Worm ‘EEG’ tests neural effects of drugs

    May 24, 2013

    C elegans nematode (credit: The Goldstein Lab)

    Scientists from the University of Southampton have developed a microfluidic electrophysiological device called a NeuroChip that records the neural activity in the microscopic worm Caenorhadbitis elegans  (C. elegans) — the worm equivalent of an EEG —.to help test the effects of drugs.

    How to record a worm’s ‘EEG’

    With the NeuroChip, you feed the  worm into a narrow, fluid-filled channel that tapers at… read more

    Nanoscale whirlpools could multiply magnetic memory

    May 24, 2013

    Magnetic transmission soft x-ray microscopy shows the reverse of spin circularity in magnetic vortices in a row of nanodisks, after applying a 1.5 nanosecond pulse of magnetic field. The change from left to right is not a change in lighting, as it may appear, but is instead due to changing magnetic contrast.

    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have used the unique capabilities of the Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) to advance a new concept in magnetic memory.

    “What we’re working on now could make these gadgets perform hundreds of times better and also be a hundred times more energy efficient,” says the Lab’s Peter Fischer.

    Four memory states

    Magnetic memories store… read more

    Bitcoin attracts major investors

    May 24, 2013

    bitcoin

    Bitcoin is gaining traction outside its existing community of enthusiastic early adopters.

    An estimated 1,100 people attended Bitcoin 2013, the first large conference dedicated to Bitcoin, MIT Technology Review reports. The conference also showed that Bitcoin has begun to attract the backing of conventional technology industry investors, who have sunk millions of dollars into a handful of Bitcoin startups.

    In the Bitcoin system,… read more

    An interplanetary GPS using pulsar signals

    May 24, 2013

    rotation_powered_pulsar

    Researchers have worked out the practical details for an autonomous spacecraft navigation system using signals from pulsars in essentially the same way that we use GPS satellites to navigate on Earth, MIT Technology Review reports.

    A pulsar is a rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation at a very precise interval between pulses that ranges from milliseconds to seconds.

    By measuring the arrival time… read more

    Radioactive nanoparticles selectively target cancer cells

    May 23, 2013

    the nanoparticles as designed by Lewis and Robertson. The green interior depicts the radioactive lutetium surrounded by a gold shell. Credit can go to Michael Lewis, University of Missouri and Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital.

    Researchers at the University of Missouri have found a way to create radioactive nanoparticles that target lymphoma tumor cells wherever they may be in the body.

    Michael Lewis, an associate professor of oncology in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, says being able to target secondary tumors is vital to successfully treating patients with progressive cancers.

    “Depending on the type of cancer, primary tumors… read more

    Long-term benefit of TMS in patients with depression shown

    May 23, 2013

    NeuroStar TMS System (credit:

    New data show that the NeuroStar TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) Therapy System induced statistically and clinically meaningful response and remission in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) during the acute phase of therapy, and the effects were maintained through one year of treatment.

    At the end of acute treatment, 62 percent of patients achieved symptomatic improvement while 41 percent reported complete remission. At 12 months,… read more

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