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Body maps, plasticity, and neurological disorders

Salk findings on brain development may shed light on neurological disorders such as autism
July 25, 2013

Mouseunculi

Salk Institute researchers have demonstrated that altering the functional architecture of the brain’s cortex is possible, and that this alteration produces significant changes in parts of the brain that connect with the cortex and define its functional properties.

Dennis O’Leary, holder of the Vincent J. Coates Chair of Molecular Neurobiology at Salk, was the first scientist to show that the basic functional architecture of the… read more

The love hormone is two-faced

Surprise finding shows oxytocin strengthens bad memories and can increase fear and anxiety
July 24, 2013

oxtr_fear

Oxytocin has long been known as the warm, fuzzy hormone that promotes feelings of love, social bonding and well-being. It’s even being tested as an anti-anxiety drug.

But new Northwestern Medicine research shows oxytocin also can cause emotional pain, an entirely new, darker identity for the hormone.

Oxytocin appears to be the reason stressful social situations, perhaps being bullied at school or tormented by a boss,… read more

Real-time drawing assistance through crowdsourcing

July 24, 2013

Draw_A_Friend-featured

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Microsoft Research have proposed a new method for the large-scale collection and analysis of drawings by using a mobile game specifically designed to collect such data.

Analyzing this crowdsourced drawing database, the researchers build a spatially varying model of artistic consensus at the stroke level. They then present a surprisingly simple stroke-correction method which uses their artistic consensus… read more

UK team designs human mission to Mars

July 24, 2013

mars_nasa_image

Scientists at Imperial College London have designed a concept mission to land astronauts on Mars. The plan envisages a three-person crew journeying to Mars aboard a small two-part craft, BBC News reports.

The craft would rotate to generate artificial gravity and use a heat shield to protect itself against solar flares. The crew would then return to Martian orbit in a pre-sent craft fuelled using ice from… read more

Look before you Leap Motion

July 24, 2013

leap_motion

Leap Motion’s low-cost gesture-control device is not as easy to use as you might think.

For the past couple days, I’ve been gesticulating even more than normal — at times, subtly, at other times, wildly — while getting to know the latest in gesture-control technology: the Leap Motion controller, Rachel Metz writes at MIT Technology Review.

Long anticipated due to its low cost ($80),… read more

Chips that mimic the brain in real time

July 24, 2013

multi-neuron chip

Neuroinformatics researchers from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich together with colleagues from the EU and U.S. have demonstrated how complex cognitive abilities can be incorporated into electronic systems made with “neuromorphic” chips.

They further show how to assemble and configure these electronic systems to function in a way similar to an actual brain.

No computer works as efficiently as the… read more

Resveratrol counteracts effects of exercise in older men

July 24, 2013

resveratrol

Resveratrol — a natural antioxidant compound found in red grapes and other plants — counteracts many of the cardiovascular benefits of exercise in older men,  including reduced blood pressure and cholesterol, according to research conducted at The University of Copenhagen.

Lasse Gliemann, a PhD student who worked on the study at The University of Copenhagen, explains how they conducted the research, and the results they found:

“We… read more

Desktop-printing electronic circuits, other nanofabricated devices

To replace multibillion-dollar centralized facilities with desktop printers for nanofabrication of electronic and biotech devices in two years
July 23, 2013

Inductors, capacitors and a SAW sensor created by actuated BPL. The scale bar is 1 mm.

A much-anticipated, low-cost, high-resolution desktop nanofabrication tool promises to revolutionize fabrication of electronic circuits and other nanofabricated devices, according to a new study by Northwestern University researchers.

“With this breakthrough, we can construct very high-quality materials and devices, such as processing semiconductors over large areas, said Chad A. Mirkin, senior author of the study and a world-renowned pioneer in the field of nanoscience.

And… read more

Super-black carbon nanotubes make spacecraft instruments more sensitive

July 23, 2013

Australia’s Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication applied a catalyst layer using atomic layer deposition to this occulter mask (credit: NASA)

A team led by John Hagopian, an optics engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has demonstrated that it can grow a uniform layer of carbon nanotubes through the use of another emerging technology called atomic layer deposition or ALD.

The super-black nanotechnology that promises to make spacecraft optical instruments more sensitive without enlarging their size.

“The significance of this is that we… read more

Is faster-than-light travel possible?

July 23, 2013

Alcubierre warp drive

Engineers at NASA Johnson Space Center are designing instruments to find out, by slightly warping the trajectory of a photon and measuring the distance it travels, The New York Times reports.

Inspiration for the research came from Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, who proposed in 1994 a method of stretching space in a wave which would in theory cause the fabric of space ahead of a spacecraft to… read more

Happy birthday, good Dr. Sacks

July 22, 2013

Oliver Sacks (credit: Andy Mills)

“One of our favorite human beings turns 80 this week. To celebrate, Robert [Krulwich, co-host of Radiolab] asks Oliver Sacks to look back on his career, and explain how thousands of worms and a motorbike accident led to a brilliant writing career.”

Radiolab

More Oliver:

Awakenings: The 1990 movie based on Oliver’s book of the same name.

Theread more

Paper-thin e-skin responds to touch by lighting up

Holds promise for sensory robotics and interactive environments
July 22, 2013

eskin375

UC Berkeley engineers can help robots or objects become more touchy-feely, literally.

A research team led by Ali Javey, UC Berkeley associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has created the first user-interactive sensor network on flexible plastic.

The new electronic skin (e-skin), responds to touch by instantly lighting up. The more intense the pressure, the brighter the light it emits.

Addingread more

Ultrasound applied to brain found to elevate mood

Could lead to new treatments for psychological and psychiatric disorders
July 22, 2013

Transcranial ultrasound is applied with gel on the scalp overlying the frontal temporal cortex. The image is shown on the monitor of the LOGIQe device. (Credit: The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)

University of Arizona researchers have found in a recent study that ultrasound waves applied to specific areas of the brain appear able to alter patients’ moods.

The technique could one day be used to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety.

With research committee and hospital approval, and patient informed consent, Dr. Stuart Hameroff, professor emeritus of the UA’s departments of … read more

Inner speech speaks volumes about the brain

July 22, 2013

James_Tissot_-_Inner_Voices

Do you talk to yourself? If so, researcher Mark Scott of the University of British Columbia can help. He’s found evidence that a brain signal called corollary discharge plays an important role in these experiences of internal speech.

This is a signal that helps us distinguish the sensory experiences we produce ourselves from those produced by external stimuli.

It’s a kind of predictive signal generated by the… read more

Graphene ‘onion rings’ grown bottom up — atom by atom

Potential for low-voltage transistors, lithium batteries
July 22, 2013

This set of hexagonal graphene “onion rings” was grown at Rice University. The rings represent the first example of graphene nanoribbons grown from the bottom up – that is, atom by atom – via chemical vapor deposition. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

A Rice University lab has grown ‘bottom-up’ graphene nanoribbons for the first time.

These concentric hexagons, grown in a furnace, represent the first time anyone has synthesized graphene nanoribbons on metal from the bottom up — atom by atom.

As seen under a microscope, the layers brought onions to mind, said Rice chemist James Tour, until a colleague suggested flat… read more

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