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Powering brain implants without wires with thin-film wireless power transmission system

Avoids risk of infections through skull opening and leakage of cerebrospinal fluid, and allows for free-moving subjects and more flexible uses of brain-computer interfaces
February 8, 2016

wireless power to brain-ft.

A research team at Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan has fabricated an implanted wireless power transmission (WPT) device to deliver power to an implanted neural interface system, such as a brain-computer interface (BCI) device.

Described in an open-access paper in Sensors journal, the system avoids having to connect an implanted device to an external power source via wires through a hole in the skull, which can… read more

Impact of automation puts up to 85% of jobs in developing countries at risk

February 8, 2016

risk of jobs ... ft

A new report from the Oxford Martin School and Citi considers the risks of job automation to developing countries, estimated to range from 55% in Uzbekistan to 85% in Ethiopia — a substantial share in major emerging economies, including China and India (77% and 69% respectively).

The report, Technology at Work v2.0: The Future Is Not What It Used to Be, builds on 2013 research by Oxford Martin… read more

Mitochondria trigger cell aging, researchers discover

How to rejuvenate or prevent aging in human and mice cells
February 5, 2016

Components of a typical mitochondrion (credit: Kelvinsong/Creative Commons)

An international team of scientists led by João Passos at Newcastle University has for the first time shown that mitochondria (the “batteries” of the cells) are major triggers for aging, and eliminating them upon the induction of senescence prevents senescence in the aging mouse liver.

As we grow old, cells in our bodies accumulate different types of damage and have increased inflammation, factors that are thought to contribute… read more

CMU announces research project to reverse-engineer brain algorithms, funded by IARPA

A Human Genome Project-level plan to make computers learn like humans
February 5, 2016

neural network - CMU ft

Carnegie Mellon University is embarking on a five-year, $12 million research effort to reverse-engineer the brain and “make computers think more like humans,” funded by the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). The research is led by Tai Sing Lee, a professor in the Computer Science Department and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC).

The research effort, through IARPA’s… read more

Future of drug delivery seen in a crystal ball

Not flakey --- and a few 100 times stronger than liposomes
February 3, 2016

crystalsome

A Drexel University materials scientist has discovered a way to encapsulate medication to deliver it more effectively inside the body.

Until now, crystals have grown in rigid, structured formations (like the snowflake) — with a web of straight lines connecting to making a grid that grows into the crystalline flake.*

But the formation of a crystal is affected by the environment in which it forms. And Christopherread more

How to efficiently convert carbon dioxide from air to methanol fuel

A twofer: sustainable fuel source from greenhouse gas emissions
February 3, 2016

Turning-air-into-fuel-ft

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute have created fuel out of thin air — directly converting carbon dioxide from air into methanol at relatively low temperatures for the first time. While methanol can’t currently compete with oil, it will be there when we run out of oil, the researchers note.

The researchers bubbled air through an aqueous solution of pentaethylenehexamine (PEHA), adding… read more

Mayo Clinic researchers extend lifespan by up to 35 percent in mice

February 3, 2016

Aged mice with and without senescent cell clearance (credit: Mayo Clinic)

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have discovered that senescent cells — cells that no longer divide and accumulate with age — shorten lifespan by as much as 35 percent in normal mice.

Removing these aging cells delays tumor formation, preserves tissue and organ function, and extends lifespan without observed adverse effects, the researchers found, writing Feb. 3 in Nature.

“Cellular senescence is a biological mechanism that functions as… read more

Delivering genes across the blood-brain barrier to treat brain diseases

Could also help researchers map the brain
February 2, 2016

BBB penetration ft

Caltech biologists have modified a harmless virus to allow it to enter the adult mouse brain through the bloodstream and deliver genes to cells of the nervous system.

The modified virus could lead to novel therapeutics to address diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s, help researchers map the brain, and target cells in other organs, according to Ben Deverman, a senior research scientist at Caltech and lead author… read more

NASA engineers to build first integrated-photonics modem

A step toward revolutionary integrated photonics on a chip
February 2, 2016

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A NASA team plans to build the first integrated-photonics modem, using an emerging, potentially revolutionary technology that could transform everything from telecommunications, medical imaging, advanced manufacturing to national defense.

The cell phone-sized device incorporates optics-based functions, such as lasers, switches, and fiber-optic wires, onto a microchip similar to an integrated circuit found in all electronics hardware.

The device will be tested aboard the International Space Station beginning… read more

US could see substantial impact of Zika virus, warns researcher

WHO director declares "public health emergency of international concern"; virus believed to cause microcephaly in newborns, mild flu-like symptoms in adults, children
February 1, 2016

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission (as of January 2016) (credit: CDC)

A researcher at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) warns that Zika virus could spread quickly to the U.S. There is currently no vaccine or cure.

WHO director general Margaret Chan, M.D., declared on Feb. 1 that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in… read more

Swarm of aquatic robots learns to cooperate by themselves

February 1, 2016

sea-of-robots

Portuguese researchers have demonstrated the first swarm of intelligent aquatic surface robots in a real-world environment.

Swarms of aquatic robots have the potential to scale to hundreds or thousands of robots and cover large areas, making them ideal for tasks such as environmental monitoring, search and rescue, and maritime surveillance. They can replace expensive manned vessels and can put the crew out of danger in many maritime missions.… read more

Scientists discover how the human brain folds

Understanding how the brain folds could help unlock the inner workings of the brain and unravel brain-related disorders, as function often follows form
February 1, 2016

gel model of brain ft

Folded brains likely evolved to fit a large cortex into a small volume, with the added benefit of reducing neuronal wiring length and improving cognitive function. But how does the brain fold?

A simple mechanical instability associated with buckling, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, collaborating with scientists in Finland and France, have discovered in research published in Nature Physics.… read more

Graphene is ideal substrate for brain electrodes, researchers find

February 1, 2016

graphene-neuron interface ft

An international study headed by the European Graphene Flagship research consortium has found that graphene is a promising material for use in electrodes that interface with neurons, based on its excellent conductivity, flexibility for molding into complex shapes, biocompatibility, and stability within the body.

The graphene-based substrates they studied* promise to overcome problems with “glial scar” tissue formation (caused by electrode-based brain trauma and long-term inflammation). To… read more

Scientists decode brain signals to recognize images in real time

May lead to helping locked-in patients (paralyzed or had a stroke) communicate and also to real-time brain mapping
January 29, 2016

broadband signals re images - ft

Using electrodes implanted in the temporal lobes of seven awake epilepsy patients, University of Washington scientists have decoded brain signals (representing images) at nearly the speed of perception for the first time* — enabling the scientists to predict in real time which images of faces and houses the patients were viewing and when, and with better than 95 percent accuracy.

The research, published Jan. 28… read more

Machine-learning technique uncovers unknown features of multi-drug-resistant pathogen

Relatively simple "unsupervised” learning system reveals important new information to microbiologists
January 29, 2016

According to the CDC, P. aeruginosa is a common cause of healthcare-associated infections including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections. Some strains of P. aeruginosa have been found to be resistant to nearly all or all antibiotics. (illustration credit: CDC)

A new machine-learning technique can uncover previously unknown features of organisms and their genes in large datasets, according to researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University.

For example, the technique learned to identify the characteristic gene-expression patterns that appear when a bacterium is exposed in different conditions, such as low oxygen and the presence… read more

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