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How permanent stress may lead to mental disorders

November 24, 2014

Microglia cells from rat cortex before (left) and after (right) traumatic brain injury (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells in the brain can cause changes to the brain, resulting in mental disorders, a research team headed by professor Georg Juckel, Medical Director of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) LWL university clinic, has found. The research was based on psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.

The team focused mainly on … read more

A wearable to help measure stress, epileptic seizures, activity, and sleep

November 24, 2014

Embrace (credit: Empatica)

MIT spinoff Empatica, which is developing a medical-quality wearable device to monitor epileptic seizures* and alert caregivers, has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund its development.

“When people that have epilepsy wear Embrace, they will get an alert when an unusual event happens, like a convulsive seizure,” the Indiegogo site says. “It will go via their smartphone to parents, roommates or caregivers, so somebody can check… read more

Low-cost 2D-printed ‘paper electronics’

Could make health care and other uses more accessible
November 21, 2014

Paper-baaed touch pad functioning on a curved surface (credit: Ruo-Zhou Li et al./ ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces)

An international team of scientists has developed a fast, low-cost way of making low-cost medical electronic touch sensors by printing conductive silver nanowire inks directly on paper, using a 2D programmed printing machine.

Anming Hu of the University of Tennessee Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering and colleagues point out that paper, which is available worldwide at low cost, makes an excellent surface for lightweight, foldable “paper electronics: that… read more

Spooky alignment of quasar axes across billions of light-years with large-scale structure

November 21, 2014

This artist's impression shows schematically the mysterious alignments between the spin axes of quasars and the large-scale structures that they inhabit that observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope have revealed. These alignments are over billions of light-years and are the largest known in the Universe. The large-scale structure is shown in blue and quasars are marked in white with the rotation axes of their black holes indicated with a line around them. This picture is for illustration only and does not depict the real distribution of galaxies and quasars. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to… read more

Robotic walker helps patients regain natural gait and increases productivity of physiotherapists

November 21, 2014

Robotic walker (credit: NUS)

A novel robotic walker that helps patients carry out therapy sessions to regain their leg movements and natural gait has been invented by a team of researchers led by assistant professor Yu Haoyong from the National University of Singapore Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Survivors of stroke or other neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and Parkinson’s disease often struggle with mobility. To regain… read more

China and ‘one or two others’ can shut US electric grids and other critical infrastructure, says NSA director

November 21, 2014

(Credit: Achim Hering/Wikimedia Commons)

China and “one or two others” can shut down the U.S. electric grids and other critical infrastructure and is performing electronic reconnaissance on a regular basis, said NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers, testifying Thursday (Nov. 20) at a House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on U.S. efforts to combat cybersecurity.

“All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of when, not if, we are going to… read more

Georgia Tech professor proposes another alternative to the Turing test

The Lovelace 2.0 Test of Artificial Creativity and Intelligence assesses a computer's capacity for human-level intelligence by its ability to create, rather than to converse or deceive
November 20, 2014

But would mathematician-programmer Countess Lady Lovelace have approved?

Georgia Tech associate professor Mark Ried has developed a new kind of “Turing test” — a test proposed in 1950 by computing pioneer Alan Turing to determine whether a machine or computer program exhibits human-level intelligence.Most Turing test designs require a machine to engage in dialogue and convince (trick) a human judge that it is an actual person. But creating certain types of art also requires intelligence, leading Reid to consider… read more

First genetic-based tool to detect circulating cancer cells in blood — lights up cancer cells

Method may detect trouble long before a cancerous tumor could form; live cells can be collected, cultured and studied for personalized treatment
November 20, 2014

NanoFlare ft

Northwestern University scientists have demonstrated a simple but powerful tool called NanoFlare that can detect live cancer cells in the bloodstream, potentially long before settling somewhere in the body and forming a dangerous tumor.

The NanoFlare technology is the first genetic-based approach that is able to detect live circulating tumor cells out of the complex matrix that is human blood — no easy feat. The NanoFlares are tiny spherical nucleic… read more

A computer-vision algorithm that can describe photos

Machine-learning takes computer vision to the next level with a system that can describe objects and put them into context. Coming soon, better visual search?
November 19, 2014

images with scenes ft

Computer software only recently became smart enough to recognize objects in photographs. Now, Stanford researchers using machine learning have created a system that takes the next step, writing a simple story of what’s actually happening in any digital image.

“The system can analyze an unknown image and explain it in words and phrases that make sense,” said  Fei-Fei Li, a professor of computer science and director of the… read more

How neurons multitask

November 19, 2014

(Credit: Cell)

University of Michigan scientists have come up with a possible explanation for the impressive ability of neurons to perform a wide range of functions.

They explored this using the C. elegans* roundworm. They found that a single neuron in C. elegans regulates both the speed and direction in which the worm moves, shedding light on how the human brain works, say investigators in the lab of… read more

How brain cells persuade other cells to do ‘the wave’

November 19, 2014

Stadium crowd performing "the wave" at the Confederations Cup 2005 in Frankfurt (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Neuroscientists have discovered mechanisms that enable certain brain cells to persuade others to create “the wave” (a wave of standing spectators that travels through a crowd*), which may help understand more about neurocognitive disorders such as dementia, the researchers say.

Inhibitory neurons** can persuade networks of other neurons to imitate their vibrations, setting off global synchronous oscillations in the brain. The neuroscientists, at Imperial College London and the… read more

Controlling genes with mental states to release drugs

November 18, 2014

mind-controlled genes ft

ETH Zurich researchers have developed a novel gene regulation method that allows specific brainwaves to control gene expression (conversion of a gene into a protein) for therapeutic purposes.

The concept is a thought-controlled implant that could one day help combat neurological diseases, such as chronic headaches, back pain, and epilepsy.

An EEG-based BCI (brain-controlled interface) would detect the patient’s related brainwave patterns, which would be used to trigger… read more

Playing action video games can boost learning

November 18, 2014

Call of Duty 2 (credit: Activision)

A new study shows for the first time that playing action video games improves learning capabilities more generally, not just the skills taught in the game.

According to Daphne Bavelier, a research professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, our brains keep predicting what will come next when listening to a conversation, driving, or even preforming surgery. “To sharpen its prediction skills, our brains constantly… read more

How to increase (or decrease) brain activity and memory

November 17, 2014

Limitless movie poster (credit: Virgin Produced)

Is it possible to rapidly increase (or decrease) the amount of information the brain can store?

A new international study led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) suggests is may be. Their research has identified a molecule that improves brain function and memory recall is improved. Published in the latest issue of Cell Reports, the study has implications for neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, such as autism… read more

Magic tricks using artificial intelligence

November 17, 2014

Phoney app (credit: QApps Online)

Queen Mary University of London researchers have developed a Google Play app called Phoney based on a mind-reading card trick, part of a research exploration into what can be achieved when human intelligence is replaced or assisted by machine intelligence.

The app arranges a deck of playing cards in such a way that a specific card picked by an audience member can beread more

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