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Old July 21st, 2013, 12:24 PM   #21
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Human Nature May Not Be So Warlike After All

By Brandon Keim
07.18.13



Image: Douglas Fry



Given the long, awful history of violence between groups of people, it’s easy to think that humans are predisposed to war. But a new study of violence in modern hunter-gatherer societies, which may hold clues to prehistoric human life, suggests that warlike behavior is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Sure, humans are violent, the researchers say — but most hunter-gatherer killing results from flared tempers and personal feuds rather than group conflicts.

The findings contradict the notion “that humans have an evolved tendency to form coalitions to kill members of neighboring groups,” wrote anthropologists Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg in their July 18 Science paper....



http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...?cid=co9925574
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Old July 21st, 2013, 12:30 PM   #22
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Chimps, Orangutans Have Human-Like Memories

By Virginia Morell, ScienceNOW
07.19.13



An orangutan at the Leipzig Zoo uses a tool to explore a puzzle. In a different test, this ape as well as three other orangutans and eight chimpanzees remembered the details of a similar task for three years. Image: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology



A single cue—the taste of a madeleine, a small cake, dipped in lime tea—was all Marcel Proust needed to be transported down memory lane. He had what scientists term an autobiographical memory of the events, a type of memory that many researchers consider unique to humans. Now, a new study argues that at least two species of great apes — chimpanzees and orangutans — have a similar ability; in zoo experiments, the animals drew on 3-year-old memories to solve a problem. Their findings are the first report of such a long-lasting memory in nonhuman animals. The work supports the idea that autobiographical memory may have evolved as a problem-solving aid, but researchers caution that the type of memory system the apes used remains an open question....



http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...utan-memories/
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Old July 21st, 2013, 12:36 PM   #23
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The origins of war
Old soldiers?


The latest research suggests humans are not warriors in their genes, after all
Jul 20th 2013





EDWARD WILSON, the inventor of the field of sociobiology, once wrote that “war is embedded in our very nature”. This is a belief commonly held not just by sociobiologists but also by anthropologists and other students of human behaviour. They base it not only on the propensity of modern man to go to war with his neighbours (and, indeed, with people halfway around the world, given the chance) but also on observations of the way those who still live a pre-agricultural “hunter-gatherer” life behave...



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Old July 26th, 2013, 01:32 PM   #24
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MIT successfully implants false memories, may explain why we remember things that didn’t happen



Researchers at MIT have implanted false memories into the brains of mice, causing them to be fearful of an event that didn’t actually occur. This is a very important study that demonstrates just how unreliable memories can be, and goes a long way to explaining why humans regularly recall things that didn’t actually happen — such as alien abductions, or when giving eyewitness testimony that they believe to be true, but is actually a false memory.

This breakthrough comes from the same team that discovered that memories are stored in individual neurons – and the process of implanting (or “incepting” as the researchers call it, in a homage to the film Inception) false fears is essentially the same, but with a vital extra step added to the end.

The researchers place a mouse in a brand new environment. As the mouse explores this environment (Place A), new memories are created in the hippocampus (the region of the mammalian brain that we know is deeply involved with memory formation). In Place A, the mouse has the time of its life. The mouse is then relocated to a different environment (Place B). While in Place B, the neuroscientists stimulate the memory of Place A using optogenetics (more on that below), while simultaneously delivering electric shocks to the mouse’s feet, causing fear and pain. Then, when the mouse is returned to Place A, it freezes in fear. This is because the mouse’s brain has somehow confused the fear of electric shocks in Place B with its memory of Place A — in other words, a false memory has been created.

Optogenetics is, as the name suggests, meddling with the genetics of cells so that they are sensitive to light. In this case, the MIT researchers used a virus to infect the neurons in the specific region of the hippocampus where Place A memories are formed. This virus changes the neuron’s DNA so that they produce a protein switch that is sensitive to light. Then, when these neurons are struck by light (a hole is drilled in the mouse’s skull and a laser is shot into that region of the hippocampus), the memory is turned on. Optogenetics is one of the most exciting developments in neuroscience as it allows us to interact with very specific regions of the brain in vivo — in living, breathing, memory-forming test subjects.

Now, freezing in fear isn’t on the same level as the elaborate false memories that humans sometimes conjure up, but it shows incontrovertibly that false memories can be created — and, more importantly, that the physiological process of creating and recalling false memories and real memories is very similar. This doesn’t explain how we create such fantastical false memories as being abducted by aliens, but it does explain why we so vehemently believe that these memories are real. More research is needed, but it seems that, as far as we’re concerned, false and real memories are both equally real.

The next step, of course, is to actually do something with these findings. The research group would like to use its memory manipulation technology to fix/treat undesirable brain function, such as anxiety and depression. Being able to delete or reprogram bad memories, a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, would probably make short work of many mental woes. Perhaps more excitingly, though, is the potential to directly encode new memories into our neurons — kind of like when Neo learns to fly a helicopter in The Matrix. That’s probably a few years away yet, though.

SOURCE: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1...false-memories
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Old July 26th, 2013, 02:40 PM   #25
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Swiss scientists make microchips that mimic brain



Researchers in Switzerland say they have made microchips that imitate the way our brains process information, unlocking some of the mystery around how the world's most efficient computer functions.

Scientists at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, together with colleagues in Germany and the United States, created electronic systems comparable to a human brain both in size, speed and energy consumption, the university said in a statement late Monday.

Just like the brain, their so-called neuromorphic chips are capable of processing and reacting to information in real-time, it said.

"The challenge is to build something as close as possible to an actual brain," Giacomo Indiveri, a University of Zurich professor of Neuroinformatics and one of the researchers on the project, told AFP.

Electronic systems in the past have been designed to react to their environments, as with blinds that automatically close when sunlight hits them.

But, said Indiveri, the new project takes things further.

Using neuromorphic chips as artificial neurons, the researchers built networks that can perform tasks requiring short-term memory and decision-making and analytical abilities, Indiveri said.

The technology could over time become a useful tool, allowing robots to "navigate autonomously in an environment and survive without someone with a remote control," he said, adding that the chips might also help make smart phones even smarter.

The chips could also one day pave the way for computers that can function despite faulty parts, in the same way the human brain continues to churn unabated even though it loses around a million neurons each day.

The findings are published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

SOURCE: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...54a2e4477b.5d1
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 12:51 AM   #26
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Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone



Researchers at Harvard University have created the first noninvasive brain-to-brain interface (BBI) between a human… and a rat. Simply by thinking the appropriate thought, the BBI allows the human to control the rat’s tail. This is one of the most important steps towards BBIs that allow for telepathic links between two or more humans — which is a good thing in the case of friends and family, but terrifying if you stop to think about the nefarious possibilities of a fascist dictatorship with mind control tech.

In recent years there have been huge advances in the field of brain-computer interfaces, where your thoughts are detected and “understood” by a sensor attached to a computer, but relatively little work has been done in the opposite direction (computer-brain interfaces). This is because it’s one thing for a computer to work out what a human is thinking (by asking or observing their actions), but another thing entirely to inject new thoughts into a human brain. To put it bluntly, we have almost no idea of how thoughts are encoded by neurons in the brain. For now, the best we can do is create a computer-brain interface that stimulates a region of the brain that’s known to create a certain reaction — such as the specific part of the motor cortex that’s in charge of your fingers. We don’t have the power to move your fingers in a specific way — that would require knowing the brain’s encoding scheme — but we can make them jerk around.



Which brings us neatly onto Harvard’s human-mouse brain-to-brain interface. The human wears a run-of-the-mill EEG-based BCI, while the mouse is equipped with a focused ultrasound (FUS) computer-brain interface (CBI). FUS is a relatively new technology that allows the researchers to excite a very specific region of neurons in the rat’s brain using an ultrasound signal. The main advantage of FUS is that, unlike most brain-stimulation techniques, such as DBS, it isn’t invasive. For now it looks like the FUS equipment is fairly bulky, but future versions might be small enough for use in everyday human CBIs.

With the EEG equipped, the BCI detects whenever the human looks at a specific pattern on a computer screen. The BCI then fires off a command to rat’s CBI, which causes ultrasound to be beamed into the region of the rat’s motor cortex that deals with tail movement. As you can see in the video above, this causes the rat’s tail to move. The researchers report that the human BCI has an accuracy of 94%, and that it generally takes around 1.5 seconds for the entire process — from the human deciding to look at the screen, through to the movement of the rat’s tail. In theory, the human could trigger a rodent tail-wag by simply thinking about it, rather than having to look at a specific pattern — but presumably, for the sake of this experiment, the researchers wanted to focus on the FUS CBI, rather than the BCI.



Moving forward, the researchers now need to work on the transmitting of more complex ideas, such as hunger or sexual arousal, from human to rat. At some point, they’ll also have to put the FUS CBI on a human, to see if thoughts can be transferred in the opposite direction. Finally, we’ll need to combine an EEG and FUS into a single unit, to allow for bidirectional sharing of thoughts and ideas. Human-to-human telepathy is the most obvious use, but what if the same bidirectional technology also allows us to really communicate with animals, such as dogs? There would be huge ethical concerns, of course, especially if a dictatorial tyrant uses the tech to control our thoughts — but the same can be said of almost every futuristic, transhumanist technology.

SOURCE: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1...thoughts-alone
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Old August 3rd, 2013, 05:26 AM   #27
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Largest neuronal network simulation achieved using K computer



By exploiting the full computational power of the Japanese supercomputer, K computer, researchers from the RIKEN HPCI Program for Computational Life Sciences, the Okinawa Institute of Technology Graduate University (OIST) in Japan and Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany have carried out the largest general neuronal network simulation to date.

The simulation was made possible by the development of advanced novel data structures for the simulation software NEST. The relevance of the achievement for neuroscience lies in the fact that NEST is open-source software freely available to every scientist in the world.

Using NEST, the team, led by Markus Diesmann in collaboration with Abigail Morrison both now with the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at Jülich, succeeded in simulating a network consisting of 1.73 billion nerve cells connected by 10.4 trillion synapses. To realize this feat, the program recruited 82,944 processors of the K computer. The process took 40 minutes to complete the simulation of 1 second of neuronal network activity in real, biological, time.

Although the simulated network is huge, it only represents 1% of the neuronal network in the brain. The nerve cells were randomly connected and the simulation itself was not supposed to provide new insight into the brain - the purpose of the endeavor was to test the limits of the simulation technology developed in the project and the capabilities of K. In the process, the researchers gathered invaluable experience that will guide them in the construction of novel simulation software.

This achievement gives neuroscientists a glimpse of what will be possible in the future, with the next generation of computers, so called exa-scale computers.

“If peta-scale computers like the K computer are capable of representing 1% of the network of a human brain today, then we know that simulating the whole brain at the level of the individual nerve cell and its synapses will be possible with exa-scale computers hopefully available within the next decade,” explains Diesmann.

Memory of 250.000 PCs

Simulating a large neuronal network and a process like learning requires large amounts of computing memory. Synapses, the structures at the interface between two neurons, are constantly modified by neuronal interaction and simulators need to allow for these modifications.

More important than the number of neurons in the simulated network is the fact that during the simulation each synapse between excitatory neurons was supplied with 24 bytes of memory. This enabled an accurate mathematical description of the network.

In total, the simulator coordinated the use of about 1 petabyte of main memory, which corresponds to the aggregated memory of 250.000 PCs.

NEST

NEST is a widely used, general-purpose neuronal network simulation software available to the community as open source. The team ensured that their optimizations were of general character, independent of a particular hardware or neuroscientific problem. This will enable neuroscientists to use the software to investigate neuronal systems using normal laptops, computer clusters or, for the largest systems, supercomputers, and easily exchange their model descriptions.

A large, international project

Work on optimizing NEST for the K computer started in 2009 while the supercomputer was still under construction. Shin Ishii, leader of the brain science projects on K at the time, explains that: “Having access to the established supercomputers at Jülich, JUGENE and JUQUEEN, was essential, to prepare for K and cross-check results.”

Mitsuhisa Sato, of the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computer Science, points out that: “Many researchers at many different Japanese and European institutions have been involved in this project, but the dedication of Jun Igarashi now at OIST, Gen Masumoto now at the RIKEN Advanced Center for Computing and Communication, Susanne Kunkel and Moritz Helias now at Forschungszentrum Jülich was key to the success of the endeavor.”

Paving the way for future projects

Kenji Doya of OIST, currently leading a project aiming to understand the neural control of movement and the mechanism of Parkinson's disease, says: “The new result paves the way for combined simulations of the brain and the musculoskeletal system using the K computer. These results demonstrate that neuroscience can make full use of the existing peta-scale supercomputers.”

The achievement on K provides new technology for brain research in Japan and is encouraging news for the Human Brain Project (HBP) of the European Union, scheduled to start this October. The central supercomputer for this project will be based at Forschungszentrum Jülich.

The researchers in Japan and Germany are planning on continuing their successful collaboration in the upcoming era of exa-scale systems.

SOURCE: http://www.riken.jp/en/pr/press/2013/20130802_1/
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Old August 8th, 2013, 05:23 PM   #28
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Your brain receives, stores, and processes information, dispenses results, and controls your biological equipment. When properly programmed, computers can do likewise, except that they control electromechanical rather than biological equipment. Beyond these functional similarities, computers and brains have virtually nothing in common. To begin with, the electronic circuits in a computer are not analogous to brain cells. The two differ in appearance, in structure, and in principles of operation. The key functions of information storage and information processing are served in computers by physically different components. In a typical computer, one finds separate CPU and memory units; but even in computer designs where processing circuits are intermixed, the two functions remain distinct. In the brain they are not distinct; they're distributed throughout the brain and intermixed in ways that we don't understand.
John Shore (b. 1940s), U.S. physicist. Sachertorte Algorithm and Other Antidotes to Computer Anxiety, ch. 11, Viking Penguin (1985).
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Old August 9th, 2013, 11:32 PM   #29
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Chocolate may help keep brain healthy
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Drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help older people keep their brains healthy and their thinking skills sharp, according to a study published in the August 7, 2013, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 60 people with an average age of 73 who did not have dementia. The participants drank two cups of hot cocoa per day for 30 days and did not consume any other chocolate during the study. They were given tests of memory and thinking skills. They also had ultrasounds tests to measure the amount of blood flow to the brain during the tests.
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Old August 10th, 2013, 03:47 AM   #30
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Blood clots could be sucked out of the brain by a robotic device



Intracerebral hemorrhaging is what occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, and the blood which subsequently leaks out of that vessel forms a clot that places pressure on the surrounding brain tissue. It’s not that uncommon of an occurrence, it’s difficult to treat, and is fatal in about 40 percent of cases. Help may be on the way, however. A team from Nashville’s Vanderbilt University has created a robotic device that is designed to remove those clots, in a safe and minimally-invasive fashion.

As things currently stand, surgery is a risky approach to removing the clots. An access hole has to be drilled in the skull, and unless the clot is right on the outside of the brain, healthy brain tissue must be disturbed and damaged in order to reach it. The amount of damage caused by the surgery may even outweigh the benefits of removing the clot, which is why physicians often instead choose to administer anti-inflammatory drugs and hope for the best.



That’s where the active cannula comes in.

Designed by a team of physicians and engineers led by Professors Robert J. Webster III and Kyle Weaver, the business end of the device consists of a tube-within-a tube. The straight outer tube is less than one-twentieth of an inch in diameter, and is inserted through a similarly-small hole made in the skull, adjacent to the clot.

Using a CT scan for reference, the cannula’s robotic control unit carefully pushes that very thin tube into the brain, until its tip has entered the clot. At that point, the curved tip of the needle-like inner tube emerges from within the outer one – the other end of the inner tube is attached to an external suction pump. By selectively extending, withdrawing and rotating the inner tube, the control unit is then able to suck the clot out from the inside.



In lab tests, the system was able to remove up to 92 percent of a simulated blood clot.

The researchers are now working on adding ultrasound imaging to the active cannula along with a computer model of the way in which brain tissue deforms around a clot, in order to ensure that the device is able to safely remove as much of the clot as possible.

SOURCE: http://www.gizmag.com/active-cannula...s-brain/28648/
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Old August 12th, 2013, 01:37 PM   #31
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Distinguished Scientists Discuss Future of Brain-Mapping Research

In a first-of-its-kind academic forum, an international audience of more than 60 distinguished scientists gathered at the University of California, San Diego to discuss the future of brain-mapping research and trans-Atlantic collaborations.



The “Mapping the Brain: European and U.S. Perspectives” symposium took place July 15 at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. It was sponsored by the Office for Science and Technology (OST), the scientific branch of the Embassy of France in the United States. The goal: to build bridges between Europe’s Human Brain Project (HBP) and the U.S. government-funded Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The Skaggs School and UC San Diego’s Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind co-organized the event.

Fabien Agenes, the French Embassy’s scientific attaché for life sciences based at the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles, kicked off the full day of presentations by highlighting the ambitious European and U.S. brain-mapping programs. “The two initiatives share the common goal of achieving a more comprehensive understanding of the human brain for improved diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions afflicting the brain,” Agenes told the audience.

The European and U.S. brain-mapping initiatives only kicked into high gear in early 2013. In January the European Commission announced plans to spend approximately one billion euros ($1.4 billion) over the next 10 years on the Human Brain Project. The BRAIN Initiative proposed by the Obama Administration in April – after a brief mention in the President’s State of the Union address in February – carries a price tag of $110 million in 2014 alone, with overall costs yet to be determined. The U.S. initiative’s first-year costs will be channeled through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

UC San Diego aims to be a leader of the U.S. effort, and announced last month the creation of a new Center for Brain Activity Mapping (CBAM), located in the Kavli Institute. “At present there exist numerous major obstacles preventing scientists from being able to fully visualize the human brain and how it functions,” said CBAM director Ralph Greenspan, who is also associate director of the Kavli Institute. “The advent of nanotechnologies and other not-yet-imagined innovations means that this might be the right time for undertaking the vast challenge of mapping the brain and its many intricate, interwoven mechanisms.”

Symposium speakers from UC San Diego also included Jacobs School of Engineering bioengineering professor Todd Coleman (talking about in-situ imaging technology); Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition, and Genetics (PING) co-leader Terry Jernigan (the brain’s developmental and behavioral mechanisms); CBAM’s and PING’s Anders Dale (developments in imaging); genomics researcher Jonathan Sebat (about brain development and gene expression); and neuroscientist/computational biologist, Mark Ellisman.

Ellisman is the director of the NIH’s UC San Diego-based National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) and the UCSD Center for Research in Biological Systems (CRBS), and he talked about multiscale, multimodal imaging of the brain and a key CRBS project – the Whole Brain Catalog. The effort is developing and implementing dynamic software tools capable of showcasing the brain and its structures with three-dimensional visualization – metaphorically, a Google Earth-type, crowdsourced environment to assemble knowledge about the brain. Noted Ellisman: “Such research will prove instrumental to future brain-mapping projects on both national and international levels.”

Other speakers included an expert on cognition, John Reynolds of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Olaf Sporns of Indiana University (computational technologies); and Caltech nanoengineering professor Michael Roukes (nanotechnology and collaborative research). Overlapping areas of interest to researchers on both sides of the Atlantic included the use of genetics to better understand the factors that drive developmental changes in autism, schizophrenia, and other brain disorders, as well as how wireless sensors and spatial arrays could be used to track body temperature and the electrical activities of the heart via novel, computer-brain interfaces.

The final speaker of the day was Jean-Pierre Changeux, a pioneering French neuroscientist and emeritus professor at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, who is also an international faculty member of the Kavli Institute. It was Changeux’s involvement with UC San Diego and the researcher’s ongoing activities as an ethics leader in Europe’s Human Brain Project, that drove the French Embassy to propose the joint European-U.S. symposium, noted OST member Agenes. Changeux spoke about the importance of maintaining high ethical standards in brain-mapping research in both the HBP and the BRAIN Initiative.

In discussing the ethical implications of such research, particularly with regard to genetics research related to brain disorders, Changeux asked the gathered scientists: “Should we inform the patient or the family of the patient of the results of genetic [testing] outcomes, or not? Should we make a distinction between the good genes and the bad genes?” He went on to ask whether ethics could permit genetic testing to be considered by researchers and individuals seeking to improve performance on academics or other metrics, or how brain-mapping data might potentially lead to workplace or educational discrimination “We will have to answer these questions,” he concluded.

CBAM director Greenspan said questions such as those posed by Changeux will be explored in coming years as the HBP and BRAIN Initiative get underway. “These projects will require real leaps and bounds over what we can now possibly imagine,” said Greenspan. “There is a high level of enthusiasm at every point, and existing technologies may not be sufficient. What’s needed here is an effort to develop new, exciting technologies that can bring us all closer to truly understanding the human brain and how it works. The time for that is now.”

“The Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States is pleased to serve as a catalyst for bringing researchers and ideas together in a forum such as this symposium,” added French diplomat Agenes. “The American brain-mapping program can be implemented in conjunction with the European project. We must embrace this opportunity for synergistic research.”

SOURCE: http://www.azonano.com/news.aspx?newsID=28024
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Old August 22nd, 2013, 04:02 AM   #32
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Scientists read peoples' brains to identify letters



If someone were looking at a letter of the alphabet that was blocked from your view, would you be able to accurately guess what that letter was? Well, if you were at Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands, you might not have to guess or call in a psychic. Scientists there have used an MRI scanner and a mathematical model to read observed letters, right out of test subjects’ brains.

The researchers started by virtually (not physically!) dividing each subject’s visual cortex up into a matrix of 1,200 cubic sections known as voxels – each voxel, in this particular study, measured 2 mm per side. Using the MRI, the scientists then noted how those voxels electrically responded to visual stimuli. When the subjects were subsequently shown hand-written letters, the overall pattern of all the responsive voxels (as viewed via the MRI, and processed using the mathematical model) could be used to roughly reconstruct an image of each letter.

The problem was, the images were still quite indistinct, each one appearing as a “fuzzy speckle pattern.” If someone were to look at one of those patterns without being told what it represented, they likely wouldn’t recognize it as any particular letter.

To sharpen the images up, the researchers provided the model with prior knowledge of what the letters looked like. In other words, instead of just seeing the pattern that corresponded to the letter "S" as nothing but one random arrangement of fuzzy speckles, the model now realized what form the pattern should take. The model then helped things along a little, by visually “pushing” each pattern towards the appearance of the letter that it represented.

While this may sound almost like cheating, one of the main purposes of the study was to get a feel for the ways in which prior knowledge is combined with sensory information. For instance, when we see the word “speckle,” we don’t actually stop and identify each and every letter in turn – instead, we briefly get a sense of the whole word, then our brain more or less says “Oh, I know what this is, it’s that ‘speckle’ word I’ve seen before.”

The research team, led by Dr. Marcel van Gerven, now plans on using a more powerful MRI that can scan up to 15,000 voxels at once. Instead of letters, however, they will be attempting to reconstruct images of faces viewed by test subjects. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have already conducted a similar experiment, in which images from movie trailers could be “read” from participants’ brains.

SOURCE: http://www.gizmag.com/mri-reads-brain-letters/28781/
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Old August 28th, 2013, 01:27 PM   #33
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First human brain-to-brain interface allows remote control over the internet, telepathy coming soon



The first human-to-human, brain-to-brain noninvasive interface has been created by researchers at the University of Washington. The system allows one researcher to remotely control the hand of another researcher, across the internet, merely by thinking about moving his hand. The researchers are already looking at a two-way system, to allow for a more “equitable” telepathic link between the two human brains, and the telepathic communication of complex information.

Despite the massive and mostly-not-understood complexity of the human brain, the UW brain-to-brain interface is actually quite simple, relying on tools that are regularly used in the fields of medicine and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). The first human brain (the sender) is connected to a computer via an EEG-based BCI. The second human brain (the receiver) is connected to another computer via a Magstim transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine — the same kind of TMS setup that has been somewhat successful in treating depression, and other mental maladies. When the sender plays a game and thinks about firing a cannon at a target, the EEG picks it up, sends the signal across the internet to the second computer, and the TMS stimulates the region of the receiver’s motor cortex that controls hand movement. This causes the receiver’s index finger to twitch, firing the cannon and blowing up the target. This process is almost instantaneous.



TMS is a lot like transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which we have written about extensively. Where tDCS passes an electrical current through your brain, affecting the neurons that the electrons travel through, TMS uses electromagnetic induction to create a similar effect. Both tDCS and TMS can be used to either stimulate regions of the brain, useful for brain-to-brain interfaces or increasing the activity of regions of the brain associated with depression, or to reduce the activity of a region, which might help with the treatment of other conditions, such as Parkinson’s. Like tDCS, TMS is completely noninvasive, and so far it appears to be completely safe.

The University of Washington (UW) researchers, led by Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco, have basically connected two quite simple and well-understood systems into a novel and slightly terrifying human-to-human interface. It is very similar to Harvard’s human-to-mouse interface, except they used focused ultrasound (FUS) instead of TMS to trigger the motor cortex. That the UW setup works isn’t all that surprising — the main thing is that that, for the first time, a human is on the receiving end, which raises some interesting ethical and moral issues.



Chantel Prat, another researcher involved with the work, is quick to try and dispel any concerns. “I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology,” Prat says. “There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation.” This is an overly simplistic way of looking at it, though. Yes, the current setup requires both users to be fully consenting — but in the future, it’s not hard to imagine wireless implants that allow for full telepathy and perhaps a limited range of remotely triggered actions. (See: Brown University creates first wireless, implanted brain-computer interface.) As always with technology, we don’t need to worry so much about the hardware itself — but rather how it might be subverted, once a significant number of people have brain-to-brain interfaces installed.

Moving forward, Rao and Stocco are now working on transmitting more complex information between two human brains. This could be done fairly simply with encoded pulses — think brain-to-brain Morse code — or they could go the complex route and try to stimulate the brain into creating actual images and thoughts. There’s still a lot of work to be done to decode the human brain, so it will be very interesting to see how future human-to-human brain-to-brain interfaces are implemented.

SOURCE: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1...hy-coming-soon
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Old August 28th, 2013, 10:52 PM   #34
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Miniature 'human brain' grown in lab

Miniature "human brains" have been grown in a lab in a feat scientists hope will transform the understanding of neurological disorders.

The pea-sized structures reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought.

The study, published in the journal Nature, has already been used to gain insight into rare diseases.

Neuroscientists have described the findings as astounding and fascinating.

The human brain is one of the most complicated structures in the universe.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23863544


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Old August 28th, 2013, 11:22 PM   #35
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Do any of you have formal education in Neurology or Biology or are you just posting this information without having true understanding of it? I myself study Cell Biology so just curious to know if we have others in the field here.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 12:05 AM   #36
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Not sure if you are referring to me.

I have no formal education in Neurology, nor Biology.

I simply interested in the subject, even though I do not always understand the full picture. The good thing is that the majority of the websites that I read (ExtremeTech & Gizmag) try to simply it for those of us who don't have an education in the subject and luckily I have one of my close friends who studies in neuroscience.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 03:43 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulpia-Serdica View Post
Not sure if you are referring to me.

I have no formal education in Neurology, nor Biology.

I simply interested in the subject, even though I do not always understand the full picture. The good thing is that the majority of the websites that I read (ExtremeTech & Gizmag) try to simply it for those of us who don't have an education in the subject and luckily I have one of my close friends who studies in neuroscience.
Wasn't singling anyone out just curious if there are Biologist or people in related fields on the forum.
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Old September 7th, 2013, 09:04 AM   #38
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Quote:
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Do any of you have formal education in Neurology or Biology or are you just posting this information without having true understanding of it? I myself study Cell Biology so just curious to know if we have others in the field here.
MSc in Neuroscience, current work focused on neuroendocrine pathologies & oncology. How far are you in your studies?
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Old September 7th, 2013, 09:20 PM   #39
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Old September 13th, 2013, 02:37 PM   #40
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Do any of you have formal education in Neurology or Biology or are you just posting this information without having true understanding of it? I myself study Cell Biology so just curious to know if we have others in the field here.
Getting my PhD in Biology (Cellular/Molecular/Developmental Biology)
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