Therapeutic Area

MIT scientists discover fundamental rule of brain plasticity

MIT News

Our brains are famously flexible, or "plastic," because neurons can do new things by forging new or stronger connections with other neurons. But if some connections strengthen, neuroscientists have reasoned, neurons must compensate lest they become overwhelmed with input. In a new study in Science, researchers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT demonstrate for the first time how this balance is struck: when one connection, called a synapse, strengthens, immediately neighboring synapses weaken based on the action of a crucial protein called Arc. Senior author Mriganka Sur said he was excited but not surprised that his team discovered a simple, fundamental rule at the core of such a complex system as the brain, where 100 billion neurons each have thousands of ever-changing synapses. He likens it to how a massive school of fish can suddenly change direction, en masse, so long as the lead fish turns and every other fish obeys the simple rule of following the fish right in front of it.

Why Are We Behind In Piecing Together How Neuroscience Relates To Mental Illness?

Forbes Technology

Why are we behind in neuroscience and the association with mental illness? Why are we behind in neuroscience and the association with mental illness? We're behind because mental illness is difficult to measure quantitatively, and the brain as a whole is both amazingly complex and poorly-understood. Like chronic pain, which is another tough-to-treat disorder, many symptoms of mental illness are subjective, and under these circumstances you need a very large number of patients and an enormous amount of rigor to do good clinical studies. The functional or structural correlates (i.e., the actual physical issues) underlying mental illness are only now coming to light with modern brain mapping technology, and often there is not a one-to-one correspondence between a certain structural change in the brain and a given diagnosis.

How Artificial Intelligence Could Help Us Live Longer


What if we could generate novel molecules to target any disease, overnight, ready for clinical trials? Imagine leveraging machine learning to accomplish with 50 people what the pharmaceutical industry can barely do with an army of 5,000. It's a multibillion-dollar opportunity that can help billions. The worldwide pharmaceutical market, one of the slowest monolithic industries to adapt, surpassed $1.1 trillion in 2016. In 2018, the top 10 pharmaceutical companies alone are projected to generate over $355 billion in revenue.

'Shitty Robots' creator Simone Giertz gets real about what it's like to recover from brain surgery


As she recovers from brain surgery, Simone Giertz is chronicling her experience with trademark honesty and humor. The "shitty robots" YouTuber has been tweeting steadily since her procedure in May, even posting a photo of her "super villain scar" a few days after surgery. On Thursday, she posted perhaps her realest update yet. SEE ALSO: 'Shitty Robots' creator Simone Giertz's TED Talk is a must-watch "Trying my best to make recovering from a brain tumor sound interesting but it's not," she wrote. "It's like trying to cook a meal out of a pile of sawdust.

Don't Take Ultrasounds for Granted


Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. This article is part of Update or Die, a series from Future Tense about how businesses and other organizations keep up with technological change--and the cost of falling behind. The patient was probably going to die. The one X-ray in town is often broken and isn't even at the hospital. Getting an accurate diagnosis is typically dependent on the clinical expertise of the health care professionals on staff and what they can ascertain with little more than a stethoscope.

How AI, If Used Right, Can Become a Catalyst for a Positive Change in Our Society


This is just a small slice of how technology automation has changed over the past 20 years, and I assume we can all acknowledge that AI is gaining momentum, albeit regulatory authorities, legislators and lawyers not being fully sure how to adapt or embrace the change that's currently happening. Artificial Intelligence is here, it's the hot topic or the popular kid everyone wants to play in the park with. AI and automation are bringing us daily benefits; Internet and Big Data are becoming an essential part of both our work and private lives and we now have the capacity to collect huge sums of information too cumbersome for a person to process. But what will this future bring in terms of issues, policies and regulations? Will programmers and researchers be obliged to study ethics and morals as compulsory modules throughout their learning paths?

Antarctic Worm and Machine Learning Help Identify Cerebral Palsy Earlier


When University of Delaware molecular biologist Adam Marsh was studying the DNA of worms living in Antarctica's frigid seas to understand how the organisms managed to survive--and thrive--in the extremely harsh polar environment, he never imagined his work might one day have a human connection. But it turns out that the genome of these Antarctic worms is very similar to ours in terms of the number and types of genes present. And the pioneering technique Marsh developed to analyze their genetic activity is proving valuable for human health care research. Marsh and a business partner established a biotechnology company to make that technique available for such study. Specifically, Marsh's method uses next-generation genetic sequencing data to measure how cells control the way genes are turned on or off, a process known as DNA methylation.

Pediatric Bone Age Assessment Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks


Skeletal bone age assessment is a common clinical practice to diagnose endocrine and metabolic disorders in child development. In this paper, we describe a fully automated deep learning approach to the problem of bone age assessment using data from the 2017 Pediatric Bone Age Challenge organized by the Radiological Society of North America. The dataset for this competition is consisted of 12.6k radiological images. Each radiograph in this dataset is an image of a left hand labeled by the bone age and the sex of a patient. Our approach utilizes several deep neural network architectures trained end-to-end.

The human prefrontal cortex is special


The size and surface area of the cerebral cortex varies dramatically across mammals. It is well known that the human cortex is by far the largest among primates. However, there is no agreement about whether the human prefrontal cortex is larger, in relative terms, than those of other primates. Donahue et al. compared structural brain scan datasets from humans, chimpanzees, and macaques. They found a greater proportion of prefrontal cortex gray matter volume in humans than in the two nonhuman primate species, and they observed an even greater difference between species for white matter volume in the prefrontal cortex.

This tech company used AI to give a radio host his voice back after it was robbed by a rare medical disorder


A tech company based in Scotland has built a new voice for US journalist Jamie Dupree, who lost the ability to speak due to a rare neurological condition. Dupree is a Washington-based political journalist and radio host for local broadcaster WSB Atlanta. He began to lose his voice in 2016 and was diagnosed with tongue protrusion dystonia, a neurological condition which causes people to lose control over their tongues, making speech almost impossible. While Dupree continued to work as a journalist, losing his voice meant he had to come off the air. After a two-year absence, he will be back broadcasting this month with a new AI-generated voice on WSB Atlanta and other Cox Media-owned stations in Orlando, Jacksonville, Dayton, and Tulsa.