neurology


The big problem with big data? Without theory, it's just garbage

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Uta Frith doesn't want to meet Donald Trump. "There would be no point in my saying anything to him," she says. "Mostly, when scientists give advice to politicians, politicians listen only to the things they want to hear." Frith, a developmental psychologist who works at University College London, should know. Not only has she been a pioneer in the study of dyslexia and autism -- in the 1960s, she was one of the first researchers in the UK to study Asperger's Syndrome -- but she has also been working to advance the interests of women in science for decades.


As brain extracts meaning from vision, study tracks progression of processing

MIT News

The study, led by researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, undermines the classic belief that separate cortical regions play distinct roles. Instead, as animals in the lab refined what they saw down to a specific understanding relevant to behavior, brain cells in each of six cortical regions operated along a continuum between sensory processing and categorization. To be sure, general patterns were evident for each region, but activity associated with categorization was shared surprisingly widely, say the authors of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. "The cortex is not modular," says Earl Miller, Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. "Different parts of the cortex emphasize different things and do different types of processing, but it is more of a matter of emphasis. This extends up to higher cognition."


Your first memory probably isn't yours, no matter how real it seems

Popular Science

Think back to your earliest memory. What age were you in it? In a recent survey, 40 percent of people say they remember events earlier than age two. But here's the problem: Most memory researchers argue that its essentially impossible to remember anything before those terrible twos. Understanding how and why our brains form memories in the first place might convince you that if you're in that 40 percent, perhaps your memory is a fictional one after all.


The questionable ethics of treating autistic children with robots

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One day in the spring of 2017, at the department of clinical psychology at Babes-Bolyai University, Romania, a robot stood on a table facing a child. The robot was a half-metre tall humanoid in brightly coloured plastic, like a toy. Its round eyes lit up as it spoke, its voice childlike. Across the table sat a young boy in a Pokémon T-shirt, playing a game where he had to figure out which object the lit-up eyes are looking at. Over the table-top between the pair was a horizontal display, showing two digital items, a flower and a tree.


AI can untangle the jumble of neurons packed in brain scans

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Video AI can help neurologists automatically map the connections between different neurons in brain scans, a tedious task that can take hundreds and thousands of hours. In a paper published in Nature Methods, AI researchers from Google collaborated with scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology to inspect the brain of a Zebra Finch, a small Australian bird renowned for its singing. Although the contents of their craniums are small, Zebra Finches aren't birdbrains, their connectome* is densely packed with neurons. To study the connections, scientists study a slice of the brain using an electron microscope. It requires high resolution to make out all the different neurites, the nerve cells extending from neurons.


AI can untangle the jumble of neurons packed in brain scans

#artificialintelligence

Video AI can help neurologists automatically map the connections between different neurons in brain scans, a tedious task that can take hundreds and thousands of hours. In a paper published in Nature Methods, AI researchers from Google collaborated with scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology to inspect the brain of a Zebra Finch, a small Australian bird renowned for its singing. Although the contents of their craniums are small, Zebra Finches aren't birdbrains, their connectome* is densely packed with neurons. To study the connections, scientists study a slice of the brain using an electron microscope. It requires high resolution to make out all the different neurites, the nerve cells extending from neurons.


AI Could Make Detecting Autism Easier

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Martin Styner's son Max was 6 by the time clinicians diagnosed him with autism. The previous year, Max's kindergarten teacher had noticed some behavioral signs. For example, the little boy would immerse himself in books so completely that he shut out what was going on around him. But it wasn't until Max started to ignore his teacher that his parents enlisted the help of a child psychologist to evaluate him. Max is at the mild end of the spectrum.


Biotech Entrepreneur, 29, Raises $32 Million To Use AI To Develop Drugs For Parkinson's, ALS

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Alice Zhang appeared on Forbes' 2017 list of the 30 Under 30 in Science.Jamel Toppin for Forbes Alice Zhang, 29, was a graduate student at UCLA when she decided there was a tremendous opportunity to speed up the process of drug development. "I started becoming frustrated with how drug discovery was done. I viewed it as a guessing game and largely focused on single targets. In our lab, we were finding that literally hundreds of targets were causing disease. We could start taking the guesswork out of drug discovery."


'Shitty Robots' creator Simone Giertz returns to YouTube after brain tumor surgery

Mashable

Simone Giertz is making videos again! The YouTuber and "Shitty Robots" creator revealed that she had a brain tumor in April, and underwent surgery in May. She took a break from vlogging and inventing to recover, but returned to YouTube on Tuesday to update her followers. Since her tumor (which she playfully named Brian) was noncancerous, Giertz said her grade 1 meningioma was a "good" brain tumor. But she compared a "good" brain tumor to a "fun" traffic jam.


Verge Genomics Earns $32M for AI Drug Discovery

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is continuing to make waves in the life sciences industry, with today's announcement that a drug-discovery company called Verge Genomics has landed $32 million in Series A financing. Based in San Francisco, Verge Genomics uses machine learning and sprawling data sets to identify new therapeutics for neurological diseases. Since its founding in 2015, the startup has nurtured "lead therapeutic programs" and built proprietary genomic data sets for Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Investors nodded to those advances and Verge Genomics' roster of diverse experts when they announced the windfall. Read: Which Health-Tech Startups Are Making Money in 2018?