neurology


FrankenSWINE? Scientists bring some functions in a pig's BRAIN 'back to life'

Daily Mail

Scientists have been able to partially revive the brains of decapitated pigs that died four hours earlier in a groundbreaking study. Experts used tubes that pumped a chemical mixture designed to mimic blood into the decapitated heads of 32 pigs to restore circulation and cellular activity. Echoing Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein, billions of neurons began acting normally and the deaths of other cells was reduced over the course of six hours. Electrical brain activity across the brain associated with awareness, perception and other high level functions were not observed, however. While the find is an exciting breakthrough, it is still a long way from proof that a person's consciousness can be recovered after they die, experts caution.


3Q: The interface between art and neuroscience

MIT News

Computational neuroscientist Sarah Schwettmann is one of three instructors behind the cross-disciplinary course 9.S52/9.S916 (Vision in Art and Neuroscience), which introduces students to core concepts in visual perception through the lenses of art and neuroscience. Supported by a faculty grant from the Center for Art, Science and Technology at MIT (CAST) for the past two years, the class is led by Pawan Sinha, a professor of vision and computational neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. They are joined in the course by Seth Riskin SM '89, a light artist and the manager of the MIT Museum Studio and Compton Gallery, where the course is taught. Schwettman discussed the combination of art and science in an educational setting. Q: How have the three of you approached this cross-disciplinary class in art and neuroscience?


Charles Gross, Husband to Joyce Carol Oates, Dies at 83

U.S. News

Gross spent 43 years on the faculty of Princeton's psychology department where the university credited him with revolutionizing understanding of sensory processing and pattern recognition. Princeton called his work "foundational to the field of cognitive neuroscience" when he retired in 2013.


Series from The Walking Dead creator will explore future where social media is linked to your BRAIN

Daily Mail

Channing Powell, the creator of the hit horror television series'The Walking Dead', is not someone who is easily spooked. But Powell is scared, 'terrified actually' of what big tech might be up to. And critics were too after watching her spine-chilling new series, 'The Feed', premiere in Cannes this week. The Amazon show is set in the near future when we can share emotions, thoughts and what we see with our eyes on a social network embedded in our brains. If that sounds as far fetched as the post-apocalyptic zombies of'The Walking Dead', Powell has news for you.


Scientists say our brains will connect to computers in decades to form the 'internet of thoughts'

Daily Mail

Forward-leaning scientists and researchers say advancements in society's computers and biotechnology will go straight to our heads -- literally. In a new paper published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers embarked on an international collaboration that predicts groundbreaking developments in the world of'Human Brain/Cloud Interface's' within the next few decades. Using a combination of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other more traditional computing, researchers say humans will be able to seamlessly connect their brains to a cloud of computers to glean information from the internet in real-time. In a new paper published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers embarked on an international collaboration that predicts groundbreaking developments in the world of'Human Brain/Cloud Interface's' within the next few decades. According to Robert Freitas Jr., senior author of the research, a fleet of nanobots embedded in our brains would act as liaisons to humans' minds and supercomputers, to enable'matrix style' downloading of information.


Sustained rescue of prefrontal circuit dysfunction by antidepressant-induced spine formation

Science

A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the action of antidepressants is urgently needed. Moda-Sava et al. explored a possible mode of action for the drug ketamine, which has recently been shown to help patients recover from depression (see the Perspective by Beyeler). Ketamine rescued behavior in mice that was associated with depression-like phenotypes by selectively reversing stress-induced spine loss and restoring coordinated multicellular ensemble activity in prefrontal microcircuits. The initial induction of ketamine's antidepressant effect on mouse behavior occurred independently of effects on spine formation. Instead, synaptogenesis in the prefrontal region played a critical role in nourishing these effects over time. Interventions aimed at enhancing the survival of restored synapses may thus be useful for sustaining the behavioral effects of fast-acting antidepressants. Science, this issue p. eaat8078; see also p. 129 Depression is an episodic form of mental illness, yet the circuit-level mechanisms driving the induction, remission, and recurrence of depressive episodes over time are not well understood. Ketamine relieves depressive symptoms rapidly, providing an opportunity to study the neurobiological substrates of transitions from depression to remission and to test whether mechanisms that induce antidepressant effects acutely are distinct from those that sustain them. Contrasting changes in dendritic spine density in prefrontal cortical pyramidal cells have been associated with the emergence of depression-related behaviors in chronic stress models and with ketamine's antidepressant effects.


Humans feel sympathy pains due to 'mirror neurons' that activates on seeing others in pain

Daily Mail

Animals are capable of empathising and feeling the pain of others, a study has found. Researchers investigating how animal brains function found a region known as the cingulate cortex is activated when an animal is in physical pain and is also active when looking at another animal in discomfort. A team from the Netherlands studied this region of the brain in rats and found they empathise with others in much the same way as humans do. And when the region of the brain is removed, so is the ability to relate to another's suffering. Research in the area could provide insights into psychiatric disorders where a lack of empathy is a key factor, such as in those observed in psychopaths, the scientists claim.


Exeter datathon

#artificialintelligence

The need: clinical trials are moving earlier to intervene before the onset of dementia itself. As the amount of data that we have available to us increases rapidly, it is becoming vital to innovate in order to make sense of it and gain new insights. Your focus: at the Exeter datathon, you will work with others in the DPUK Data Portal. You will focus on predicting dementia risk; conversion from mild cognitive impairment to dementia; and the potential of transfer learning to facilitate predictions between different datasets. Your skills: successful applicants will have experience in machine machine learning approaches and an interest in dementia.


Five damaging myths about video games – let's shoot 'em up

The Guardian

Video games are one of the most misunderstood forms of entertainment. In one sense, it's easy to see why: if you haven't had much interaction with them, watching someone play one can be a pretty unsettling experience. Gamers can often give the impression that they're glued to the screen, absorbed in what feels like the digital equivalent of junk food. At best, it seems like a pointless thing to do; at worst, we worry that games are socially isolating, or actively harmful. One of the longest-standing tropes about video games is that violent ones – like Call of Duty or Fortnite – can cause players to become more aggressive in the real world.


Do you see what AI sees? Study finds that humans can think like computers

#artificialintelligence

Even powerful computers, like those that guide self-driving cars, can be tricked into mistaking random scribbles for trains, fences, or school buses. It was commonly believed that people couldn't see how those images trip up computers, but in a new study, Johns Hopkins University researchers show most people actually can. The findings suggest modern computers may not be as different from humans as we think, demonstrating how advances in artificial intelligence continue to narrow the gap between the visual abilities of people and machines. The research appears today in the journal Nature Communications. "Most of the time, research in our field is about getting computers to think like people," says senior author Chaz Firestone, an assistant professor in Johns Hopkins' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.