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Archive for the ‘neuroscience’ category

May 26, 2020

‘Digital smell’ technology could let us transmit odors in online chats

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, food, internet, neuroscience, virtual reality

“It’s not just about the smell,” said Adrian Cheok, one of the scientists behind the experiments. “It is part of a whole, integrated virtual reality or augmented reality. So, for example, you could have a virtual dinner with your friend through the internet. You can see them in 3D and also share a glass of wine together.”

In real life, odors are transmitted when airborne molecules waft into the nose, prompting specialized nerve cells in the upper airway to fire off impulses to the brain. In the recent experiments, performed on 31 test subjects at the Imagineering Institute in the Malaysian city of Nusajaya, researchers used electrodes in the nostrils to deliver weak electrical currents above and behind the nostrils, where these neurons are found.

The researchers were able to evoke 10 different virtual odors, including fruity, woody and minty.

May 26, 2020

Defects in developing frog brain can be prevented or repaired with bioelectric drugs

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

Researchers led by biologists at Tufts University have discovered that the brains of developing frog embryos damaged by nicotine exposure can be repaired by treatment with certain drugs called “ionoceuticals” that drive the recovery of bioelectric patterns in the embryo, followed by repair of normal anatomy, gene expression and brain function in the growing tadpole. The research, published today in Frontiers in Neuroscience, introduces intervention strategies based on restoring the bioelectric “blueprint” for embryonic development, which the researchers suggest could provide a roadmap for the exploration of therapeutic drugs to help repair birth defects.

May 25, 2020

Scientists Explore Molecular Connections Between Genetics, Gut Microbiome, and Memory

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

A molecule commonly produced by gut microbes appears to improve memory in mice.

A new study is among the first to trace the molecular connections between genetics, the gut microbiome, and memory in a mouse model bred to resemble the diversity of the human population.

While tantalizing links between the gut microbiome and brain have previously been found, a team of researchers from two U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories found new evidence of tangible connections between the gut and the brain. The team identified lactate, a molecule produced by all species of one gut microbe, as a key memory-boosting molecular messenger. The work was published recently in the journal BMC Microbiome.

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May 25, 2020

Applying physics to understanding the mystery of consciousness

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

“An international study involving Monash physicists has cornered a new approach to measure consciousness, potentially changing our understanding of complex neurological problems.

The study published today in Physical Review Research describes how tools from physics and complexity theory were used to determine the level of consciousness in fruit flies.

“This is a major problem in neuroscience, where it is crucial to differentiate between unresponsive vegetative patients and those suffering from a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally because of complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body,” said study author Dr. Kavan Modi, from the Monash University School of Physics and Astronomy.”

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May 25, 2020

How Touching Is Perceived in the Brain – Investigated With Two-Person MRI Scans on Couples

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

An MRI in each other’s arms shows how physical contact alters the brains of couples.

Researchers at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre have developed a new method for simultaneous imaging brain activity from two people, allowing them to study social interaction.

In a recent study, the researchers scanned brain activity from 10 couples. Each couple spent 45 minutes inside the MRI scanner in physical contact with each other. The objective of the study was to examine how social contact activates the brain. The results were published in the theme issue Social Interaction in Neuropsychiatry of the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

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May 24, 2020

Why the Hippocampus May Be the Most Important Region in Your Brain

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Memory is the natural extension of attention and learning. The act of memory facilitates the formation, activation, and retention of circuits that contribute to the brain’s optimal functioning. Dr. Restak explains how we are the sum total of the memory we retain. Without memory, we wouldn’t know who we are.


The hippocampus, a portion of the brain located in the temporal lobe of each cerebral cortex, is the entry portal for information to be remembered. If the hippocampus is damaged, we have difficulty forming new memories.

This was demonstrated by Patient H. M., whose real name was Henry Molaison. He started having seizures when he was 10 years old. By age 20, he was completely incapacitated.

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May 23, 2020

DNA-repairing enzyme reverses age-related cognitive decline

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension, neuroscience

DNA damage is common to our cells, but when we’re young our bodies can fix it pretty easily. Unfortunately we lose that ability over time, leading to many of the symptoms of aging that we know all too well. A new study from MIT has found that reactivating a certain enzyme improves repair of DNA damage in neurons, which helps Alzheimer’s patients and others with cognitive decline.

Previous studies by the team have shown that an enzyme called HDAC1 seems to be involved in DNA repair in neurons. For the new study, the researchers examined what happens when HDAC1 doesn’t do its job.

The team engineered mice to be deficient in HDAC1, and monitored their health compared to normal mice. Things looked good during the animals’ youth – there were no differences in DNA damage or behavior between the two groups. But as they aged, the decline became clear.

May 23, 2020

Nano Comes to Life: How Nanotechnology Is Transforming Medicine and the Future of Biology

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, life extension, nanotechnology, neuroscience, quantum physics

If you’re interested in superlongevity and superintelligence, then I have a book to recommend., by Sonia Contera, is a book about the intersection of biotech and nanotech. Interesting and well written for the layman, the book covers some of the latest developments in nanotechnology as it applies to biological matters. Although there are many topics, I was primarily interested in the DNA nanobots, DNA origami, and the protein nanotechnology sections. My interest is piqued in these arenas due to my expectation that DNA nanobots and protein nanobots, as well as complex self-assembled custom nanostructures, are going to be key to some of the longevity technologies and some of the possible substrates for mind uploading that are key to superlongevity and superintelligence. There are also sections in the book on 3D bioprinted organs — progress and possibilities, as well as difficulties.

There is even a section that clearly was written specifically to address a discussion that has engaged my friends, Dinorah Delfin and Dan Faggella. The title is:

FUTURE DEVICES: QUANTUM PHYSICS MEETS BIOLOGY MEETS NANOTECHNOLOGY

Now, some might be tempted to consider that particular combination to be “woo woo”, however, please keep in mind the author’s credentials. Sonia Contera is a professor of biological physics in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford.

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May 23, 2020

General anesthetics activate a potent central pain-suppression circuit in the amygdala

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

General anesthesia (GA) can produce analgesia (loss of pain) independent of inducing loss of consciousness, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We hypothesized that GA suppresses pain in part by activating supraspinal analgesic circuits. We discovered a distinct population of GABAergic neurons activated by GA in the mouse central amygdala (CeAGA neurons). In vivo calcium imaging revealed that different GA drugs activate a shared ensemble of CeAGA neurons also possess basal activity that mostly reflects animals’ internal state rather than external stimuli. Optogenetic activation of CeAGA potently suppressed both pain-elicited reflexive and self-recuperating behaviors across sensory modalities and abolished neuropathic pain-induced mechanical (hyper-)sensitivity. Conversely, inhibition of CeAGA activity exacerbated pain, produced strong aversion and canceled the analgesic effect of low-dose ketamine. CeAGA neurons have widespread inhibitory projections to many affective pain-processing centers. Our study points to CeAGA as a potential powerful therapeutic target for alleviating chronic pain.

May 23, 2020

Tattoo electrodes can record brain activity

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Scientists in Austria have developed wafer-thin tattoo electrodes for recording brain activity, which are also “dry” and therefore do not require a gel medium to function.

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