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Sep 29, 2023

Human Brain Project celebrates successful conclusion

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, supercomputing

HBP researchers have employed highly advanced methods from computing, neuroinformatics and artificial intelligence in a truly integrative approach to understanding the brain as a multi-level system.

The EU-funded Human Brain Project (HBP) comes to an end in September and celebrates its successful conclusion today with a scientific symposium at Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ). The HBP was one of the first flagship projects and, with 155 cooperating institutions from 19 countries and a total budget of 607 million euros, one of the largest research projects in Europe. Forschungszentrum Jülich, with its world-leading brain research institute and the Jülich Supercomputing Centre, played an important role in the ten-year project.

“Understanding the complexity of the human brain and explaining its functionality are major challenges of brain research today”, says Astrid Lambrecht, Chair of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich. “The instruments of brain research have developed considerably in the last ten years. The Human Brain Project has been instrumental in driving this development — and not only gained new insights for brain research, but also provided important impulses for information technologies.”

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Sep 29, 2023

Evolution wired human brains to act like supercomputers

Posted by in categories: evolution, mathematics, neuroscience, supercomputing

Now, scientists have a mathematical model that closely matches how the human brain processes visual information.

Scientists have confirmed that human brains are naturally wired to perform advanced calculations, much like a high-powered computer, to make sense of the world through a process known as Bayesian inference.

In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Queensland and University of Cambridge developed a specific mathematical model that closely matches how human brains work when it comes to reading vision. The model contained everything needed to carry out Bayesian inference.

Sep 29, 2023

Fundamental process behind memory now captured live

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have, for the first time, witnessed nerve plasticity in the axon in motion.

Our nerve cells communicate through rapid transmission of electrical signals known as action potentials. All action potentials in the brain start in one unique small area of the cell: the axon initial segment (AIS). This is the very first part of the axon, the long, thin extension of a nerve cell that transmits signals or impulses from one nerve cell to another. It acts as a control center where it is decided when an action potential is initiated before traveling further along the axon.

Previously, researchers made the surprising observation that plasticity also occurs at the AIS. Plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to create new connections and structures in order to scale the amount of electrical activity, which is crucial for learning and memory. AIS plasticity occurs during changes in brain network activity. The segment’s length can become shorter with excessive activity or longer with low activity. But how does this structure change, and how quickly does it happen? Amélie Fréal and Nora Jamann in the lab of Maarten Kole have, for the first time, observed in real-time how this adaptability functions within the axon and identified the molecular mechanisms behind this process.

Sep 29, 2023

Neuralink’s First-in-Human Clinical Trial is Open for Recruitment

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, robotics/AI

Neural Link’s first-In-human clinical trials.

We are happy to announce that we’ve received approval from the reviewing independent institutional review board and our first hospital site to begin recruitment for our first-in-human clinical trial. The PRIME Study (short for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface) – a groundbreaking investigational medical device trial for our fully-implantable, wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) – aims to evaluate the safety of our implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1) and assess the initial functionality of our BCI for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts.

During the study, the R1 Robot will be used to surgically place the N1 Implant’s ultra-fine and flexible threads in a region of the brain that controls movement intention. Once in place, the N1 Implant is cosmetically invisible and is intended to record and transmit brain signals wirelessly to an app that decodes movement intention. The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.

Sep 29, 2023

Selective Destruction — Scientists Propose New Theory of Aging

Posted by in category: life extension

A new editorial paper published in the journal Aging argues that in multicellular organisms, neighboring cells are in constant competition.

The underlying reasons for aging have long remained elusive. However, in 1977, Thomas Kirkwood hypothesized that organisms might gain a fitness advantage by reducing investment in somatic maintenance if this allowed them to invest more resources in more crucial processes such as reproduction. The accumulation of somatic damage was therefore inevitable, and his disposable soma theory has dominated gerontology ever since.

However, as our understanding of aging increases, it is becoming increasingly difficult to align all the aspects of aging with accumulating damage. For example, mutations that increase damage accumulation can also increase longevity, while rejuvenation revelations such as parabiosis and Yamanaka factors indicate that youthfulness can be regained without high energetic cost and despite high levels of damage.

Sep 29, 2023

Cardiovascular Disease Risk May Be Increased by Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

A new review published in The Lancet Neurology by researchers at Mass General Brigham presents findings indicating that cardiovascular disease risk may be increased by traumatic brain injury (TBI). The review presented evidence of the long-term associations between TBI and cardiovascular disease noting that post-injury comorbidities, as well as neuroinflammation, and changes in the brain-gut connection may be culprits in the elevated risk compared to the general population.

“Despite decades of extensive traumatic brain-injury-focused research, surprisingly, there has been minimal progress in mitigating long-term outcomes and mortality following injuries. The cardiovascular effects of TBI may be a missing link in advancing our efforts to improve long-term quality of life and reducing mortality rates in TBI patients,” said first author Saef Izzy, MD, of the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We have the opportunity to identify and improve targeted screening for high-risk populations, build preventative care strategies and improve outcomes for survivors of TBI.”

While past research has exhibited there is a strong link between TBI and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, decades of research has failed to understand the mechanisms that occur after a TBI that drive these diseases. Izzy and review co-authors now suggest that there may be non-neurological effects of TBI, including cardiovascular, cardiometabolic, and endocrine dysfunction that may act as intermediaries that contribute to neurological disorders that may appear decades later.

Sep 29, 2023

Consciousness theory slammed as ‘pseudoscience’ — sparking uproar

Posted by in category: neuroscience

A letter, signed by 124 scholars and posted online last week, has caused an uproar in the consciousness-research community. It argues that a prominent theory describing what makes someone or something conscious — called the integrated information theory (IIT) — should be labelled as pseudoscience. Since its publication on 15 September in the preprint repository PsyArXiv1, the letter has resulted in some researchers arguing over the label and others worrying that it will increase polarization in a field that has grappled with issues of credibility in the past.

Decades-long bet on consciousness ends — and it’s philosopher 1, neuroscientist 0

“I think it’s inflammatory to describe IIT as pseudoscience,” says neuroscientist Anil Seth, director of the Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex near Brighton, UK, adding that he disagrees with the label. “IIT is a theory, of course, and therefore may be empirically wrong,” says Christof Koch, a meritorious investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington, and a proponent of the theory. But he says that it makes its assumptions — for example, that consciousness has a physical basis and can be mathematically measured — very clear.

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Sep 29, 2023

Brain signals for good memory performance revealed

Posted by in category: neuroscience

University of Basel.

People differ significantly in their memory performance. Researchers at the University of Basel have now discovered that certain brain signals are related to these differences.

While it is well known that certain brain regions play a crucial role in memory processes, so far it has not been clear whether these regions exhibit different activities when it comes to storing information in people with better or worse memory performance.

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Sep 29, 2023

Saturated fat may interfere with creating memories in aged brain

Posted by in categories: food, life extension, neuroscience

New research hints at a few ways fatty foods affect cells in the brain, a finding that could help explain the link between a high-fat diet and impaired memory – especially as we age.

The Ohio State University study in cell cultures found the omega-3 fatty acid DHA may help protect the brain from an unhealthy diet’s effects by curbing fat-induced inflammation at the cellular source.

Separate experiments using brain tissue from aging mice showed a high-fat diet may lead specific brain cells to overdo cell-signaling management in a way that interferes with the creation of new memories.

Sep 29, 2023

Neuroimaging study reveals hate speech dulls brain’s empathy responses

Posted by in category: neuroscience

An experimental neuroimaging study in Poland found that exposure to hate speech diminishes the brain’s response to stories about other people suffering. The effect was present irrespective of the group membership of the person suffering in the story – whether they were Polish, like the participants, or Arab. The study was published in Scientific Reports.

Hate speech is a form of communication that involves the expression of discriminatory, hostile, or prejudiced sentiments and ideas directed towards individuals or groups based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other characteristics.

Exposure to hate speech deteriorates neurocognitive mechanisms of the ability to understand others’ pain, was authored by Agnieszka Pluta, Joanna Mazurek, Jakub Wojciechowski, Tomasz Wolak, Wiktor Soral, and Michał Bilewicz.

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