Today, President Obama unveiled further details about the BRAIN initiative, a multibillion dollar project to unravel the secrets of the human brain. Continue reading
A recent study to be published in Nature Neuroscience has identified the role of a type of brain cells called microglia in the development of specific types of cortical neurons1. As you can see in the first image below, the cerebral cortex – the outer layer of the brain – comprises six separate layers. These layers can be identified under the microscope. Continue reading
A new study published in Nature reveals some of the dynamics of neural activity when people articulate syllables commonly used in English1. The researchers have taken advantage of a therapy that patients were about to follow for epilepsy. In some cases of epilepsy, doctors need to locate the region of the brain that induces seizures. To do so they place a series of electrodes right on the surface of the brain, under the cranium. The technique is called Electrocorticography. Since the patients were to wear that device for some time, they were asked if they would be willing to make some articulation exercises while the electrical activity on the surface of their brain was recorded through this device. Continue reading
Human brain cell transplantation makes mice smart. The transplanted cells are not neurons and the cells communicate without using electricity. Continue reading
I was nervous, not knowing what to expect. I walked into the room, inhaled deeply and got a bit dizzy. The lighting was harsh and bright, but I was thankful because I wanted to see it all. I moved toward the table where I would be doing it. The table was stainless steel, sterile, and cold. And there at one end was the object of my affection: a human brain.
A new study published in Nature Neuroscience by a large group of researchers from The Netherlands has identified the modifications of brain activities of patients as they were receiving treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)1. OCD is an anxiety disorder in which patients adopt repetitive behaviors such as hoarding, washing, or cleaning to address excessive worries or fears. Continue reading
People are getting excited this month on the more-than-century-old debate about whether or not the brain is computable – whether we could make a computer or machine that simulates it. The recent debates were partly caused by the book published by Ray Kurzweil, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. Oppositions to the claims and contents of the book have been published by major scientists. One text by Christof Koch in Science1 covers very well the naive and misinformed aspects of this book concerning its statements on biology and intelligence and I will not go further into pinpointing the issues. Christof Koch also provides an accurate view of how complex the question is and how far we are from understanding any brain – let alone the human brain – to program it into a computer. Continue reading