Photo 1 Apr 188 notes ucsdhealthsciences:

How Genes Organize the Surface of the Brain
The first atlas of the surface of the human brain based upon genetic information has been produced by a national team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the VA San Diego Healthcare System. The work is published in the March 30 issue of the journal Science.
The atlas reveals that the cerebral cortex – the sheet of neural tissue enveloping the brain – is roughly divided into genetic divisions that differ from other brain maps based on physiology or function. The genetic atlas provides scientists with a new tool for studying and explaining how the brain works, particularly the involvement of genes.
“Genetics are important to understanding all kinds of biological phenomena,” said William S. Kremen, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-senior author with Anders M. Dale, PhD, professor of radiology, neurosciences, and psychiatry, also at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
According to Chi-Hua Chen, PhD, first author and a postdoctoral fellow in the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry, “If we can understand the genetic underpinnings of the brain, we can get a better idea of how it develops and works, information we can then use to ultimately improve treatments for diseases and disorders.”
The human cerebral cortex, characterized by distinctive twisting folds and fissures called sulci, is just 0.08 to 0.16 inches thick, but contains multiple layers of interconnected neurons with key roles in memory, attention, language, cognition and consciousness.
Other atlases have mapped the brain by cytoarchitecture – differences in tissues or function. The new map is based entirely upon genetic information derived from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 406 adult twins participating in the Vietnam Era Twin Registry (VETSA), an ongoing longitudinal study of cognitive aging supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It follows a related study published last year by Kremen, Dale and colleagues that affirmed the human cortical regionalization is similar to and consistent with patterns found in other mammals, evidence of a common conservation mechanism in evolution. 
More here

ucsdhealthsciences:

How Genes Organize the Surface of the Brain

The first atlas of the surface of the human brain based upon genetic information has been produced by a national team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the VA San Diego Healthcare System. The work is published in the March 30 issue of the journal Science.

The atlas reveals that the cerebral cortex – the sheet of neural tissue enveloping the brain – is roughly divided into genetic divisions that differ from other brain maps based on physiology or function. The genetic atlas provides scientists with a new tool for studying and explaining how the brain works, particularly the involvement of genes.

“Genetics are important to understanding all kinds of biological phenomena,” said William S. Kremen, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-senior author with Anders M. Dale, PhD, professor of radiology, neurosciences, and psychiatry, also at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

According to Chi-Hua Chen, PhD, first author and a postdoctoral fellow in the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry, “If we can understand the genetic underpinnings of the brain, we can get a better idea of how it develops and works, information we can then use to ultimately improve treatments for diseases and disorders.”

The human cerebral cortex, characterized by distinctive twisting folds and fissures called sulci, is just 0.08 to 0.16 inches thick, but contains multiple layers of interconnected neurons with key roles in memory, attention, language, cognition and consciousness.

Other atlases have mapped the brain by cytoarchitecture – differences in tissues or function. The new map is based entirely upon genetic information derived from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 406 adult twins participating in the Vietnam Era Twin Registry (VETSA), an ongoing longitudinal study of cognitive aging supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It follows a related study published last year by Kremen, Dale and colleagues that affirmed the human cortical regionalization is similar to and consistent with patterns found in other mammals, evidence of a common conservation mechanism in evolution. 

More here

Photo 1 Apr 272 notes livinginthepresentfurture:

Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. It’s a small waterfall that many people don’t notice, but it has gained popularity as more and more people have noticed it can glow orange during sunset in mid to late February.

The most popular place to see Horsetail Fall seemingly afire is El Capitan picnic area, west of Yosemite Lodge and east of El Capitan. The “firefall” effect generally happens during the second half of February. A clear sky is necessary for the waterfall to glow orange.Interested in visiting Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park? Click here to learn more. Photo: Bethany Gediman - National Park Service 

livinginthepresentfurture:

Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. It’s a small waterfall that many people don’t notice, but it has gained popularity as more and more people have noticed it can glow orange during sunset in mid to late February.


The most popular place to see Horsetail Fall seemingly afire is El Capitan picnic area, west of Yosemite Lodge and east of El Capitan. The “firefall” effect generally happens during the second half of February. A clear sky is necessary for the waterfall to glow orange.

Interested in visiting Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park? Click here to learn more. 

Photo: Bethany Gediman - National Park Service 

(Source: americasgreatoutdoors)

Link 27 Mar 46 notes Meditation practice increases brain size and gyrification»

neuroticthought:

by 

Luders and her colleagues (PDF here) have examined 44 people — 22 control subjects and 22 who had practiced various forms of meditation, including Zazen, Samatha and Vipassana, among others. The amount of time they had practiced ranged from five to 46 years, with an average of 24 years. More than half of all the meditators said that deep concentration was an essential part of their practice, and most meditated between 10 and 90 minutes every day. The MRI measurements found significantly larger cerebral measurements in meditators compared with controls: larger volumes of the right hippocampus and increased gray matter in the right orbito-frontal cortex, the right thalamus and the left inferior temporal lobe. Increases in the left and right anterior dorsal insula - which is a hub for internal autonomic, affective, and cognitive integration - were most pronounced. There were no regions where controls had significantly larger volumes or more gray matter than meditators. The enlarged brain areas are linked to emotions, making one wonder whether this reflects the increased ‘emotional muscles’ of meditators,i.e. their ability to regulate their emotions.


 Cortical Surface Shown is the lateral view of the right cortical surface. The red circle indicates where the maximum effect occurred. Top: Larger gyrification in 50 long-term meditators compared to 50 well-matched controls. Bottom: Positive correlations between gyrification and the number of meditation years within the 50 meditators. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Los Angeles)

Photo 21 Mar 3,163 notes
Photo 21 Mar 14 notes futurescope:

Robonaut Robogloves

When astronaut Dan Burbank and Robonaut shook hands last month, the ‘bot didn’t crush every bone in Burbank’s hand. That’s because NASA and GM designed Robonaut to be able to work in a human environment. One handy byproduct of that research: the Human Grasp Assist device, or Robo-Glove.
The joint research around Robonaut’s manipulators led to an “unprecedented level of hand dexterity,” according to NASA. A critical part of Robonaut’s design was to be able to “operate tools designed for humans, alongside astronauts in outer space and factory workers on Earth.”
With that goal in mind, the two companies worked to implement technology that mimicked the human hand, using “leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand.” By turning the focus of the project back on humanity, the Human Grasp Assist device (also called the Robo-Glove or K-Glove) was created, and, in a sense, it would let humans work more effectively in a robot-tailored environment.
Wearing a Robo-Glove won’t let you punch through a wall or anything, but it does sense when the user goes to grip something. That’s when the glove’s tech kicks in, exerting some helpful force that not only increases the force of a wearer’s grip, but also means that any hand-labor-heavy takes less effort and causes less fatigue over time.

[via] [more]

futurescope:

Robonaut Robogloves

When astronaut Dan Burbank and Robonaut shook hands last month, the ‘bot didn’t crush every bone in Burbank’s hand. That’s because NASA and GM designed Robonaut to be able to work in a human environment. One handy byproduct of that research: the Human Grasp Assist device, or Robo-Glove.

The joint research around Robonaut’s manipulators led to an “unprecedented level of hand dexterity,” according to NASA. A critical part of Robonaut’s design was to be able to “operate tools designed for humans, alongside astronauts in outer space and factory workers on Earth.”

With that goal in mind, the two companies worked to implement technology that mimicked the human hand, using “leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand.” By turning the focus of the project back on humanity, the Human Grasp Assist device (also called the Robo-Glove or K-Glove) was created, and, in a sense, it would let humans work more effectively in a robot-tailored environment.

Wearing a Robo-Glove won’t let you punch through a wall or anything, but it does sense when the user goes to grip something. That’s when the glove’s tech kicks in, exerting some helpful force that not only increases the force of a wearer’s grip, but also means that any hand-labor-heavy takes less effort and causes less fatigue over time.

[via] [more]

Video 21 Mar 150 notes

fastcompany:

Four years in the making, the Discovery Channel/BBC co-production Frozen Planet ranks among the channels’ most ambitious undertakings. Here, producers walk us through the making of the series and how they captured those unbelievable scenes.

Photo 21 Mar 1,418 notes ckck:

Kastrup Airport. Copenhagen, Denmark.

ckck:

Kastrup Airport. Copenhagen, Denmark.

via ck/ck.
Link 21 Mar 30 notes Ceaseless Reinvention Leads To Overlapping Solutions»

neuroticthought:

An essay by David Eagleman

The elegance of the brain lies in its inelegance.

For centuries, neuroscience attempted to neatly assign labels to the various parts of the brain: this is the area for language, this one for morality, this for tool use, color detection, face recognition, and so on. This search for an orderly brain map started off as a viable endeavor, but turned out to be misguided.

The deep and beautiful trick of the brain is more interesting: it possesses multiple, overlapping ways of dealing with the world. It is a machine built of conflicting parts. It is a representative democracy that functions bycompetitionamong parties who all believe they know the right way to solve the problem.

As a result, we can get mad at ourselves, argue with ourselves, curse at ourselves and contract with ourselves. We can feel conflicted. These sorts of neural battles lie behind marital infidelity, relapses into addiction, cheating on diets, breaking of New Year’s resolutions—all situations in which some parts of a person want one thing and other parts another.

These are things which modern machines simply do not do. Your car cannot be conflicted about which way to turn: it has one steering wheel commanded by only one driver, and it follows directions without complaint. Brains, on the other hand, can be of two minds, and often many more. We don’t know whether to turn toward the cake or away from it, because there are several sets of hands on the steering wheel of behavior.

Take memory. Under normal circumstances, memories of daily events are consolidated by an area of the brain called the hippocampus. But in frightening situations—such as a car accident or a robbery—another area, the amygdala, also lays down memories along an independent, secondary memory track. Amygdala memories have a different quality to them: they are difficult to erase and they can return in “flash-bulb” fashion—a common description of rape victims and war veterans. In other words, there is more than one way to lay down memory. We’re not talking about memories of different events, but different memories of thesameevent. The unfolding story appears to be that there may be even more than two factions involved, all writing down information and later competing to tell the story. The unity of memory is an illusion.

And consider the different systems involved in decision making: some are fast, automatic and below the surface of conscious awareness; others are slow, cognitive, and conscious. And there’s no reason to assume there are only two systems; there may well be a spectrum. Some networks in the brain are implicated in long-term decisions, others in short-term impulses (and there may be a fleet of medium-term biases as well).

Attention, also, has also recently come to be understood as the end result of multiple, competing networks, some for focused, dedicated attention to a specific task, and others for monitoring broadly (vigilance). They are always locked in competition to steer the actions of the organism.

Even basic sensory functions—like the detection of motion—appear now to have been reinvented multiple times by evolution. This provides the perfect substrate for a neural democracy.

On a larger anatomical scale, the two hemispheres of the brain, left and right, can be understood as overlapping systems that compete. We know this from patients whose hemispheres are disconnected: they essentially function with two independent brains. For example, put a pencil in each hand, and they can simultaneously draw incompatible figures such as a circle and a triangle. The two hemispheres function differently in the domains of language, abstract thinking, story construction, inference, memory, gambling strategies, and so on. The two halves constitute a team of rivals: agents with the same goals but slightly different ways of going about it.

To my mind, this elegant solution to the mysteries of the brain should change the goal for aspiring neuroscientists. Instead of spending years advocating for one’s favorite solution, the mission should evolve into elucidating the different overlapping solutions: how they compete, how the union is held together, and what happens when things fall apart.

Photo 20 Mar 11 notes futurescope:

Physicians grow retinas from human blood-derived stem cells

Among the primary causes of adult-onset blindness are degenerative diseases of the retina, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. While some treatments have been developed that slow down the rate of degeneration, the clinical situation is still generally unsatisfactory. But if you could grow a new retina, transplant might be a possible cure. Now new hope is springing up from a research project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in which scientists have succeeded in growing human retinal tissue from stem cells.
Pluripotent stem cells are capable of forming nearly any tissue in the body including retinal tissue. There has been great controversy about using pluripotent stem cells for human research or treatment, as historically the only source was to harvest them from early stage human embryos. Instead, for this work the researchers were able to regress mature body cells back into the pluripotent stem cells from which they originally grew. The process is called reprogramming, and is accomplished by inserting a set of proteins into the cell.
To produce the pluripotent stem cells, a white blood cell was taken from a simple blood sample. Genes which code for the reprogramming proteins are inserted into a plasmid, a nonliving ring of DNA. The cell is then infected with the plasmid, rather as a virus infects a cell, with the difference that the plasmid’s genes do not become part of the cell’s genetic structure. As the reprogramming proteins are formed within the cell by the plasmid DNA, the cell has a good chance of being reprogrammed into a pluripotent stem cell. This stem cell can then be encouraged to grow and differentiate into retinal tissue rather than make more blood cells.
Laboratory-grown human retinal tissue will certainly be used in testing drugs and to study degenerative diseases of the retina, and may eventually make available a new transplantable retina, or a new retina that is grown in place within the eye.
“We don’t know how far this technology will take us, but the fact that we are able to grow a rudimentary retina structure from a patient’s blood cells is encouraging, not only because it confirms our earlier work using human skin cells, but also because blood as a starting source is convenient to obtain,” says Dr. David Gamm, pediatric ophthalmologist and senior author of the study. “This is a solid step forward.” Further steps are eagerly awaited by those living in the dark.

[via] [more]

futurescope:

Physicians grow retinas from human blood-derived stem cells

Among the primary causes of adult-onset blindness are degenerative diseases of the retina, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. While some treatments have been developed that slow down the rate of degeneration, the clinical situation is still generally unsatisfactory. But if you could grow a new retina, transplant might be a possible cure. Now new hope is springing up from a research project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in which scientists have succeeded in growing human retinal tissue from stem cells.

Pluripotent stem cells are capable of forming nearly any tissue in the body including retinal tissue. There has been great controversy about using pluripotent stem cells for human research or treatment, as historically the only source was to harvest them from early stage human embryos. Instead, for this work the researchers were able to regress mature body cells back into the pluripotent stem cells from which they originally grew. The process is called reprogramming, and is accomplished by inserting a set of proteins into the cell.

To produce the pluripotent stem cells, a white blood cell was taken from a simple blood sample. Genes which code for the reprogramming proteins are inserted into a plasmid, a nonliving ring of DNA. The cell is then infected with the plasmid, rather as a virus infects a cell, with the difference that the plasmid’s genes do not become part of the cell’s genetic structure. As the reprogramming proteins are formed within the cell by the plasmid DNA, the cell has a good chance of being reprogrammed into a pluripotent stem cell. This stem cell can then be encouraged to grow and differentiate into retinal tissue rather than make more blood cells.

Laboratory-grown human retinal tissue will certainly be used in testing drugs and to study degenerative diseases of the retina, and may eventually make available a new transplantable retina, or a new retina that is grown in place within the eye.

“We don’t know how far this technology will take us, but the fact that we are able to grow a rudimentary retina structure from a patient’s blood cells is encouraging, not only because it confirms our earlier work using human skin cells, but also because blood as a starting source is convenient to obtain,” says Dr. David Gamm, pediatric ophthalmologist and senior author of the study. “This is a solid step forward.” Further steps are eagerly awaited by those living in the dark.

[via] [more]

Photo 20 Mar 17 notes futurescope:

Off Switch for Pain? Chemists Build Light-Controlled Neural Inhibitor
Snip:

Pain? Just turn it off! It may sound like science fiction, but researchers based in Munich, Berkeley and Bordeaux have now succeeded in inhibiting pain-sensitive neurons on demand, in the laboratory. The crucial element in their strategy is a chemical sensor that acts as a light-sensitive switch.

[read more] [via] [photo credit: Jule_Berlin / Fotolia]

futurescope:

Off Switch for Pain? Chemists Build Light-Controlled Neural Inhibitor

Snip:

Pain? Just turn it off! It may sound like science fiction, but researchers based in Munich, Berkeley and Bordeaux have now succeeded in inhibiting pain-sensitive neurons on demand, in the laboratory. The crucial element in their strategy is a chemical sensor that acts as a light-sensitive switch.

[read more] [via] [photo credit: Jule_Berlin / Fotolia]


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