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Cybofree : Techno Social Issues for a Postmodern Transhuman Society
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Neuroscience Explores Why Humans Feel Empathy for Robots

Neuroscience Explores Why Humans Feel Empathy for Robots | Cybofree : Techno Social Issues for a Postmodern Transhuman Society | Scoop.it

A group of researchers from the University of Duisburg Essen in Germany used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to come to the finding, tracking blood flow in the brains of 14 study participants when they were shown videos of humans, robots and inanimate objects being treated either affectionately or harshly. The researchers, who will present their findings at the June International Communication Association conference in London, found that when participants were shown videos of a robot (a product called Pleo, which resembles a dinosaur) petted, tickled and fed, areas in their limbic structures—a region of the brain believed to be involved in emotional responses—activated. When they were shown videos of a human getting a massage, the same sorts of neural activity occurred.
The same pattern also occurred when the participants were shown videos of the robots and humans being treated harshly—shaken, dropped or suffocated with a plastic bag—but with a twist. Interestingly, their fMRI results showed levels of limbic activity much greater when they saw humans treated poorly than when they saw the robots. This correlated with the responses on surveys that the participants took after watching the videos, on which they reported some empathy for the robots, but more for the humans.


Via Szabolcs Kósa, Wildcat2030
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Hearing restored in deaf gerbils hear using human stem cells

Hearing restored in deaf gerbils hear using human stem cells | Cybofree : Techno Social Issues for a Postmodern Transhuman Society | Scoop.it

Scientists have restored hearing to deaf gerbils using human embryonic stem cells in an advance that could eventually help people with an intractable form of deafness caused by nerve damage.

 

The procedure needs further animal research to assess safety and long-term effectiveness but researchers said on Wednesday the experiment was an important proof of concept, marking a further advance in the growing field of regenerative medicine.

 

Marcelo Rivolta from Britain's University of Sheffield, who led the research, said the first patients could receive cell therapy for hearing loss in clinical trials in "a few years". After treating 18 gerbils with complete deafness in one ear, his team reported in the journal Nature that stem cells produced an average 46 percent recovery in hearing function, as measured by electrical signals in the animals' brains. "If this was a human patient, it would mean going from being so deaf to being able to maintain a conversation," Rivolta told reporters.

 

Gerbils were selected for the test because their hearing range is similar to that of humans, while mice - the usual choice for laboratory tests - hear at higher frequencies.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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