A team of researchers with member affiliations to several institutions in the U.S. and Japan has developed a new device that allowed them to alter the spines on a neural dendrite in a mouse brain that was first modified naturally by an event that caused a memory to form. As they explain in their paper published in the journal Nature, altering the spine caused a learned memory to be forgotten. Ju Lu and Yi Zuo both with the University of California, offer a News & Views piece on where such work is leading.
As part of trying to understand how the human (and other animal) brain works, scientists focus on subsets of its functionality, one of which is memory. How are memories created, stored, changed and manipulated? A lot of it is still a mystery, but as the work done by this latest team demonstrates, biomedical researchers are getting closer. In this new effort, the team taught a mouse to stay atop a rolling pipe, then shined a light on the part of its brain that had changed as it learned, causing the change to revert back to its pre-learned state and in so doing, causing the mouse to forget what it had learned. In order to make this bit of magic happen, the team had to first design and build a device that allowed for such manipulation—they call it AS-PaRac—it is an optoprobe that is capable of causing changes to spines that grow on the edges of dentrites, the listening or input part used by neurons to communicate with one another. Prior work has suggested that their tips grow bigger as part of storing a new memory.
With their new device in hand, the researchers first trained a mouse to stay on a pipe as it rolled, they then identified which dentrite was involved in storing that memory and which particular spine—they were actually able to see that its tip had grown in size. Then, they used the AS-PaRac to force the spine tip back to the size it was before the mouse learned to balance on the pipe. Doing so caused the mouse to forget what it had learned. To make sure the change was isolated, the team repeated the experiment, but the second time around, they taught the mouse another trick—reducing the same spine caused the mouse to once again forget how to do the first trick, but not the second.
Lu and Zuo note that this is just the beginning, they believe it will not be long before the researchers can go in and make the same spine bigger with the AS-PaRac, causing a mouse to learn how to stay atop a pipe without ever having been taught.
Susan Beatrice is an artist who recycles old vintage watch parts and turns them into beautifully intricate sculptures. This true jack-of-all-trades (whom we previously wrote about here) is also a talented sand sculptor and painter, and uses her many talents to perfect her watch sculptures.
Bluetooth is everywhere, from cars, audio headsets, earphones, wearable devices such as fitness trackers, smart watches... you name it and is at the very foundation of Internet of things. But what if it’s not the best technology for the job? What if, we ask you to forget bluetooth since a new technology is on its way to change the world of data transmission forever. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego in the US have developed a prototype to show off a new wireless communication technique which they say massively outperforms existing wireless tech by using the human body itself to help send data between devices.
The researchers call their new method “magnetic field human body communication”. The technique uses the body as a vehicle to deliver magnetic energy between wearable electronic gadgets. For the system to function and propagate magnetic fields through the body, the wearable device needs to be circular in nature (like the coil shown in the image above), meaning it could work for things like fitness bands, smart watches, headbands, or belts.
Why would we do this? The primary benefit is lower power consumption. Whereas Bluetooth devices worn on the body transmit data via radio signals, the electromagnetic radiation that makes up these signals is blocked by something – you. Yep, our bodies get in the way of the data transmissions, creating obstructions and resulting in ‘path loss’, which can only be circumvented by boosting the device’s power.
The end result is that Bluetooth devices aren’t very power efficient when we wear them – something you’re more than likely to have had personal experience with – and it’s a problem that’s only compounded by the fact that most wearable Bluetooth gadgets are small and light, meaning they only have very small batteries in the first place.
By sending data via magnetic fields directly through our bodies, however, path loss can be cut down by a huge amount. The researchers say path loss using magnetic field human body communication is more than 10 million times lower than that of Bluetooth radios.
“This technique, to our knowledge, achieves the lowest path losses out of any wireless human body communication system that’s been demonstrated so far,” said Patrick Mercier, lead author of the study, in a statement. “This technique will allow us to build much lower power wearable devices.”
If you’re concerned about whether sending magnetic energy through your body is a good idea, the researchers say you have nothing to worry about. They say that ultra-low-power communication systems in wearable devices will transmit signals of much less power than things like MRI scanners and wireless implant devices, with magnetic fields passing freely and harmlessly through biological tissue.
Another advantage of the technology could be security. Compared to something like Bluetooth, which transmits data in a wide radius of several metres, magnetic field human body communication prevents any kind of digital eavesdropping, as the signals are largely contained to your body. The researchers say information is neither radiated off your body, nor can it be transmitted from one person to another.
While this means the method won’t be suitable for sending data from wearable devices to remote gadgets (such as audio speakers or a computer), for personalised applications, some people may find the limitation is actually a positive. “Increased privacy is desirable when you’re using your wearable devices to transmit information about your health,” said Jiwoong Park, first author of the study.
With the advent of new technologies in our gadgets today, smartphones and wearables like smartwatches would reach an altogether new level of speed and connectivity bringing in future sooner than before.
NBC Chicago Chicago Doctors Unveil First Thought-Controlled Bionic Leg NBC Chicago Zac Vawter is using the world's first thought-controlled bionic leg, an amazing experiment the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago says "represents a significant...
If you apply an electric voltage across two water-filled beakers and separate them, something strange happens: The water stretches from beaker to beaker, creating a bridge that defies gravity. Water bridges were discovered 120 years ago, but no one has ever been sure why they do not collapse. One theory is that the voltage makes the water molecules line up, creating a “dielectric” tension that stops the bridge from falling. Another argues that surface tension—the tendency of a water’s surface to shrink inwards—keeps the bridge aloft.
Now, researchers believe that water bridges rely on both strategies. Reza Namin at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran and colleagues measured various parameters across the length of a water bridge, including voltage, current, and bridge diameter. Then they plugged the data into a computer simulation to calculate the forces involved. The results, to be published next month in Physical Review E, reveal that dielectric tension and surface tension each carry about half a water bridge’s weight. The results, the researchers believe, could help engineers develop electrowetting, a method of using electricity to adjust the adhesion of fluids to a screen that is expected to be used in the next generation of e-book readers.
Interested in upgrading your eyeballs?Well, a team of DARPA-funded researchers led by Joseph Ford of UC San Diego recently published a proposal for a (Telescopic contact lenses magnify sight 2.8 times, turn wearer into cyborg -
Popular Science How The CIA Tried To Turn A Cat Into A Cyborg Spy Popular Science In 2006, for example, DARPA zeroed in on insects, asking the nation's scientists to submit “innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs.” It...
KSDK 7-year-old Guatemalan boy hears for the first time KSDK The $40,000 equipment was donated by Advanced Bionics and the procedure was performed by Dr. Disher at Lutheran Hospital. Little Henry heard his family for the first time.
Newcastle University neuroscientist Dr. Gabriele Jordan, recently announced that she has identified a woman who is a "tetrachromat," that is, a woman with the ability to see much greater color depth than the ordinary person.
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