Nerve Therapy Revives Consciousness Of Patients

A mere month ago, locked-in patients were given the opportunity to communicate via a computer interface. Now, researchers are using nerve therapy to revive the consciousness of patients in a persistent vegetative state.

The vagus nerve, which the treatment targeted, connects the brain to almost all the vital organs in the body, running from the brain stem down both sides of the neck, across the chest and into the abdomen. In the brain, it is linked directly to two regions known to play roles in alertness and consciousness.

The study, led by French scientists, brought a 35-year-old man out of PVS after being unresponsive for nearly 15 years. He can now track objects with his eyes and even turn his head when asked. Head of study Angela Sirigu believes the research can provide hope for families of locked-in patients.

“Personally I think it’s better to be aware, even if it’s a bad state, to be conscious of what’s happening. Then you can have a decision if you want to go on or if you want [euthanasia].”

At the very least, those in a locked-in state can be in control, which eliminates the nightmare of muscle loss.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

“Brainternet” Brings The Human Mind Online

The human brain knows no limits. The fact that we only use 10% of it remains a myth, as antennas and bendable batteries are furthering biomedical engineering. Lately, researchers at Wits University in Johannesburg have made the greatest breakthrough yet with the “Brainternet.” (But it’s not exactly what you might think!)

The project works by taking brainwave EEG signals gathered by an Emotiv EEG device connected to the user’s head. The signals are then transmitted to a low cost Raspberry Pi computer, which live streams the data to an application programming interface and displays the data on an open website where anyone can view the activity.

In essence, you can download information about your brain and pretty much study the thing. So, no, you can’t update your Twitter in your sleep. However, the technology is still potentially valuable in transferring brain data.

“Brainternet can be further improved to classify recordings through a smart phone app that will provide data for a machine-learning algorithm. In [the] future, there could be information transferred in both directions – inputs and outputs to the brain,”

Sorry to disappoint you, millennials, but keep in mind that understanding brain functions could make mind-controlling Facebook possible eventually. For now, stick to a MacBook.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

The Social Nature of Humans and Making the Most of It

From philosophy to neurology, from psychology to religion, from anthropology to biology, it has been argued that humans are, in their very nature, social beings. And who are we to refute than, when our everyday lives are composed of enjoying our friends’ selfies, investing in romantic relationships, looking out for the next generation, and even engaging in social media for good causes? The social nature of humans is embedded in our personal lives, the institutions and structures that govern them, our cultures, our histories, our belief systems, the way we acquire and share knowledge, and well, basically everything.

Including the very makeup of our brains. This fascinating finding in neuroscience has recently come up: our brains are inherently social. Neuroscientists investigated the human brain in its non-active state i.e. when the person takes a break and lets his brain rest. When a person has down time, his brain turns on a system called the “default network.”

According to Matthew Lieberman, a famous social psychologist and neuroscientist: “The default network directs us to think about other people’s minds—their thoughts, feelings, and goals.” Basically, whenever we try to chill out, our brains’ automatic response is to think of other people. This mirrors the history of our evolution as humans, since we all know that species which work well together have definitely shown more chances of survival. Interestingly enough, tracing the origin of our social nature is simply evolutionary.

But then again, through thousands and thousands of years, this evolutionary fact must have manifested in other things. For instance, in the way we experience pain. Social loss and social rejection may seem different from, say, bruises or wounds, but our brains seem to process them the same way. And here’s a good explanation behind that:

A broken leg and a broken heart seem like very different forms of pain. But there are evolutionary reasons why our brains process social pain the way they process physical pain. Pain is a sign that something is wrong. Social pain signals that we are all alone—that we are vulnerable—and need to either form new connections or rekindle old ones to protect ourselves against the many threats that are out there.

No man is an island, indeed. While we definitely have basic needs like water, food, air, and shelter, social connections may as well be in the same category. That’s what we can say for the way humans scientifically evolved as a species. Unfortunately, the way human society has evolved seems to be counterintuitive. Over the years, our lifestyles have grown to be more individualistic, partly due to the economy, partly due to technology, though other factors come into play. The point is this: we steadfastly seem to grow apart from each other, against our evolution and our biology.

These days, we seem to keep defying our social nature as we let our social connections dissolve. We could spend a long amount of time working our bodies off, forgetting whom we work for. We pursue our ambitions, sometimes putting aside our loved ones, losing our grip on the fact that we won’t have the motivation and inspiration to succeed in the first place without them. We convince ourselves to be content seeing each other as pixels on computer or phone screens.

BeepBeep Nation has an answer to this dilemma. It ironically reverses the current trend in technology of creating distance between people, and instead uses the very potential of technology in developing our social nature. By providing a platform to connect people who need help and people who can offer it, the BeepBeep Nation app seeks to give its users the opportunity to be as social as they want and need to be.

The provision of help through the BeepBeep Nation app requires an actual physical meetup between a requestor and a helper, so in addition to encouraging a culture of kindness, it also intensely promotes face-to-face human interactions. Since its very mission of making the world a better place functions on the basis of our social nature as humans, BeepBeep Nation urges us to make the most of it in our everyday lives.

The EMINENT token which fuels the BeepBeep Nation app is now available for sale. I’m sure it will take time to reflect on the social nature of humans, so while doing some philosophical thinking for yourself, be sure to check that out as well. My final two cents: it might even be better to live out your ideas through BeepBeep Nation. Instead of merely musing about it, let’s participate in a world that is truly more social than ever.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Less Invasive Epilepsy Treatment at Sourasky

Finding minimally invasive treatment procedures for significant illnesses have been the preoccupation of some of today’s medical breakthroughs, as exemplified by the research and development of light-activated methods in cancer treatment using nanomachines.

In Sourasky, minimally invasive procedures using advance laser and MRI technologies have been conducted in the treatment of epilepsy patients who are not responsive to medication. Offered in the neurosurgery department by Prof. Yitzhak Fried, Dr. Ido Strauss, and director of epilepsy service Dr. Firas Fahoum, it is the first time the procedure is being performed outside the US.

“If in the past we had to consider surgery in cases where the patient did not respond to medication, we can now make do with a minimally invasive procedure that is almost as successful as open surgery,” explained Strauss.

What made this possible is Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) technology. A small optic fiber is inserted into a small hole in the skull, and is then connected to a device called the Visualase system. While this is happening, an MRI scanner monitors brain temperatures and the size of the ablated tissue. Compared with open surgery, this procedure is more keen on preserving the areas of the brain proximate to the ablated issue and responsible for other bodily functions.

“Today, we know that the source of the disorder that causes epileptic seizures is found in neural networks in the brain and that the attacks can be prevented by proper medical treatment,” explained Fahoum. “In most cases, patients are given medication to try to control the seizures. But if this doesn’t help, it is necessary to consider neurosurgical intervention, in cases where the area where the seizures begin is located and surgically removed. But seizures come as a surprise and may cause cumulative damage to the cognitive and mental functioning of the patients along with physical injuries when they fall to the ground.”

The use of LITT, Visualase, and MRI technologies provides a less invasive procedure to the other surgical options such as nerve pacemakers and neuromodulation, as well as the removal of the seizure’s focal point. Moreover, the therapeutic option also provides easier recovery and may even be offered to children with epilepsy.

Hopefully, it is time we have more and more medical breakthroughs of less and less invasive treatment procedures.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

A Curry Bowl Might Boost Your Memory And Mood

Where medicine fails, food steps in. Due to its cancer-fighting properties, consumers and labs alike are investing in avocados. Schools are offering vegan menus to students who want to pursue a healthier and more variant lifestyle. In 2018, power snacking hasn’t nearly come to an end. Proven to improve memory retention and mood, curcumin, a vital ingredient in curry, is taking over as a new trend.

“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” said Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center.

Subjects on curcumin performed better in memory tests by a significant 28%. However, the limited study involved only 40 participants. UCLA hopes to repeat the experiment with a larger control group as well as study genetic risks.

“These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years,” Small concluded.

For those not too keen on the spice of curry bowls, turmeric tea may just get the job done.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Pig-To-Human Organ Transplants Soon To Be Possible

Since implanting their brain cells into humans in an attempt to treat Parkinson’s, pigs have helped further lab research. Just like mice, they have undergone testing in order to advance the health industry. Now, a new development in gene editing may allow pig-to-human transplants sooner rather than later.

To combat [difficulties], a team from Harvard University and a private company, eGenesis, just created gene-edited pig clones that are completely free of… retroviruses. Now, without the threat of these hidden diseases, it may be possible to safely transplant pig livers, hearts, and other organs.

Simply raising genetically altered pigs could be the ultimate game-changer. However, there is always the risk of organs not being accepted into host bodies.

Emerging technologies, like the CRISPR-Cas9 system of gene editing fame, are getting researchers closer to rejection free transplants.

Alongside lab-growing piglets, researchers are also dabbling into bioprinting. Using a patient’s own cells, bioprinting makes the replication of organs, tissue, and bones possible. It looks like there is greater value to bacon after all.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

3D Printing Brain Tissue Is Now Possible

3D printing is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. With it, researchers can produce anything from teeth to functioning hearts — and they’re not stopping there. An Australian public research university has found a way to treat brain diseases by 3D printing brain tissue.

The treatment is based on the 3D printing of tissue from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are stem cells that have the capability of differentiating into any type of adult cell, including brain cells.

With brain illnesses being the most difficult to treat, 3D printing can consider this one of its greatest successes. Anyone can donate iPSCs. Machines use a custom-designed bioink for printing.

“By developing this further we will be able to generate healthy and diseased tissues for research, identifying better drugs for medicine and replacing or repairing damaged tissues or organs due to injury or disease.”

The range of printable neurons can tackle conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. While we cannot yet print entire brains, there is hope for transplantable organs.

“There’s no doubt that sometime in the future engineering tissues by bioprinting iPSCs will be routinely performed for surgical treatments of patients with damaged or diseased tissue,”

The tissue, which can also be used to screen new drugs, is surely a breakthrough for the books.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Medical Algorithm Helps Patients Walk Again

Throughout the years, patients with neurological disorders have relied on prosthetics and animal testing in the hopes of regaining the ability to walk. In the U.S. alone, nearly 5.4 million people suffer from a type of paralysis. Expensive and often difficult to obtain, treatments are hard to come by. But this new medical algorithm can help the nervous system ‘relearn’ movements.

The smart walk assist is an innovative body-weight support system because it manages to resist the force of gravity and push the patient back and forth, to the left and to the right, or in more of these directions at once, which recreates a natural gait and movement that the patients need in their day to day lives.

After just a single hour on the harness and algorithm, all 30 tested patients saw an improvement. The procedure has overcome the obstacle of losing muscle mass and neurological wiring.

This is a smart, discreet, and efficient assistance that will aid rehabilitation of many persons with neurological disorders.”

While patients are literally taking it a step at a time, this is definitely a huge leap for the medical field.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends: