Category: Neurofeedback

03 Oct 2019
Prosthetic Leg with Neurofeedback Makes Walking Easier, Treats Phantom Pain

Prosthetic Leg with Neurofeedback Makes Walking Easier, Treats Phantom Pain

Today’s prosthetic legs come in a variety of designs, but they lack the ability to give users a natural sense of themselves. They feel simply like man-made devices strapped to the stump, as tools and not as part of the body of whoever wears them. Researchers from ETH Zurich, University of Freiburg, University of Belgrade, and the companies SensArs and Össur, have combined their expertise in a variety of topics to give existing commercial prosthetic legs a sense of touch.

SensArs, a Swiss firm, is behind an interface that can link a prosthesis with residual nerves in the thigh and create a neurofeedback mechanism. Two patients with an above-the-knee amputation had the neurostimulation system implanted at the University of Belgrade. Following calibration and after a period of initial usage, the two volunteers demonstrated significant improvements in their walking ability, including traversing a sandy surface with a much more natural gait.

“This proof-of-concept study shows how beneficial it is to the health of leg amputees to have a prosthesis that works with neural implants to restore sensory feedback,” said Stanisa Raspopovic, a Professor at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich.

 

A commercially available leg from Össur was used, which was outfitted with pressure sensors on its sole, as well as around the knee to know where in the gait the leg is at all times. The electrodes and neurostimulator were then implanted into the volunteers and the tissues were allowed to heal around.

Subsequently, the researchers studied which signals best match the natural feeling of walking and allowed those to be transmitted to the neurostimulator and onto the residual nerves toward the brain. The volunteers were able to sense their legs and didn’t have to constantly look at them to make sure everything was going well. Moreover, they spent a lot less energy walking, as measured by oxygen consumption, and mentally they were not as tired, as confirmed by measuring brain activity.

One not entirely surprising finding, but a very welcome one, is that phantom limb pain was significantly reduced in one of the volunteers and completely gone in the other. As this affects a great deal of amputees, the new technique may be used to treat that condition.

Source: https://www.medgadget.com/2019/09/prosthetic-leg-with-neurofeedback-makes-walking-easier-treats-phantom-pain.html

22 Sep 2019
Artificial Intelligence (AI) creates new possibilities for personalisation this year

Artificial Intelligence (AI) creates new possibilities for personalisation this year

Technology brands expand beyond their core products and turn themselves into a lifestyle

New Delhi: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cross-industry collaborations are creating new avenues for data collection and offering personalised services to users this year, according to a report.

Among other technology trends that are picking up this year are the convergence of the smart home and healthcare, autonomous vehicles coming for last-mile delivery and data becoming a hot-button geopolitical issue, according to the report titled “14 Trends Shaping Tech” from CB Insights.

“As a more tech-savvy generation ages up, we’ll see the smart home begin acting as a kind of in-home health aide, monitoring senior citizens’ health and well being. We’ll see logistics players experiment with finally moving beyond a human driver,” said the report.

“And we’ll see cross-industry collaborations, whether via ancestry-informed Spotify playlists or limited edition Fortnite game skins,” it added.

In September 2018, Spotify partnered with Ancestry.com to utilise DNA data to create unique playlists for individuals.

Playlists reflect music linked to different ethnicities and regions. A person with ancestral roots in Bengaluru, for example, might see Carnatic violinists and Kannada film songs on their playlists.

DNA data is also informing how we eat. GenoPalate, for example, collects DNA info through saliva samples and analyses physiological components like an individual’s ability to absorb certain vitamins or how fast they can metabolize nutrients.

From there, it matches this information to nutrition analyses that it has conducted on a wide range of food and suggests a personalised diet. It also sells its own meal kits that use this information to map out menus.

“We’ll also see technology brands expand beyond their core products and turn themselves into a lifestyle,” said the report.

For example, as electric vehicle users need to wait for their batteries to charge for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, the makers of these vehicles are trying to turn this idle time into an asset.

China’s NioHouse couples charging stations with a host of activities. At the NioHouse, a user can visit the library, drop children off at daycare, co-work, and even visit a nap pod to rest while charging.

Nio has also partnered with fashion designer Hussein Chalayan to launch and sell a fashion line, Nio Extreme.

Tech companies today are also attempting to bridge the gap between academia and the career market.

Companies like the Lambda School and Flatiron School offer courses to train students on exactly the skills they will need to get a job, said the report.

These apprenticeships mostly focus on tech skills like computer science and coding. Training comes with the explicit goal of employment and students only need to pay their tuition once they have landed a job that pays them above a certain range.

Investors are also betting on the rise of digital goods. While these goods cannot be owned in the physical world, they come with clout, and offer personalisation and in-game experiences to otherwise one-size-fits-all characters, the research showed.

Source: https://gulfnews.com/technology/artificial-intelligence-ai-creates-new-possibilities-for-personalisation-this-year-1.1569149228735

29 Dec 2018

Human Brain Project: EU’s shocking €1BILLION plan to grow SILICON BRAINS in a lab

A EUROPEAN UNION (EU) funded project is pioneering cutting-edge research into the human brain and is inspiring artificial intelligence breakthroughs, its scientific director has exclusively revealed.

The Human Brain Project (HBP) is the EU’s £899 (€1billion) flagship science initiative working on developing human-machine hybrids. The ambitious enterprise’s primary aim is to simulate the human brain using computers, improving science and technology on the way. Professor Katrin Amunts, HBP’s scientific director, believes tangible results are starting to arrive, halfway through the Human Brain Project’s ten-year tenure.

She said: “We are trying to emulate the capabilities of the brain, we are trying to understand the brain’s principles and the organisational rules behind cognitive function.”

We are trying to emulate the capabilities of the brain

Professor Katrin Amunts

“What we are trying to do at HBP is try and understand how we can use our knowledge about brain organisation and transfer it, for instance, to new computing devices called neuromorphic devices.”

The Human Brain Project is developing two major neuromorphic machines; Manchester University’s SpiNNaker and the University of Heidelberg’s BrainscaleS.

Read more: https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1063108/human-brain-project-european-union-silicon-brain-artificial-human

19 Nov 2018
Manahel Thabet

How Psychoanalysis Can Help Neuroscience And Neural Networks

We know that neuroscience forms the groundwork for artificial neural networks and in other machine learning applications. Now, this fascinating field surrounding the structure and function of the nervous system and the human mind is playing an important role in improving these applications. Researchers have found out that psychoanalysis — the brainchild of Sigmund Freud — has the potential to bring a fresh face to neuroscience.

The Observable Overlap

If we compare neuroscience with psychoanalysis, certain aspects do match. To break it down, neuroscience deals with the connections or “dialogues” between the brain and the nervous system, while psychoanalysis deals with psychopathology through interactions between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Both fields intersect at the functional level. Instances like thoughts which stem from the nervous system, gaining knowledge through this as a consequence, perception with emotions, etc, share a mutual area when it comes to understanding these two fields.

The above view has garnered strong criticism among neuroscientists because there is no exact evidence establishing a relationship between the two. However, there is a slow uprising in the connection between psychoanalysis and neuroscience. In an article by science journalist Kat McGowan, she details how psychoanalysis could answer problems lingering in neuroscience.

Psychoanalysis has insightful, provocative theories about emotions, unconscious thoughts and the nature of the mind. Neurobiology has the ability to test these ideas with powerful tools and experimental rigour. Together, the two fields might finally answer the most elusive question of them all: How is it that dreams, fantasies, memories and feelings — the subjective self — emerge from a hunk of flesh?  

So, the brain structure is simply a hotbed of cognitive activities. Psychoanalysis specifically delves into this and can uncover more than what lies underneath the network of billions of neural connections.

Exploring The ‘Unconscious’

One of the key elements Freud’s psychoanalysis is the concept of the ‘unconscious state’. What started as a link to unearthing schizophrenia, is now the subject of many studies. In fact, most of them lean toward neuroscience rather than towards psychology, when it comes to deciphering this grey area.

The relationship between neural connections and psychological disorders can explain in detail about why the disorder prevails in the first place. By hinging on this fact, there could be a relation to discovering more on neurons, as these form the basis of subjects such as deep learning. As a matter of fact, one study that looked into the aspect of brain connectivity posits why neuroscience is following the path of psychoanalysis.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest, in unconscious processes; neuroscientific studies have, in fact, tested subliminal perceptions, implicit cognition, emotion processing and interoceptive perceptions with empirical methods. Though many studies indicate that unconscious processes influence awareness, the cognitive view of the unconscious differs from the psychodynamic notion of the unconscious, which encompasses affect and motivation.

What the study brought out was how psychoanalysis and neuroscience can concur in their approach and lead to an improved scientific temperament.

The Key To Unraveling DL And ML

With psychoanalysis brought into neuroscience, it can answer the mystery behind areas such as machine learning or even deep learning. These areas extensively derive their working based on the human brain. To stress on this point, the key difference between these AI fields and psychoanalysis is the computational factor. While ML or DL is focusing on learning something new, it gradually will follow the footsteps of a computer. This ‘logical’ component misses the ‘biological’ component. Psychoanalysis is where it could help bridge this gap. After all, the essence of mind going into AI is the norm of ‘intelligence’.

As a matter of fact, challenges in these fields could be envisioned in a very different way if emotions and thoughts are brought into the picture. For example, a better model or algorithm could be designed as well as memory requirements are brought down drastically. We see enormous amounts of data going through ML/DL projects. The Freudian field may hold answers ML/DL in the future by evolving into something unknown or unexplored.

Source: https://www.analyticsindiamag.com/how-psychoanalysis-can-help-neuroscience-and-neural-networks/

17 Nov 2018

Playing high school football changes the teenage brain

A single season of high school football may be enough to cause microscopic changes in the structure of the brain, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The researchers used a new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take brain scans of 16 high school players, ages 15 to 17, before and after a season of football. They found significant changes in the structure of the grey matter in the front and rear of the brain, where impacts are most likely to occur, as well as changes to structures deep inside the brain. All participants wore helmets, and none received head impacts severe enough to constitute a concussion.

The study, which is the cover story of the November issue of Neurobiology of Disease, is one of the first to look at how impact sports affect the brains of children at this critical age. This study was made available online in July 2018 ahead of final publication in print this month.

“It is becoming pretty clear that repetitive impacts to the head, even over a short period of time, can cause changes in the brain,” said study senior author Chunlei Liu, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and a member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. “This is the period when the brain is still developing, when it is not mature yet, so there are many critical biological processes going on, and it is unknown how these changes that we observe can affect how the brain matures and develops.”

Concerning trends

One bonk to the head may be nothing to sweat over. But mounting evidence shows that repeated blows to the cranium—such as those racked up while playing sports like hockey or football, or through blast injuries in military combat—may lead to long-term cognitive decline and increased risk of neurological disorders, even when the blows do not cause concussion.

Over the past decade, researchers have found that an alarming number of retired soldiers and college and professional football players show signs of a newly identified neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is characterized by a buildup of pathogenic tau protein in the brain. Though still not well understood, CTE is believed to cause mood disorders, cognitive decline and eventually motor impairment as a patient ages. Definitive diagnosis of CTE can only be made by examining the brain for tau protein during an autopsy.

These findings have raised concern over whether repeated hits to the head can cause brain damage in youth or high school players, and whether it is possible to detect these changes at an early age.

“There is a lot of emerging evidence that just playing impact sports actually changes the brain, and you can see these changes at the molecular level in the accumulations of different pathogenic proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and dementia,” Liu said. “We wanted to know when this actually happens—how early does this occur?”

A matter of grey and white

The brain is built of white matter, long neural wires that pass messages back and forth between different brain regions, and grey matter, tight nets of neurons that give the brain its characteristic wrinkles. Recent MRI studies have shown that playing a season or two of high school football can weaken white matter, which is mostly found nestled in the interior of the brain. Liu and his team wanted to know if repetitive blows to the head could also affect the brain’s gray matter.

“Grey matter in the cortex area is located on the outside of the brain, so we would expect this area to be more directly connected to the impact itself,” Liu said.

The researchers used a new type of MRI called diffusion kurtosis imaging to examine the intricate neural tangles that make up gray matter. They found that the organization of the gray matter in players’ brains changed after a season of football, and these changes correlated with the number and position of head impacts measured by accelerometers mounted inside players’ helmets.

The changes were concentrated in the front and rear of the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher-order functions like memory, attention and cognition, and in the centrally located thalamus and putamen, which relay sensory information and coordinate movement.

“Although our study did not look into the consequences of the observed changes, there is emerging evidence suggesting that such changes would be harmful over the long term,” Liu said.

Tests revealed that students’ cognitive function did not change over the course of the season, and it is yet unclear whether these changes in the brain are permanent, the researchers say.

“The brain microstructure of younger players is still rapidly developing, and that may counteract the alterations caused by repetitive head impacts,” said first author Nan-Ji Gong, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley.

However, the researchers still urge caution—and frequent cognitive and brain monitoring—for youth and high schoolers engaged in impact sports.

“I think it would be reasonable to debate at what age it would be most critical for the brain to endure these sorts of consequences, especially given the popularity of youth football and other sports that cause impact to the brain,” Liu said.

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-high-school-football-teenage-brain.html

14 Nov 2018
Manahel Thabet

Brain changes found in self-injuring teen girls

The brains of teenage girls who engage in serious forms of self-harm, including cutting, show features similar to those seen in adults with borderline personality disorder, a severe and hard-to-treat mental illness, a new study has found.

Reduced brain volumes seen in these girls confirms biological – and not just behavioral – changes and should prompt additional efforts to prevent and treat self-inflicted injury, a known risk factor for suicide, said study lead author Theodore Beauchaine, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

This research is the first to highlight physical changes in the brain in teenage girls who harm themselves.

The findings are especially important given recent increases in self-harm in the U.S., which now affects as many as 20 percent of adolescents and is being seen earlier in childhood, Beauchaine said.

“Girls are initiating self-injury at younger and younger ages, many before age 10,” he said.

Cutting and other forms of self-harm often precede suicide, which increased among 10- to 14-year-old girls by 300 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that same time, there was a 53 percent increase in suicide in older teen girls and young women. Self-injury also has been linked to later diagnosis of depression and borderline personality disorder.

In adults with borderline personality disorder, structural and functional abnormalities are well-documented in several areas of the brain that help regulate emotions.

But until this research, nobody had looked at the brains of adolescents who engage in self-harm to see if there are similar changes.

The new study, which appears in the journal Development and Psychopathology, included 20 teenage girls with a history of severe self-injury and 20 girls with no history of self-harm. Each girl underwent magnetic resonance imaging of her brain. When the researchers compared overall brain volumes of the 20 self-injuring girls with those in the control group, they found clear decreases in volume in parts of the brain called the insular cortex and inferior frontal gyrus.

These regions, which are next to one another, are two of several areas where brain volumes are smaller in adults with borderline personality disorder, or BPD, which, like cutting and other forms of self-harm, is more common among females. Brain volume losses are also well-documented in people who’ve undergone abuse, neglect and trauma, Beauchaine said.

The study also found a correlation between brain volume and the girls’ self-reported levels of emotion dysregulation, which were gathered during interviews prior to the brain scans.

Read more: https://news.osu.edu/brain-changes-found-in-self-injuring-teen-girls/

31 Oct 2018
Manahel Thabet

AI powered device for Locked-In Syndrome patients available on NHS Supply Chain

EyeControl is an AI-powered, wearable eye tracking device that enables immediate communication for both emergency and social purposes with the first devices expected to be delivered to patients by the end of the year.

Or Retzkin, CEO of EyeControl said: “Since our launch in the UK in August we’ve received very positive feedback on our device. We’re thrilled to be officially working with the NHS to enable patients to once again communicate with their loved ones and carers in a simple, intuitive, and innovative way.”

Patients are said to be able use the device within 20 minutes. It consists of a head-mounted infrared camera that tracks the eye movements of a wearer and translates it into audio communication via a speaker. A bone conduction element that sits within the earpiece provides audio feedback to the user, allowing them to hear the communication before it is sent to the output speaker. The wearer can use predefined sentences or teach the EyeControl their own personalised syntax, as well as choose from a range of output languages and the device features Bluetooth wireless technology and works without a screen.

Helen Paterson, speech therapist at The Royal Hospital of Neuro-disability recently tested the device with a number of her patients and said: “The brilliant thing about The EyeControl over alternative communication devices is that it’s quite light and easy to wear and patients can communicate but they don’t have to have a big screen in front of them and they only need to move their eyes up and down and side to side. This means they don’t have to rely on having their device in front of them all the time, which obviously makes communication much easier for locked-in patients.”

Source: https://www.med-technews.com/news/ai-powered-device-for-locked-in-syndrome-patients-available-/

27 Oct 2018

New tool provides real-time glimpse of brain activity in mice

A transparent set of electrodes enables researchers to simultaneously record electrical signals and visualize neurons in the brains of awake mice1.

Syncing neuronal signals with videos of neurons helps researchers map those signals to particular sites in the brain. The technology could yield insights into how the brain works and what goes awry in conditions such as autism.

Two-photon calcium imaging and electroencephalography (EEG) are both popular tools for studying the brain, but combining them has proved challenging. In the former technique, researchers tag calcium ions with fluorescent proteins. When neurons fire, a microscope picks up the fluorescence as calcium ions rush into the cells. EEG requires inserting a recording electrode into the brain. However, the electrode blocks light in the area from reaching the microscope.

In the new study, researchers built electrodes that transmit light. They layered a metallic material into a flat plastic mold, roughly the size of a single neuron, that is studded with hundreds of plastic spheres. The material fills the space around the spheres, creating holes that allow light to pass through.

Read more: https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/toolbox/new-tool-provides-real-time-glimpse-brain-activity-mice/

24 Oct 2018
Manahel Thabet

How Neuro-Physiotherapy Imparts Quality to Life

Since the last decade or so, we have been witnessing an upsurge in neurological problems such as strokes, Parkinson’s disease, diabetic neuropathy, and motor neuron diseases in our society. An alarming concern is that these problems have started affecting people at a younger age. Worldwide, neurological disorders are associated with higher rates of morbidity and mortality which in turn inflict higher cost of rehabilitation upon the sufferers. Given the topography, changing life style and the stressors, Kashmiris , per se, have a strong affinity toward neurological problems.
A belief that still dominates the clinical decision making of most healthcare professionals is that the recovery from neurological disorders is strictly a time bound phenomenon and to expect it happen after a set time frame, is unrealistic. Research has nullified it and suggests that brain can modify itself at any point in time provided the treatment is channelized in a right direction.
Unfortunately, we all come across a chunk of people who have fallen prey to such dogmas and live a lifeless life. Another chunk of the patient population is suffering because of its contentment with regard to the menial and irrelevant improvements. Needless to mention, it is the acumen of a skilled neuro-physiotherapist that determines the potential of rewiring of central nervous system connections essential for recovery. The concept of recovery has changed over a period of time; earlier, recovery was perceived as patients’ ability to achieve nominal and insignificant improvements that would enable them to come out of bed and walk a few steps. On the contrary, recovery now is tantamount to movements with a purpose in order to help patients regain functions, and eventually fulfill their social responsibilities.
Rehabilitation of patients with neurological problems is a high cost affair with huge financial and social costs. Soon after a person gets afflicted with a neurological disorder, besides the patient, the family members start bearing the brunt of the disease. Research reports reveal that the caregivers of neurologically impaired patients are exposed to a high level of stress which affects their productivity and, in turn, compromises the role they play in society. Recovery from neurological disorders, being relatively slower, demands close supervision and assistance from family members. In the meantime family members start dedicating their time and money towards the rehabilitation of the patient. Moreover, with modern family systems, every ailing person does not enjoy the luxury of extended social support and, eventually a number of impediments start emerging in the path of recovery.
In a nutshell, neurological problems not only affect patients but pose a massive challenge to family members too. The best strategy to cope up with the neurological problems is to facilitate patients’ functional independence as rapidly as possible that will eventually offload the family members to a greater extent.
Neurorehabilitation has undergone timely refinements to ensure best possible and evidence based care to patients. Modern day Neurorehabilitation uses approaches that emphasize minimizing compensations to ensure complete functional recovery. Functional independence is its essence and a neuro-physiotherapist proves to be an apt resource to deliver the best in order to achieve the short-term and long-term functional milestones. People in the valley have a limited knowledge of neuro-physiotherapy and the role a neuro-physiotherapist plays. A neuro-Physiotherapist, being a responsible member of healthcare team, plays a vital role right from the onset of a neurological problem to the stage of community rehabilitation of a patient.
Since Physiotherapists are movement science experts, fellow medical professionals and patients’ families can’t afford taking a neuro-Physiotherapist’s consultation and advice for granted. An insignificant problem, if left unaddressed, can have devastating repercussions later. For instance, a trivial fault in the shoulder after stroke/brain injury can affect a patient’s ability to drink and eat with the hand. Therefore, physiotherapy consultation from the outset remains crucial in determining a patient’s functional outcomes and ignoring it is at one’s peril.
Physiotherapists too need to be well versed in the latest developments in the field of neuro-physiotherapy to ensure quality care delivery. A neuro-Physiotherapist can make best use of treatments methods such as Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT), Virtual Reality (VR), Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT), Motor Relearning Programme (MRP), Task Specific Training, Partial Body Weight Support Treadmill Training (PBWSTT), and Robotics and so on. In order to achieve set functional objectives, neuro-physiotherapists equipped with the magic wand will surely help patients impart quality to their lives.

Source: https://kashmirreader.com/2018/10/24/how-neuro-physiotherapy-imparts-quality-to-life/

23 Oct 2018
Manahel Thabet

Study shows easy-to-use, noninvasive stimulation device can help prevent migraine attacks

A migraine is much more than just a bad headache. Migraine symptoms, which can be debilitating for many people, are the sixth leading cause of disability, according to the World Health Organization. While there is no cure, a new study published in Cephalalgia in March shows single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation is a new way to prevent migraine attacks. It’s safe, easy to use and noninvasive.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic and other major academic headache centers across the U.S. recently conducted the study that examined the effectiveness of using a single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation device to prevent migraine attacks. The eNeura SpringTMS Post-Market Observational U.S. Study of Migraine study, also known as ESPOUSE, instructed participants to self-administer four pulses with the device in the morning and four pulses at night over three months to prevent and treat migraine attacks as needed. Spring TMS stands for Spring transcranial magnetic stimulation or sTMS.

“The migraine brain is hyperexcitable, and basic science studies have demonstrated modulation of neuronal excitability with this treatment modality,” says Amaal Starling, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist, who is first author of the study. “Our study demonstrated that the four pulses emitted from this device twice daily reduce the frequency of headache days by about three days per month, and 46 percent of patients had at least 50 percent or less migraine attacks per month on the treatment protocol. This data is clinically significant. Based on the current study and prior studies in acute migraine attack treatment, sTMS not only helps to stop a migraine attack, but it also helps prevent them.”

“For certain patients, treatment options for migraines, such as oral medications, are not effective, well-tolerated or preferred,” Dr. Starling adds. “The sTMS may be a great option for these patients and allow doctors to better meet their unique needs.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already had approved the sTMS device for the acute treatment of migraine with aura. The FDA now has approved it to prevent migraine, as well.

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-03-easy-to-use-noninvasive-device-migraine.html#nRlv