Category: Neurofeedback

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

25 Sep 2018
Manahel Thabet

AI Detects Depression in Conversation

Summary: Researchers at MIT have developed a new deep learning neural network that can identify speech patterns indicative of depression from audio data. The algorithm, researchers say, is 77% effective at detecting depression.

Source: MIT.

To diagnose depression, clinicians interview patients, asking specific questions — about, say, past mental illnesses, lifestyle, and mood — and identify the condition based on the patient’s responses..

In recent years, machine learning has been championed as a useful aid for diagnostics. Machine-learning models, for instance, have been developed that can detect words and intonations of speech that may indicate depression. But these models tend to predict that a person is depressed or not, based on the person’s specific answers to specific questions. These methods are accurate, but their reliance on the type of question being asked limits how and where they can be used.

In a paper being presented at the Interspeech conference, MIT researchers detail a neural-network model that can be unleashed on raw text and audio data from interviews to discover speech patterns indicative of depression. Given a new subject, it can accurately predict if the individual is depressed, without needing any other information about the questions and answers.

The researchers hope this method can be used to develop tools to detect signs of depression in natural conversation. In the future, the model could, for instance, power mobile apps that monitor a user’s text and voice for mental distress and send alerts. This could be especially useful for those who can’t get to a clinician for an initial diagnosis, due to distance, cost, or a lack of awareness that something may be wrong.

“The first hints we have that a person is happy, excited, sad, or has some serious cognitive condition, such as depression, is through their speech,” says first author Tuka Alhanai, a researcher in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “If you want to deploy [depression-detection] models in scalable way … you want to minimize the amount of constraints you have on the data you’re using. You want to deploy it in any regular conversation and have the model pick up, from the natural interaction, the state of the individual.”

The technology could still, of course, be used for identifying mental distress in casual conversations in clinical offices, adds co-author James Glass, a senior research scientist in CSAIL. “Every patient will talk differently, and if the model sees changes maybe it will be a flag to the doctors,” he says. “This is a step forward in seeing if we can do something assistive to help clinicians.”

The other co-author on the paper is Mohammad Ghassemi, a member of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).

Context-free modeling

The key innovation of the model lies in its ability to detect patterns indicative of depression, and then map those patterns to new individuals, with no additional information. “We call it ‘context-free,’ because you’re not putting any constraints into the types of questions you’re looking for and the type of responses to those questions,” Alhanai says.

Other models are provided with a specific set of questions, and then given examples of how a person without depression responds and examples of how a person with depression responds — for example, the straightforward inquiry, “Do you have a history of depression?” It uses those exact responses to then determine if a new individual is depressed when asked the exact same question. “But that’s not how natural conversations work,” Alhanai says.

The researchers, on the other hand, used a technique called sequence modeling, often used for speech processing. With this technique, they fed the model sequences of text and audio data from questions and answers, from both depressed and non-depressed individuals, one by one. As the sequences accumulated, the model extracted speech patterns that emerged for people with or without depression. Words such as, say, “sad,” “low,” or “down,” may be paired with audio signals that are flatter and more monotone. Individuals with depression may also speak slower and use longer pauses between words. These text and audio identifiers for mental distress have been explored in previous research. It was ultimately up to the model to determine if any patterns were predictive of depression or not.

“The model sees sequences of words or speaking style, and determines that these patterns are more likely to be seen in people who are depressed or not depressed,” Alhanai says. “Then, if it sees the same sequences in new subjects, it can predict if they’re depressed too.”

This sequencing technique also helps the model look at the conversation as a whole and note differences between how people with and without depression speak over time.

Detecting depression

The researchers trained and tested their model on a dataset of 142 interactions from the Distress Analysis Interview Corpus that contains audio, text, and video interviews of patients with mental-health issues and virtual agents controlled by humans. Each subject is rated in terms of depression on a scale between 0 to 27, using the Personal Health Questionnaire. Scores above a cutoff between moderate (10 to 14) and moderately severe (15 to 19) are considered depressed, while all others below that threshold are considered not depressed. Out of all the subjects in the dataset, 28 (20 percent) are labeled as depressed.

In experiments, the model was evaluated using metrics of precision and recall. Precision measures which of the depressed subjects identified by the model were diagnosed as depressed. Recall measures the accuracy of the model in detecting all subjects who were diagnosed as depressed in the entire dataset. In precision, the model scored 71 percent and, on recall, scored 83 percent. The averaged combined score for those metrics, considering any errors, was 77 percent. In the majority of tests, the researchers’ model outperformed nearly all other models.

MIT researchers have developed a neural-network model that can analyze raw text and audio data from interviews to discover speech patterns indicative of depression. This method could be used to develop diagnostic aids for clinicians that can detect signs of depression in natural conversation. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the MIT news release.

One key insight from the research, Alhanai notes, is that, during experiments, the model needed much more data to predict depression from audio than text. With text, the model can accurately detect depression using an average of seven question-answer sequences. With audio, the model needed around 30 sequences. “That implies that the patterns in words people use that are predictive of depression happen in shorter time span in text than in audio,” Alhanai says. Such insights could help the MIT researchers, and others, further refine their models.

This work represents a “very encouraging” pilot, Glass says. But now the researchers seek to discover what specific patterns the model identifies across scores of raw data. “Right now it’s a bit of a black box,” Glass says. “These systems, however, are more believable when you have an explanation of what they’re picking up. … The next challenge is finding out what data it’s seized upon.”

Source: NeuroScienceNews

28 Aug 2018
Manahel Thabet

Brain cell discovery could help scientists understand consciousness

A team of scientists today unveiled the discovery of a new kind of brain neuron called the rosehip cell. What makes this find important? It may be unique to the human brain – and it’s found in the same area thought to be responsible for consciousness.

A team of international researchers consisting of dozens of scientists made the discovery after running complex RNA sequencing experiments on tissue samples from the cerebral cortices of two brain donors. The results were then confirmed with live tissue taken from patients who’d undergone brain surgery.

Upon discovering the rosehip cell, the researchers immediately tried to replicate the finding using samples gathered from laboratory mice – to no avail. It appears the cell is specific to humans, or potentially primates, but the researchers point out they’re only speculating these neurons are unique to humans at this time.

What matters is what the rosehip cell does. Unfortunately, the scientists aren’t sure. Neurons are tough nuts to crack, but what they do know is this one is belongs to the inhibitor class of brain neurons. It’s possible the rosehip cell is an integral inhibitor to our brain activity, and at least partially responsible consciousness.

Some scientists believe that human consciousness has something to do with wrangling reality from the chaos inside our brains. It’s been shown that an infant’s brain functions much like that of someone on LSD – babies are basically tripping all the time. Perhaps these neural inhibitors develop as our brains grow and help us to separate reality from whatever babies are dealing with.

But, of course, the real science isn’t quite as speculative. For the most part, the rosehip cell research is exciting because it’s filling in some missing pages in our atlas of human neural activity.

The brain is one of the most complex constructs in the universe, and the cerebral cortex is its most complicated part. It’s going to take a long time to figure the whole thing out.

The team intends to look for the rosehip cell in the brains of people who suffer from neurological disorders next – work that could lead to a vastly increased understanding of how the brain functions, and what causes it to break down.

Source: https://thenextweb.com/insider/2018/08/27/brain-cell-discovery-could-help-scientists-understand-consciousness/