Oct 18, 2014

New Technique Helps Diagnose Consciousness in Locked-in Patients

Via Medgadget

locked in detection New Technique Helps Diagnose Consciousness in Locked in Patients

Brain networks in two behaviourally-similar vegetative patients (left and middle), but one of whom imagined playing tennis (middle panel), alongside a healthy adult (right panel). Credit: Srivas Chennu

People locked into a vegetative state due to disease or injury are a major mystery for medical science. Some may be fully unconscious, while others remain aware of what’s going on around them but can’t speak or move to show it. Now scientists at Cambridge have reported in journal PLOS Computational Biology on a new technique that can help identify locked-in people that can still hear and retain their consciousness.

Some details from the study abstract:

We devised a novel topographical metric, termed modular span, which showed that the alpha network modules in patients were also spatially circumscribed, lacking the structured long-distance interactions commonly observed in the healthy controls. Importantly however, these differences between graph-theoretic metrics were partially reversed in delta and theta band networks, which were also significantly more similar to each other in patients than controls. Going further, we found that metrics of alpha network efficiency also correlated with the degree of behavioural awareness. Intriguingly, some patients in behaviourally unresponsive vegetative states who demonstrated evidence of covert awareness with functional neuroimaging stood out from this trend: they had alpha networks that were remarkably well preserved and similar to those observed in the controls. Taken together, our findings inform current understanding of disorders of consciousness by highlighting the distinctive brain networks that characterise them. In the significant minority of vegetative patients who follow commands in neuroimaging tests, they point to putative network mechanisms that could support cognitive function and consciousness despite profound behavioural impairment.

Study in PLOS Computational Biology: Spectral Signatures of Reorganised Brain Networks in Disorders of Consciousness


Oct 06, 2014

Bionic Vision Australia’s Bionic Eye Gives New Sight to People Blinded by Retinitis Pigmentosa

Via Medgadget

Bionic Vision Australia, a collaboration between of researchers working on a bionic eye, has announced that its prototype implant has completed a two year trial in patients with advanced retinitis pigmentosa. Three patients with profound vision loss received 24-channel suprachoroidal electrode implants that caused no noticeable serious side effects. Moreover, though this was not formally part of the study, the patients were able to see more light and able to distinguish shapes that were invisible to them prior to implantation. The newly gained vision allowed them to improve how they navigated around objects and how well they were able to spot items on a tabletop.

The next step is to try out the latest 44-channel device in a clinical trial slated for next year and then move on to a 98-channel system that is currently in development.

This study is critically important to the continuation of our research efforts and the results exceeded all our expectations,” Professor Mark Hargreaves, Chair of the BVA board, said in a statement. “We have demonstrated clearly that our suprachoroidal implants are safe to insert surgically and cause no adverse events once in place. Significantly, we have also been able to observe that our device prototype was able to evoke meaningful visual perception in patients with profound visual loss.”

Here’s one of the study participants using the bionic eye:

Jan 25, 2014

Chris Eliasmith – How to Build a Brain

Via Futuristic news

He’s the creator of “Spaun” the world’s largest brain simulation. Can he really make headway into mimicking the human brain?

Chris Eliasmith has cognitive flexibility on the brain. How do people manage to walk, chew gum and listen to music all at the same time? What is our brain doing as it switches between these tasks and how do we use the same components in head to do all those different things? These are questions that Chris and his team’s Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network (Spaun) are determined to answer. Spaun is currently the world’s largest functional brain simulation, and is unique because it’s the first model that can actually emulate behaviours while also modeling the physiology that underlies them.


This groundbreaking work was published in Science, and has been featured by CNN, BBC, Der Spiegel, Popular Science, The Economist and CBC.He is co-author of Neural Engineering , which describes a framework for building biologically realistic neural models and his new book, How to Build a Brain applies those methods to large-scale cognitive brain models.

Chris holds a Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. He is also Director of Waterloo’s Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, and is jointly appointed in the Philosophy, Systems Design Engineering departments, as well as being cross-appointed to Computer Science.
For more on Chris, visit http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~celiasmi/
Source: TEDxTalks

Jul 23, 2013

Digital Assistance for Sign-Language Users

Via MedGadget

From Microsoft:

"In this project—which is being shown during the DemoFest portion of Faculty Summit 2013, which brings more than 400 academic researchers to Microsoft headquarters to share insight into impactful research—the hand tracking leads to a process of 3-D motion-trajectory alignment and matching for individual words in sign language. The words are generated via hand tracking by theKinect for Windows software and then normalized, and matching scores are computed to identify the most relevant candidates when a signed word is analyzed.

The algorithm for this 3-D trajectory matching, in turn, has enabled the construction of a system for sign-language recognition and translation, consisting of two modes. The first, Translation Mode, translates sign language into text or speech. The technology currently supports American sign language but has potential for all varieties of sign language."

sign language translator Kinect Based Automatic Translator/Interpreter for Sign Language


May 26, 2013

Cross-Brain Neurofeedback: Scientific Concept and Experimental Platform

Cross-Brain Neurofeedback: Scientific Concept and Experimental Platform.

PLoS One. 2013;8(5):e64590

Authors: Duan L, Liu WJ, Dai RN, Li R, Lu CM, Huang YX, Zhu CZ

Abstract. The present study described a new type of multi-person neurofeedback with the neural synchronization between two participants as the direct regulating target, termed as "cross-brain neurofeedback." As a first step to implement this concept, an experimental platform was built on the basis of functional near-infrared spectroscopy, and was validated with a two-person neurofeedback experiment. This novel concept as well as the experimental platform established a framework for investigation of the relationship between multiple participants' cross-brain neural synchronization and their social behaviors, which could provide new insight into the neural substrate of human social interactions.

Jul 22, 2008

Techniques and devices to restore cognition

Techniques and devices to restore cognition.

Behav Brain Res. 2008 Oct 10;192(2):149-65

Authors: Serruya MD, Kahana MJ

Executive planning, the ability to direct and sustain attention, language and several types of memory may be compromised by conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, cancer, autism, cerebral palsy and Alzheimer's disease. No medical devices are currently available to help restore these cognitive functions. Recent findings about the neurophysiology of these conditions in humans coupled with progress in engineering devices to treat refractory neurological conditions imply that the time has arrived to consider the design and evaluation of a new class of devices. Like their neuromotor counterparts, neurocognitive prostheses might sense or modulate neural function in a non-invasive manner or by means of implanted electrodes. In order to paint a vision for future device development, it is essential to first review what can be achieved using behavioral and external modulatory techniques. While non-invasive approaches might strengthen a patient's remaining intact cognitive abilities, neurocognitive prosthetics comprised of direct brain-computer interfaces could in theory physically reconstitute and augment the substrate of cognition itself.

Apr 22, 2007

Cognitive informatics

From Cognitive Informatics website


Cognitive Informatics is the multidisciplinary study of cognition and information sciences, which investigates human information processing mechanisms and processes and their engineering applications in computing:

To augment abilities to understand, remember, learn, and decide via new technologies

custom-tailored for human-computer collaboration and symbiosis

Cognitive Informatics

 Flier on Cognitive Informatics (PDF, 222Kb)

Feb 17, 2007

Cognitive Informatics

On Cognitive Informatics

Yingxu Wang, Brain and Mind, Volume 4, Number 2 / August, 2003

Supplementary to matter and energy, information is the third essence for modeling the natural world. An emerging discipline known as cognitive informatics (CI) is developed recently that forms a profound interdisciplinary study of cognitive and information sciences, and tackles the common root problems sharing by informatics, computing, software engineering, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, neuropsychology, philosophy, linguistics, and life science. CI focuses on internal information processing mechanisms and the natural intelligence of the brain. This paper describes the historical development of informatics from the classical information theory and contemporary informatics, to CI. The domain of CI, and its interdisciplinary nature are explored. Foundations of CI, particularly the brain versus the mind, the acquired life functions versus the inherited ones, and generic relationships between information, matter, and energy are investigated. The potential engineering applications of CI and perspectives on future research are discussed. It is expected that the investigation into CI will result in fundamental findings towards the development of next generation IT and software technologies, and new architectures of computing systems.