Join moderators Charles Jennings and Steven Schachter tomorrow for a two hour neurotech workshop at MIT. The first hour will be led by MIT's Emilio Bizzi who will discuss the neural control of movement and applications for stroke intervention. The second hour will be led by Harvard's Alvaro Pascual-Leone who will share the latest on cortical stimulation is being used to promote recovery after stroke. Listen to a podcast overview of tomorrow's program.
Overview of Emilio Bizzi's talk: Neuronal recordings from awake behaving monkeys have revealed plasticity at the single cell level and some of the neurons of the cortical motor areas exhibit learning-dependent activity changes. Whether the adapted cells represent simple command signals or the formation of internal models designed to handle a new dynamic environment is still an open question, but the output of the cortex will reach the spinal cord interneurons. Professor Emilio Bizzi's lab has shown that spinal cord interneurons are organized in modules; each module representing a motor primitive. Professor Bizzi will discuss the relevance of these observations in relation to recovery from stroke.
Overview of Alvaro Pascual-Leone's talk: Brain stimulation techniques provide a powerful means to modulate function of specific neural structures and show potential for future applications in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. Recent studies have started to translate to the bedside the body of data gathered over the last years on mechanisms underlying brain plasticity and stroke recovery. Both noninvasive and invasive brain stimulation techniques, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and direct cortical stimulation with epidural electrodes, have been recently tested in proof-of-principle studies with stroke patients aiming to enhance functional recovery. Ongoing clinical trials confirm the promising results. Coupling brain stimulation with controlled behavioral interventions, for example robotic arm therapy or constraint therapy promises to enhance the efficacy of brain stimulation alone.
This is part of McGovern/CIMIT Summer Education Series 2007 which is taking place on Tuesdays in July (July 10, 17, 24, 31) from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research, 43 Vassar Street, Cambridge, Room 46-3002 (3rd Floor, Atrium Level, Building 46), Click here for map and directions.
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July 20, 2007
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opened this week on 100 IMAX theater screens nationwide with an apparently fantastic 3-D climax in the final 20 minutes.
While old-fashioned 3-D movies like the classic 1953 horror flick House of Wax required filmmakers to shoot films with two separate camera lenses to create left-and-right view films, IMAX producers now use computer algorithms to turn the original 2-D film into a 3-D version. Hundreds of computers ground away for two months on this film's translation to create a virtual second perspective, which serves as the film's offset lens view.
Three-dimensional film effects rely on a basic trick of neurobiology. Our eyes each have a slightly different view of the world, and it is only in the brain that the two images are welded to create depth perception. The trick to turning a two-dimensional screen image into a three-dimensional one is to simultaneously show viewers two slightly offset views of the same scene and let the brain do the rest. This is why 3-D movie viewers need 3-D glasses — which are either polarized or electronically controlled to allow light from one view into your left eye and light from the other view into the right eye. Scientists call this trick of depth perception "stereopsis," first described by the British researcher Charles Wheatstone in 1838.
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July 11, 2007
Only in Hollywood...The Hollywood Reporter says that DreamWorks and Parkes/MacDonald Productions have acquired the spec script Tester by first-time screenwriter Colin Trevorrow.
The story centers on a young war vet suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who is recruited for a secret clinical trial that promises to cure his symptoms. He soon discovers that the chip implanted in his brain is not medicine -- it is advanced neurotechnology designed to control his body as a weapon of war.
Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing. The neuroethics community is sure to have a field day with this one.
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July 9, 2007
Last week the NIH announced new Federal funding for neurotechnology R&D (SBIR PA-07-389) and (STTR PA-07-390). These funding opportunity announcements are expected to advance understanding of the nervous system, behavior or the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system diseases and disorders, through support of research, development, and enhancement of a wide range of neurotechnologies.
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July 3, 2007
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is in the process of developing a blue sky vision for neuroscience and neurology to help them develop their goals over the next fifteen years. This vision will serve as the foundation for subsequent planning activities. They are seeking your input. You may answer all of the questions, or you may respond to the subset that interest you the most. The deadline for response is August 31, 2007.
1: What advances should we expect in clinical care for neurological disorders over the next fifteen years, based on anticipated progress in biomedical research? What scientific advances will result in a quantum leap in the care of neurologic disorders, and what aspects of care are likely to remain unchanged?
2: Which major questions need to be answered in order to revolutionize how we understand the nervous system and prevent, diagnose, and treat nervous system disorders?
3: What new technical capabilities have the potential to revolutionize neuroscience research and clinical practice in the next fifteen years?
4: What will the neuroscience research landscape look like in fifteen years, and how can NINDS best contribute?
5. What, if any, infrastructural resources are needed to advance clinical or basic neuroscience research?
6. What ethical, legal, and social issues are likely to arise from advances in basic and clinical neuroscience over the next fifteen years, for which the NINDS should be prepared?
It is great to see NINDS taking such a proactive medium term view. Hopefully, you'll find time in your schedule to answer some these questions. I will.
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