Category Archives: Medical

Man looking at his feet

The Radical Plasticity Thesis: How the Brain Learns to be Conscious

This fair­ly clear 2011 paper by Axel Cleere­mans reveals an under­stand­ing of where con­scious­ness comes from: the brain attempt­ing to describe itself.

“Learn­ing and plas­tic­i­ty are thus cen­tral to con­scious­ness, to the extent that expe­ri­ences only occur in expe­ri­encers that have learned to know they pos­sess cer­tain first-order states and that have learned to care more about cer­tain states than about oth­ers.”

Take that, Skynet.

via ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

The GyroGlove from GyroGear

GyroGlove: Solutions can come from any perspective

GyroGlove is a glove designed to sup­press hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s dis­ease. Instead of using drugs to coun­ter­act the effect of the dis­ease, which have a finite lifes­pan and some­times sig­nif­i­cant side effects, Joon Faii Ong (a med­ical stu­dent at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege Lon­don) worked with a team of engi­neers, design­ers and medics to cre­ate a glove that would direct­ly sta­bilise the hands of some­one suf­fer­ing from tremors, by using gyro­scopes.

First nom­i­nat­ed as a final­ist in the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards, and now on tar­get to launch at the end of 2016.

via designcouncil.org.uk and gyrogear.co

Transhumanism & Biohacking

Wear­able tech­nol­o­gy has tak­en the next log­i­cal step — implants.

From LEDs to NFCs and RFIDs, con­sumers are look­ing at ways of apply­ing med­ical approach­es to implant con­sumer-grade tech­nol­o­gy. So-called Grind­house Wet­ware (or “Grinders”) view this as next lev­el body aug­men­ta­tion (i.e. pierc­ings on steroids), and with the Mak­er rev­o­lu­tion you can now cheer­ful­ly implant this tech­nol­o­gy your­self at home. You can already buy an all-in-one syringe kit (based on ani­mal LifeChip transpon­ders — for when your cat or dog goes miss­ing).

Body­hack­ing — turn­ing your­self into a cyborg — also includes enhance­ments to exist­ing sens­es (such as infra-red eye­sight) or cre­at­ing new sens­es (such as sens­ing mag­net­ic north or radio fre­quen­cies). A lot of this tech­nol­o­gy was ini­tial­ly devel­oped for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties or impair­ments (such as cochlear implants for the deaf, and reti­na implants for the blind). Arti­fi­cial hearts and pace­mak­ers could be seen as the ances­tors of embed­ded tech.

It’s only a mat­ter of time before you’ll be able to swipe your Oys­ter card with your wrist. Nev­er for­get your keys again!

via dangerousthings.com and iflscience.com

Brain decoding: Reading minds

Neu­ro­sci­en­tists are start­ing to deci­pher what a per­son is see­ing, remem­ber­ing and even dream­ing just by look­ing at their brain activ­i­ty. They call it brain decod­ing.

via gallantlab.org and nature.com

Clarity: See-through brains

Sci­en­tists have come up with a way to make whole brains trans­par­ent, so they can be labelled with mol­e­c­u­lar mark­ers and imaged using a light micro­scope. The tech­nique, called CLARITY, enabled its cre­ators to pro­duce the detailed 3D visu­al­i­sa­tions you see in this video. It works in mouse brains and human brains; here the team use it to look into the brain of a 7-year-old boy who had autism.

“Anatomical Cross-Sections in Paper (Tissue Series)” by Lisa Nilsson

These pieces are made of Japan­ese mul­ber­ry paper and the gild­ed edges of old books. They are con­struct­ed by a tech­nique of rolling and shap­ing nar­row strips of paper called quilling or paper fil­i­gree. Quilling was first prac­ticed by Renais­sance nuns and monks who are said to have made artis­tic use of the gild­ed edges of worn out bibles, and lat­er by 18th cen­tu­ry ladies who made artis­tic use of lots of free time. I find quilling exquis­ite­ly sat­is­fy­ing for ren­der­ing the dense­ly squished and love­ly inter­nal land­scape of the human body in cross sec­tion.

via lisanilssonart.com

The Argus™ II Artificial Retina

The Argus II Reti­nal Pros­the­sis Sys­tem (“Argus II”) is designed to bypass dam­aged pho­tore­cep­tors in cer­tain blind patients. A minia­ture video cam­era housed in the patient’s glass­es cap­tures a scene. The video is sent to a small patient-worn com­put­er (i.e., the video pro­cess­ing unit – VPU) where it is processed and trans­formed into instruc­tions that are sent back to the glass­es via a cable. These instruc­tions are trans­mit­ted wire­less­ly to a receiv­er in the implant.

via Sec­ond Sight

Non-smoking cities — the future?

Luang Pra­bang, Laos (con­firmed)
New York, USA (con­firmed)
New­town, Syd­ney, Aus­tralia (con­firmed)
Alexan­dria, Egypt
Stony Strat­ford, Buck­ing­hamshire, UK
Sports Venues in Vic­to­ria, Aus­tralia

via telegraph.co.uk

Mirror Neurons

Vilaya­nur Ramachan­dran dis­cuss­es the mind/body prob­lem, and why our brains tell us we are not all part of the same expe­ri­ence — “… all that’s sep­a­rat­ing you from him, from the oth­er per­son, is your skin.”

via ted.com

The EyeWriter Initiative

Tony Quan a.k.a. Tempt One (graf­fi­ti writer, pub­lish­er, and activist) was diag­nosed with ALS (Lou Gehrigs dis­ease) in 2003, and is now almost com­plete­ly par­a­lyzed, despite hav­ing full men­tal fac­ul­ties. Enter the Not Impos­si­ble Foun­da­tion and their new Eye­writer project. They pro­grammed cus­tom, open-source free­ware that can track eye move­ments, allow­ing Quan and oth­ers to write and even draw using only an eye, a com­put­er, free soft­ware, and about $50 in parts (includ­ing a mod­i­fied PlaySta­tion Eye).

via eyewriter.org