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.


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 and

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 and

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.


The Argusâ„¢ 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


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.”


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).