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      Xei
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      Neuroscience Breakthroughs

      I read an article around four years ago about how electrodes are clumsy devices, but scientists had succeeded in making neurons which can be controlled by coupling the signal activation proteins in some clever way to an artificially inserted light-sensitive gene, and then using optic fibres or lasers to get single-neuron fidelity control. This technology is already yielding major insights into brain function (not to mention the colossal significance that this will have for the future of humanity and technology), along with rapid advances in brain imaging and other areas. Here are a few articles I found about the new breakthroughs. Please add more.

      Orthogonal axons

      Physical memory manipulation

      Retina code

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      This is very intresting, along with the new scanner they have developed I can imagine we will be seeing increase in articles on the brain. A few days ago the an article was released showing a new type of brain scanner which fuses MEG and MRI to make for a super accurate image of the brain.

      Unprecedented accuracy in locating brain electrical activity with new device
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      Hi Xei

      I was checking the iasd discussion boards yesterday and someone on the 27-July opened a thread called:

      Lucid Deamers Help Scientists Locate the Seat of Meta Conscousness.

      I am on my phone so this direct link might fail:

      Lucid dreamers help scientists locate the seat of meta-consciousness in the brain

      If it does fail use this link to her thread and click her link:

      International Association for the Study of Dreams :: View topic - Lucid Dreamers Help Scientists Locate the Seat of Meta-Consc



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      Thanks for the link debrajane, I love when lucid dreamers are needed for experiments
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      There have been a couple TED talks about optogenetics, have you seen them?

      Ed Boyden: A light switch for neurons | Video on TED.com

      Gero Miesenboeck reengineers a brain | Video on TED.com

      I like the part in the second talk where he criticizes "vague psychological notions" and then proceeds to discuss ultra-precise ideas like... "the critic."
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      This stuff sounds like a futuristic sci-fi movie. Why don't we ever hear about this on the news? Why don't we ever hear about anything related to science? They mostly just tell us about murderers and stupid politicians.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Woodstock View Post
      Why don't we ever hear about this on the news? Why don't we ever hear about anything related to science? They mostly just tell us about murderers and stupid politicians.

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      The biggest neuroscience breakthrough since optogenetics is a procedure dubbed "CLARITY." And its primary creator is the same guy responsible for optogenetics! Nobel prize anyone?

      New York Times - Brains as Clear as Jell-O for Scientists to Explore




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      Incredible! BCI have really been on the forefront of science lately. I can't wait to see all the novel creations a proper BCI would allow us to achieve.
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      Xei
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      University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface
      Someone's done an invasive one?

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Someone's done an invasive one?
      Neurosurgical implants - like the famous "Pacemakers" for Morbus Parkinson - can of course be accessed wireless from computers - to fine-tune the stimulation-patterns and impulse strength.
      They can on the other hand also be used as electrodes, measuring neuronal activity.
      Especially for that purpose are intermediary ones, recording activity in surgery-candidates with epilepsy - before actually removing tissue.
      Look next door, for one example with fascinating "side effects":

      http://www.dreamviews.com/science-ma...persevere.html

      But as far as I am aware - electrodes solely for information transfer - have not been tested in humans yet.
      They did get tested and shown to work - even have interesting feedback effects, which were not expected - in rats:

      Brain-to-brain interface transmits information from one rat to another | Mo Costandi | Science | theguardian.com


      The researchers found that the decoder rats could learn to perform the same movements, and successfully complete the task, guided solely by the information they received from the brains of the encoder rats. Likewise, when the implants were embedded into the somatosensory cortex, the decoders could use the sensory information they received to mimic the encoders' actions and poke their nose into the right hole to get a drink. They could also transmit the information over the internet in real time, so that the brain activity of an encoder rat in the lab at North Carolina could guide the behaviour of a decoder animal in Brazil.

      Even more remarkably, this direct brain-to-brain communication created a feedback loop between the two animals. "The encoder would get a reward if the decoder performed the task correctly," says Nicolelis. "But when the decoder got it wrong, the encoder would move more accurately the next time, so that its brain activity pattern became clearer." It's not clear exactly how the decoder rats integrated natural stimuli with the virtual information received via their implants, and this is something the researchers would like to investigate.


      The setup looks like rats with magicianīs hats ..

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      Well - I have more - but the latest thing, which I came across and which took my fancy is this one - another break-through made with the help of optogenetics:

      The brain may be able to repair itself from within, Duke researchers discover

      June 3, 2014 on Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence

      Duke researchers have found a new type of neuron in the adult brain that is capable of telling stem cells to make more new neurons.

      Neuroscientists have suspected for some time that the brain has some capacity to direct the manufacturing of new neurons, but it was difficult to determine where these instructions are coming from, explains Chay Kuo, M.D. Ph.D., an assistant professor of cell biology, neurobiology and pediatrics.

      In a study with mice, his team found a previously unknown population of neurons within the subventricular zone (SVZ) neurogenic niche of the adult brain, adjacent to the striatum.

      These neurons expressed the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) enzyme, which is required to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. With optogenetic tools that allowed the team to tune the firing frequency of these ChAT+ neurons up and down with laser light, they were able to see clear changes in neural stem cell proliferation in the brain.

      The mature ChAT+ neuron population is just one part of an undescribed neural circuit that apparently talks to stem cells and tells them to increase new neuron production, Kuo said. Researchers don’t know all the parts of the circuit yet, nor the code it’s using, but by controlling ChAT+ neurons’ signals Kuo and his Duke colleagues have established that these neurons are necessary and sufficient to control the production of new neurons from the SVZ niche.

      Studies of stroke injury in rodents have noted SVZ cells apparently migrating into the neighboring striatum. And just last month in the journal Cell, a Swedish team observed newly made control neurons called interneurons in the human striatum for the first time. They reported that interestingly in Huntington’s disease patients, this area seems to lack the newborn interneurons.

      Kuo’s team found this system by following cholinergic signaling, but other groups are arriving in the same niche by following dopaminergic and serotonergic signals, Temple said. “It’s a really hot area because it’s a beautiful stem cell niche to study. It’s this gorgeous niche where you can observe cell-to-cell interactions.”

      These emerging threads have Kuo hopeful researchers will eventually be able to find the way to “engage certain circuits of the brain to lead to a hardware upgrade. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could upgrade the brain hardware to keep up with the new software?” He said perhaps there will be a way to combine behavioral therapy and stem cell treatments after a brain injury to rebuild some of the damage.

      Abstract of Nature Neuroscience paper:

      Postnatal and adult subventricular zone (SVZ) neurogenesis is believed to be primarily controlled by neural stem cell (NSC)-intrinsic mechanisms, interacting with extracellular and niche-driven cues. Although behavioral experiments and disease states have suggested possibilities for higher level inputs, it is unknown whether neural activity patterns from discrete circuits can directly regulate SVZ neurogenesis. We identified a previously unknown population of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)+ neurons residing in the rodent SVZ neurogenic niche. These neurons showed morphological and functional differences from neighboring striatal counterparts and released acetylcholine locally in an activity-dependent fashion. Optogenetic inhibition and stimulation of subependymal ChAT+ neurons in vivo indicated that they were necessary and sufficient to control neurogenic proliferation. Furthermore, whole-cell recordings and biochemical experiments revealed direct SVZ NSC responses to local acetylcholine release, synergizing with fibroblast growth factor receptor activation to increase neuroblast production. These results reveal an unknown gateway connecting SVZ neurogenesis to neuronal activity-dependent control and suggest possibilities for modulating neuroregenerative capacities in health and disease.



      In this artist’s representation of the adult subependymal neurogenic niche (viewed from underneath the ependyma), electrical signals generated by the ChAT+ neuron give rise to newborn migrating neuroblasts, seen moving over the underside of ependymal cells ( credit: O’Reilly Science Art)

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      Consciousness on-off switch discovered deep in brain

      Not exactly a break-through yet but quite possibly could be so. Apparently in a case-study they found the link between conscious and unconscious in a deep brain region. What's funny is that Francis Crick who won the Nobel prize for sharing with us the structure of DNA as a result from a succesfull trip with LSD ^^ made the original suggestion that the claustrum is deeply connected with consciousness.

      "Francis would have been pleased as punch," says Koch, who was told by Crick's wife that on his deathbed, Crick was hallucinating an argument with Koch about the claustrum and its connection to consciousness
      Last edited by Dthoughts; 07-04-2014 at 02:29 AM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dthoughts View Post
      Consciousness on-off switch discovered deep in brain

      Not exactly a break-through yet but quite possibly could be so. Apparently in a case-study they found the link between conscious and unconscious in a deep brain region. What's funny is that Francis Crick who won the Nobel prize for sharing with us the structure of DNA as a result from a succesfull trip with LSD ^^ made the original suggestion that the claustrum is deeply connected with consciousness.
      Very interesting!
      They had an epileptic woman and went about delivering currents - probably in planning for yet another operation. That's what they point out also - she has been operated on in the hippocampus region before and thus doesn't exactly have a normal brain to begin with.

      Buut - they showed, and repeatedly, that she lost consciousness upon stimulating the claustrum and regained it upon ending this.
      She didn't fall asleep mind you - well read it...
      And as they say - people in a waking coma also called vegetative state might indeed profit from these findings one day - imagine - zapping them back to conscious life! How does this come together with the findings of searchers for meta-cognition using LDing and fMRI for it? Maybe not at all - maybe this is a level deeper.

      In terms of orchestra metaphors - I posted something on new insights into categorical learning in the nice evolution thread.
      What seems to happen is that when a category is learned - the striatum and the hippocampus synchronise their firing rhythms and make use of resonance phenomena before it goes on on the level of LTP/LTD (long term potentiation/depression on the microanatomical level - actual synapses).
      I didn't know, Crick was a psychonaut by the way - they don't say it in that article - do you know, where you read that?



      Also very interesting - so they found a way to apply their light non-noninvasively through the scull! By checking out other opsin molecules and their genetic sequence to introduce into target tissue. I just wonder, how it will be, when people take a sun-bath?
      Or am I missing something?

      Here about how they found and further engineered the new molecule "Jaws":

      Mining nature's diversity

      To find a better alternative, Boyden, graduate student Amy Chuong, and colleagues turned to the natural world. Many microbes and other organisms use opsins to detect light and react to their environment. Most of the natural opsins now used for optogenetics respond best to blue or green light.
      Boyden's team had previously identified two light-sensitive chloride ion pumps that respond to red light, which can penetrate deeper into living tissue. However, these molecules, found in the bacteria Haloarcula marismortui and Haloarcula vallismortis, did not induce a strong enough photocurrent -- an electric current in response to light -- to be useful in controlling neuron activity.
      Chuong set out to improve the photocurrent by looking for relatives of these proteins and testing their electrical activity. She then engineered one of these relatives by making many different mutants. The result of this screen, Jaws, retained its red-light sensitivity but had a much stronger photocurrent -- enough to shut down neural activity.

      "This exemplifies how the genomic diversity of the natural world can yield powerful reagents that can be of use in biology and neuroscience," says Boyden, who is a member of MIT's Media Lab and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

      Using this opsin, the researchers were able to shut down neuronal activity in the mouse brain with a light source outside the animal's head. The suppression occurred as deep as 3 millimeters in the brain, and was just as effective as that of existing silencers that rely on other colors of light delivered via conventional invasive illumination.
      Three millimetres is relatively great from outside the scull of course - but still not reaching far down in bigger brains...
      Another great thing about this molecule - it might promise help for people with blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa - a disease where the light-sensitive cones degenerate - seems introducing Jaws can restore vision as well!

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      I bet many people around the world are reading the article and thinking "omg, they just need a light and they can control your brain!" xD Would be nice if they found a way to circumvent the bbb and transport the virus to reach the desired neurons, removing any need for for any invasive procedure....now that would truly be mind-control, since anyone with the technology could do affect you.

      Oh btw, only recently found this video, if you want to explain someone optogenetics in a simple way, tell them to watch this (a bit old, but nontheless effective I think):

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      Quote Originally Posted by Zoth View Post
      I bet many people around the world are reading the article and thinking "omg, they just need a light and they can control your brain!" xD Would be nice if they found a way to circumvent the bbb and transport the virus to reach the desired neurons, removing any need for for any invasive procedure....now that would truly be mind-control, since anyone with the technology could do affect you.
      Yeah! The closer to "brain-control" with electromagnetic waves I found spread on the web are some videos about magic creators and stuff.

      I think when there's brain activity, if the blood flow increases in the involved regions, that would be a way to increase the presence of whatever the carrier would be in the desired regions. Although whatever the method, it must be really far in the future. I imagine a possible distant future scene where occurs something like: "Think for the last time, about the thing you would like to forget forever". But that's just sci-fi. If you think in the wrong scene Done!

      I think in the field of optogenetics there's something related which could have a future application for that sort of technology, perhaps in a reverse mode?: New device allows brain to bypass spinal cord, move paralyzed limbs -- ScienceDaily
      Last edited by Box77; 07-04-2014 at 03:13 PM.
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      Hehe Zoth - did you maybe find this (superb) video next door in Darkmatter's evolution thread, page two?
      If not - you might like to take a peek into it: http://www.dreamviews.com/science-ma...-argument.html

      I'm having a cryptophyte where the photosynthetic quantum effects are switched off genetically in "scrutiny" with Dtoughts next door as well.
      Also a question worthy of the above thread...



      Phantastic link, box77 - long time in coming and now they seem to have done it!

      The Neurobridge technology combines algorithms that learn and decode the user's brain activity and a high-definition muscle stimulation sleeve that translates neural impulses from the brain and transmits new signals to the paralysed limb. In this case, Ian's brain signals bypass his injured spinal cord and move his hand, hence the name Neurobridge.

      During a three-hour surgery on April 22, Rezai implanted a chip smaller than a pea onto the motor cortex of Burkhart's brain. The tiny chip interprets brain signals and sends them to a computer, which recodes and sends them to the high-definition electrode stimulation sleeve that stimulates the proper muscles to execute his desired movements. Within a tenth of a second, Burkhart's thoughts are translated into action.
      "The surgery required the precise implantation of the micro-chip sensor in the area of Ian's brain that controls his arm and hand movements," Rezai said.
      He said this technology may one day help patients affected by various brain and spinal cord injuries such as strokes and traumatic brain injury.

      Battelle also developed a non-invasive neurostimulation technology in the form of a wearable sleeve that allows for precise activation of small muscle segments in the arm to enable individual finger movement, along with software that forms a 'virtual spinal cord' to allow for coordination of dynamic hand and wrist movements.
      The fascinating thing is for me, how they found algorithms, software, which can translate brain signals directly into motor-control impulses and it all works! And for the hand - maybe the most complex thing to motor-control and coordinate the movements of.
      This virtual spine concept sounds interesting as well - how is that done, though? They say non-invasively - so not by thinking this time? Or is it an add-on?
      Not so important - just wondering..

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      ^^ I imagine he has no sensations coming from his hand although he's capable to move it right? Perhaps it would be plausible to apply optogenetics to transmit the sense of touch to the brain? If possible I guess it must be a little bit far from now.. as you said, just wondering..
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      Yeah - it must be incredibly hard to use a hand without sensory feedback! That's body to brain then, if it would work - if we manage that, then we are halfway there in order to enter a fully rendered virtual reality per some implants - like lucid dreams - but with the potential to be shared, and to enjoy other people's artwork.

      I've been wondering before but in another context - if you had the possibility to in some way record your lucid dreams, so that they can be fed into simulations for other people's virtual adventures - then LDing could become an art-form.
      In such a case - would you have to sell yourself as well as viewpoint, and for somebody to live through exactly what you did, or could you maybe extract yourself from it and only sell the theme - the world as far as you have rendered it out in your dream and the customer fills in the gaps with her own mind?

      So many possibilities there - in the end I guess it would overcomplicate things with recording dreams instead of creating worlds on the spot in the technical context. But I really believe it won't take much longer (my lifetime) until William Gibson's "jacking up" into virtuality (was it that? something with "jack"...) will be reality.

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