A Remote Control for Neurons
A team led by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has created a new technology that enhances scientists’ ability to communicate with neural cells using light. Tzahi Cohen-Karni, associate professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering, led a team that synthesized three-dimensional fuzzy graphene on a nanowire template to create a superior material for photothermally stimulating cells. NW-templated three-dimensional (3D) fuzzy graphene (NT-3DFG) enables remote optical stimulation without need for genetic modification and uses orders of magnitude less energy than available materials, preventing cellular stress. The image shows nanowires which are able to stimulate neurons from outside the cell membrane. The team’s findings are significant both for our understanding of cell interactions and the development of therapies that harness the potential of the human body’s own cells. Nanostructures created using NT-3DFG may have a major impact on the future of human biology and medicine.
Battling COVID-19 with Technology
Apple has recently released the final iOS 13.5 update, which includes features aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. What are these features? Well, it involves several aspects, including Face ID recognition that has been improved to work when someone is wearing a face mask and notifications of potential exposures nearby. These features can promote proper self-isolation and a smoother reintegration of normal daily activities and business operations.
Check out the article to see for yourself: https://venturebeat.com/2020/05/20/apple-releases-final-ios-13-5-with-coronavirus-exposure-alert-support/.
BCI for Daily Functioning
When people suffer debilitating injuries or illnesses of the nervous system, they sometimes lose the ability to perform tasks normally. Brain-computer interface systems exist that can translate brain signals into the desired action to regain some function, but they can be a burden to use because they don't always operate smoothly and need readjustment to complete even simple tasks. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are working on understanding how the brain works when learning tasks with the help of brain-computer interface technology. As of now, they have designed technology whereby the brain-computer interface readjusts itself continually in the background to ensure the system is always in calibration and ready to use.
To read more on their research, check out their work:
Wait... what is Neural Interface?
Neural interface systems are designed to intimately link the nervous system to the outside world. This is achieved by utilizing recordings of neural activity or by actively stimulating the neural tissue. Electrical stimulation systems have already been integrated into clinical applications, such as treating or assisting patients with disabled neuron functioning that impacts their sensory and/or motor capabilities. However, neural interfaces that translate recorded neural activity to predict motor intentions still have some more progress to undergo before their widespread clinical use. However, such neural interface systems could be critical in treating and assisting paralyzed people.
If you want to learn more, check out this research paper on the science of neural interface systems: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921719/
Live EEG Tutorial by Muse
Check out this live EEG Tutorial with Muse! The tutorial walks you through the basics of EEG signal generation, data collection, and data analysis. You can still do the tutorial without a Muse headband by using the simulated data on the website. This tutorial would also be a great way to develop skills if you're interested in joining our BCI Competition Team!
We all know UCLA is a huge research institution... so here are some awesome faculty doing neurotechnology-related research on campus that you can read up on or even contact to work with as an undergraduate researcher!
Dr. Reggie Edgerton (https://edgertonlab.ibp.ucla.edu/)
Dr. Martin Monti (https://montilab.psych.ucla.edu/)
Dr. Nanthia Suthana (https://www.uclahealth.org/neurosurgery/nanthia-suthana)
Dr. Shafali Jeste (http://jestelab.org/)
Dr. Wentai Liu (http://18.104.22.168/wordpress/)
Dr. Andrew Leuchter (https://www.semel.ucla.edu/profile/andrew-leuchter-md)
Dr. Andrew Charles (https://hartp.neurology.ucla.edu/index.html)
Dr. Mirella Dapretto (http://www.bmap.ucla.edu/about/peopledetails/mirella_dapretto/)
Dr. Mark Cohen (http://www.bri.ucla.edu/people/mark-s-cohen-phd)
Neurosky develops ECG and EEG biosensors that promote health and wellness via monitoring and biometrics. The ECG wearable is designed to give you information about your heart rate variability, mood, fatigue, stress levels, heart age, breathing and heart rate index, and more! The EEG wearable is designed to give you information about your brain waves, raw EEG signal, attention, and meditation effectiveness.
Check out their company website! (http://neurosky.com/)
Brain Co has designed a wearable EEG-based BCI that allows users to improve their focus, reduce stress, enhance mindfulness, and increase their productivity at school and work. The Focus1 Headband works by determining people's real-time brain states via their database of thousands of EEG features. This allows them to provide personal, quick neurofeedback tips to help a person practice mindfulness and focus better.
Check out their company website! (https://www.brainco.tech/)
UCSF Brain-Computer Interface
What if Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) could allow people to type with their minds rather than their fingers? Well, look no further because this is already possible. UCSF neuroscientists have recently made big advances in this field as seen in the paper they published less than a month ago. The study showed how their BCI accurately and quickly translated human neural activity into text through the use of artificial intelligence machine learning.
Check out the full article for yourself (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-future-brain/202004/ai-translates-human-brain-signals-text)!
Have you ever wanted to control things with your mind? NextMind, a Paris-based startup company, is developing a brain-computer interface, which they are pricing at $399 for the dev kit, based on machine learning algorithms that translate from the visual cortex into digital commands.
For more information, check out the link below! https://www.google.com/amp/s/venturebeat.com/2020/01/05/nextmind-is-building-a-real-time-brain-computer-interface-unveils-dev-kit-for-399/amp/
Mente is one of the leading devices used at home as therapy to manage Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms. The soft, portable headband works by rebalancing overactivated low and high-frequency brainwaves, such as Delta and Beta waves. These brain waves are common in neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD, and commonly lead to impulsivity, hyperactivity, anxiety, inattention, obsessing, and sleep and memory problems. Mente rebalances these overactivated brain waves by utilizing audio feedback through headphones, causing children to be able to focus more effectively as their brain falls into a more relaxed state.
For more information, check out Mente’s website: https://www.mentetech.com/
You’ve heard of the breathalyzer but what about the Cognalyzer? Researchers in London have developed this new device to more accurately test for cognitive impairment from cannabis usage by integrating artificial intelligence and brain-signalling to identify distinctive brain wave patterns produced by THC’s psychoactive effects.
Check out the full article here: https://london.ctvnews.ca/new-test-for-cannabis-impairment-focus-of-london-ont-study-1.4832494