BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

October 7, 2019


Tomorrow! BBI-Kavli Distinguished Lecture

Please join us for a talk by Dr. Sliman Bensmaia (University of Chicago) entitled "Biological and Bionic Hands: Natural Neural Coding and Artificial Perception" on Tuesday, October 8 at 11 a.m. in 1103 BRB.

Dr. Bensmaia has produced ground-breaking work studying the neural basis of touch, which he is applying to building new types of neuro-prosthetic devices that provide sensory feedback.

We hope you will be able to attend!


News

The device is part of a brain-computer interface combining the minimally invasive delivery of a vascular stent with the functionality of a neural implant. It can record and stream brain activity wirelessly, and a software platform can translate these data to a standardized digital language that is used by apps for communication and control of external devices, such as robotic assistive devices. The hope is that the device could unlock a range of capabilities, including giving paralyzed patients the ability to control assistive technologies such as wheelchairs or robotic arms.
Animals learn by imitating behaviors, such as when a baby mimics her mother’s speaking voice or a young male zebra finch copies the mating song of an older male tutor, often its father. In a recent study published in Science, researchers identified the neural circuit that a finch uses to learn the duration of the syllables of a song and then manipulated this pathway with optogenetics to create a false memory that juvenile birds used to develop their courtship song. The strategies used here could serve as a template to tease out where other characteristics of learned song come from.
Powered exoskeletons are used to help people with lower limb paralysis get on their feet and allow post-stroke patients to recover faster. Now, a team of researchers has succeeded in allowing a man, who otherwise can’t move his arms or legs due to a spinal cord injury, to take autonomous steps using an exoskeleton by placing two electrocorticography implants on the surface of patient's brain. These implants are able to read signals originating from the brain’s movement centers, which are then decoded and translated into the movements of the exoskeleton.
The leaked draft of Google’s paper claiming to have demonstrated quantum supremacy—one of the earliest and most hotly anticipated milestones on the long road toward practical quantum computing—has sparked a frenzy of media coverage. The paper likely represents the first experimental proof of the long-held theoretical premise that quantum computers can outperform even the most powerful modern supercomputers on certain tasks. Such a demonstration is a signpost showing researchers that they’re on the right path to practical quantum computers.
Parkinson's research has tended to focus on the protein clumps that develop over time in the brains of Parkinson’s patients; scientists have thought that these fibrils wreak havoc on nerve cells, causing severe damage and hastening patient death. However, a new study raises questions about whether the buildup of these fibrils is a cause or a symptom of Parkinson's disease. The evidence points to a waste-clearing problem in patients' cells rather than the accumulation of protein tangles.
Past studies about the relationship between physical fitness and brain health have mostly focused on middle-aged or older adults, whose brains are often starting to contract with age. However, much less is known about whether fitness likewise might be related to the structure and function of healthy, younger people’s brains. Now, according to a large-scale new study of the links between aerobic fitness and brain health, physically fit young adults have healthier white matter in their brains and better thinking skills than young people who are out of shape.

Calendar of Events

BBI-Kavli Distinguished Speaker Series
Speaker: Sliman Bensmaia (University of Chicago)
Title: "Biological and Bionic Hands: Natural Neural Coding and Artificial Perception"
Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building
 
UMSOM + UMD Symposium
Title: Engineering Solutions to Biomedical Problems: Understanding Clinical Needs and Bioengineering Innovations
Date: Thursday, October 10, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Discovery Auditorium, BioPark II, UM-Baltimore
 
NACS Seminar
Speaker: Michael Frank (Brown University)
Title: "Corticostriatal computations in learning and decision making"
Date: Friday, October 11, 2019
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building
More info

Funding Announcements

Please visit bbi.umd.edu/news/FOA for the complete list of open Funding Announcements.

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