September 30, 2019

UMD News

The projects, led by Jessica Magidson (PSYC) and Nathan Fox (HDQM), are part of NIH’s nearly $1 billion push to reverse the opioid crisis in the U.S. 


Of the nearly 39 million people worldwide who are legally blind, many were born sighted and lost their vision as adults, drastically altering their lives. Now researchers have surgically implanted four blind patients with an innovative brain device that boosts users’ ability to navigate the world by restoring their ability to perceive objects and movement. The wireless device helps patients distinguish light from dark, enabling them to regain a measure of independence and complete daily tasks like sorting laundry or quickly finding and picking up items from a table.
Cleaner shrimp are the industrious crustaceans who set up cleaning stations—grooves in rocks in which they can retreat—in tropical coral reefs. There they pick parasites and dead skin off the fish, eels, and turtles that seek them out for this purpose. However, some of clients are many times the shrimps' size and are likely to see the shrimp as less of a helper and more of a snack. Now a recent study shows that, in instances when shrimp do take on a predatory client, they often began the interaction with a signal akin to a dance: the shrimp bend their front legs, waving them back and forth.
Professor Maryam Shanechi is trying to treat neuropsychiatric disorders using brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). BMIs provide a direct pathway to the brain to translate brain signals into actions, and they have already been used in clinical trials to restore lost motor function in people with paralysis. However, our brains control more than just our movements; they also regulate our thoughts and emotions. In this Q&A, Shanechi answers some questions about what the future might hold for BMIs and our treatment of mental disorders.
A good workout might not just exhaust your body but tire out your brain as well, suggests a new study. The research concluded that extreme physical exertion makes athletes more impulsive in their decision making, accompanied by impairment of brain activity in a region of the prefrontal cortex. The findings could have impact on how we treat the symptoms of both burnout and overtraining. The team’s future research will look to understand the exact mechanisms resulting in lower cognitive control, and it could impact both how athletes train and how workers cope with burnout across other sectors.
In 2012, a professor at Northwestern University published a landmark paper that explored the brain architecture associated with age-defying youthful memory capacity in a handful of 80+ year-olds who seemed to have freakishly good powers of memory. From this paper, the terms "superaging" and "superagers" were coined. Over the past few years, the neuroscience of superaging has been investigated more thoroughly: in short, superagers have stronger functional connectivity between different brain areas.
How many fish really appear in the photo collage above? The answer bears on whether a study about lionfish social behavior, published in Biology Letters in 2014, was fabricated—and a marine biologist formerly at Uppsala University, who made up data in a 2016 Science paper, committed an earlier fraud. The collage above was supplied as evidence meant to dispel doubts about a study of lionfish, but a whistleblower has questioned whether the colorful ensemble includes many photos of the same fish, and in some cases, doctored duplicates of the same photo.

Noteworthy local conferences

Defense TechConnect
What: An innovation summit and expo that brings together defense, private industry, federal agency, and academic leadership to accelerate state-of-the-art technology solutions for the warfighter and national security.
Date: October 8-10, 2019
Location: National Harbor, MD
Forum on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
What: A workshop that provides an overview of five key policy challenges to improve care for people with mental health and substance use disorders.
Date: October 15-16, 2019
Location: Keck Building, National Academy of Sciences

Calendar of Events

NACS Seminar
Speaker: Dan Swingley (University of Pennsylvania)
Title: "Known and unknown in infants' language learning: a story of perception, categorization, and inference"
Date: Friday, October 4, 2019
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building
Linguistics Colloquium
Speaker: Toby Mintz (University of Southern California)
Title: "Infants' capacity for learning non-adjacent dependencies in linguistic and non-linguistic domains"
Date: Friday, October 4, 2019
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: 1310 Marie Mount Hall
More info
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

Funding Announcements

New FOA are listed below. Please visit for the complete list of open Funding Announcements.
NIH invites applications for Research on biopsychosocial factors of social connectedness and isolation on health, wellbeing, illness, and recovery (R01 Clinical Trials Not Allowed) (PAR-19-373) for projects that seek to model the underlying mechanisms, processes, and trajectories of social relationships and how these factors affect outcomes in health, illness, recovery, and overall wellbeing. Both animal and human subjects research projects are welcome. Applications due March 17, 2020.
NIH invites applications for Research on biopsychosocial factors of social connectedness and isolation on health, wellbeing, illness, and recovery (R01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required) (PAR-19-384) for studies that prospectively assign human participants to conditions (i.e., experimentally manipulate independent variables) and that assess biomedical and/or behavioral outcomes in humans to understand fundamental aspects of phenomena related to social connectedness and isolatedness. Applications due March 17, 2020.

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