The best neuroscience news this week from around the web: traumatic brain injury, a moving paralyzed arm, and an odd case of Sudoku-induced epileptic seizures.
October 24, 2015
Neuroscientifically Challenged – The Neuroscience of Traumatic Brain Injury [COMPLEX SCIENCE / LONG READ]
PUNCH DRUNK: Is there a link between concussions and dementia? It seems like there could be: studies of the brains of professional athletes in high-impact sports show that some of the biological indicators of dementia are particularly prevalent in athletes who have endured repeated head trauma.
The Guardian – Sudoku-induced epileptic seizures [SIMPLE SCIENCE / SHORT READ]
A PUZZLING PROBLEM: In a case worthy of Oliver Sacks, doctors report on a young man who experienced epileptic seizures when trying to solve Sudoku puzzles. The seizures stopped when the man stopped solving Sudokus. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed abnormally high activity in an area of the brain responsible for processing visuo-spatial information.
MIT Technology Review – Artificial Skin Provides a Step Toward Bionic Hands [MEDIUM SCIENCE / SHORT READ]
TOUCHING RESEARCH: Spinal cord injury is devastating, particularly for tetraplegics. One approach researchers are investigating as a workaround is to use brain activity to control a bionic arm. Seriously. This can work adequately, but one problem is that there is no sensory feedback (except visual) to help in grasping objects. This article describes how researchers are looking to provide a sense of touch to prosthetic limbs.
MIT Technology Review – Paralyzed Man’s Arm Wired to Receive Brain Signals [MEDIUM SCIENCE / MEDIUM READ]
REMOTE-CONTROLLED ARM: An alternative solution to a bionic arm is to link the brain signals directly to muscles in the paralyzed arm. Electrical stimulators placed in the arm can then be controlled by brain activity, recreating movement while bypassing the damaged spinal cord.
The Guardian – Brain’s immune cells hyperactive in schizophrenia [MEDIUM SCIENCE / SHORT READ]
OVERACTIVE: The brains of individuals at risk of developing schizophrenia or with the earliest stages of the disease show hyperactive immune cells, scientists have found. The cells are called microglia, which defend the brain against infection and injury. The finding opens the possibility that existing drug treatments that block or reduce microglial activation could be used to treat schizophrenia.