2011 News & Careers
Imagine changing the TV channel just by thinking about it,a mental remote control. What was once a science-fiction fantasy is slowly becoming reality: a team of researchers has demonstrated simple mind control of a screen image. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology and University of California, Los Angeles taught patients to consciously change images on a computer screen through the use of individual brain cells. Their study, published last year in Nature, revealed an apparent ability to control the energy of an individual neuron.
A recent breakthrough at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease at the University of California, San Francisco has the potential to radically change the way doctors treat neurodegenerative diseases. Sheng Ding and his lab were able to successfully convert human skin cells into functional brain cells. Published in Cell Stem Cell, the results of the study could potentially wipe out illnesses like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease.
Ever had an annoying yet catchy song stuck in your head? Blame your right anterior temporal lobe. A study investigating the physical and cognitive changes to the brain resulting from different forms of dementia has pinpointed this thumb-shaped region of the brain as the location of well-known songs and melodies.
Tiny robots, called nanobots, may one day be able to propel themselves through the human body during the diagnosis and treatment of disease, thanks to the development of carbon nanotubes recently reported in an October issue of Science. Researchers from the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute at University of Wollongong in Australia have developed an artificial muscle that gives the nanobots their own power source and greater mobility during their journey throughout the body.
A recent study from the University of South Australia has suggested that adolescents who go to sleep and wake up later are at higher risk of becoming obese.The study, published in the October 1 issue of Sleep, compared the weight and free-time activities of 2,200 young Australians between the ages of 9 and 16. Adolescents who both went to bed and woke up late (termed "late-nighters") were 1.5 times more likely to become obese. The body-mass index (BMI) scores of late-nighters was found to be higher (0.66 vs. 0.45) than those of kids who both went to sleep and got up early (termed "early-risers").
The idea of using one disease to fight another may seem like the crazy dreams of mad-scientists. Believe it or not, however, this may be the way cancer is treated in the near future. In recent years, oncologists all over the world have been looking toward using viruses to fight tumors.
Experimental results from the collaborative efforts between two European laboratories, if confirmed, will shake up the field of physics. The research efforts of OPERA, Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory, and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, have reported that neutrinos defy the fundamental rule of physics that nothing travels faster than the speed of light.