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Neurotechnology – Wikipedia

Neurotechnology is any technology that has a fundamental influence on how people understand the brain and various aspects of consciousness, thought, and higher order activities in the brain. It also includes technologies that are designed to improve and repair brain function and allow researchers and clinicians to visualize the brain.

The field of neurotechnology has been around for nearly half a century but has only reached maturity in the last twenty years. The advent of brain imaging revolutionized the field, allowing researchers to directly monitor the brain’s activities during experiments. Neurotechnology has made significant impact on society, though its presence is so commonplace that many do not realize its ubiquity. From pharmaceutical drugs to brain scanning, neurotechnology affects nearly all industrialized people either directly or indirectly, be it from drugs for depression, sleep, ADD, or anti-neurotics to cancer scanning, stroke rehabilitation, and much more.

As the field’s depth increases it will potentially allow society to control and harness more of what the brain does and how it influences lifestyles and personalities. Commonplace technologies already attempt to do this; games like BrainAge,[1] and programs like Fast ForWord[2] that aim to improve brain function, are neurotechnologies.

Currently, modern science can image nearly all aspects of the brain as well as control a degree of the function of the brain. It can help control depression, over-activation, sleep deprivation, and many other conditions. Therapeutically it can help improve stroke victims’ motor coordination, improve brain function, reduce epileptic episodes (see epilepsy), improve patients with degenerative motor diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS), and can even help alleviate phantom pain perception.[3] Advances in the field promise many new enhancements and rehabilitation methods for patients suffering from neurological problems. The neurotechnology revolution has given rise to the Decade of the Mind initiative, which was started in 2007.[4] It also offers the possibility of revealing the mechanisms by which mind and consciousness emerge from the brain.

Magnetoencephalography is a functional neuroimaging technique for mapping brain activity by recording magnetic fields produced by electrical currents occurring naturally in the brain, using very sensitive magnetometers. Arrays of SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices) are the most common magnetometer. Applications of MEG include basic research into perceptual and cognitive brain processes, localizing regions affected by pathology before surgical removal, determining the function of various parts of the brain, and neurofeedback. This can be applied in a clinical setting to find locations of abnormalities as well as in an experimental setting to simply measure brain activity.[5]

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used for scanning the brain for topological and landmark structure in the brain, but can also be used for imaging activation in the brain.[6] While detail about how MRI works is reserved for the actual MRI article, the uses of MRI are far reaching in the study of neuroscience. It is a cornerstone technology in studying the mind, especially with the advent of functional MRI (fMRI).[7] Functional MRI measures the oxygen levels in the brain upon activation (higher oxygen content = neural activation) and allows researchers to understand what loci are responsible for activation under a given stimulus. This technology is a large improvement to single cell or loci activation by means of exposing the brain and contact stimulation. Functional MRI allows researchers to draw associative relationships between different loci and regions of the brain and provides a large amount of knowledge in establishing new landmarks and loci in the brain.[8]

Computed tomography (CT) is another technology used for scanning the brain. It has been used since the 1970s and is another tool used by neuroscientists to track brain structure and activation.[6] While many of the functions of CT scans are now done using MRI, CT can still be used as the mode by which brain activation and brain injury are detected. Using an X-ray, researchers can detect radioactive markers in the brain that indicate brain activation as a tool to establish relationships in the brain as well as detect many injuries/diseases that can cause lasting damage to the brain such as aneurysms, degeneration, and cancer.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is another imaging technology that aids researchers. Instead of using magnetic resonance or X-rays, PET scans rely on positron emitting markers that are bound to a biologically relevant marker such as glucose.[9] The more activation in the brain the more that region requires nutrients, so higher activation appears more brightly on an image of the brain. PET scans are becoming more frequently used by researchers because PET scans are activated due to metabolism whereas MRI is activated on a more physiological basis (sugar activation versus oxygen activation).

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is essentially direct magnetic stimulation to the brain. Because electric currents and magnetic fields are intrinsically related, by stimulating the brain with magnetic pulses it is possible to interfere with specific loci in the brain to produce a predictable effect.[10] This field of study is currently receiving a large amount of attention due to the potential benefits that could come out of better understanding this technology.[11] Transcranial magnetic movement of particles in the brain shows promise for drug targeting and delivery as studies have demonstrated this to be noninvasive on brain physiology.[12]

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of neurostimulation which uses constant, low current delivered via electrodes placed on the scalp. The mechanisms underlying tDCS effects are still incompletely understood, but recent advances in neurotechnology allowing for in vivo assessment of brain electric activity during tDCS[13] promise to advance understanding of these mechanisms. Research into using tDCS on healthy adults have demonstrated that tDCS can increase cognitive performance on a variety of tasks, depending on the area of the brain being stimulated. tDCS has been used to enhance language and mathematical ability (though one form of tDCS was also found to inhibit math learning),[14] attention span, problem solving, memory,[15] and coordination.

Electroencephalography (EEG) is a method of measuring brainwave activity non-invasively. A number of electrodes are placed around the head and scalp and electrical signals are measured. Typically EEGs are used when dealing with sleep, as there are characteristic wave patterns associated with different stages of sleep.[16] Clinically EEGs are used to study epilepsy as well as stroke and tumor presence in the brain. EEGs are a different method to understand the electrical signaling in the brain during activation.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is another method of measuring activity in the brain by measuring the magnetic fields that arise from electrical currents in the brain.[17] The benefit to using MEG instead of EEG is that these fields are highly localized and give rise to better understanding of how specific loci react to stimulation or if these regions over-activate (as in epileptic seizures).

Neurodevices are any devices used to monitor or regulate brain activity. Currently there are a few available for clinical use as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The most common neurodevices are deep brain stimulators (DBS) that are used to give electrical stimulation to areas stricken by inactivity.[18] Parkinson’s disease is known to be caused by an inactivation of the basal ganglia (nuclei) and recently DBS has become the more preferred form of treatment for Parkinson’s disease, although current research questions the efficiency of DBS for movement disorders.[18]

Neuromodulation is a relatively new field that combines the use of neurodevices and neurochemistry. The basis of this field is that the brain can be regulated using a number of different factors (metabolic, electrical stimulation, physiological) and that all these can be modulated by devices implanted in the neural network. While currently this field is still in the researcher phase, it represents a new type of technological integration in the field of neurotechnology. The brain is a very sensitive organ, so in addition to researching the amazing things that neuromodulation and implanted neural devices can produce, it is important to research ways to create devices that elicit as few negative responses from the body as possible. This can be done by modifying the material surface chemistry of neural implants.

Researchers have begun looking at uses for stem cells in the brain, which recently have been found in a few loci. A large number of studies[citation needed] are being done to determine if this form of therapy could be used in a large scale. Experiments have successfully used stem cells in the brains of children who suffered from injuries in gestation and elderly people with degenerative diseases in order to induce the brain to produce new cells and to make more connections between neurons.

Pharmaceuticals play a vital role in maintaining stable brain chemistry, and are the most commonly used neurotechnology by the general public and medicine. Drugs like sertraline, methylphenidate, and zolpidem act as chemical modulators in the brain, and they allow for normal activity in many people whose brains cannot act normally under physiological conditions. While pharmaceuticals are usually not mentioned and have their own field, the role of pharmaceuticals is perhaps the most far-reaching and commonplace in modern society (the focus on this article will largely ignore neuropharmaceuticals, for more information, see neuropsychopharmacology). Movement of magnetic particles to targeted brain regions for drug delivery is an emerging field of study and causes no detectable circuit damage.[19]

Stimulation with low-intensity magnetic fields is currently under study for depression at Harvard Medical School, and has previously been explored by Bell (et al.),[20] Marino (et al.),[21] and others.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a vital tool in neurological research in showing activation in the brain as well as providing a comprehensive image of the brain being studied. While MRIs are used clinically for showing brain size, it still has relevance in the study of brains because it can be used to determine extent of injuries or deformation. These can have a significant effect on personality, sense perception, memory, higher order thinking, movement, and spatial understanding. However, current research tends to focus more so on fMRI or real-time functional MRI (rtfMRI).[22] These two methods allow the scientist or the participant, respectively, to view activation in the brain. This is incredibly vital in understanding how a person thinks and how their brain reacts to a person’s environment, as well as understanding how the brain works under various stressors or dysfunctions. Real-time functional MRI is a revolutionary tool available to neurologists and neuroscientists because patients can see how their brain reacts to stressors and can perceive visual feedback.[8] CT scans are very similar to MRI in their academic use because they can be used to image the brain upon injury, but they are more limited in perceptual feedback.[6] CTs are generally used in clinical studies far more than in academic studies, and are found far more often in a hospital than a research facility. PET scans are also finding more relevance in academia because they can be used to observe metabolic uptake of neurons, giving researchers a wider perspective about neural activity in the brain for a given condition.[9] Combinations of these methods can provide researchers with knowledge of both physiological and metabolic behaviors of loci in the brain and can be used to explain activation and deactivation of parts of the brain under specific conditions.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a relatively new method of studying how the brain functions and is used in many research labs focused on behavioral disorders and hallucinations. What makes TMS research so interesting in the neuroscience community is that it can target specific regions of the brain and shut them down or activate temporarily; thereby changing the way the brain behaves. Personality disorders can stem from a variety of external factors, but when the disorder stems from the circuitry of the brain TMS can be used to deactivate the circuitry. This can give rise to a number of responses, ranging from normality to something more unexpected, but current research is based on the theory that use of TMS could radically change treatment and perhaps act as a cure for personality disorders and hallucinations.[11] Currently, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is being researched to see if this deactivation effect can be made more permanent in patients suffering from these disorders. Some techniques combine TMS and another scanning method such as EEG to get additional information about brain activity such as cortical response.[23]

Both EEG and MEG are currently being used to study the brain’s activity under different conditions. Each uses similar principles but allows researchers to examine individual regions of the brain, allowing isolation and potentially specific classification of active regions. As mentioned above, EEG is very useful in analysis of immobile patients, typically during the sleep cycle. While there are other types of research that utilize EEG,[23] EEG has been fundamental in understanding the resting brain during sleep.[16] There are other potential uses for EEG and MEG such as charting rehabilitation and improvement after trauma as well as testing neural conductivity in specific regions of epileptics or patients with personality disorders.

Neuromodulation can involve numerous technologies combined or used independently to achieve a desired effect in the brain. Gene and cell therapy are becoming more prevalent in research and clinical trials and these technologies could help stunt or even reverse disease progression in the central nervous system. Deep brain stimulation is currently used in many patients with movement disorders and is used to improve the quality of life in patients.[18] While deep brain stimulation is a method to study how the brain functions per se, it provides both surgeons and neurologists important information about how the brain works when certain small regions of the basal ganglia (nuclei) are stimulated by electrical currents.

The future of neurotechnologies lies in how they are fundamentally applied, and not so much on what new versions will be developed. Current technologies give a large amount of insight into the mind and how the brain functions, but basic research is still needed to demonstrate the more applied functions of these technologies. Currently, rtfMRI is being researched as a method for pain therapy. deCharms et al. have shown that there is a significant improvement in the way people perceive pain if they are made aware of how their brain is functioning while in pain. By providing direct and understandable feedback, researchers can help patients with chronic pain decrease their symptoms. This new type of bio/mechanical-feedback is a new development in pain therapy.[8] Functional MRI is also being considered for a number of more applicable uses outside of the clinic. Research has been done on testing the efficiency of mapping the brain in the case when someone lies as a new way to detect lying.[24] Along the same vein, EEG has been considered for use in lie detection as well.[25] TMS is being used in a variety of potential therapies for patients with personality disorders, epilepsy, PTSD, migraine, and other brain-firing disorders, but has been found to have varying clinical success for each condition.[11] The end result of such research would be to develop a method to alter the brain’s perception and firing and train patients’ brains to rewire permanently under inhibiting conditions (for more information see rTMS).[11] In addition, PET scans have been found to be 93% accurate in detecting Alzheimer’s disease nearly 3 years before conventional diagnosis, indicating that PET scanning is becoming more useful in both the laboratory and the clinic.[26]

Stem cell technologies are always salient both in the minds of the general public and scientists because of their large potential. Recent advances in stem cell research have allowed researchers to ethically pursue studies in nearly every facet of the body, which includes the brain. Research has shown that while most of the brain does not regenerate and is typically a very difficult environment to foster regeneration,[27] there are portions of the brain with regenerative capabilities (specifically the hippocampus and the olfactory bulbs).[28] Much of the research in central nervous system regeneration is how to overcome this poor regenerative quality of the brain. It is important to note that there are therapies that improve cognition and increase the amount of neural pathways,[2] but this does not mean that there is a proliferation of neural cells in the brain. Rather, it is called a plastic rewiring of the brain (plastic because it indicates malleability) and is considered a vital part of growth. Nevertheless, many problems in patients stem from death of neurons in the brain, and researchers in the field are striving to produce technologies that enable regeneration in patients with stroke, Parkinson’s diseases, severe trauma, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as many others. While still in fledgling stages of development, researchers have recently begun making very interesting progress in attempting to treat these diseases. Researchers have recently successfully produced dopaminergic neurons for transplant in patients with Parkinson’s diseases with the hopes that they will be able to move again with a more steady supply of dopamine.[29][not in citation given] Many researchers are building scaffolds that could be transplanted into a patient with spinal cord trauma to present an environment that promotes growth of axons (portions of the cell attributed with transmission of electrical signals) so that patients unable to move or feel might be able to do so again.[30] The potentials are wide-ranging, but it is important to note that many of these therapies are still in the laboratory phase and are slowly being adapted in the clinic.[31] Some scientists remain skeptical with the development of the field, and warn that there is a much larger chance that electrical prosthesis will be developed to solve clinical problems such as hearing loss or paralysis before cell therapy is used in a clinic.[32][need quotation to verify]

Novel drug delivery systems are being researched in order to improve the lives of those who struggle with brain disorders that might not be treated with stem cells, modulation, or rehabilitation. Pharmaceuticals play a very important role in society, and the brain has a very selective barrier that prevents some drugs from going from the blood to the brain. There are some diseases of the brain such as meningitis that require doctors to directly inject medicine into the spinal cord because the drug cannot cross the bloodbrain barrier.[33] Research is being conducted to investigate new methods of targeting the brain using the blood supply, as it is much easier to inject into the blood than the spine. New technologies such as nanotechnology are being researched for selective drug delivery, but these technologies have problems as with any other. One of the major setbacks is that when a particle is too large, the patient’s liver will take up the particle and degrade it for excretion, but if the particle is too small there will not be enough drug in the particle to take effect.[34] In addition, the size of the capillary pore is important because too large a particle might not fit or even plug up the hole, preventing adequate supply of the drug to the brain.[34] Other research is involved in integrating a protein device between the layers to create a free-flowing gate that is unimpeded by the limitations of the body. Another direction is receptor-mediated transport, where receptors in the brain used to transport nutrients are manipulated to transport drugs across the bloodbrain barrier.[35] Some have even suggested that focused ultrasound opens the bloodbrain barrier momentarily and allows free passage of chemicals into the brain.[36] Ultimately the goal for drug delivery is to develop a method that maximizes the amount of drug in the loci with as little degraded in the blood stream as possible.

Neuromodulation is a technology currently used for patients with movement disorders, although research is currently being done to apply this technology to other disorders. Recently, a study was done on if DBS could improve depression with positive results, indicating that this technology might have potential as a therapy for multiple disorders in the brain.[32][need quotation to verify] DBS is limited by its high cost however, and in developing countries the availability of DBS is very limited.[18] A new version of DBS is under investigation and has developed into the novel field, optogenetics.[31] Optogenetics is the combination of deep brain stimulation with fiber optics and gene therapy. Essentially, the fiber optic cables are designed to light up under electrical stimulation, and a protein would be added to a neuron via gene therapy to excite it under light stimuli.[37] So by combining these three independent fields, a surgeon could excite a single and specific neuron in order to help treat a patient with some disorder. Neuromodulation offers a wide degree of therapy for many patients, but due to the nature of the disorders it is currently used to treat its effects are often temporary. Future goals in the field hope to alleviate that problem by increasing the years of effect until DBS can be used for the remainder of the patient’s life. Another use for neuromodulation would be in building neuro-interface prosthetic devices that would allow quadriplegics the ability to maneuver a cursor on a screen with their thoughts, thereby increasing their ability to interact with others around them. By understanding the motor cortex and understanding how the brain signals motion, it is possible to emulate this response on a computer screen.[38]

The ethical debate about use of embryonic stem cells has stirred controversy both in the United States and abroad; although more recently these debates have lessened due to modern advances in creating induced pluripotent stem cells from adult cells. The greatest advantage for use of embryonic stem cells is the fact that they can differentiate (become) nearly any type of cell provided the right conditions and signals. However, recent advances by Shinya Yamanaka et al. have found ways to create pluripotent cells without the use of such controversial cell cultures.[39] Using the patient’s own cells and re-differentiating them into the desired cell type bypasses both possible patient rejection of the embryonic stem cells and any ethical concerns associated with using them, while also providing researchers a larger supply of available cells. However, induced pluripotent cells have the potential to form benign (though potentially malignant) tumors, and tend to have poor survivability in vivo (in the living body) on damaged tissue.[40] Much of the ethics concerning use of stem cells has subsided from the embryonic/adult stem cell debate due to its rendered moot, but now societies find themselves debating whether or not this technology can be ethically used. Enhancements of traits, use of animals for tissue scaffolding, and even arguments for moral degeneration have been made with the fears that if this technology reaches its full potential a new paradigm shift will occur in human behavior.

New neurotechnologies have always garnered the appeal of governments, from lie detection technology and virtual reality to rehabilitation and understanding the psyche. Due to the Iraq War and War on Terror, American soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are reported to have percentages up to 12% with PTSD.[41] There are many researchers hoping to improve these peoples’ conditions by implementing new strategies for recovery. By combining pharmaceuticals and neurotechnologies, some researchers have discovered ways of lowering the “fear” response and theorize that it may be applicable to PTSD.[42] Virtual reality is another technology that has drawn much attention in the military. If improved, it could be possible to train soldiers how to deal with complex situations in times of peace, in order to better prepare and train a modern army.

Finally, when these technologies are being developed society must understand that these neurotechnologies could reveal the one thing that people can always keep secret: what they are thinking. While there are large amounts of benefits associated with these technologies, it is necessary for scientists, citizens and policy makers alike to consider implications for privacy.[43] This term is important in many ethical circles concerned with the state and goals of progress in the field of neurotechnology (see Neuroethics). Current improvements such as brain fingerprinting or lie detection using EEG or fMRI could give rise to a set fixture of loci/emotional relationships in the brain, although these technologies are still years away from full application.[43] It is important to consider how all these neurotechnologies might affect the future of society, and it is suggested that political, scientific, and civil debates are heard about the implementation of these newer technologies that potentially offer a new wealth of once-private information.[43] Some ethicists are also concerned with the use of TMS and fear that the technique could be used to alter patients in ways that are undesired by the patient.[11]

Cognitive liberty refers to a suggested right to self-determination of individuals to control their own mental processes, cognition, and consciousness including by the use of various neurotechnologies and psychoactive substances. This perceived right is relevant for reformation and development of associated laws.

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Neurotechnology – Wikipedia

Neurotechnology and the Future of Hope – Robotics Tomorrow (press release)

If researchers can use implanted BCIs to allow people to bypass their muscles, indeed, if these scientists can find a cost-effective, reliable way to work around a damaged or compromised nervous system, people suffering paraplegia, amputation, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s, and a host of other diseases that rob them of their independence, may soon find that the frustrations of daily life are lessened.

Richard van Hooijdonk | Richard van Hooijdonk

Bill Kochevar wears a bright red shirt and what looks like a cast on his right arm. As he raises a fork to his mouth, his movements are awkward and slow, supported by a gravity defying brace mounted on the floor next to his wheelchair.

Hes got a fork full of mashed potatoes, and as he raises it to his mouth, the joy on his face is unmistakable.

It was amazing…I thought about moving my arm and it did!

That may seem unremarkable to you, but since a bicycle collision with a mail truck, Kochevar has been paralysed from the neck down.

Just imagine being paralysed.

Its the stuff of nightmares–wanting to flee and finding your legs rooted in place, unresponsive.

And weve all slept on an arm for long enough to render it dead. Think about that experience now. When you woke up, your limb was just meat, just dead weight that wouldnt move at your beck and call as it should.

Now imagine knowing that no amount of waiting will summon the pins and needles that mean your arm is coming back from the dead, that instead, itll hang lifeless at your side for the rest of your life, and that far from being indispensably useful, youll instead spend every waking moment trying to compensate for this new obstacle, adjusting everything you do from brushing your teeth to driving a car to typing at work–if, indeed, you can work.

Now extend that to multiple limbs or remove them altogether.

You can start to see what its like to live in a body that refuses to cooperate.

Paralysis affects far more people than you might realise. For instance, the Reeve Foundation recently found that 1 in 50 Americans struggle with paralysis caused by stroke, spinal injury, and muscular sclerosis. Nearly a majority are unable to work, a staggering 41.8%.

For them, independence is a dream, something they might remember but no longer experience. But now, advances in neurotech may help them live fuller, more self-sufficient lives.

Mind-controlled wheelchairs and the next step

To help those whove suffered a profound loss of motor control, researchers have been exploring mind-controlled wheelchairs. Rodrigo Quevedo, a Chilean engineer, has developed a design in his Idea factory. His motivating passion, he says, is to do something so [paraplegics] can move. Rodrigos current designs steer the chair by subtle head movements, but hes hoping to make the move to neural control soon.

Diwakar Vaish beat Rodrigo to the punch. This young Indian tech guru has developed the first commercially available wheelchair that features a brain computer interface (BCI). The user need only wear a headset that collects information from her brains electrical impulses, the neural storm that accompanies thought. The BCI translates these minute electrical signals into a language a computer can understand, something like a sophisticated google translate of thoughts. Now that the computer can grasp what a particular thought looks like, it can react and obey.

In Vaishs system, the non-invasive headset connects the users brain to the chair via Bluetooth, and augmented by proximity and terrain sensors, this has allowed even the most stricken patients a measure of autonomy. All thats demanded of the user is a healthy brain, so even those trapped by Locked-in Syndrome can use the new chair. As Vaish told The Sunday Guardian, We have tried it on patients who are in a vegetative state, but their brain is functional and it was successful.

The next steps are to move beyond motorised chairs and into the world of exoskeletons. Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian neuroscientist, has been working together with colleagues at Duke University as part of the Walk Again Project to design a wireless system that allows control of a wheelchair with thought alone. By implanting a tiny BCI in the brain of two rhesus monkeys, chosen for their similarity to human beings, they were able to demonstrate that it could control the movements of the chair. Hes pursuing this method because, as he explained to the Mirror, In some severely disabled people, even blinking is not possible. For them, using a wheelchair or device controlled by non invasive measures like an EEG, a device that monitors brain waves through electrodes on the scalp, may not be sufficient. To provide the control they need, invasive measures are necessary.

Nicolelis goal, then, isnt to duplicate Vaishs design. Instead, he wants eventually to develop robotic exoskeletons that are nothing less than an extension of their users mind, a dream he thinks is within reach given the data from these early experiments. For his test monkeys, the chair became something more than a means to get from one place to another; in fact, the wheelchair is being assimilated by the monkeys brain as an extension of its bodily representation of itself. If Nicolelis is right, he might be taking the first steps toward real mobility for paraplegics and others with profound motor impairment. We are not focused on the wheelchair, he promises.

Until now, if you lost an arm–but still had enough of one to be fitted for a prosthesis–doctors could fit you with an artificial arm that you could learn to control by moving the muscles left in your stump. These cumbersome systems are hobbled on a lot of these ifs: if the patient has enough remaining tissue, if the tissue still allows muscle movement, if the prosthetic arm can work well enough outside the lab.

These ifs fall on patients live like a thick blanket of snow, quickly obscuring the way forward. Thats why as many as half of these patients find their new arms collecting dust.

But scientists are well aware of these technological limitations, and their working to overcome them. One example of promising research comes from Johns Hopkins. Working with an epilepsy patient who needed his brain mapped to help him combat his seizures, a process wherein doctors implant tiny electrodes to stimulate the brain at precise–and unique–points, a research team led by Nathan Crone was able to implant a tiny BCI as well. 128 sensors in an areas about the size of a credit card were attached to the part of the mans brain that controls the arm and hand. After mapping exactly how the patients brain worked with a special glove, this interface allowed the Hopkins team to bypass the patients body and use only his thoughts to control the individual fingers of a robotic hand.

Initial results were promising; after mapping his brain, the test patient was able to control the robotic hand with 76% accuracy. By refining the control of the prosthesis–pairing the ring and pinky fingers together, that number rose to 88%. Thats no small feat!

The advantage of a system like this is not only that it can allow functional independence to people who had given up on caring for themselves, but also that it isnt artificial. Patients need merely think about what they want to do–and the artificial limb, chair, or robotic appendage does what its supposed to do. Case Western Reserve University is experimenting with implanted BCIs that have returned a measure of control to Kochevar. Now able to feed himself, hold a cup, and manipulate a fork, he explains, I think about what I want to do and the system does it for me. Its not a lot of thinking about it. When I want to do something, my brain does what it does. The researchers working with him think this is only the beginning.

With further development, we believe the technology could give more accurate control, allowing a wider range of actions, which could begin to transform the lives of people living with paralysis, Bolu Ajiboye, the lead scientist for this study told The Guardian.

Ajiboyes optimism is bolstered by the success of patients like Kochevar, who can slowly raise a mug to his lips and drink from a straw. For someone with quadriplegia to gain even this limited mobility is life-changing, and this advance charts the course for future innovations and provides powerful new tools to help those in need.

If researchers can use implanted BCIs to allow people to bypass their muscles, indeed, if these scientists can find a cost-effective, reliable way to work around a damaged or compromised nervous system, people suffering paraplegia, amputation, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s, and a host of other diseases that rob them of their independence, may soon find that the frustrations of daily life are lessened. For futurists and trendwatchers, the promise is clear.

This new breed of BCI, powered by advances in neuroscience, isnt just technology.

Its hope.

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Neurotechnology and the Future of Hope – Robotics Tomorrow (press release)

What is NIT? Neurotechnology Innovations Translator

NIT started with a clean slate, asking a simple question: How can neurotech companies pioneer these innovations in todays medtech world? The result? Neurotech development, completely reimagined.

NIT is a cutting-edge translational center–a private, for-profit company, formed in collaboration with over a dozen Partners, with a mission to develop and commercialize pioneering neurotechnology solutions to improve patient well-being.Built with the vision of developing a select number of high-quality, commercially-oriented companies, NIT brings together the vision, leadership, expertise,network, resources, personnel and capital to create the pre-eminent development ecosystem in the compelling frontier of neuroscience. NIT’s translational approach substantially reduces risk and required capital for companies and their investors by accelerating the development cycle, avoiding pitfalls, and propelling companies through development to commercial success.NIT will create or attract multiple companies sourced from a global pipeline of innovation.Whether an idea on a napkin, or a more mature neurotech company that is further along in the development pathway, NIT will invest in, and engage with, a select number of attractive neurotechnology companies that will benefit from NITs resources and model to accelerate their success.

NIT is not an incubator; not a venture capital firm; not a contract manufacturing house; not a clinical trialing organization…per se.Instead, NIT brings the best of what each of these other entities has tried to deliver, comprehensively, under one translational center, borrowing their best attributes, but transforming them into an entity that provides a cocoon for your companys success in todays challenging landscape.The result: far more than just capital or seasoned advice–a comprehensive solution, providing the expertise, resources, and capital to propel your company from concept-to-clinic, and subsequently to commercial success.

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What is NIT? Neurotechnology Innovations Translator

How Neurostimulation can help with stroke rehabilitation and create super-soldiers of the future [Q&A] – BetaNews

My dad had a stroke in his early 60s that left him partially paralyzed. He later had another stroke that killed him. That had a big impact on my life, and since then Ive been interested in stroke research, and medical advancements in that field.

Neurostimulation in particular is proving beneficial to stroke victims, and I spoke to Nexeon CEO and neurotechnology expert Will Rosellini and Director of Clinical Research Navid Khodaparast about how its helping enhance stroke rehabilitation, and its future potential for augmenting healthy brains.

BN: What is neurostimulation therapy?

WR: Neurostimulation encompasses any therapy that deliberately modifies the electrical signals in the nervous system to illicit a therapeutic response. There are over 600 diseases of the nervous system, including sporadic seizures, tremors, chronic pain, uncontrolled bladder, just to name a few. Symptoms associated with nerve dysfunction have been controlled or treated with surgery, pharmacotherapy, and behavior modification. And while these approaches can help relieve a patient of a lot or almost all of his or her issues, these treatments have the common risk of introducing undesired side effects. Some of these treatments can be deficient in yielding the best outcomes for patients because they aim only to mask the symptoms of the disease, rather than to attack the etiology, or the cause, of the chronic condition.

NK: Neurostimulation uses pacemaker-like technology via both invasive and noninvasive solutions to deliver electricity directly to nerves, the spinal cord, or parts of the brain to treat these conditions. When you disrupt, change, improve, or restart these electrical signals, function restores and quality-of-life can be maintained.

BN: How does it enhance stroke rehabilitation?

WR: The Microtransponder Vivistim System stimulates the vagus nerve while the patient is undergoing physical rehabilitation, which essentially tells the brain to “pay attention” to that rehabilitative movement. This simultaneous pairing of a specific movement with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) strengthens the motor circuits associated with the movement. Repeatedly pairing VNS with specific movements helps rebuild those damaged motor circuits and promotes relearning of activities of daily living (i.e. picking up a cup). The research team at Microtransponder continues to investigate paired plasticity as a means to help patients regain upper limb function. Their most recent publication in the American Heart Association journal Stroke in January of 2017 supports their ongoing hypotheses. This therapy is still in its investigational stage, Microtransponder is currently recruiting additional ischemic stroke survivors to further test this therapy in the US.

BN: What proof is there that it works?

NK: Before joining Rosellini at Nexeon, I spent years working with a team of brilliant neuroscientists and engineers at University of Texas at Dallas to develop the application of neurostimulation for the treatment of stroke. My PhD work focused on the efficacy of pairing short bursts of VNS while a stroke sufferer performs a specific rehabilitative motor task. Through my preclinical and clinical research (see the links at the bottom), we were continually advancing our original hypothesis to be true: that delivering VNS during physical rehabilitation time locks the release of pro-plasticity neurotransmitters, which ultimately helps restore motor function. In this way, the device helps the brain to focus on the right cues to “re-learn” how to use your arm.

BN: Can it be used to augment a healthy brain?

WR: [The US government funded] DARPA (Department Advanced Research Programs Agency) has recently funded a new program, Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT), which seeks to advance the pace and effectiveness of a specific kind of learning — cognitive skills training. Through the precise activation of peripheral nerves, the neurostimulation technology can in turn promote and strengthen neuronal connections in the brain. TNT will pursue development of a platform technology to enhance learning of a wide range of cognitive skills, with a goal of reducing the cost and duration of the Defense Departments extensive training regimen, while improving outcomes. If successful, TNT and other research programs funded under this same initiative could accelerate learning and reduce the time needed to train foreign language specialists, intelligence analysts, cryptographers, and others.

NK: This is a natural transition of scientific discovery. Many of the patients who suffer from some chronic neurological disease are also demonstrating signs of cognitive decline. Were getting traction on repairing a nervous system that has been damaged or suffered trauma, but were learning in parallel the manifestation of cognitive impairments in neurological disease. With our flexibility at Nexeon, were working on a neurostimulation product that would help improve cognition, and more importantly, improve overall quality-of-life.

WR: And the opportunity to augment a healthy brain doesnt stop at superior clinical therapies and device development. With the increased sophistication of the firmware, the ability to now stream new data inputs that have never been considered before, and the more widespread understanding of how neurostim could be used for disease therapy and enhancement, many new players are entering the field of neurotechnology that could make a considerable impact. Just this year, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg announced their plans to explore this new frontier related to brain-computer interfaces, which is exciting to have those visionaries track records shining a light on the tech in development in this space.

BN: How do you see the field developing? What’s the ultimate aim?

WR: Theres a lot of work to be done in this field. Our primary target is to commercialize our deep brain stimulation product in Europe. Based on the current deficiencies in current product offerings, weve learned from leading DBS physicians that the next inflection point in therapy improvement centers around LFP recordings, or brain activity — creating devices that can listen and record to how the brain or nerve is responding to the prescribed stimulation. For decades, neurostimulators have worked one-way, sending electricity to the targeted area; improvements in a patients condition then came from visual exam and verbal feedback. But as the implants have gotten more sophisticated, they are able to record activity within the nervous system while simultaneously stimulating. Much like a doctor would ask a patient how he or she is feeling, perform a physical exam, but then also use a stethoscope to listen to how the patients heart is beating or the lungs are functioning, this LFP recording capability allows the physician to “listen” to the brain.

NK: Neural recording will further our understanding of disease onset and progression, therapeutic efficacy, and comorbidity management. We plan to use this knowledge to support physicians in providing the best treatment for more patients in the most efficient way possible; we will automate the delivery of therapy; and we will eventually deploy this model to support people in their pursuit of living with a healthy and/or enhanced quality-of-life.

While Will and the management team are executing on launching the DBS system, Ive been working with our research division in various clinical and preclinical studies utilizing peripheral nerve stimulation for atrial fibrillation, dysphagia, and asthma. Through ongoing collaborations with scientists, healthcare providers, engineers, patients, and patient families, we aim to create solutions that not only improve the quality-of-life for the patient, but do so by the most efficient and predictable means possible, thus supporting a healthcare system that increases access to the highest quality-of-care for more people.

WR: But now, as we understand and improve how we can help “sick” people get back to “normal”, there is already considerable discussion around how we leverage this science to take “healthy” people to a higher level, or augmented, version of themselves.

BN: How did you get into Neurostimulation?

WR: For a good portion of my teens and early twenties, I was focused on becoming a career baseball player. After playing in college, I was drafted and pitched in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. What I learned at the pro level was that given the same coaching, equipment and largely the same physical tools, there were some pitchers that could control their body-mechanics more predictably under stress than the rest of us. I eventually realized that it was because of superior nervous system function. That fascination is what eventually energized a now 15+ year career in neuroscience research, and more specifically, translational medicine.

NK: Rosellini and I share that same fascination, which is why we work so well together. But my background doesnt include professional sports. Instead, I didnt recognize how much it piqued my interest until I was wrapping up my first year of med school. I discovered that working with patients is fulfilling, but being limited in the tools to help them is frustrating. Im a problem solver by nature, so the research component of developing clinical solutions excited me. Eventually, I left med school to pursue my PhD work in cognitive neuroscience. Im working with some of the most versatile devices and helping patients in ways that wasnt even possible. Now, I cant imagine working in a different space.

Further reading:

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How Neurostimulation can help with stroke rehabilitation and create super-soldiers of the future [Q&A] – BetaNews

Canaccord Genuity Keeps Rating And Raises Price Target On Stryker Corporation (SYK) – Modern Readers

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Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK).

On June 30 analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald starting coverage on the stock giving it an initial rating of Neutral. On May 16, 2017 Goldman Sachs released its first research report on the stock by announcing an initial rating of Neutral.

In the market the company is trading down by -0.12% since yesterdays close of $138.36. Additionally the company recently declared a dividend which will be paid on Tuesday the 31st of October 2017. The dividend will be $0.425 per share for the quarter which is $1.70 annualized. The dividend yield will be $1.17. The ex-dividend date will be on Wednesday the 28th of June 2017.

The stock last traded at $138.19 which is marginally lower than the 50 day moving average of $144.81 and which is slightly above the 200 day moving average of $136.90. The 50 day moving average was down by -4.54% and the 200 day average went up $1.34 or +0.98%.

Stryker Corporation (Stryker), launched on February 20, 1946, is a medical technology company. The Company offers a range of medical technologies, including orthopedic, medical and surgical, and neurotechnology and spine products. The Businesss segments include Orthopaedics; MedSurg; Neurotechnology and Spine, and Corporate and Other. The Orthopaedics segment includes reconstructive (hip and knee) and trauma implant systems and other related products. The Businesss MedSurg segment consists of instruments, endoscopy, medical and sustainability products. The Neurotechnology and Spine segment includes neurovascular products, spinal implant systems and other related products..

Stryker Corporations P/E ratio is 30.86 and market capitalization is 51.71B. As of the last earnings report the EPS was $4.48 and is projected to be $6.50 for the current year with 374,063,000 shares outstanding. Analysts expect next quarters EPS to be $1.95 with next years EPS anticipated to be $7.11.

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Canaccord Genuity Keeps Rating And Raises Price Target On Stryker Corporation (SYK) – Modern Readers

Technology Key to Fighting Neurological Disease – R & D Magazine

New technologies may be on the way to better help doctors diagnose and treat patients with neurological diseases.

Researchers from the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) have come together to develop several new technologies, including an artificial intelligence system that can accurately identify types of traumatic brain injuries from computed tomography (CT) scans.

Innovation occurs at intersections of disciplines, knowledge and expertise, associate professor Ng Wai Hoe, Medical Director of the National Neuroscience Institute, said in a statement. Doctors have a deep understanding of clinical needs from their everyday interactions with patients.

Our unique collaboration brings these medical needs to engineering laboratoriesan environment where imagination is encouraged in the form of technological advances and capabilities.

The researchers also plan to develop a computer algorithm for more precise identification of tissues during brain surgeries, which aim to restore the neurological functions of patients suffering from various conditions including Parkinsons disease.

A new fellowship programmanaged by NTUs Institute for Health Technologieswill see up to two neurosurgical residents at NNI work full-time with NTU professors on campus, with each resident receiving $100,000 to complete and commercialize these projects.

The program was designed to foster a relationship over the next three years between medical practitioners and engineers through annual fellowships and student attachment programs.

The rapidly ageing population will lead to a significant rise in neurological diseases globally, Hoe said. By harnessing the power of the human brain, neurotechnology can provide solutions to revolutionize the treatment of brain disorders.

This partnership has great potential to be an innovation launchpad for neurotechnology.

A student attachment program aimed at grooming multidisciplinary scientists will also be introduced, giving students an opportunity to widen their engineering knowledge into medical practice, gaining first-hand exposure to various aspects of clinical medicine by interacting with neurosurgeons.

Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Chief of Staff and Vice President for Research, said the new technology will assist the next wave of doctors.

This collaboration creates a unique multidisciplinary research environment by integrating healthcare with both medical and engineering expertise from NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and College of Engineering, Yong said in a statement. This will not only nurture next-generation doctors armed with a multidisciplinary skillset to meet Singapore’s healthcare needs, but also enhance medical technologies to diagnose and treat neurological conditions more effectively.

In Switzerland, additional technological advancements are making an impact in the treatment of neurological disorders.

Researchers from the National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics at cole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne (EPFL) and at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, have developed an algorithm to help those paralyzed by a neurological disorder or injury. The algorithm helps a robotic harness facilitate the movements of patients, enabling them to move naturally. This new technology could help patients regain their locomotor skills

A variety of neurological disorders including stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, can lead to paralysis. Currently, people with motor disabilities rehabilitate by walking on a treadmill with the upper torso being supported by an apparatus. However, this can be either too rigid or does not allow the patient to move naturally in all directions.

Locomotor rehabilitation requires helping the nervous system relearn the right movements, which is difficult due to the loss of muscle mass in patients, as well as train the neurological wiring that has forgotten correct posture.

The researchers designed the algorithm to overcome these obstacles. The robotic rehabilitation harness was tested on more than 30 patients and markedly and immediately improved the patients locomotor abilities.

The harnesscalled the smart walk assistis a body-weight support system that manages to resist the force of gravity and push the patient in a given direction to recreate a natural gait and movement that the patient needs in their everyday lives.

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Technology Key to Fighting Neurological Disease – R & D Magazine

Neurotechnology – Wikipedia

Neurotechnology is any technology that has a fundamental influence on how people understand the brain and various aspects of consciousness, thought, and higher order activities in the brain. It also includes technologies that are designed to improve and repair brain function and allow researchers and clinicians to visualize the brain.

The field of neurotechnology has been around for nearly half a century but has only reached maturity in the last twenty years. The advent of brain imaging revolutionized the field, allowing researchers to directly monitor the brain’s activities during experiments. Neurotechnology has made significant impact on society, though its presence is so commonplace that many do not realize its ubiquity. From pharmaceutical drugs to brain scanning, neurotechnology affects nearly all industrialized people either directly or indirectly, be it from drugs for depression, sleep, ADD, or anti-neurotics to cancer scanning, stroke rehabilitation, and much more.

As the field’s depth increases it will potentially allow society to control and harness more of what the brain does and how it influences lifestyles and personalities. Commonplace technologies already attempt to do this; games like BrainAge,[1] and programs like Fast ForWord[2] that aim to improve brain function, are neurotechnologies.

Currently, modern science can image nearly all aspects of the brain as well as control a degree of the function of the brain. It can help control depression, over-activation, sleep deprivation, and many other conditions. Therapeutically it can help improve stroke victims’ motor coordination, improve brain function, reduce epileptic episodes (see epilepsy), improve patients with degenerative motor diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS), and can even help alleviate phantom pain perception.[3] Advances in the field promise many new enhancements and rehabilitation methods for patients suffering from neurological problems. The neurotechnology revolution has given rise to the Decade of the Mind initiative, which was started in 2007.[4] It also offers the possibility of revealing the mechanisms by which mind and consciousness emerge from the brain.

Magnetoencephalography is a functional neuroimaging technique for mapping brain activity by recording magnetic fields produced by electrical currents occurring naturally in the brain, using very sensitive magnetometers. Arrays of SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices) are the most common magnetometer. Applications of MEG include basic research into perceptual and cognitive brain processes, localizing regions affected by pathology before surgical removal, determining the function of various parts of the brain, and neurofeedback. This can be applied in a clinical setting to find locations of abnormalities as well as in an experimental setting to simply measure brain activity.[5]

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used for scanning the brain for topological and landmark structure in the brain, but can also be used for imaging activation in the brain.[6] While detail about how MRI works is reserved for the actual MRI article, the uses of MRI are far reaching in the study of neuroscience. It is a cornerstone technology in studying the mind, especially with the advent of functional MRI (fMRI).[7] Functional MRI measures the oxygen levels in the brain upon activation (higher oxygen content = neural activation) and allows researchers to understand what loci are responsible for activation under a given stimulus. This technology is a large improvement to single cell or loci activation by means of exposing the brain and contact stimulation. Functional MRI allows researchers to draw associative relationships between different loci and regions of the brain and provides a large amount of knowledge in establishing new landmarks and loci in the brain.[8]

Computed tomography (CT) is another technology used for scanning the brain. It has been used since the 1970s and is another tool used by neuroscientists to track brain structure and activation.[6] While many of the functions of CT scans are now done using MRI, CT can still be used as the mode by which brain activation and brain injury are detected. Using an X-ray, researchers can detect radioactive markers in the brain that indicate brain activation as a tool to establish relationships in the brain as well as detect many injuries/diseases that can cause lasting damage to the brain such as aneurysms, degeneration, and cancer.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is another imaging technology that aids researchers. Instead of using magnetic resonance or X-rays, PET scans rely on positron emitting markers that are bound to a biologically relevant marker such as glucose.[9] The more activation in the brain the more that region requires nutrients, so higher activation appears more brightly on an image of the brain. PET scans are becoming more frequently used by researchers because PET scans are activated due to metabolism whereas MRI is activated on a more physiological basis (sugar activation versus oxygen activation).

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is essentially direct magnetic stimulation to the brain. Because electric currents and magnetic fields are intrinsically related, by stimulating the brain with magnetic pulses it is possible to interfere with specific loci in the brain to produce a predictable effect.[10] This field of study is currently receiving a large amount of attention due to the potential benefits that could come out of better understanding this technology.[11] Transcranial magnetic movement of particles in the brain shows promise for drug targeting and delivery as studies have demonstrated this to be noninvasive on brain physiology.[12]

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of neurostimulation which uses constant, low current delivered via electrodes placed on the scalp. The mechanisms underlying tDCS effects are still incompletely understood, but recent advances in neurotechnology allowing for in vivo assessment of brain electric activity during tDCS[13] promise to advance understanding of these mechanisms. Research into using tDCS on healthy adults have demonstrated that tDCS can increase cognitive performance on a variety of tasks, depending on the area of the brain being stimulated. tDCS has been used to enhance language and mathematical ability (though one form of tDCS was also found to inhibit math learning),[14] attention span, problem solving, memory,[15] and coordination.

Electroencephalography (EEG) is a method of measuring brainwave activity non-invasively. A number of electrodes are placed around the head and scalp and electrical signals are measured. Typically EEGs are used when dealing with sleep, as there are characteristic wave patterns associated with different stages of sleep.[16] Clinically EEGs are used to study epilepsy as well as stroke and tumor presence in the brain. EEGs are a different method to understand the electrical signaling in the brain during activation.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is another method of measuring activity in the brain by measuring the magnetic fields that arise from electrical currents in the brain.[17] The benefit to using MEG instead of EEG is that these fields are highly localized and give rise to better understanding of how specific loci react to stimulation or if these regions over-activate (as in epileptic seizures).

Neurodevices are any devices used to monitor or regulate brain activity. Currently there are a few available for clinical use as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The most common neurodevices are deep brain stimulators (DBS) that are used to give electrical stimulation to areas stricken by inactivity.[18] Parkinson’s disease is known to be caused by an inactivation of the basal ganglia (nuclei) and recently DBS has become the more preferred form of treatment for Parkinson’s disease, although current research questions the efficiency of DBS for movement disorders.[18]

Neuromodulation is a relatively new field that combines the use of neurodevices and neurochemistry. The basis of this field is that the brain can be regulated using a number of different factors (metabolic, electrical stimulation, physiological) and that all these can be modulated by devices implanted in the neural network. While currently this field is still in the researcher phase, it represents a new type of technological integration in the field of neurotechnology. The brain is a very sensitive organ, so in addition to researching the amazing things that neuromodulation and implanted neural devices can produce, it is important to research ways to create devices that elicit as few negative responses from the body as possible. This can be done by modifying the material surface chemistry of neural implants.

Researchers have begun looking at uses for stem cells in the brain, which recently have been found in a few loci. A large number of studies[citation needed] are being done to determine if this form of therapy could be used in a large scale. Experiments have successfully used stem cells in the brains of children who suffered from injuries in gestation and elderly people with degenerative diseases in order to induce the brain to produce new cells and to make more connections between neurons.

Pharmaceuticals play a vital role in maintaining stable brain chemistry, and are the most commonly used neurotechnology by the general public and medicine. Drugs like sertraline, methylphenidate, and zolpidem act as chemical modulators in the brain, and they allow for normal activity in many people whose brains cannot act normally under physiological conditions. While pharmaceuticals are usually not mentioned and have their own field, the role of pharmaceuticals is perhaps the most far-reaching and commonplace in modern society (the focus on this article will largely ignore neuropharmaceuticals, for more information, see neuropsychopharmacology). Movement of magnetic particles to targeted brain regions for drug delivery is an emerging field of study and causes no detectable circuit damage.[19]

Stimulation with low-intensity magnetic fields is currently under study for depression at Harvard Medical School, and has previously been explored by Bell (et al.),[20] Marino (et al.),[21] and others.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a vital tool in neurological research in showing activation in the brain as well as providing a comprehensive image of the brain being studied. While MRIs are used clinically for showing brain size, it still has relevance in the study of brains because it can be used to determine extent of injuries or deformation. These can have a significant effect on personality, sense perception, memory, higher order thinking, movement, and spatial understanding. However, current research tends to focus more so on fMRI or real-time functional MRI (rtfMRI).[22] These two methods allow the scientist or the participant, respectively, to view activation in the brain. This is incredibly vital in understanding how a person thinks and how their brain reacts to a person’s environment, as well as understanding how the brain works under various stressors or dysfunctions. Real-time functional MRI is a revolutionary tool available to neurologists and neuroscientists because patients can see how their brain reacts to stressors and can perceive visual feedback.[8] CT scans are very similar to MRI in their academic use because they can be used to image the brain upon injury, but they are more limited in perceptual feedback.[6] CTs are generally used in clinical studies far more than in academic studies, and are found far more often in a hospital than a research facility. PET scans are also finding more relevance in academia because they can be used to observe metabolic uptake of neurons, giving researchers a wider perspective about neural activity in the brain for a given condition.[9] Combinations of these methods can provide researchers with knowledge of both physiological and metabolic behaviors of loci in the brain and can be used to explain activation and deactivation of parts of the brain under specific conditions.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a relatively new method of studying how the brain functions and is used in many research labs focused on behavioral disorders and hallucinations. What makes TMS research so interesting in the neuroscience community is that it can target specific regions of the brain and shut them down or activate temporarily; thereby changing the way the brain behaves. Personality disorders can stem from a variety of external factors, but when the disorder stems from the circuitry of the brain TMS can be used to deactivate the circuitry. This can give rise to a number of responses, ranging from normality to something more unexpected, but current research is based on the theory that use of TMS could radically change treatment and perhaps act as a cure for personality disorders and hallucinations.[11] Currently, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is being researched to see if this deactivation effect can be made more permanent in patients suffering from these disorders. Some techniques combine TMS and another scanning method such as EEG to get additional information about brain activity such as cortical response.[23]

Both EEG and MEG are currently being used to study the brain’s activity under different conditions. Each uses similar principles but allows researchers to examine individual regions of the brain, allowing isolation and potentially specific classification of active regions. As mentioned above, EEG is very useful in analysis of immobile patients, typically during the sleep cycle. While there are other types of research that utilize EEG,[23] EEG has been fundamental in understanding the resting brain during sleep.[16] There are other potential uses for EEG and MEG such as charting rehabilitation and improvement after trauma as well as testing neural conductivity in specific regions of epileptics or patients with personality disorders.

Neuromodulation can involve numerous technologies combined or used independently to achieve a desired effect in the brain. Gene and cell therapy are becoming more prevalent in research and clinical trials and these technologies could help stunt or even reverse disease progression in the central nervous system. Deep brain stimulation is currently used in many patients with movement disorders and is used to improve the quality of life in patients.[18] While deep brain stimulation is a method to study how the brain functions per se, it provides both surgeons and neurologists important information about how the brain works when certain small regions of the basal ganglia (nuclei) are stimulated by electrical currents.

The future of neurotechnologies lies in how they are fundamentally applied, and not so much on what new versions will be developed. Current technologies give a large amount of insight into the mind and how the brain functions, but basic research is still needed to demonstrate the more applied functions of these technologies. Currently, rtfMRI is being researched as a method for pain therapy. deCharms et al. have shown that there is a significant improvement in the way people perceive pain if they are made aware of how their brain is functioning while in pain. By providing direct and understandable feedback, researchers can help patients with chronic pain decrease their symptoms. This new type of bio/mechanical-feedback is a new development in pain therapy.[8] Functional MRI is also being considered for a number of more applicable uses outside of the clinic. Research has been done on testing the efficiency of mapping the brain in the case when someone lies as a new way to detect lying.[24] Along the same vein, EEG has been considered for use in lie detection as well.[25] TMS is being used in a variety of potential therapies for patients with personality disorders, epilepsy, PTSD, migraine, and other brain-firing disorders, but has been found to have varying clinical success for each condition.[11] The end result of such research would be to develop a method to alter the brain’s perception and firing and train patients’ brains to rewire permanently under inhibiting conditions (for more information see rTMS).[11] In addition, PET scans have been found to be 93% accurate in detecting Alzheimer’s disease nearly 3 years before conventional diagnosis, indicating that PET scanning is becoming more useful in both the laboratory and the clinic.[26]

Stem cell technologies are always salient both in the minds of the general public and scientists because of their large potential. Recent advances in stem cell research have allowed researchers to ethically pursue studies in nearly every facet of the body, which includes the brain. Research has shown that while most of the brain does not regenerate and is typically a very difficult environment to foster regeneration,[27] there are portions of the brain with regenerative capabilities (specifically the hippocampus and the olfactory bulbs).[28] Much of the research in central nervous system regeneration is how to overcome this poor regenerative quality of the brain. It is important to note that there are therapies that improve cognition and increase the amount of neural pathways,[2] but this does not mean that there is a proliferation of neural cells in the brain. Rather, it is called a plastic rewiring of the brain (plastic because it indicates malleability) and is considered a vital part of growth. Nevertheless, many problems in patients stem from death of neurons in the brain, and researchers in the field are striving to produce technologies that enable regeneration in patients with stroke, Parkinson’s diseases, severe trauma, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as many others. While still in fledgling stages of development, researchers have recently begun making very interesting progress in attempting to treat these diseases. Researchers have recently successfully produced dopaminergic neurons for transplant in patients with Parkinson’s diseases with the hopes that they will be able to move again with a more steady supply of dopamine.[29][not in citation given] Many researchers are building scaffolds that could be transplanted into a patient with spinal cord trauma to present an environment that promotes growth of axons (portions of the cell attributed with transmission of electrical signals) so that patients unable to move or feel might be able to do so again.[30] The potentials are wide-ranging, but it is important to note that many of these therapies are still in the laboratory phase and are slowly being adapted in the clinic.[31] Some scientists remain skeptical with the development of the field, and warn that there is a much larger chance that electrical prosthesis will be developed to solve clinical problems such as hearing loss or paralysis before cell therapy is used in a clinic.[32][need quotation to verify]

Novel drug delivery systems are being researched in order to improve the lives of those who struggle with brain disorders that might not be treated with stem cells, modulation, or rehabilitation. Pharmaceuticals play a very important role in society, and the brain has a very selective barrier that prevents some drugs from going from the blood to the brain. There are some diseases of the brain such as meningitis that require doctors to directly inject medicine into the spinal cord because the drug cannot cross the bloodbrain barrier.[33] Research is being conducted to investigate new methods of targeting the brain using the blood supply, as it is much easier to inject into the blood than the spine. New technologies such as nanotechnology are being researched for selective drug delivery, but these technologies have problems as with any other. One of the major setbacks is that when a particle is too large, the patient’s liver will take up the particle and degrade it for excretion, but if the particle is too small there will not be enough drug in the particle to take effect.[34] In addition, the size of the capillary pore is important because too large a particle might not fit or even plug up the hole, preventing adequate supply of the drug to the brain.[34] Other research is involved in integrating a protein device between the layers to create a free-flowing gate that is unimpeded by the limitations of the body. Another direction is receptor-mediated transport, where receptors in the brain used to transport nutrients are manipulated to transport drugs across the bloodbrain barrier.[35] Some have even suggested that focused ultrasound opens the bloodbrain barrier momentarily and allows free passage of chemicals into the brain.[36] Ultimately the goal for drug delivery is to develop a method that maximizes the amount of drug in the loci with as little degraded in the blood stream as possible.

Neuromodulation is a technology currently used for patients with movement disorders, although research is currently being done to apply this technology to other disorders. Recently, a study was done on if DBS could improve depression with positive results, indicating that this technology might have potential as a therapy for multiple disorders in the brain.[32][need quotation to verify] DBS is limited by its high cost however, and in developing countries the availability of DBS is very limited.[18] A new version of DBS is under investigation and has developed into the novel field, optogenetics.[31] Optogenetics is the combination of deep brain stimulation with fiber optics and gene therapy. Essentially, the fiber optic cables are designed to light up under electrical stimulation, and a protein would be added to a neuron via gene therapy to excite it under light stimuli.[37] So by combining these three independent fields, a surgeon could excite a single and specific neuron in order to help treat a patient with some disorder. Neuromodulation offers a wide degree of therapy for many patients, but due to the nature of the disorders it is currently used to treat its effects are often temporary. Future goals in the field hope to alleviate that problem by increasing the years of effect until DBS can be used for the remainder of the patient’s life. Another use for neuromodulation would be in building neuro-interface prosthetic devices that would allow quadriplegics the ability to maneuver a cursor on a screen with their thoughts, thereby increasing their ability to interact with others around them. By understanding the motor cortex and understanding how the brain signals motion, it is possible to emulate this response on a computer screen.[38]

The ethical debate about use of embryonic stem cells has stirred controversy both in the United States and abroad; although more recently these debates have lessened due to modern advances in creating induced pluripotent stem cells from adult cells. The greatest advantage for use of embryonic stem cells is the fact that they can differentiate (become) nearly any type of cell provided the right conditions and signals. However, recent advances by Shinya Yamanaka et al. have found ways to create pluripotent cells without the use of such controversial cell cultures.[39] Using the patient’s own cells and re-differentiating them into the desired cell type bypasses both possible patient rejection of the embryonic stem cells and any ethical concerns associated with using them, while also providing researchers a larger supply of available cells. However, induced pluripotent cells have the potential to form benign (though potentially malignant) tumors, and tend to have poor survivability in vivo (in the living body) on damaged tissue.[40] Much of the ethics concerning use of stem cells has subsided from the embryonic/adult stem cell debate due to its rendered moot, but now societies find themselves debating whether or not this technology can be ethically used. Enhancements of traits, use of animals for tissue scaffolding, and even arguments for moral degeneration have been made with the fears that if this technology reaches its full potential a new paradigm shift will occur in human behavior.

New neurotechnologies have always garnered the appeal of governments, from lie detection technology and virtual reality to rehabilitation and understanding the psyche. Due to the Iraq War and War on Terror, American soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are reported to have percentages up to 12% with PTSD.[41] There are many researchers hoping to improve these peoples’ conditions by implementing new strategies for recovery. By combining pharmaceuticals and neurotechnologies, some researchers have discovered ways of lowering the “fear” response and theorize that it may be applicable to PTSD.[42] Virtual reality is another technology that has drawn much attention in the military. If improved, it could be possible to train soldiers how to deal with complex situations in times of peace, in order to better prepare and train a modern army.

Finally, when these technologies are being developed society must understand that these neurotechnologies could reveal the one thing that people can always keep secret: what they are thinking. While there are large amounts of benefits associated with these technologies, it is necessary for scientists, citizens and policy makers alike to consider implications for privacy.[43] This term is important in many ethical circles concerned with the state and goals of progress in the field of neurotechnology (see Neuroethics). Current improvements such as brain fingerprinting or lie detection using EEG or fMRI could give rise to a set fixture of loci/emotional relationships in the brain, although these technologies are still years away from full application.[43] It is important to consider how all these neurotechnologies might affect the future of society, and it is suggested that political, scientific, and civil debates are heard about the implementation of these newer technologies that potentially offer a new wealth of once-private information.[43] Some ethicists are also concerned with the use of TMS and fear that the technique could be used to alter patients in ways that are undesired by the patient.[11]

Cognitive liberty refers to a suggested right to self-determination of individuals to control their own mental processes, cognition, and consciousness including by the use of various neurotechnologies and psychoactive substances. This perceived right is relevant for reformation and development of associated laws.

More:

Neurotechnology – Wikipedia

New technologies to diagnose and treat neurological diseases – Medical Xpress

August 21, 2017 The partnership between NNI and NTU Singapore will see the development of innovative technologies to better diagnose and treat patients with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries. Credit: NTU Singapore

The National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) are collaborating to develop innovative technologies to better diagnose and treat patients with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries.

These include developing an artificial intelligence system that can accurately identify types of traumatic brain injuries from computed tomography (CT) scans.

Another project involves coming up with a computing algorithm for more precise identification of tissues during brain surgeries. It aims to restore the neurological functions of patients suffering from various conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Over the next three years, the collaboration will also foster closer working relations between medical practitioners and engineers through annual fellowships and student attachment programmes.

Managed by NTU’s Institute for Health Technologies (HealthTech NTU), the one-year fellowship programme will see up to two neurosurgical residents at NNI work full-time with NTU professors on campus. Each resident will receive S$100,000 to complete and commercialise their projects.

A student attachment programme that spans a few weeks will also be introduced, allowing NTU engineering students to work alongside neurosurgeons at NNI.

Aimed at grooming multidisciplinary scientists, students will get to widen their engineering knowledge into medical practice. They will gain first-hand exposure to various aspects of clinical medicine by interacting with neurosurgeons in the course of their work.

Associate Professor Ng Wai Hoe, Medical Director of the National Neuroscience Institute, said, “Innovation occurs at intersections of disciplines, knowledge and expertise. Doctors have a deep understanding of clinical needs from their everyday interactions with patients. Our unique collaboration brings these medical needs to engineering laboratories – an environment where imagination is encouraged in the form of technological advances and capabilities.

“The rapidly ageing population will lead to a significant rise in neurological diseases globally. By harnessing the power of the human brain, neurotechnology can provide solutions to revolutionise the treatment of brain disorders. This partnership has great potential to be an innovation launchpad for Neurotechnology.”

Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Chief of Staff and Vice President for Research, said, “This collaboration creates a unique multidisciplinary research environment by integrating healthcare with both medical and engineering expertise from NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and College of Engineering.

“This will not only nurture next-generation doctors armed with a multidisciplinary skillset to meet Singapore’s healthcare needs, but also enhance medical technologies to diagnose and treat neurological conditions more effectively.”

HealthTech NTU develops and translates new technologies to solve health problems and improve the quality of life. It tackles healthcare challenges with innovative solutions, cutting-edge technologies, and expert interdisciplinary teams.

Explore further: Academia, industry collaborate on solutions to neural disease, injury

A team approach is vital to the successful diagnosis and treatment of complex neurological infections related to placement of devices in the brain, or as a result of neurosurgery or head trauma. This is among the recommendations …

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New technologies to diagnose and treat neurological diseases – Medical Xpress

Technology Key to Fighting Neurological Disease – R & D Magazine

New technologies may be on the way to better help doctors diagnose and treat patients with neurological diseases.

Researchers from the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) have come together to develop several new technologies, including an artificial intelligence system that can accurately identify types of traumatic brain injuries from computed tomography (CT) scans.

Innovation occurs at intersections of disciplines, knowledge and expertise, associate professor Ng Wai Hoe, Medical Director of the National Neuroscience Institute, said in a statement. Doctors have a deep understanding of clinical needs from their everyday interactions with patients.

Our unique collaboration brings these medical needs to engineering laboratoriesan environment where imagination is encouraged in the form of technological advances and capabilities.

The researchers also plan to develop a computer algorithm for more precise identification of tissues during brain surgeries, which aim to restore the neurological functions of patients suffering from various conditions including Parkinsons disease.

A new fellowship programmanaged by NTUs Institute for Health Technologieswill see up to two neurosurgical residents at NNI work full-time with NTU professors on campus, with each resident receiving $100,000 to complete and commercialize these projects.

The program was designed to foster a relationship over the next three years between medical practitioners and engineers through annual fellowships and student attachment programs.

The rapidly ageing population will lead to a significant rise in neurological diseases globally, Hoe said. By harnessing the power of the human brain, neurotechnology can provide solutions to revolutionize the treatment of brain disorders.

This partnership has great potential to be an innovation launchpad for neurotechnology.

A student attachment program aimed at grooming multidisciplinary scientists will also be introduced, giving students an opportunity to widen their engineering knowledge into medical practice, gaining first-hand exposure to various aspects of clinical medicine by interacting with neurosurgeons.

Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Chief of Staff and Vice President for Research, said the new technology will assist the next wave of doctors.

This collaboration creates a unique multidisciplinary research environment by integrating healthcare with both medical and engineering expertise from NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and College of Engineering, Yong said in a statement. This will not only nurture next-generation doctors armed with a multidisciplinary skillset to meet Singapore’s healthcare needs, but also enhance medical technologies to diagnose and treat neurological conditions more effectively.

In Switzerland, additional technological advancements are making an impact in the treatment of neurological disorders.

Researchers from the National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics at cole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne (EPFL) and at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, have developed an algorithm to help those paralyzed by a neurological disorder or injury. The algorithm helps a robotic harness facilitate the movements of patients, enabling them to move naturally. This new technology could help patients regain their locomotor skills

A variety of neurological disorders including stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, can lead to paralysis. Currently, people with motor disabilities rehabilitate by walking on a treadmill with the upper torso being supported by an apparatus. However, this can be either too rigid or does not allow the patient to move naturally in all directions.

Locomotor rehabilitation requires helping the nervous system relearn the right movements, which is difficult due to the loss of muscle mass in patients, as well as train the neurological wiring that has forgotten correct posture.

The researchers designed the algorithm to overcome these obstacles. The robotic rehabilitation harness was tested on more than 30 patients and markedly and immediately improved the patients locomotor abilities.

The harnesscalled the smart walk assistis a body-weight support system that manages to resist the force of gravity and push the patient in a given direction to recreate a natural gait and movement that the patient needs in their everyday lives.

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Technology Key to Fighting Neurological Disease – R & D Magazine

Neurotechnology – Wikipedia

Neurotechnology is any technology that has a fundamental influence on how people understand the brain and various aspects of consciousness, thought, and higher order activities in the brain. It also includes technologies that are designed to improve and repair brain function and allow researchers and clinicians to visualize the brain.

The field of neurotechnology has been around for nearly half a century but has only reached maturity in the last twenty years. The advent of brain imaging revolutionized the field, allowing researchers to directly monitor the brain’s activities during experiments. Neurotechnology has made significant impact on society, though its presence is so commonplace that many do not realize its ubiquity. From pharmaceutical drugs to brain scanning, neurotechnology affects nearly all industrialized people either directly or indirectly, be it from drugs for depression, sleep, ADD, or anti-neurotics to cancer scanning, stroke rehabilitation, and much more.

As the field’s depth increases it will potentially allow society to control and harness more of what the brain does and how it influences lifestyles and personalities. Commonplace technologies already attempt to do this; games like BrainAge,[1] and programs like Fast ForWord[2] that aim to improve brain function, are neurotechnologies.

Currently, modern science can image nearly all aspects of the brain as well as control a degree of the function of the brain. It can help control depression, over-activation, sleep deprivation, and many other conditions. Therapeutically it can help improve stroke victims’ motor coordination, improve brain function, reduce epileptic episodes (see epilepsy), improve patients with degenerative motor diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS), and can even help alleviate phantom pain perception.[3] Advances in the field promise many new enhancements and rehabilitation methods for patients suffering from neurological problems. The neurotechnology revolution has given rise to the Decade of the Mind initiative, which was started in 2007.[4] It also offers the possibility of revealing the mechanisms by which mind and consciousness emerge from the brain.

Magnetoencephalography is a functional neuroimaging technique for mapping brain activity by recording magnetic fields produced by electrical currents occurring naturally in the brain, using very sensitive magnetometers. Arrays of SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices) are the most common magnetometer. Applications of MEG include basic research into perceptual and cognitive brain processes, localizing regions affected by pathology before surgical removal, determining the function of various parts of the brain, and neurofeedback. This can be applied in a clinical setting to find locations of abnormalities as well as in an experimental setting to simply measure brain activity.[5]

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used for scanning the brain for topological and landmark structure in the brain, but can also be used for imaging activation in the brain.[6] While detail about how MRI works is reserved for the actual MRI article, the uses of MRI are far reaching in the study of neuroscience. It is a cornerstone technology in studying the mind, especially with the advent of functional MRI (fMRI).[7] Functional MRI measures the oxygen levels in the brain upon activation (higher oxygen content = neural activation) and allows researchers to understand what loci are responsible for activation under a given stimulus. This technology is a large improvement to single cell or loci activation by means of exposing the brain and contact stimulation. Functional MRI allows researchers to draw associative relationships between different loci and regions of the brain and provides a large amount of knowledge in establishing new landmarks and loci in the brain.[8]

Computed tomography (CT) is another technology used for scanning the brain. It has been used since the 1970s and is another tool used by neuroscientists to track brain structure and activation.[6] While many of the functions of CT scans are now done using MRI, CT can still be used as the mode by which brain activation and brain injury are detected. Using an X-ray, researchers can detect radioactive markers in the brain that indicate brain activation as a tool to establish relationships in the brain as well as detect many injuries/diseases that can cause lasting damage to the brain such as aneurysms, degeneration, and cancer.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is another imaging technology that aids researchers. Instead of using magnetic resonance or X-rays, PET scans rely on positron emitting markers that are bound to a biologically relevant marker such as glucose.[9] The more activation in the brain the more that region requires nutrients, so higher activation appears more brightly on an image of the brain. PET scans are becoming more frequently used by researchers because PET scans are activated due to metabolism whereas MRI is activated on a more physiological basis (sugar activation versus oxygen activation).

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is essentially direct magnetic stimulation to the brain. Because electric currents and magnetic fields are intrinsically related, by stimulating the brain with magnetic pulses it is possible to interfere with specific loci in the brain to produce a predictable effect.[10] This field of study is currently receiving a large amount of attention due to the potential benefits that could come out of better understanding this technology.[11] Transcranial magnetic movement of particles in the brain shows promise for drug targeting and delivery as studies have demonstrated this to be noninvasive on brain physiology.[12]

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of neurostimulation which uses constant, low current delivered via electrodes placed on the scalp. The mechanisms underlying tDCS effects are still incompletely understood, but recent advances in neurotechnology allowing for in vivo assessment of brain electric activity during tDCS[13] promise to advance understanding of these mechanisms. Research into using tDCS on healthy adults have demonstrated that tDCS can increase cognitive performance on a variety of tasks, depending on the area of the brain being stimulated. tDCS has been used to enhance language and mathematical ability (though one form of tDCS was also found to inhibit math learning),[14] attention span, problem solving, memory,[15] and coordination.

Electroencephalography (EEG) is a method of measuring brainwave activity non-invasively. A number of electrodes are placed around the head and scalp and electrical signals are measured. Typically EEGs are used when dealing with sleep, as there are characteristic wave patterns associated with different stages of sleep.[16] Clinically EEGs are used to study epilepsy as well as stroke and tumor presence in the brain. EEGs are a different method to understand the electrical signaling in the brain during activation.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is another method of measuring activity in the brain by measuring the magnetic fields that arise from electrical currents in the brain.[17] The benefit to using MEG instead of EEG is that these fields are highly localized and give rise to better understanding of how specific loci react to stimulation or if these regions over-activate (as in epileptic seizures).

Neurodevices are any devices used to monitor or regulate brain activity. Currently there are a few available for clinical use as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The most common neurodevices are deep brain stimulators (DBS) that are used to give electrical stimulation to areas stricken by inactivity.[18] Parkinson’s disease is known to be caused by an inactivation of the basal ganglia (nuclei) and recently DBS has become the more preferred form of treatment for Parkinson’s disease, although current research questions the efficiency of DBS for movement disorders.[18]

Neuromodulation is a relatively new field that combines the use of neurodevices and neurochemistry. The basis of this field is that the brain can be regulated using a number of different factors (metabolic, electrical stimulation, physiological) and that all these can be modulated by devices implanted in the neural network. While currently this field is still in the researcher phase, it represents a new type of technological integration in the field of neurotechnology. The brain is a very sensitive organ, so in addition to researching the amazing things that neuromodulation and implanted neural devices can produce, it is important to research ways to create devices that elicit as few negative responses from the body as possible. This can be done by modifying the material surface chemistry of neural implants.

Researchers have begun looking at uses for stem cells in the brain, which recently have been found in a few loci. A large number of studies[citation needed] are being done to determine if this form of therapy could be used in a large scale. Experiments have successfully used stem cells in the brains of children who suffered from injuries in gestation and elderly people with degenerative diseases in order to induce the brain to produce new cells and to make more connections between neurons.

Pharmaceuticals play a vital role in maintaining stable brain chemistry, and are the most commonly used neurotechnology by the general public and medicine. Drugs like sertraline, methylphenidate, and zolpidem act as chemical modulators in the brain, and they allow for normal activity in many people whose brains cannot act normally under physiological conditions. While pharmaceuticals are usually not mentioned and have their own field, the role of pharmaceuticals is perhaps the most far-reaching and commonplace in modern society (the focus on this article will largely ignore neuropharmaceuticals, for more information, see neuropsychopharmacology). Movement of magnetic particles to targeted brain regions for drug delivery is an emerging field of study and causes no detectable circuit damage.[19]

Stimulation with low-intensity magnetic fields is currently under study for depression at Harvard Medical School, and has previously been explored by Bell (et al.),[20] Marino (et al.),[21] and others.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a vital tool in neurological research in showing activation in the brain as well as providing a comprehensive image of the brain being studied. While MRIs are used clinically for showing brain size, it still has relevance in the study of brains because it can be used to determine extent of injuries or deformation. These can have a significant effect on personality, sense perception, memory, higher order thinking, movement, and spatial understanding. However, current research tends to focus more so on fMRI or real-time functional MRI (rtfMRI).[22] These two methods allow the scientist or the participant, respectively, to view activation in the brain. This is incredibly vital in understanding how a person thinks and how their brain reacts to a person’s environment, as well as understanding how the brain works under various stressors or dysfunctions. Real-time functional MRI is a revolutionary tool available to neurologists and neuroscientists because patients can see how their brain reacts to stressors and can perceive visual feedback.[8] CT scans are very similar to MRI in their academic use because they can be used to image the brain upon injury, but they are more limited in perceptual feedback.[6] CTs are generally used in clinical studies far more than in academic studies, and are found far more often in a hospital than a research facility. PET scans are also finding more relevance in academia because they can be used to observe metabolic uptake of neurons, giving researchers a wider perspective about neural activity in the brain for a given condition.[9] Combinations of these methods can provide researchers with knowledge of both physiological and metabolic behaviors of loci in the brain and can be used to explain activation and deactivation of parts of the brain under specific conditions.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a relatively new method of studying how the brain functions and is used in many research labs focused on behavioral disorders and hallucinations. What makes TMS research so interesting in the neuroscience community is that it can target specific regions of the brain and shut them down or activate temporarily; thereby changing the way the brain behaves. Personality disorders can stem from a variety of external factors, but when the disorder stems from the circuitry of the brain TMS can be used to deactivate the circuitry. This can give rise to a number of responses, ranging from normality to something more unexpected, but current research is based on the theory that use of TMS could radically change treatment and perhaps act as a cure for personality disorders and hallucinations.[11] Currently, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is being researched to see if this deactivation effect can be made more permanent in patients suffering from these disorders. Some techniques combine TMS and another scanning method such as EEG to get additional information about brain activity such as cortical response.[23]

Both EEG and MEG are currently being used to study the brain’s activity under different conditions. Each uses similar principles but allows researchers to examine individual regions of the brain, allowing isolation and potentially specific classification of active regions. As mentioned above, EEG is very useful in analysis of immobile patients, typically during the sleep cycle. While there are other types of research that utilize EEG,[23] EEG has been fundamental in understanding the resting brain during sleep.[16] There are other potential uses for EEG and MEG such as charting rehabilitation and improvement after trauma as well as testing neural conductivity in specific regions of epileptics or patients with personality disorders.

Neuromodulation can involve numerous technologies combined or used independently to achieve a desired effect in the brain. Gene and cell therapy are becoming more prevalent in research and clinical trials and these technologies could help stunt or even reverse disease progression in the central nervous system. Deep brain stimulation is currently used in many patients with movement disorders and is used to improve the quality of life in patients.[18] While deep brain stimulation is a method to study how the brain functions per se, it provides both surgeons and neurologists important information about how the brain works when certain small regions of the basal ganglia (nuclei) are stimulated by electrical currents.

The future of neurotechnologies lies in how they are fundamentally applied, and not so much on what new versions will be developed. Current technologies give a large amount of insight into the mind and how the brain functions, but basic research is still needed to demonstrate the more applied functions of these technologies. Currently, rtfMRI is being researched as a method for pain therapy. deCharms et al. have shown that there is a significant improvement in the way people perceive pain if they are made aware of how their brain is functioning while in pain. By providing direct and understandable feedback, researchers can help patients with chronic pain decrease their symptoms. This new type of bio/mechanical-feedback is a new development in pain therapy.[8] Functional MRI is also being considered for a number of more applicable uses outside of the clinic. Research has been done on testing the efficiency of mapping the brain in the case when someone lies as a new way to detect lying.[24] Along the same vein, EEG has been considered for use in lie detection as well.[25] TMS is being used in a variety of potential therapies for patients with personality disorders, epilepsy, PTSD, migraine, and other brain-firing disorders, but has been found to have varying clinical success for each condition.[11] The end result of such research would be to develop a method to alter the brain’s perception and firing and train patients’ brains to rewire permanently under inhibiting conditions (for more information see rTMS).[11] In addition, PET scans have been found to be 93% accurate in detecting Alzheimer’s disease nearly 3 years before conventional diagnosis, indicating that PET scanning is becoming more useful in both the laboratory and the clinic.[26]

Stem cell technologies are always salient both in the minds of the general public and scientists because of their large potential. Recent advances in stem cell research have allowed researchers to ethically pursue studies in nearly every facet of the body, which includes the brain. Research has shown that while most of the brain does not regenerate and is typically a very difficult environment to foster regeneration,[27] there are portions of the brain with regenerative capabilities (specifically the hippocampus and the olfactory bulbs).[28] Much of the research in central nervous system regeneration is how to overcome this poor regenerative quality of the brain. It is important to note that there are therapies that improve cognition and increase the amount of neural pathways,[2] but this does not mean that there is a proliferation of neural cells in the brain. Rather, it is called a plastic rewiring of the brain (plastic because it indicates malleability) and is considered a vital part of growth. Nevertheless, many problems in patients stem from death of neurons in the brain, and researchers in the field are striving to produce technologies that enable regeneration in patients with stroke, Parkinson’s diseases, severe trauma, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as many others. While still in fledgling stages of development, researchers have recently begun making very interesting progress in attempting to treat these diseases. Researchers have recently successfully produced dopaminergic neurons for transplant in patients with Parkinson’s diseases with the hopes that they will be able to move again with a more steady supply of dopamine.[29][not in citation given] Many researchers are building scaffolds that could be transplanted into a patient with spinal cord trauma to present an environment that promotes growth of axons (portions of the cell attributed with transmission of electrical signals) so that patients unable to move or feel might be able to do so again.[30] The potentials are wide-ranging, but it is important to note that many of these therapies are still in the laboratory phase and are slowly being adapted in the clinic.[31] Some scientists remain skeptical with the development of the field, and warn that there is a much larger chance that electrical prosthesis will be developed to solve clinical problems such as hearing loss or paralysis before cell therapy is used in a clinic.[32][need quotation to verify]

Novel drug delivery systems are being researched in order to improve the lives of those who struggle with brain disorders that might not be treated with stem cells, modulation, or rehabilitation. Pharmaceuticals play a very important role in society, and the brain has a very selective barrier that prevents some drugs from going from the blood to the brain. There are some diseases of the brain such as meningitis that require doctors to directly inject medicine into the spinal cord because the drug cannot cross the bloodbrain barrier.[33] Research is being conducted to investigate new methods of targeting the brain using the blood supply, as it is much easier to inject into the blood than the spine. New technologies such as nanotechnology are being researched for selective drug delivery, but these technologies have problems as with any other. One of the major setbacks is that when a particle is too large, the patient’s liver will take up the particle and degrade it for excretion, but if the particle is too small there will not be enough drug in the particle to take effect.[34] In addition, the size of the capillary pore is important because too large a particle might not fit or even plug up the hole, preventing adequate supply of the drug to the brain.[34] Other research is involved in integrating a protein device between the layers to create a free-flowing gate that is unimpeded by the limitations of the body. Another direction is receptor-mediated transport, where receptors in the brain used to transport nutrients are manipulated to transport drugs across the bloodbrain barrier.[35] Some have even suggested that focused ultrasound opens the bloodbrain barrier momentarily and allows free passage of chemicals into the brain.[36] Ultimately the goal for drug delivery is to develop a method that maximizes the amount of drug in the loci with as little degraded in the blood stream as possible.

Neuromodulation is a technology currently used for patients with movement disorders, although research is currently being done to apply this technology to other disorders. Recently, a study was done on if DBS could improve depression with positive results, indicating that this technology might have potential as a therapy for multiple disorders in the brain.[32][need quotation to verify] DBS is limited by its high cost however, and in developing countries the availability of DBS is very limited.[18] A new version of DBS is under investigation and has developed into the novel field, optogenetics.[31] Optogenetics is the combination of deep brain stimulation with fiber optics and gene therapy. Essentially, the fiber optic cables are designed to light up under electrical stimulation, and a protein would be added to a neuron via gene therapy to excite it under light stimuli.[37] So by combining these three independent fields, a surgeon could excite a single and specific neuron in order to help treat a patient with some disorder. Neuromodulation offers a wide degree of therapy for many patients, but due to the nature of the disorders it is currently used to treat its effects are often temporary. Future goals in the field hope to alleviate that problem by increasing the years of effect until DBS can be used for the remainder of the patient’s life. Another use for neuromodulation would be in building neuro-interface prosthetic devices that would allow quadriplegics the ability to maneuver a cursor on a screen with their thoughts, thereby increasing their ability to interact with others around them. By understanding the motor cortex and understanding how the brain signals motion, it is possible to emulate this response on a computer screen.[38]

The ethical debate about use of embryonic stem cells has stirred controversy both in the United States and abroad; although more recently these debates have lessened due to modern advances in creating induced pluripotent stem cells from adult cells. The greatest advantage for use of embryonic stem cells is the fact that they can differentiate (become) nearly any type of cell provided the right conditions and signals. However, recent advances by Shinya Yamanaka et al. have found ways to create pluripotent cells without the use of such controversial cell cultures.[39] Using the patient’s own cells and re-differentiating them into the desired cell type bypasses both possible patient rejection of the embryonic stem cells and any ethical concerns associated with using them, while also providing researchers a larger supply of available cells. However, induced pluripotent cells have the potential to form benign (though potentially malignant) tumors, and tend to have poor survivability in vivo (in the living body) on damaged tissue.[40] Much of the ethics concerning use of stem cells has subsided from the embryonic/adult stem cell debate due to its rendered moot, but now societies find themselves debating whether or not this technology can be ethically used. Enhancements of traits, use of animals for tissue scaffolding, and even arguments for moral degeneration have been made with the fears that if this technology reaches its full potential a new paradigm shift will occur in human behavior.

New neurotechnologies have always garnered the appeal of governments, from lie detection technology and virtual reality to rehabilitation and understanding the psyche. Due to the Iraq War and War on Terror, American soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are reported to have percentages up to 12% with PTSD.[41] There are many researchers hoping to improve these peoples’ conditions by implementing new strategies for recovery. By combining pharmaceuticals and neurotechnologies, some researchers have discovered ways of lowering the “fear” response and theorize that it may be applicable to PTSD.[42] Virtual reality is another technology that has drawn much attention in the military. If improved, it could be possible to train soldiers how to deal with complex situations in times of peace, in order to better prepare and train a modern army.

Finally, when these technologies are being developed society must understand that these neurotechnologies could reveal the one thing that people can always keep secret: what they are thinking. While there are large amounts of benefits associated with these technologies, it is necessary for scientists, citizens and policy makers alike to consider implications for privacy.[43] This term is important in many ethical circles concerned with the state and goals of progress in the field of neurotechnology (see Neuroethics). Current improvements such as brain fingerprinting or lie detection using EEG or fMRI could give rise to a set fixture of loci/emotional relationships in the brain, although these technologies are still years away from full application.[43] It is important to consider how all these neurotechnologies might affect the future of society, and it is suggested that political, scientific, and civil debates are heard about the implementation of these newer technologies that potentially offer a new wealth of once-private information.[43] Some ethicists are also concerned with the use of TMS and fear that the technique could be used to alter patients in ways that are undesired by the patient.[11]

Cognitive liberty refers to a suggested right to self-determination of individuals to control their own mental processes, cognition, and consciousness including by the use of various neurotechnologies and psychoactive substances. This perceived right is relevant for reformation and development of associated laws.

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Neurotechnology – Wikipedia

Early career scientists named Mong Fellows in Cornell Neurotech – Cornell Chronicle

Ten new Mong Family Foundation Fellows in Neurotech will work under the mentorship of faculty across Cornell to advance technologies that promise to provide insight into how brains work, as well as strategies to fix them when they dont.

The fellowships are part of a multimillion-dollar seed grant from the Mong Family Foundation, through Stephen Mong 92, M.Eng. 93, MBA 02, which launchedCornell Neurotechin 2015 as a collaboration between the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. Its mission is to develop technologies and powerful new tools needed to reveal the inner workings of the brain, with a particular focus on how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought.

We have another terrific group of interdisciplinary Mong fellows and advisers this year, said Joseph Fetcho, director of Cornell Neurotech-Arts and Sciences and professor of neurobiology and behavior. We fully expect that their work will catalyze advances in understanding brains and lead to projects of much bigger scope, just as previous Mong support produced collaborations and federally funded projects that helped Cornell become a National Science Foundation NeuroNex Neurotechnology Hub.

Said Chris Xu, the Mong Family Foundation Director of Cornell Neurotech and professor of applied and engineering physics: The Mong Fellow program this year builds on our success from last year. The five teams represent a number of graduate fields and bring a wide range of expertise in neurotechnology development. These fellows embody the collaborative spirit of Cornell in pushing the boundaries of interdisciplinary research.

Mong Junior Fellows Akash Guru, doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior, and Mengran Wang, doctoral student in biophysics, will develop technology that helps reveal how activity in one group of neurons biases activity in another neural circuit in the mouse brain. They will use the tools to investigate the role of serotonin (implicated in depression) in modulating behavior in a circuit-specific manner.

Mong Junior Fellows Priya Balasubramanian, doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, and Chunyan Wu, doctoral student in comparative biomedical sciences, will explore the use of ultrasound-based micro electro-mechanical systems as a means of monitoring and controlling the activity of neurons in brains over much longer time frames than is currently possible.

Mong Junior Fellows Yu-Ting Cheng, doctoral student in neurobiology and Behavior, and Yi-Yun Ho, doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior, will develop novel imaging and stimulation tools to explore pathways from the brain that blunt the sensation of pain by blocking the flow of pain signals through the spinal cord.

Senior Fellows Dawnis Chow, research associate in neurobiology and behavior, and David Sinefeld, postdoctoral associate in applied physics, will combine adaptive optics and three-photon microscopy to allow imaging of the structure and function of individual nerve cells anywhere in the brain of an intact living vertebrate (zebrafish) throughout its life from embryo to adult.

Mong Junior Fellows Michael Reynolds, doctoral student in physics, and Ryan Post, doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior, will combine optically transparent graphene field-effect transistors with calcium imaging to obtain high temporal resolution electrophysiological recordings from identified neurons in mammalian brains.

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Early career scientists named Mong Fellows in Cornell Neurotech – Cornell Chronicle

Could this back-pain device end need for opioids? – The Columbus Dispatch

JoAnne Viviano The Columbus Dispatch @JoAnneViviano

A new pain pellet that scientists are developing in Columbus isabout half the size of a grain of rice, but researchers say it delivers a big dose of relief that could one day help fight the opioid epidemic.

The tiny rod holds a nonaddictive painkiller that doctors could insert in the lower back, much like an epidural, to give a patient a break from chronic or acute pain, said Dr. Ali Rezai, director of the Neurological Institute at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. He would not reveal the painkiller, saying only that it is a drug that already has beenused successfully as a cardiovascular medication.

Goals includegiving physicians an alternative to the opioid-based pain medications that have led to addiction.

“We want to look at the opioid crisis,” Rezai said. “We want to stop it at its root.”

Supporters have formed a company, Sollis Therapeutics, to create the product and are now raising funds, said Dr. Greg Fiore, Sollis’ chief executive officer. Fiore hails from Boston and is the founder of Fiore Healthcare Advisors, a scientific consulting firm. Rezai serves as scientific adviser to Sollis.

>> Join the conversation at Facebook.com/columbusdispatchand connect with us on Twitter @DispatchAlerts

A small trial of 55 people with sciatica pain in the lower back and legs showed that the pellet stopped pain for up to one year and was safe and easy to use,Fiore said. Researchers will next seek to perform a large clinical trial, hoping toconfirm effectiveness and safety. The trial will involve a broader group of peopleculled from pain centers across Ohio.

If efficacy and safety are proved, researchers would seek approval for the pellet from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They hope to have the pellet in use within four or five years.

Sollis, headquartered in the University District, is the second company to be formed by the Neurotechnology Innovations Translator, which is funded by the Ohio Third Frontier Program. Both seek to move ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

Opioids are commonly used to treat chronic pain,Rezai said.

But the highly addictive nature of the medications, Fiore said, is a reason to find alternatives. Someone who takes opioids for a single day, for example,has a 6 percent chance of being addicted a year later.

“It’s really important to avoid starting, even for legitimate conditions,” he said. “It confers an increased risk for not being able to come off these drugs.”

Along with medications, 11 million steroid injections are given each year to treat neck and back pain in the United States, Rezai said.Such injections might not work and, when they do, relief doesn’tlast long.

He wanted to bring the project to Ohio, and hopes are to eventually manufacture the pellets here.

“It’s one of the ground zero states for the opioid crisis,” Rezai said. “This is a big problem; it’s just spiraling, so we want to find solutions quickly.”

jviviano@dispatch.com

@JoAnneViviano

Read more from the original source:

Could this back-pain device end need for opioids? – The Columbus Dispatch

New technologies to diagnose and treat neurological diseases – Medical Xpress

August 21, 2017 The partnership between NNI and NTU Singapore will see the development of innovative technologies to better diagnose and treat patients with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries. Credit: NTU Singapore

The National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) are collaborating to develop innovative technologies to better diagnose and treat patients with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries.

These include developing an artificial intelligence system that can accurately identify types of traumatic brain injuries from computed tomography (CT) scans.

Another project involves coming up with a computing algorithm for more precise identification of tissues during brain surgeries. It aims to restore the neurological functions of patients suffering from various conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Over the next three years, the collaboration will also foster closer working relations between medical practitioners and engineers through annual fellowships and student attachment programmes.

Managed by NTU’s Institute for Health Technologies (HealthTech NTU), the one-year fellowship programme will see up to two neurosurgical residents at NNI work full-time with NTU professors on campus. Each resident will receive S$100,000 to complete and commercialise their projects.

A student attachment programme that spans a few weeks will also be introduced, allowing NTU engineering students to work alongside neurosurgeons at NNI.

Aimed at grooming multidisciplinary scientists, students will get to widen their engineering knowledge into medical practice. They will gain first-hand exposure to various aspects of clinical medicine by interacting with neurosurgeons in the course of their work.

Associate Professor Ng Wai Hoe, Medical Director of the National Neuroscience Institute, said, “Innovation occurs at intersections of disciplines, knowledge and expertise. Doctors have a deep understanding of clinical needs from their everyday interactions with patients. Our unique collaboration brings these medical needs to engineering laboratories – an environment where imagination is encouraged in the form of technological advances and capabilities.

“The rapidly ageing population will lead to a significant rise in neurological diseases globally. By harnessing the power of the human brain, neurotechnology can provide solutions to revolutionise the treatment of brain disorders. This partnership has great potential to be an innovation launchpad for Neurotechnology.”

Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Chief of Staff and Vice President for Research, said, “This collaboration creates a unique multidisciplinary research environment by integrating healthcare with both medical and engineering expertise from NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and College of Engineering.

“This will not only nurture next-generation doctors armed with a multidisciplinary skillset to meet Singapore’s healthcare needs, but also enhance medical technologies to diagnose and treat neurological conditions more effectively.”

HealthTech NTU develops and translates new technologies to solve health problems and improve the quality of life. It tackles healthcare challenges with innovative solutions, cutting-edge technologies, and expert interdisciplinary teams.

Explore further: Academia, industry collaborate on solutions to neural disease, injury

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New technologies to diagnose and treat neurological diseases – Medical Xpress

Critical Comparison: Stryker Corporation (SYK) versus Glaukos Corporation (GKOS) – TrueBlueTribune

Stryker Corporation (NYSE: SYK) and Glaukos Corporation (NYSE:GKOS) are both medical companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, valuation, dividends, earnings, risk, analyst recommendations and institutional ownership.

Dividends

Stryker Corporation pays an annual dividend of $1.70 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.2%. Glaukos Corporation does not pay a dividend. Stryker Corporation pays out 37.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Stryker Corporation has raised its dividend for 6 consecutive years.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Stryker Corporation and Glaukos Corporations top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Stryker Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Glaukos Corporation. Glaukos Corporation is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Stryker Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Profitability

This table compares Stryker Corporation and Glaukos Corporations net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

73.8% of Stryker Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 90.1% of Glaukos Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. 7.4% of Stryker Corporation shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 16.4% of Glaukos Corporation shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and recommmendations for Stryker Corporation and Glaukos Corporation, as reported by MarketBeat.

Stryker Corporation currently has a consensus target price of $143.38, suggesting a potential downside of 0.63%. Glaukos Corporation has a consensus target price of $54.60, suggesting a potential upside of 45.79%. Given Glaukos Corporations stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Glaukos Corporation is more favorable than Stryker Corporation.

Risk and Volatility

Stryker Corporation has a beta of 0.8, suggesting that its share price is 20% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Glaukos Corporation has a beta of 1.29, suggesting that its share price is 29% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Stryker Corporation beats Glaukos Corporation on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

Stryker Corporation Company Profile

Stryker Corporation is a medical technology company. The Company offers a range of medical technologies, including orthopedic, medical and surgical, and neurotechnology and spine products. The Companys segments include Orthopaedics; MedSurg; Neurotechnology and Spine, and Corporate and Other. The Orthopaedics segment includes reconstructive (hip and knee) and trauma implant systems and other related products. The MedSurg segment includes surgical equipment and surgical navigation systems; endoscopic and communications systems; patient handling, emergency medical equipment, intensive care disposable products; reprocessed and remanufactured medical devices, and other related products. The Neurotechnology and Spine segment includes neurovascular products, spinal implant systems and other related products. The Companys products include implants, which are used in joint replacement and trauma surgeries, and other products that are used in a range of medical specialties.

Glaukos Corporation Company Profile

Glaukos Corporation is an ophthalmic medical technology company. The Company focuses on the development and commercialization of products and procedures for the treatment of glaucoma. It offers iStent, a micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) device. The iStent is a micro-bypass stent inserted through the small corneal incision made during cataract surgery and placed into Schlemms canal, a circular channel in the eye that collects aqueous humor and delivers it back into the bloodstream. It is developing three additional pipeline products: the iStent Inject, the iStent Supra and iDose. The iStent Inject includes two stents pre-loaded in an auto-injection inserter. The iStent Supra is designed to access an alternative drainage space within the eye. iDose is a drug delivery system that is designed to be implanted in the eye to continuously deliver therapeutic levels of medication for extended periods of time to lower intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients.

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Critical Comparison: Stryker Corporation (SYK) versus Glaukos Corporation (GKOS) – TrueBlueTribune

Could this back-pain device end need for opioids? – The Columbus Dispatch

JoAnne Viviano The Columbus Dispatch @JoAnneViviano

A new pain pellet that scientists are developing in Columbus isabout half the size of a grain of rice, but researchers say it delivers a big dose of relief that could one day help fight the opioid epidemic.

The tiny rod holds a nonaddictive painkiller that doctors could insert in the lower back, much like an epidural, to give a patient a break from chronic or acute pain, said Dr. Ali Rezai, director of the Neurological Institute at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. He would not reveal the painkiller, saying only that it is a drug that already has beenused successfully as a cardiovascular medication.

Goals includegiving physicians an alternative to the opioid-based pain medications that have led to addiction.

“We want to look at the opioid crisis,” Rezai said. “We want to stop it at its root.”

Supporters have formed a company, Sollis Therapeutics, to create the product and are now raising funds, said Dr. Greg Fiore, Sollis’ chief executive officer. Fiore hails from Boston and is the founder of Fiore Healthcare Advisors, a scientific consulting firm. Rezai serves as scientific adviser to Sollis.

>> Join the conversation at Facebook.com/columbusdispatchand connect with us on Twitter @DispatchAlerts

A small trial of 55 people with sciatica pain in the lower back and legs showed that the pellet stopped pain for up to one year and was safe and easy to use,Fiore said. Researchers will next seek to perform a large clinical trial, hoping toconfirm effectiveness and safety. The trial will involve a broader group of peopleculled from pain centers across Ohio.

If efficacy and safety are proved, researchers would seek approval for the pellet from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They hope to have the pellet in use within four or five years.

Sollis, headquartered in the University District, is the second company to be formed by the Neurotechnology Innovations Translator, which is funded by the Ohio Third Frontier Program. Both seek to move ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

Opioids are commonly used to treat chronic pain,Rezai said.

But the highly addictive nature of the medications, Fiore said, is a reason to find alternatives. Someone who takes opioids for a single day, for example,has a 6 percent chance of being addicted a year later.

“It’s really important to avoid starting, even for legitimate conditions,” he said. “It confers an increased risk for not being able to come off these drugs.”

Along with medications, 11 million steroid injections are given each year to treat neck and back pain in the United States, Rezai said.Such injections might not work and, when they do, relief doesn’tlast long.

He wanted to bring the project to Ohio, and hopes are to eventually manufacture the pellets here.

“It’s one of the ground zero states for the opioid crisis,” Rezai said. “This is a big problem; it’s just spiraling, so we want to find solutions quickly.”

jviviano@dispatch.com

@JoAnneViviano

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Could this back-pain device end need for opioids? – The Columbus Dispatch

How Elon Musk Plans to Turn Humans Into Robots – Yahoo News

Elon Musk wants to get inside your head. In April, the Silicon Valley billionaire announced plans to launch Neuralinka company dedicated to developing a brain-to-machine interface to cure brain ailments like paralysis and memory problems and help people compete with robots when the artificial intelligence revolution makes human brains obsolete. Musk says this will be accomplished by implanting tiny electrodes into the brainallowing for things like downloading and uploading memory and casual brain-to-brain communication.

Leaders in the neurotechnology field welcome Musks arrival, while neuroethicists and others urge caution. The endeavor may sound like science fiction, but its feasible, says Timothy Deer, president of the International Neuromodulation Society, a nonprofit group of researchers and developers dedicated to using spinal cord stimulation to treat neurological pain. The cochlear implant was invented 20 years ago, and with electricity and the right frequencies targeting the brain, it allows people to hear, he says. That sounded impossible back then. And great gains require great brains, Deer says. Ben Franklin didnt know how to harness electricity, but he and others knew it was the key to something. Now, we know how to use electricity in very specific ways. Its exciting to see how Mr. Musk might change how we think.

Humans have been trying to mess with their brain waves to solve diseases since ancient times: The Romans and Greeks used to put electric fish on top of their heads to relieve pain, says Ana Maiques, CEO of Neuroelectrics, a company that develops noninvasive wireless brain monitoring and stimulation technologies.

Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Fremont, California, on September 29, 2015. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty

Maiques is happy Musk has entered the neurotech field. With new technologies, including artificial intelligence, there is a lot of room for startups and new companies, she says.

Jennifer French, co-founder and executive director of Neurotech Network, a nonprofit that advocates for and educates the public about implantable technology, says investments in neuroscience and neurotechnology from the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative started by the Obama administration have been critical in exploring the brains mysteries.

Zack Lynch, founder of Neurotechnology Industry Organization, a global trade association representing companies involved in neuroscience and brain research, says, The [human] brain is the most complicated organ on the planet. The neurotechnology industry produces $165 billion in yearly revenue, he says, but 90 percent of that revenue comes from pharmaceuticals for neurological disorders like Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Annual revenue from neurological devices is about $10 billion.

If Musk is successful, he will run into a swamp of ethical issues. Neuroscience raises questions about technology, art, entertainment, warfare, religion and what it means to be human, Lynch says. And these considerations will be difficult to address in the short term, says Peter Reiner, professor and co-founder of the National Core for Neuroethics. Most important is privacy of thought. When a computer is hooked up to me and knows what Im thinking, that becomes a very challenging area to navigate. Another issue is what Reiner calls reason bypassing. If a device can influence your brain without you perceiving it, are you really making your decisions? He believes society already faces these questions with smartphones: Advertisers are collecting information about users based on their browsing habits and then using that data to try to change their behavior.

Daniel Wilson, a best-selling author and robotics engineer, considers these ethical issues in his novel Amped, which predicts that neurotechnology will cure people with mental disabilities and eventually help them leapfrog beyond human ability. The amplified humans known as amps are then discriminated against because the public fears their abilities.

Wilson believes brain-to-machine interfaces will become common, but that they will not diminish the humanity of their users. People often look at human creations, and we call them unnatural, Wilson says. But from my perspective, theres nothing more natural than a human being creating a tool. Birds nests or anything animals do instinctively always seems natural, but we consider it unnatural when a human uses a tool. Thats the most natural thing that a human can do. To put that tool in our bodies is a completely natural extension of what weve been doing for millennia.

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How Elon Musk Plans to Turn Humans Into Robots – Yahoo News

Early career scientists named Mong Fellows in Cornell Neurotech – Cornell Chronicle

Ten new Mong Family Foundation Fellows in Neurotech will work under the mentorship of faculty across Cornell to advance technologies that promise to provide insight into how brains work, as well as strategies to fix them when they dont.

The fellowships are part of a multimillion-dollar seed grant from the Mong Family Foundation, through Stephen Mong 92, M.Eng. 93, MBA 02, which launched Cornell Neurotech in 2015 as a collaboration between the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. Its mission is to develop technologies and powerful new tools needed to reveal the inner workings of the brain, with a particular focus on how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought.

We have another terrific group of interdisciplinary Mong fellows and advisers this year, said Joseph Fetcho, director of Cornell Neurotech-Arts and Sciences and professor of neurobiology and behavior. We fully expect that their work will catalyze advances in understanding brains and lead to projects of much bigger scope, just as previous Mong support produced collaborations and federally funded projects that helped Cornell become a National Science Foundation NeuroNex Neurotechnology Hub.

Said Chris Xu, the Mong Family Foundation Director of Cornell Neurotech and professor of applied and engineering physics: The Mong Fellow program this year builds on our success from last year. The five teams represent a number of graduate fields and bring a wide range of expertise in neurotechnology development. These fellows embody the collaborative spirit of Cornell in pushing the boundaries of interdisciplinary research.

Mong Junior Fellows Akash Guru, doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior, and Mengran Wang, doctoral student in biophysics, will develop technology that helps reveal how activity in one group of neurons biases activity in another neural circuit in the mouse brain. They will use the tools to investigate the role of serotonin (implicated in depression) in modulating behavior in a circuit-specific manner.

Mong Junior Fellows Priya Balasubramanian, doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, and Chunyan Wu, doctoral student in comparative biomedical sciences, will explore the use of ultrasound-based micro electro-mechanical systems as a means of monitoring and controlling the activity of neurons in brains over much longer time frames than is currently possible.

Mong Junior Fellows Yu-Ting Cheng, doctoral student in neurobiology and Behavior, and Yi-Yun Ho, doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior, will develop novel imaging and stimulation tools to explore pathways from the brain that blunt the sensation of pain by blocking the flow of pain signals through the spinal cord.

Senior Fellows Dawnis Chow, research associate in neurobiology and behavior, and David Sinefeld, postdoctoral associate in applied physics, will combine adaptive optics and three-photon microscopy to allow imaging of the structure and function of individual nerve cells anywhere in the brain of an intact living vertebrate (zebrafish) throughout its life from embryo to adult.

Mong Junior Fellows Michael Reynolds, doctoral student in physics, and Ryan Post, doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior, will combine optically transparent graphene field-effect transistors with calcium imaging to obtain high temporal resolution electrophysiological recordings from identified neurons in mammalian brains.

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Early career scientists named Mong Fellows in Cornell Neurotech – Cornell Chronicle

In the Future, Humans Will Use Brain to Brain Communication and Download Their Memories If Elon Musk Has His Way – Newsweek

Elon Musk wants to get inside your head. In April, the Silicon Valley billionaire announced plans to launch Neuralinka company dedicated to developing a brain-to-machine interface to cure brain ailments like paralysis and memory problems and help people compete with robots when the artificial intelligence revolution makes human brains obsolete. Musk says this will be accomplished by implanting tiny electrodes into the brainallowing for things like downloading and uploading memory and casual brain-to-brain communication.

Leaders in the neurotechnology field welcome Musks arrival, while neuroethicists and others urge caution. The endeavor may sound like science fiction, but its feasible, says Timothy Deer, president of the International Neuromodulation Society, a nonprofit group of researchers and developers dedicated to using spinal cord stimulation to treat neurological pain. The cochlear implant was invented 20 years ago, and with electricity and the right frequencies targeting the brain, it allows people to hear, he says. That sounded impossible back then. And great gains require great brains, Deer says. Ben Franklin didnt know how to harness electricity, but he and others knew it was the key to something. Now, we know how to use electricity in very specific ways. Its exciting to see how Mr. Musk might change how we think.

Humans have been trying to mess with their brain waves to solve diseases since ancient times: The Romans and Greeks used to put electric fish on top of their heads to relieve pain, says Ana Maiques, CEO of Neuroelectrics, a company that develops noninvasive wireless brain monitoring and stimulation technologies.

Tech & Science Emails and Alerts – Get the best of Newsweek Tech & Science delivered to your inbox

Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Fremont, California, on September 29, 2015. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty

Maiques is happy Musk has entered the neurotech field. With new technologies, including artificial intelligence, there is a lot of room for startups and new companies, she says.

Jennifer French, co-founder and executive director of Neurotech Network, a nonprofit that advocates for and educates the public about implantable technology, says investments in neuroscience and neurotechnology from the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative started by the Obama administration have been critical in exploring the brains mysteries.

Zack Lynch, founder of Neurotechnology Industry Organization, a global trade association representing companies involved in neuroscience and brain research, says, The [human] brain is the most complicated organ on the planet. The neurotechnology industry produces $165 billion in yearly revenue, he says, but 90 percent of that revenue comes from pharmaceuticals for neurological disorders like Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Annual revenue from neurological devices is about $10 billion.

If Musk is successful, he will run into a swamp of ethical issues. Neuroscience raises questions about technology, art, entertainment, warfare, religion and what it means to be human, Lynch says. And these considerations will be difficult to address in the short term, says Peter Reiner, professor and co-founder of the National Core for Neuroethics. Most important is privacy of thought. When a computer is hooked up to me and knows what Im thinking, that becomes a very challenging area to navigate. Another issue is what Reiner calls reason bypassing. If a device can influence your brain without you perceiving it, are you really making your decisions? He believes society already faces these questions with smartphones: Advertisers are collecting information about users based on their browsing habits and then using that data to try to change their behavior.

Daniel Wilson, a best-selling author and robotics engineer, considers these ethical issues in his novel Amped, which predicts that neurotechnology will cure people with mental disabilities and eventually help them leapfrog beyond human ability. The amplified humans known as amps are then discriminated against because the public fears their abilities.

Wilson believes brain-to-machine interfaces will become common, but that they will not diminish the humanity of their users. People often look at human creations, and we call them unnatural, Wilson says. But from my perspective, theres nothing more natural than a human being creating a tool. Birds nests or anything animals do instinctively always seems natural, but we consider it unnatural when a human uses a tool. Thats the most natural thing that a human can do. To put that tool in our bodies is a completely natural extension of what weve been doing for millennia.

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In the Future, Humans Will Use Brain to Brain Communication and Download Their Memories If Elon Musk Has His Way – Newsweek

Financial Analysis: Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) vs. Uroplasty (UPI) – The Cerbat Gem

Financial Analysis: Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) vs. Uroplasty (UPI)
The Cerbat Gem
The Company offers a range of medical technologies, including orthopedic, medical and surgical, and neurotechnology and spine products. The Company's segments include Orthopaedics; MedSurg; Neurotechnology and Spine, and Corporate and Other.
SEC FORM 4 – SEC.govSEC.gov

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Financial Analysis: Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) vs. Uroplasty (UPI) – The Cerbat Gem

fMRI, EEG may detect consciousness in TBI patients – Medical Physics Web (subscription)

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are using the novel approach of combining functional MRI (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to determine the level of consciousness in intensive care unit patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a study published online in Brain (Brain doi: 10.1093/brain/awx176).

The strategy reportedly is the first attempt to use the two modalities collaboratively on acutely ill patients whose clinicians face critical decisions of how or whether to proceed with life-sustaining treatment.

“Early detection of consciousness and brain function in the intensive care unit [ICU] could allow families to make more informed decisions about the care of loved ones,” said co-lead author Brian Edlow, from MGH’s Center for Neurotechnology and Neurorecovery, in a release from the university. “Also, since early recovery of consciousness is associated with better long-term outcomes, these tests could help patients gain access to rehabilitative care once they are discharged from an ICU.”

Previous research has suggested that as many as 40% of conscious patients are misclassified as unconscious. While fMRI or EEG can detect cases of more obvious consciousness among patients who have progressed to rehabilitation or nursing care facilities, no study has been conducted on seriously injured ICU patients.

The researchers enrolled 16 patients with severe traumatic brain injury at MGH’s ICU. At the start of the study, eight patients could respond to language, three were classified as minimally conscious with no language response, three were classified as vegetative, and two were in a coma. The study also included 16 healthy age- and sex-matched volunteers who served as a control group.

Functional MRI scans were performed as soon as the subjects were stable enough for the procedure. When possible, EEG readings were taken within 24 hours after the fMRI scan.

The researchers also set up scenarios to test the subjects’ abilities. For example, the subjects were asked to imagine squeezing and releasing their right hand while in the MRI scanner and while EEG readings were taken. This test is designed to detect a mismatch between their ability to imagine performing a task and their ability to physically express themselves, known as cognitive motor dissociation.

Through the exercise, the researchers detected evidence of covert consciousness in four (50%) of the eight patients who were unable to respond to language in the bedside exams, including the three classified as vegetative. Interestingly, approximately 25% of the healthy controls had no detectable brain response in the hand-squeeze imagery test.

The subjects were also exposed to brief recordings of spoken language and music during both fMRI and EEG to detect activity in certain regions of the brain. In this test, higher-order cortex activity was seen in two additional subjects.

While higher-order cortical activity doesn’t prove that a patient is conscious, finding a response in those structures could have implications for a patient’s eventual recovery, Edlow said.

In fact, no associations were found between early brain responses and long-term outcomes. The researchers suggested this could be due to the study’s small cohort or the fact that several patients were sedated during the fMRI and EEG tests.

A negative response is not necessarily an indication that a patient has a low likelihood of recovery, Edlow added. In fact, one comatose patient who had no responses to language, music or motor imagery in early fMRI and EEG tests proceeded to an excellent recovery six months later.

It’s “difficult to measure the false-positive rate for stimulus-based fMRI and EEG tests in these patients, since there is no definitive, gold-standard test to diagnose their level of consciousness,” he said. “Much more work needs to be done to determine the utility of these techniques for detecting consciousness in patients with severe traumatic brain injuries.”

Indeed, the researchers plan to continue their work to improve the accuracy of these tests with a larger follow-up study in the near future.

This article was originally published on AuntMinnie.com. 2017 by AuntMinnie.com. Any copying, republication or redistribution of AuntMinnie.com content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of AuntMinnie.com.

MPI helps diagnose traumatic brain injury fMRI algorithm maps brain function CBCT made for point-of-care brain imaging Trimodal brain scans with MRI/PET/EEG

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fMRI, EEG may detect consciousness in TBI patients – Medical Physics Web (subscription)


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