Can an Algorithm Replace Your Spinal Cord?
Researchers at Northwestern University have decoded the brain's electrical signals to bypass injured spinal cords and reanimate limbs that no longer receive stimulation from the brain.
What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at Northwestern University have decoded how the brain signals intention and used that information to reanimate limbs which no longer function due to a spinal cord injury. By recording a monkey's brain activity while grasping a ball, scientists were able to create an algorithm that described how the monkey's arm responded to the brain's command. Then scientists reversibly paralyzed the monkey's arm and placed electrodes at specific points along the limb's muscle. When electricity was sent through the electrodes, following the dictates of the scientists' algorithm, the monkey grasped the ball despite being paralyzed.
What's the Big Idea?
The ability to decode the brain's electrical signals into mathematical patterns promises to allow humans to control a variety of machines simply by thinking about them. While past research has focused on using the brain's signals to control robotic prostheses, Northwestern's experiment is the first to bypass the spinal cord as the distributor of the brain's commands. Given the complexity of human movement, scientists hope to concentrate on using electrical signals to activate peripheral motor nerves rather than individual muscles, requiring less invasive procedures for when the technology is applied to humans.
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What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.
- Liberalism as "radical pragmatism"
- Intersectionality and civic discourse
- How "a thousand small sanities" tackled drunk driving, normalized gay marriage, and could control gun violence
As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.
- The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
- But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
- Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
The lost practice of face-to-face communication has made the world a more extreme place.
- The world was saner when we spoke face-to-face, argues John Cameron Mitchell. Not looking someone in the eye when you talk to them raises the potential for miscommunication and conflict.
- Social media has been an incredible force for activism and human rights, but it's also negatively affected our relationship with the media. We are now bombarded 24/7 with news that either drives us to anger or apathy.
- Sitting behind a screen makes polarization worse, and polarization is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and fascism, which Cameron describes as irrationally blaming someone else for your problems.
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