MIT’s Artificial Brain-On-A-Chip Could Bring Supercomputing to Mobile Devices

Researchers fit tens of thousands of artificial brain synapses onto a single chip.

Stephanie Mlot   By Stephanie Mlot  – Re-Blogged From PC Magazine

What’s smaller than a piece of confetti, covered in artificial synapses, and may change the future of artificial intelligence? MIT’s new “brain-on-a-chip,” an engineering feat that could bring supercomputer smarts to mobile devices.

Researchers placed tens of thousands of tiny memristors (memory transistors)—silicon-based components that mimic the human brain’s information-transmitting synapses—onto a single chip which, when run through various tasks, was able to “remember” and reproduce stored images.

While artificial synapse networks currently exist only as software, the MIT team wants to build a hardware equivalent for portable artificial intelligence systems. The results, published this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, highlight the new memristor design—ideal for carrying out complex tasks on mobile devices that only supercomputers can handle.

This Startup’s Computer Chips Are Powered by Human Neurons

By Victor Tangermann – Re-Blogged From Futurism

Biological “hybrid computer chips” could drastically lower the amount of power required to run AI systems.

Australian startup Cortical Labs is building computer chips that use biological neurons extracted from mice and humans, Fortune reports.

The goal is to dramatically lower the amount of power current artificial intelligence systems need to operate by mimicking the way the human brain.

According to Cortical Labs’ announcement, the company is planning to “build technology that harnesses the power of synthetic biology and the full potential of the human brain” in order to create a “new class” of AI that could solve “society’s greatest challenges.”

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Scientists Debut System to Translate Thoughts Directly Into Text

Brain Reader

Researchers say they’ve built a system that can translate brain signals directly into text — a promising step toward a “speech prosthesis” that could effectively allow you to think text directly into a computer.

“We are not there yet,” University of California researcher Joseph Makin told The Guardian, “but we think this could be the basis of a speech prosthesis.”

AI Power

Makin and his collaborators described the new system in a paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

New Research: Listeners Synchronize Brain Activity With Musicians

Brain Waves

According to new research by Chinese neuroscientists, something extraordinary happens during a musical performance: the brain activity of listeners appears to sync up with the brain activity of the musician playing music for them. Yes, anyone who’s ever seen an awesome concert now has confirmation: Musicians and crowds really are connecting, at a neurological level.

“These findings suggest that neural synchronization between the audience and the performer might serve as an underlying mechanism for the positive reception of musical performance,” reads a paper about the research. “This study expands our understanding of music appreciation.”

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People With Half Their Brains Removed Doing Surprisingly Well

By Dan Robitzski – Re-Blogged From Futurism
“They have intact language skills. When I put them in the scanner, we made small talk, just like the hundreds of other individuals I have scanned.”

One of the greatest marvels of the human brain is neuroplasticity — the ability to restructure itself and adapt if chunks get damaged or removed.

Now, a new study reveals that neuroplasticity is more powerful than previously believed. In some cases, adults who had half of their brain taken out as children, in a procedure called a hemispherectomy, are living regular lives — and can have stronger neural connections than those who still had the full thing.

If scientists can figure out how that came to be, they may uncover new treatments for strokes or other forms of brain damage.


The new study examined the neural function and connectivity of six people, all now in their 20s and 30s, who underwent hemispherectomies between the ages of three months and 11 years, HealthDay reports. The procedure — which involves slicing the brain down the middle and taking out an entire half — is an extreme but not unheard-of treatment for children with violent, frequent, and dangerous seizures.

Hemispherectomy patients have long been known to lead normal lives after the procedure, but the piecemeal case studies didn’t reveal the extent to which the brain was able to recover. The California Institute of Technology doctors behind the new study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports, say they were surprised at just how well the halved brains adapted and reorganized themselves over time.

“The people with hemispherectomies that we studied were remarkably high-functioning,” CalTech researcher Dorit Kliemann said. “They have intact language skills. When I put them in the scanner, we made small talk, just like the hundreds of other individuals I have scanned.”

“You can almost forget their condition when you meet them for the first time,” Kliemann added.


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Health Benefits of Kindness

By Lynn Allison – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

That warm glow you feel after helping someone is a real thing according to recent studies. Researchers at the University of Sussex, England, found a physiological response in brains scanned by MRIs while people were making kind decisions.

It was found that the brain literally lit up, meaning that the certain regions of the brain were activated and used more oxygen. This phenomenon occurred whether or not the kind act was altruistic or the participant expected something in return for his or her kindness. However, researchers also observed a unique response when people were kind without expecting any gain from their actions, according to “Medical Daily.”

Discovered: Anti-Anxiety Circuit in Brain

By Bruce Goldman – Re-Blogged From Stanford Medicine

Stimulation of a distinct brain circuit that lies within a brain structure typically associated with fearfulness produces the opposite effect: Its activity, instead of triggering or increasing anxiety, counters it.

That’s the finding in a paper by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers published online March 9 in Nature. In the study, Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, and his colleagues employed a mouse model to show that stimulating activity exclusively in this circuit enhances animals’ willingness to take risks, while inhibiting its activity renders them more risk-averse. This discovery could lead to new treatments for anxiety disorders, said Deisseroth, an associate professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

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Scientists Discover Why You Procrastinate

By Health Day – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

The inclination to delay things rather than get right to work on them may be hardwired into some people’s brains, and not the product of a flawed character, German researchers suggest.

The findings come from brain scans of 264 men and women.

MRIs revealed that a brain region involved in motivation tends to be larger among people who put things off, while communication between that part of the brain and another involved in taking action appeared to be weaker.

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1 in 9 US Adults Over 45 Reports Memory Problems

By Health Day – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

 If you’re middle-aged and you think you’re losing your memory, you’re not alone, a new U.S. government report shows.

In fact, one in nine Americans aged 45 and older say they are experiencing thinking declines. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noticing a decline in your mental abilities (“cognitive decline”) is one of the earliest signs of impending Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

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Drinking Water Helps Aging Brains Get More From Exercise

By HealthDay – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

Older adults, drink up. You need plenty of water during exercise so your brain gets the full benefits of working out, researchers say.

“Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration, and subsequently may reduce the cognitive [mental] health-related benefits of exercise,” said Brandon Yates, of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

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Too Much Sitting is Bad for the Brain

By Healthy Day – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

There’s been lots of research into how too many hours lounging on chairs and sofas can harm the heart. Now, researchers say all that sitting might be bad for your brain, too.

A new study found that too much time spent sitting was correlated with an unhealthy “thinning” of tissue in a key brain area tied to memory.

And it appears that the link isn’t simply due to the fact that folks who sit for hours each day aren’t exercising — there was something about the act of sitting itself that seemed to be key, the researchers said. Continue reading

New Blood Test Detects Alzheimer’s Risk

By Sylvia Booth Hubbard – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, and drug treatments offer minimal help. Many experts believe that progress in drug research is hindered by the fact that although the disease is thought to begin long before symptoms become obvious, it can’t be diagnosed until the disease has progressed. An earlier diagnosis might provide time for an effective intervention.

German scientists have developed a blood test for Alzheimer’s long before symptoms, like memory loss, appear. Continue reading

Meditation Can Boost Brain Long-Term

By AFP/Relaxnews – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

A new study looking at the long-term effects of meditation has found that those who follow the practice can benefit from improvements in their attention for up to seven years.

Led by researchers at the University of California, Davis, Center for Mind and Brain, the study is based on the Shamatha Project, the most comprehensive longitudinal study of intensive meditation to be carried out so far.

The project followed 60 experienced meditators who attended an intensive three-month meditation retreat, attending group meditation sessions twice a day and practicing individually for about six hours a day. Continue reading

Strength Training Boosts Brain

By Dr Gary Small – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

While most of the research connecting brain health to physical exercise has focused on cardiovascular conditioning, newer studies suggest that lifting weights or resistance training also supports better mental health.

Scientists in Brazil performed animal studies demonstrating that strength training and aerobic conditioning improve learning abilities and recall.

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Scientists Able to Implant Info in Monkeys’ Brains

Re-Blogged From

University of Rochester neuroscientists were able to implant information into monkeys’ brains, research that could lead to brain repairs for stroke victims, according to a study published in the journal Neuron.

 The researchers sent “information directly into the premotor cortex” of two monkeys, bypassing sensory regions of the brain via electrodes.

“You could potentially bypass the damaged areas and deliver stimulation to the premotor cortex,” study co-author Kevin A. Mazurek told The New York Times. . “That could be a way to bridge parts of the brain that can no longer communicate.”

 Dr. Mazurek and Dr. Marc Schieber’s study focused on simple implants, but they are working on more complex ones, research which might help those who have suffered brain damage.

“When the computer says, ‘You’re seeing the red light,’ you could say, ‘Oh, I know what that means — I’m supposed to put my foot on the brake,'” Dr. Schieber explained to the Times. “You take information from one good part of the brain and inject it into a downstream area that tells you what to do.”