Blindness Causes Structural Brain Changes, Implying Brain Can Re-Organize Itself to Adapt

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Scientists from the UCLA Department of Neurology have confirmed that blindness causes structural changes in the brain, indicating that the brain may reorganize itself functionally in order to adapt to a loss in sensory input.

Visually impaired people appear to be fearless, navigating busy sidewalks and crosswalks, safely finding their way using nothing more than a cane as a guide. The reason they can do this, researchers suggest, is that in at least some circumstances, blindness can heighten other senses, helping individuals adapt.

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Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Restores Walking Ability In Rats With Neck Injuries

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Illustration of rat with spinal injury. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California

The first human embryonic stem cell treatment approved by the FDA for human testing has been shown to restore limb function in rats with neck spinal cord injuries — a finding that could expand the clinical trial to include people with cervical damage.

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Nanomedicine Promising For Treating Spinal Cord Injuries, Findings Show

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This image represents “copolymer micelles,” tiny drug-delivery spheres that could be used in a new approach for repairing damaged nerve fibers in spinal cord injuries. The bottom graphs show data indicating damaged spinal cord tissue recovered its “action potential,” or ability to transmit signals, after treatment with the micelles.

Researchers at Purdue University have discovered a new approach for repairing damaged nerve fibers in spinal cord injuries using nano-spheres that could be injected into the blood shortly after an accident.

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Tiny Laser-scanning Microscope Images Brain Cells In Freely Moving Animals

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New data from rats with head-mounted microscopes shed light on how we put the world together seamlessly while we move around.

By building a tiny microscope small enough to be carried around on a rats` head, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, have found a way to study the complex activity of many brain cells simultaneously while animals are free to move around. With this new technology scientists can actually see how the brain cells operate while the animal is behaving naturally, giving rise to immense new insights into the understanding of perception and attention.

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Vast Right Arm Conspiracy? Study Suggests Handedness May Affect Body Perception

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Body maps in our brain may influence how we perceive our physical bodies — for example, if there is a lot of brain area associated with our right arm, we will view it being as longer compared to our left arm.

There are areas in the brain devoted to our arms, legs, and various parts of our bodies. The way these areas are distributed throughout the brain are known as “body maps” and there are some significant differences in these maps between left- and right-handed people. For example, in left-handed people, there is an equal amount of brain area devoted to the left and right arms in both hemispheres. However, for right-handed people, there is more cortical area associated with right arm than the left.

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Regeneration Can Be Achieved After Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

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Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that regeneration of central nervous system axons can be achieved in rats even when treatment delayed is more than a year after the original spinal cord injury.

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Stimulating Sight: Retinal Implant Could Help Restore Useful Level Of Vision To Certain Groups Of Blind People

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scientists have developed a pair of glasses that receive visual data from a camera mounted on a them and send the images to a chip attatched on the side of the eyeball.

Inspired by the success of cochlear implants that can restore hearing to some deaf people, researchers at MIT are working on a retinal implant that could one day help blind people regain a useful level of vision.

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How We Know A Dog Is A Dog: Concept Acquisition In The Human Brain

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Although two dogs can look very different, the human brain recognizes them as particular instances of the concept of a dog.

A new study explores how our brains synthesize concepts that allow us to organize and comprehend the world. The research, published by Cell Press in the September 24th issue of the journal Neuron, uses behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to track how conceptual knowledge emerges in the human brain and guides decision making.

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Blood-brain Barrier As Therapy Delivery System: Enzyme Delivered Through Bloodstream Corrects Deficiencies In Brain

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A model of the human brain.

The blood brain barrier is generally considered an obstacle to delivering therapies from the bloodstream to the brain. However, University of Iowa researchers have discovered a way to turn the blood vessels surrounding brain cells into a production and delivery system for getting therapeutic molecules directly into brain cells. Continue reading… “Blood-brain Barrier As Therapy Delivery System: Enzyme Delivered Through Bloodstream Corrects Deficiencies In Brain”

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Nicotine Creates Stronger Memories, Cues To Drug Use

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New research shows that nicotine, the addictive component in cigarettes, “tricks” the brain into creating memory associations between environmental cues and smoking behavior.

Ever wonder why former smokers miss lighting up most when they are in a bar or after a meal with friends?

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Injectable Biomaterial Regenerates Brain Tissue in Traumatic Injuries

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This is a mosaic image reconstruction of the lesion. A well-structured vasculature network was rebuilt at the lesion filled with the hydrogel.

An injectable biomaterial gel may help brain tissue grow at the site of a traumatic brain injury, according to findings by a Clemson University bioengineer.

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