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Optogenetics: A wireless, optical router for your brain

Optogenetics: A wireless, optical router for your brain
Ready for the Bleeding Edge Science Word of the Day? Optogenetics. It’s even weirder than it sounds, too: optogenetics is the manipulation of a cell’s functions with light (usually lasers). To understand the importance of optogenetics, and to marvel at the magic of hooking your brain up to a network with a wireless router, we have to first look at how researchers currently investigate cell function, and thus just how groundbreakingly different the optogenetic approach is. At the moment, the only real way to investigate animal cells is to knock out a function, usually by breeding a genetically engineered mutant. Now, back to the “wireless router” claim. As far as humans are concerned, optogenetics are probably the key to Matrix-like “I want to learn Kung Fu!” Read more at Technology Review Related:  Research/parasites&protocol (theories)Technology

Optogenetics and genomic tools make it possible to pinpoint the source of memory, consciousness, and emotions. What might be called the “make love, not war” branch of behavioral neuroscience began to take shape in (where else?) California several years ago, when researchers in David J. Anderson’s laboratory at Caltech decided to tackle the biology of aggression. The hypothalamus is a small structure deep in the brain that, among other functions, coördinates sensory inputs—the appearance of a rival, for example—with instinctual behavioral responses. By 2010, Anderson’s Caltech lab had begun to tease apart the underlying mechanisms and neural circuitry of aggression in their pugnacious mice. “There’s no such thing as a generic neuron,” says Anderson, who estimates that there may be up to 10,000 distinct classes of neurons in the brain. That was a provocative discovery, but it was also a relic of old-style neuroscience. A decade ago, that would have been technologically impossible. Optogenetics: Light Switches for Neurons Connections Growing Neurons: Studying What Goes Wrong Eavesdropping Transparency

Optogenetics: A Novel Technology With Questions Old and New | Ruth Starkman "And mark my words:" one neuroscience blogger asserts: "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2020 will be awarded for the optogenetics work of Lima, Miesenboeck, and Deisseroth." This claim about a Nobel Prize some eight years away may seem obscure, especially about a new technology that is not yet fully nor widely understood. What is optogenetics? And if it appears so groundbreaking, why do we have to wait until 2020 for its award? Optogenetics is a novel technology that has produced some startling results in animals and thus raises questions about its future applications: Is it safe even on the animal models it uses? Stanford Medical School Professor Karl Deisseroth et al., have described optogenetics as a technology which "combines genetic targeting of specific neurons or proteins with optical technology for imaging or control of the targets within intact, living neural circuits." Optogenetics has also transformed understanding of the brain. "So this is a little scary, right?"

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Optogenetics in monkeys | Human Frontier Science Program Rhesus monkeys are a unique model for investigating the neural correlates of highly cognitive functions and fine motor control. Optogenetics is a new technique using optical excitation and inhibition of specific neuron types based on their expression or projection patterns. With the aim to combine both fields, the authors adapted optogenetic tools to the specific requirements of non-human primate research. This opens the door for a multitude of new scientific experiments investigating causal relationships between neural activities, connections between brain areas, and complex behaviors which can only be studied in non-human-primates. HFSP Long-Term Fellow Ilka Diester and colleaguesauthored on Tue, 08 February 2011 Rhesus monkeys are a unique model for investigating the neural correlates of highly cognitive functions and fine motor control. The aim of this study was to help enable safe, reliable, and effective new experiments using tools designed specifically for non-human primates.

Smart Dust: Communication Systems and the Future World |ChaiOne When you first hear the word, Smart Dust, you might think of a fairy tale or something involving magic. Smart Dust actually describes microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices that include sensors, computational ability, and more. They can be as tiny as dust particles and can spread throughout buildings and into the atmosphere to collect and monitor data. Smart Dust can be employed in most industries from agriculture to the medical industry and communication. Smart Dust Possibilities A key implementer of smart dust, UC Berkeley Professor Kris Pister, stated in a press conference that, integrated with superior computing efficiency, wireless radios, and sensing tech, smart dust will be quite a comprehensive solution to study the real time data concerning people, industries, cities as well as natural environment. The great scopes of these sensors include: With smart dust, there are many possibilities and multinational companies are getting in on it. Limitations and Challenging Factors

Optical setup helps researchers hide an event from time Cloaking devices are one of the inventions of science fiction that have made a few tentative steps towards the real world in recent years. Now, researchers have moved the concept into the fourth dimension, creating a setup that hides a specific point in time from being perceived by observers. But if you want to make an event disappear, you have to act fast: right now, we can only hide a few picoseconds worth of time. The cloaking devices we've made all work based on a similar principle: light that enters the device is bent in such a way that when it exits, its location and direction make it appear that the device itself, and anything within it, were not present. In other words, while within the device, light travels as if it were present. It's just that, once it exits the other side, there's no evidence that anything unusual has taken place. The basic idea is that, when it's not in operation, a light beam can pass through the cloaking device unhindered.

Noninvasive brain control: New light-sensitive protein enables simpler, more powerful optogenetics -- ScienceDaily Optogenetics, a technology that allows scientists to control brain activity by shining light on neurons, relies on light-sensitive proteins that can suppress or stimulate electrical signals within cells. This technique requires a light source to be implanted in the brain, where it can reach the cells to be controlled. MIT engineers have now developed the first light-sensitive molecule that enables neurons to be silenced noninvasively, using a light source outside the skull. This makes it possible to do long-term studies without an implanted light source. This noninvasive approach could pave the way to using optogenetics in human patients to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders, the researchers say, although much more testing and development is needed. The neurons to be studied must be genetically engineered to produce light-sensitive proteins known as opsins, which are channels or pumps that influence electrical activity by controlling the flow of ions in or out of cells.

Easy DNA Editing Will Remake the World. Buckle Up. Any gene typically has just a 50–50 chance of getting passed on. Either the offspring gets a copy from Mom or a copy from Dad. But in 1957 biologists found exceptions to that rule, genes that literally manipulated cell division and forced themselves into a larger number of offspring than chance alone would have allowed. A decade ago, an evolutionary geneticist named Austin Burt proposed a sneaky way to use these “selfish genes.” He suggested tethering one to a separate gene—one that you wanted to propagate through an entire population. Push those modifications through with a gene drive and the normal mosquitoes wouldn't stand a chance. Emmanuelle Charpentier did early work on Crispr. Today, behind a set of four locked and sealed doors in a lab at the Harvard School of Public Health, a special set of mosquito larvae of the African species Anopheles gambiae wriggle near the surface of shallow tubs of water. Esvelt talked all this over with his adviser—Church, who also worked with Zhang.

The Limits of Intelligence Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Spanish Nobel-winning biologist who mapped the neural anatomy of insects in the decades before World War I, likened the minute circuitry of their vision-processing neurons to an exquisite pocket watch. He likened that of mammals, by comparison, to a hollow-chested grandfather clock. Indeed, it is humbling to think that a honeybee, with its milligram-size brain, can perform tasks such as navigating mazes and landscapes on a par with mammals. A honeybee may be limited by having comparatively few neurons, but it surely seems to squeeze everything it can out of them. At the other extreme, an elephant, with its five-million-fold larger brain, suffers the inefficiencies of a sprawling Mesopotamian empire. Select an option below: Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light [Extended Version] Despite the enormous efforts of clinicians and researchers, our limited insight into psychiatric disease (the worldwide-leading cause of years of life lost to death or disability) hinders the search for cures and contributes to stigmatization. Clearly, we need new answers in psychiatry. But as philosopher of science Karl Popper might have said, before we can find the answers, we need the power to ask new questions. In other words, we need new technology. Developing appropriate techniques is difficult, however, because the mammalian brain is beyond compare in its complexity. In a 1979 Scientific American article Nobel laureate Francis Crick suggested that the major challenge facing neuroscience was the need to control one type of cell in the brain while leaving others unaltered. Meanwhile, in a realm of biology as distant from the study of the mammalian brain as might seem possible, researchers were working on microorganisms that would only much later turn out to be relevant.

Is This How We’ll Live Next? By Aaron and Melissa Dykes Coal fired power plants suck, insists Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Dual cell batteries suck. That is how we did live up to now. Is the new Tesla battery how we will live? The idea is appealing to individuals, who might still find a place to live off grid, or now demand the right with authority (currently most cities require solar users to sell excess power back to the grid, prohibiting excess storage). Will it enable the cause of freedom in an age of pervasive technological control systems? H/T Jason Bermas Aaron and Melissa created as an outlet to examine reality and the news, place it in a broader context, uncover the deceptions, pierce through the fabric of illusions, grasp the underlying factors, know the real enemy, unshackle from the system, and begin to imagine the path towards taking back our lives, one step at a time, so that one day we might truly be free...

NSA Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers not connected to the internet By DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks. While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials. The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. The N.S.A. calls its efforts more an act of “active defense” against foreign cyberattacks than a tool to go on the offensive. No Domestic Use Seen Richard A. A Focus on Defense An Old Technology

LIGHT-GUIDING HYDROGEL DEVICES FOR CELL-BASED SENSING AND THERAPY - THE GENERAL HOSPITAL CORPORATION The present patent application claims priority from and benefit of the U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/892,535 filed on 18 Oct. 2013 and titled “Light-Guiding Hydrogel Implants for Cell-Based Sensing and Therapy.” The present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. This invention was made with government support under Grants Numbers NIH R21 EB013761, NSF ECS-1101947, DOD FA9550-10-1-0537 awarded by the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Defense. The present invention relates generally to systems and methods of light delivery to specialized, target cells juxtaposed with or implanted in a living biological tissue and, more particularly, to activation and/or assisting light-based diagnostic and/or therapeutic processes by delivering light into and from the depths of biological tissue with the use of an optically transmissive hydrogel-based system incorporating such target cells. Cell-Encapsulation.

Back to the Future with Cargo Airship It looks like a blimp but technically it isn’t one because it has a rigid structure made out of ultra-light carbon fiber and aluminum underneath its high-tech Mylar skin. Inside, balloons hold the helium that gives the vehicle lift. Unlike hydrogen, the gas used in the Hindenburg airship that crashed in 1937, helium is not flammable. The Aeroscraft is being developed by Worldwide Aeros for use as a cargo aircraft that could bring a large load of supplies into areas without a prepared landing surface. According to an AP report posted at Military​.com, the airship functions like a submarine, releasing air to rise and taking in air to descend. It can take off vertically, like a helicopter, then change its buoyancy to become heavier than air for landing and unloading. “It allows the vehicle to set down on the ground. DoD and NASA have invested $35 million in prototype testing so far, and Aeros is looking for more funding to start the next phase.