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Electronic Tattoo-Like Devices Monitor Brain, Heart and Muscles

Electronic Tattoo-Like Devices Monitor Brain, Heart and Muscles
We might one day be able to monitor our bodies' internal functions — and prevent things like epileptic seizures before they happen — using a flexible circuit attached to the surface of skin. The National Science Foundation announced Monday that researchers are working on a prototype tattoo-like device that can detect heart, muscle and brain activity. Tiny curly wires in a flexible membrane make up these devices and work better than conventional hard, brittle circuits, because body tissue itself is soft and pliable. "We're trying to bridge that gap, from silicon, wafer-based electronics to biological, 'tissue-like' electronics, to really blur the distinction between electronics and the body," said materials scientist John Rogers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. "As the skin moves and deforms, the circuit can follow those deformations in a completely noninvasive way." SEE ALSO: Artificial Super-Skin Could Transform Phones, Robots and Artificial Limbs [via CNET] Related:  BANs and Sensorsimmortal trendy

Soft electronics could attach directly to internal organs After years of research, Dr. John Rogers is making progress on electronics that he hopes can fit directly onto a brain or heart. While small electronic devices can currently monitor organ function and prevent problems like irregular heartbeats, the current generation is too inflexible to accommodate natural body movement. Rogers' elastic electronics, however, are made of silicon threads that can stretch and twist, following the contours of whatever they're attached to. Rogers, who has previously collaborated with other scientists to make flexible electronics for devices like cameras, says he hopes his project will "bridge that gap, from silicon, wafer-based electronics to biological, 'tissue-like' electronics, to really blur the distinction between electronics and the body."

Artificial Super-Skin Could Transform Phones, Robots and Artificial Limbs Touch sensitivity on gadgets and robots is nothing new. A few strategically placed sensors under a flexible, synthetic skin and you have pressure sensitivity. Add a capacitive, transparent screen to a device and you have touch sensitivity. However, Stanford University’s new “super skin” is something special: a thin, highly flexible, super-stretchable, nearly transparent skin that can respond to touch and pressure, even when it’s being wrung out like a sponge. The brainchild of Stanford University Associate Professor of chemical engineering Zhenan Bao, this “super skin” employs a transparent film of spray-on, single-walled carbon nanotubes that sit in a thin film of flexible silicon, which is then sandwiched between more silicon. SEE ALSO: Humanoid Robot Charges Up, Takes a Load Off [VIDEOS] This unique makeup allows the malleable skin to measure force response even as it’s being stretched, or “squeezed like a sponge.”

minded computer Scientists believe they have found a way to read people's minds in what could be the first step towards helping brain-damaged patients who cannot speak. US researchers used a computer programme to decode brain activity and put it into words using a form of electronic telepathy. Experts described the breakthrough, unveiled in the journal Public Library of Science Biology, as "remarkable" and believe it could ultimately be possible to decipher people's thoughts. Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley used the programme to predict what spoken words volunteers had listened to by analysing their brain activity. Previous research has shown imagined words activate similar brain areas as words that are said aloud, raising hopes they can also be uncovered by "reading" brain waves. Professor Robert Knight, who worked on the study, said: "This is huge for patients who have damage to their speech mechanisms because of a stroke or Lou Gehrig's disease and can't speak.

Handheld device for doing blood tests moves closer to medical use Public release date: 1-Feb-2012 [ Print | E-mail Share ] [ Close Window ] Contact: Michael Bernsteinm_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042American Chemical Society Scientists are reporting a key advance in efforts to develop a handheld device that could revolutionize the complete blood cell count (CBC), one of the most frequently performed blood tests used to diagnose and treat disease. Hywel Morgan, Cees van Berkel and colleagues explain that current CBC technology requires expensive equipment housed in central laboratories, which can take several days to process tests. In their latest advance, the scientists describe successfully adding a new feature to the chip, which sends a blood sample through channels only a few times as wide as a human hair to an electrode that counts blood cells as they pass. The authors acknowledge funding from the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. [ Print | E-mail AAAS and EurekAlert!

Dream of making artificial body parts becoming a reality It sounds like a sci-fi movie – doctors growing body parts to cure our ills. But thanks to incredible breakthroughs, bionic repairs for humans are fast becoming a reality. Experts yesterday revealed they are perfecting “off the shelf” blood vessels, which could revolutionise treatment of heart attacks and strokes. If the Cambridge University blood vessel team is successful, patients could be spared major operations. And because the patient’s own skin cells are used, there is less chance of rejection. Professor Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This is very advanced. Here are other ways science is giving nature a helping hand... Experts are working on a cure for blindness - and have taken huge strides towards their goal. Miikka Terho, 46, from Finland, who suffered an inherited form of blindness called retinitis pigmentosa, was fitted with an experimental chip behind his retina in Germany. Bionic ears are transforming the lives of patients.

brain trouble By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 8, 2012 UK researchers report the discovery of a neural mechanism that protects individuals from stress and trauma turning into post-traumatic stress disorder. Investigators from the University of Exeter Medical School began with the knowledge of the brain’s “plasticity,” its unique capability to adapt to changing environments. Studying mice, they found that stressful events reprogram certain receptors in the amygdala, the brain’s emotional nexus. The receptors (called protease-activated receptor 1 or PAR1) act in the same way as a command center, telling neurons whether they should stop or accelerate their activity. Normally, PAR1s tell amygdala neurons to remain active and produce vivid emotions. This adaptation helps us to keep our fear under control, and not to develop exaggerated responses to mild or irrelevant fear triggers. The study has been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

First-of-its-kind head patch monitors brain blood flow and oxygen Public release date: 1-Feb-2012 [ Print | E-mail Share ] [ Close Window ] Contact: Cindy N. JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A research team led by investigators at Mayo Clinic in Florida has found that a small device worn on a patient's brow can be useful in monitoring stroke patients in the hospital. Their study, published in the Feb. 1 issue of Neurosurgical Focus, suggests this tool, known as frontal near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), could offer hospital physicians a safe and cost-effective way to monitor patients who are being treated for a stroke, in real time. "About one-third of stroke patients in the hospital suffer another stroke, and we have few options for constantly monitoring patients for such recurrences," says the study's senior investigator, neurocritical care specialist William Freeman, M.D., an associate professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic. The study was approved by the Mayo Clinic IRB and not sponsored or funded by any company. [ Print | E-mail AAAS and EurekAlert!

Wearable robot puts paralysed legs through their paces This article was taken from the February 2012 issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online. This is the true integration of man and machine," says Eythor Bender, CEO of Ekso Bionics, a Californian research lab that has developed an intelligent "wearable robot". Bender and his team based the Ekso on a decade of bionics research by the US military. Its motorised leg braces let soldiers carry 90kg loads over long distances by anticipating the wearer's movement and transferring weight to the exoskeleton frame. The same principles allow paraplegics to walk with motorised legs, by responding to gestures made above the waist. Its adjustable titanium frame encases the legs, with straps around the waist, shoulders and thighs, and a computer with two batteries sits as a backpack, powering four electromechanical motors that propel the legs.

wearable robot ROCKFORD, MI -- An athlete who was paralyzed in an accident was able to walk again Monday morning during a demonstration of Ekso, a wearable exoskeleton robot, at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan's Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery. The Ekso technology, named for its exoskeleton-like properties, was developed by California-based Ekso Bionics and aims to help those with lower extremity paralysis or weakness to stand and walk. The wearable bionic robot technology is a battery-powered, bionic device and uses motors to help users walk, said Beverly Millson with Missing Sock Public Relations. The robotic suit weighs about 45 pounds and can be strapped on within three minutes. The patient does not bear the weight of the device as the load is transferred to the ground. The Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan's facility in Detroit purchased one of the robots and funds are being raised for the Rockford location to do the same, said program director Sandy Burns.

Android app that measures heart rate with a smartphone is comparable to current standards mHealth Research Digest by Tim Bredrup Today’s smartphones are now equipped with cameras that can be used to detect changes in heart rate in a person’s finger using a technology called photoplethysmographic (PPG) measurement. PPG refers to the technology commonly used by a pulse oximeter to capture blood volume change by illuminating the finger with a light-emitting diode. When the light that is shining on the finger changes as a result of blood moving in and out of the finger, the change can be measured. A total of three devices were used in the study to gather heart rate measurements during various movement-free tasks. The results revealed high correlations between all device pairs and across all conditions. Researchers concluded that the Android app provides valid heart rate readings at varying levels of movement. Authors: Gregoski MJ, Mueller M, Vertegel A, Shaporev A, Jackson BB, Frenzel RM, Sprehn SM, Treiber FA. Original Abstract: Pubmed

assemble a brain It is a puzzlement: How do you assemble and wire an information processing device as complex as the mammalian brain? There are roughly 86 billion neurons in a human brain, forming about a quadrillion synapses. A rat’s brain is just one thousandth that size, but still pretty complex, with 56 million neurons and 500 billion synapses. How does the brain know to put a nest basket cell here, a small basket cell over there, a large basket cell in the middle, a Martinotti cell on the left and a bi-tufted cell on the right, all wired up to pyramidal cells? As it turns out, that may be almost exactly what the brain does. The Blue Brain group (motto: “Reconstructing the brain piece by piece and building a virtual brain on a supercomputer”) at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) has built a computer model of a 298-cell slice of rat cerebral cortex. It’s a case of, “Ready. The researchers used their software tools (BlueBuilder) to model the nervous system.

'Life and activity monitor' provides portable, constant recording of vital signs Public release date: 1-Feb-2012 [ Print | E-mail Share ] [ Close Window ] Contact: Patrick Chiangpchiang@eecs.oregonstate.edu 541-737-5551Oregon State University CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers have developed a type of wearable, non-invasive electronic device that can monitor vital signs such as heart rate and respiration at the same time it records a person's activity level, opening new opportunities for biomedical research, diagnostics and patient care. The device is just two inches wide, comfortable, does not have to be in direct contact with the skin and can operate for a week without needing to be recharged. The technology has been reported at a professional conference, and research is continuing to make it even smaller and less costly. "When this technology becomes more miniaturized and so low-cost that it could almost be disposable, it will see more widespread adoption," said Patrick Chiang, an assistant professor of computer engineering at Oregon State University. [ Print | E-mail

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