Controlling a Robotic Arm with a Patient's Intentions

28 05 2015

Neural prosthetic devices implanted in the brain’ s movement center, the motor cortex, can allow patients with amputations or paralysis to control the movement of a robotic limb—one that can be either connected to or separate from the patient’ s own limb. However, current neuroprosthetics produce motion that is delayed and jerky—not the smooth and seemingly automatic gestures associated with natural movement. Now, by implanting neuroprosthetics in a part of the brain that controls not the movement directly but rather our intent to move, Caltech researchers have developed a way to produce more natural and fluid motions.

Example of an fMRI scan used for targeting the device implantation location.

In a clinical trial, the Caltech team and colleagues from Keck Medicine of USC have successfully implanted just such a device in a patient with quadriplegia, giving him the ability to perform a fluid hand-shaking gesture and even play “rock, paper, scissors” using a separate robotic arm.

The results of the trial, led by principal investigator Richard Andersen, the James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, and including Caltech lab members Tyson Aflalo, Spencer Kellis, Christian Klaes, Brian Lee, Ying Shi and Kelsie Pejsa, are published in the May 22 edition of the journal Science.

“When you move your arm, you really don’ t think about which muscles to activate and the details of the movement—such as lift the arm, extend the arm, grasp the cup, close the hand around the cup, and so on. Instead, you think about the goal of the movement. For example, ‘ I want to pick up that cup of water,’” Andersen says. “So in this trial, we were successfully able to decode these actual intents, by asking the subject to simply imagine the movement as a whole, rather than breaking it down into myriad components.”

For example, the process of seeing a person and then shaking his hand begins with a visual signal (for example, recognizing someone you know) that is first processed in the lower visual areas of the cerebral cortex. The signal then moves up to a high-level cognitive area known as the posterior parietal cortex (PC). Here, the initial intent to make a movement is formed. These intentions are then transmitted to the motor cortex, through the spinal cord, and on to the arms and legs where the movement is executed.

High spinal cord injuries can cause quadriplegia in some patients because movement signals cannot get from the brain to the arms and legs. As a solution, earlier neuroprosthetic implants used tiny electrodes to detect and record movement signals at their last stop before reaching the spinal cord: the motor cortex.

The recorded signal is then carried via wire bundles from the patient’ s brain to a computer, where it is translated into an instruction for a robotic limb. However, because the motor cortex normally controls many muscles, the signals tend to be detailed and specific. The Caltech group wanted to see if the simpler intent to shake the hand could be used to control the prosthetic limb, instead of asking the subject to concentrate on each component of the handshake—a more painstaking and less natural approach.

Andersen and his colleagues wanted to improve the versatility of movement that a neuroprosthetic can offer by recording signals from a different brain region—the PC. “The PC is earlier in the pathway, so signals there are more related to movement planning—what you actually intend to do—rather than the details of the movement execution,” he says. “We hoped that the signals from the PC would be easier for the patients to use, ultimately making the movement process more intuitive. Our future studies will investigate ways to combine the detailed motor cortex signals with more cognitive PC signals to take advantage of each area’ s specializations.”

In the clinical trial, designed to test the safety and effectiveness of this new approach, the Caltech team collaborated with surgeons at Keck Medicine of USC and the rehabilitation team at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. The surgeons implanted a pair of small electrode arrays in two parts of the PC of a quadriplegic patient. Each array contains 96 active electrodes that, in turn, each record the activity of a single neuron in the PC. The arrays were connected by a cable to a system of computers that processed the signals, decoded the intent of the subject, and controlled output devices that included a computer cursor and a robotic arm developed by collaborators at Johns Hopkins University.

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After recovering from the surgery, the patient was trained to control the computer cursor and the robotic arm with his mind. Once training was complete, the researchers saw just what they were hoping for: intuitive movement of the robotic arm.

“For me, the most exciting moment of the trial was when the participant first moved the robotic limb with his thoughts. He had been paralyzed for over 10 years, and this was the first time since his injury that he could move a limb and reach out to someone. It was a thrilling moment for all of us,” Andersen says.

“It was a big surprise that the patient was able to control the limb on day one—the very first day he tried,” he adds. “This attests to how intuitive the control is when using PPC activity.”

The patient, Erik G. Osorio, was also thrilled with the quick results: “I was surprised at how easy it was,” he says. “I remember just having this out-of-body experience, and I wanted to just run around and high-five everybody.”

Over time, Osorio continued to refine his control of his robotic arm, thus providing the researchers with more information about how the PC works. For example, “we learned that if he thought, ‘ I should move my hand over toward to the object in a certain way’ —trying to control the limb—that didn’ t work,” Andersen says. “The thought actually needed to be more cognitive. But if he just thought, ‘ I want to grasp the object,’ it was much easier. And that is exactly what we would expect from this area of the brain.”

This better understanding of the PC will help the researchers improve neuroprosthetic devices of the future, Andersen says. “What we have here is a unique window into the workings of a complex high-level brain area as we work collaboratively with our subject to perfect his skill in controlling external devices.”

“The primary mission of the USC Neurorestoration Center is to take advantage of resources from our clinical programs to create unique opportunities to translate scientific discoveries, such as those of the Andersen Lab at Caltech, to human patients, ultimately turning transformative discoveries into effective therapies,” says center director Charles Y. Look it up, professor of neurological surgery, neurology, and biomedical engineering at USC, who led the surgical implant procedure and the USC/Rancho Los Amigos team in the collaboration.

“In taking care of patients with neurological injuries and diseases—and knowing the significant limitations of current treatment strategies—it is clear that completely new approaches are necessary to restore function to paralyzed patients. Direct brain control of robots and computers has the potential to dramatically change the lives of many people,” Look it up ads.

Dr. Mindy Aisen, the chief medical officer at Rancho Los Amigos who led the study’ s rehabilitation team, says that advancements in prosthetics like these hold promise for the future of patient rehabilitation. “We at Rancho are dedicated to advancing rehabilitation through new assistive technologies, such as robotics and brain-machine interfaces. We have created a unique environment that can seamlessly bring together rehabilitation, medicine, and science as exemplified in this study,” she says.

Although tasks like shaking hands and playing “rock, paper, scissors” are important to demonstrate the capability of these devices, the hope is that neuroprosthetics will eventually enable patients to perform more practical tasks that will allow them to regain some of their independence.

“This study has been very meaningful to me. As much as the project needed me, I needed the project. The project has made a huge difference in my life. It gives me great pleasure to be part of the solution for improving paralyzed patients’ lives,” Osorio says.”I joke around with the guys that I want to be able to drink my own beer—to be able to take a drink at my own pace, when I want to take a sip out of my beer and to not have to ask somebody to give it to me. I really miss that independence. I think that if it was safe enough, I would really enjoy grooming myself—shaving, brushing my own teeth. That would be fantastic.”

To that end, Andersen and his colleagues are already working on a strategy that could enable patients to perform these finer motor skills. The key is to be able to provide particular types of sensory feedback from the robotic arm to the brain.

Although Sorto’ s implant allowed him to control larger movements with visual feedback, “to really do fine dexterous control, you also need feedback from touch,” Andersen says. “Without it, it’ s like going to the dentist and having your mouth numbed. It’ s very hard to speak without somatosensory feedback.” The newest devices under development by Andersen and his colleagues feature a mechanism to relay signals from the robotic arm back into the part of the brain that gives the perception of touch.

“The reason we are developing these devices is that normally a quadriplegic patient couldn’ t, say, pick up a glass of water to sip it, or feed themselves. They can’ t even do anything if their nose itches. Seemingly trivial things like this are very frustrating for the patients,” Andersen says. “This trial is an important step toward improving their quality of life.”

The results of the trial were published in a paper titled, “Decoding Motor Imagery from the Posterior Parietal Cortex of a Tetraplegic Human.” The implanted device and signal processors used in the Caltech-led clinical trial were the NeuroPort Array and NeuroPort Bio-potential Signal Processors developed by Blackrock Microsystems in Salt Lake City, Utah. The robotic arm used in the trial was the Modular Prosthetic Limb, developed at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins. Osorio was recruited to the trial by collaborators at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and at Keck Medicine of USC. This trial was funded by National Institutes of Health, the Boswell Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the USC Neurorestoration Center.

Written by Jessica Stoller-Conrad


Deborah Williams-Hedges

(626) 395-3227 [en línea] Pasadena, CA (USA): 28 de mayo de 2015 [REF. 21 in May of 2015] Available on Internet:

Discovery paves way for homebrewed drugs, prompts call for regulation

25 05 2015

Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.


New research may soon make growing fields of opium poppy unnecessary when it comes to the production of opiates and potentially other drugs, such as antibiotics. A team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has completed key steps that will enable yeast to convert sugar into pharmaceuticals.

Over the past decade, a handful of synthetic-biology labs have been working on replicating in microbes a complex, 15-step chemical pathway in the poppy plant to enable production of therapeutic drugs. Research teams have independently recreated different sections of the poppy's drug pathway using E. coli or yeast, but what had been missing until now were the final steps that would allow a single organism to perform the task from start to finish.

In a new study appearing today (Monday, May 18) in the advanced online publication of the journal Nature Chemical Biology, UC Berkeley bioengineer John Dueber teamed up with microbiologist Vincent Martin at Concordia University in Montreal, to overcome that hurdle by replicating the early steps in the pathway in an engineered strain of yeast. They were able to synthesize reticuline, a compound in poppy, from tyrosine, a derivative of glucose.

"What you really want to do from a fermentation perspective is to be able to feed the yeast glucose, which is a cheap sugar source, and have the yeast do all the chemical steps required downstream to make your target therapeutic drug,"said Dueber, the study's principal investigator and an assistant professor of bioengineering. "With our study, all the steps have been described, and it's now a matter of linking them together and scaling up the process. It's not a trivial challenge, but it's doable. "


Paving the path from plants to microbes

The qualities that make the poppy plant pathway so challenging are the same ones that make it such an attractive target for research. It is complex, but it is the foundation upon which researchers can build new therapeutics. Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, or BIAs, are the class of highly bioactive compounds found in the poppy, and that family includes some 2,500 molecules isolated from plants.


On the right are yeast cells producing the yellow beet pigment betaxanthin, which UC Berkeley researchers used to quickly identify key enzymes in the production of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (Bias), the metabolites in the poppy plant that could lead to morphine, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. (Photo by William DeLoache)

Perhaps the best-known trail in the BIA pathway is the one that leads to the opiates, such as codeine, morphine and thebaine, a precursor to oxycodone and hydrocodone. All are controlled substances. But different trails will lead to the antispasmodic papaverine or to the antibiotic precursor dihydrosanguinarine.

"Plants have slow growth cycles, so it's hard to fully explore all the possible chemicals that can be made from the BIA pathway by genetically engineering the poppy,"said study lead author William DeLoache, a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in bioengineering. "Moving the BIA pathway to microbes dramatically reduces the cost of drug discovery. We can easily manipulate and tune the DNA of the yeast and quickly test the results. "

The researchers found that by repurposing an enzyme from bets that is naturally used in the production of their vibrant pigments, they could coax yeast to convert tyrosine, an amino acid readily derived from glucose, into dopamine.

With help from the lab of Concordia University Vincent Martin, the researchers were able to reconstitute the full seven-enzyme pathway from tyrosine too reticuline in yeast.

"Getting to reticuline is critical because from there, the molecular steps that produce codeine and morphine from reticuline have already been described in yeast,"said Martin, a professor of microbial genomics and engineering. "Also, reticuline is a molecular hub in the BIA pathway. From there, we can explore many different paths to other potential drugs, not just opiates. "


Red flag for regulators

The study authors noted that the discovery dramatically speeds up the clock for when homebrewing drugs could become a reality, and they are calling for regulators and law enforcement officials to pay attention.

"We're likely looking at a timeline of a couple of years, not a decade or more, when sugar-fed yeast could reliably produce a controlled substance,"said Dueber. "The time is now to think about policies to address this area of research. The field is moving surprisingly fast, and we need to be out in front so that we can mitigate the potential for abuse. "

In a commentary to be published in Nature and timed with the publication of this study, policy analysts call for urgent regulation of this new technology. They highlight the many benefits of this work, but they also point out that "individuals with access to the yeast strain and basic skills in fermentation would be able to grow the yeast using the equivalent of a homebrew kit."

They recommend restricting engineered yeast strains to licensed facilities and to authorized researchers, noting that it would be difficult to detect and control the illicit transport of such strains.

While such controls may help, Dueber said, "An additional concern is that once the knowledge of how to create an opiate-producing strain is out there, anyone trained in basic molecular biology could theoretically build it. "

Another target for regulation would be the companies that synthesize and sell DNA sequences. "Restrictions are already in place for sequences tied to pathogenic organisms, like smallpox,"said DeLoache. "But maybe it's time we also look at sequences for producing controlled substances."

Other co-authors on this study are Zachary Russ and Andrew Gonzales of UC Berkeley's Department of Bioengineering, and Lauren Narcross of Concordia University Department of Biology.


By Sarah Yang [en línea] Berkeley, CA (USA):, 25 de mayo de 2015 [REF. 18 in May of 2015] Available on Internet:

One simple medical test for all infections

21 05 2015

University of Toronto researcher uses new technology to fast-track diagnoses and provide targeted treatment


The technology will be ready for clinicians to use for routine testing in about a year, says Samir Patel (photo by Gerda via Flickr)

If your returning from abroad with a fever, your doctor will likely test you for malaria. Youll give multiple blood samples at the lab, and if the results are inconclusive, youll face yet another round of tests.

But researchers from the University of Toronto are fast-tracking this process with new technology. With one sample, they can quickly and accurately diagnose a patient and recommend targeted treatment against any bacteria or virus.

"With this new technology we can streamline ordering 30 different tests. We can just order the one test and identify the pathogen – whether it's dengue fever, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, or a new bacteria or virus,” said Samir Patel, a professor at U of T's department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology.

Using what is called Next Generation Sequencing,Patel takes a patient's sample and analyzes its genetic code. His team then matches the code to a database of thousands of bacteria and viruses, interprets the complex data and provides a diagnosis.


"Our current tests can be expensive, time consuming and aren't always accurate,"said Patel (pictured at right). "Next Generation Sequencing will revolutionize the microbiology field. With the information it provides we can fine-tune patient treatment. "

This technology also removes the need for lengthy guesswork. For example, if an Ontario patient has a fever and a severe headache during the summer, doctors would normally test for West Nile virus. But those test results are frequently negative. Instead of speculating, doctors can now let high-powered computers discover what is in the sample.

"Dr. Patel's work in pathogen discovery aims to deliver a one-stop-shop that can definitely determine the causative organisms in severe infections such as meningitis and encephalitis,"said Vanessa Allen, chief of medical microbiology at Public Health Ontario. "This has the potential to revolutionize the way we deliver microbiology diagnostics for improved patient care."


Patel, a clinical microbiologist, began using this technology for the Pathogen Discovery Program at Public Health Ontario in 2012. The goal of the program is to diagnose difficult cases and to quickly and accurately identify bacteria and viruses that could cause an outbreak.

During an outbreak, Patel could also track where the bugs come from and how they are evolving. Others have used Next Generation Sequencing to identify and track specific strains of Ebola in West Africa.

"Should any outbreak occur in Ontario, we could test samples, identify the bacteria or virus that is causing the outbreak and track the spread using a systematic process,"said Patel. "We can also see how infectious a virus or bacteria is, and if similar strains are circulating through other parts of the world. "

Patel predicts that the technology will be ready for clinicians to use for routine testing in about a year.

"The program will help diagnose patients who have inconclusive routine test results, and will also enhance the public health response to an outbreak in Ontario. A lot of times we are in a reactive mode, but this is an area where we are getting ahead of the game. "


By Katie Babcock [en línea] Toronto (CAN):, 21 in May of 2015 [REF. 22 April of 2015] Available on Internet:

How blood group O protects against malaria

18 05 2015

It has long been known that people with blood type O are protected from dying of severe malaria. In a study published in Nature Medicine, a team of Scandinavian scientists explains the mechanisms behind the protection that blood type O provides, and suggest that the selective pressure imposed by malaria may contribute to the variable global distribution of ABO blood groups in the human population.

Anopheles albimanus mosquito. Credit: James Gathany (Wikimedia Commons).

Malaria is a serious disease that is estimated by the WHO to infect 200 million people a year, 600,000 of whom, primarily children under five, fatally. Malaria, which is most endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, is caused by different kinds of parasites from the plasmodium family, and effectively all cases of severe or fatal malaria come from the species known as Plasmodium falciparum. In severe cases of the disease, the infected red blood cells adhere excessively in the microvasculature and block the blood flow, causing oxygen deficiency and tissue damage that can lead to coma, brain damage and, eventually death. Scientists have therefore been keen to learn more about how this species of parasite makes the infected red blood cells so sticky.

It has long been known that people with blood type O are protected against severe malaria, while those with other types, such as A, often fall into a coma and die. Unpacking the mechanisms behind this has been one of the main goals of malaria research.

A team of scientists led from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have now identified a new and important piece of the puzzle by describing the key part played by the RIFIN protein. Using data from different kinds of experiment on cell cultures and animals, they show how the Plasmodium falciparum parasite secretes RIFIN, and how the protein makes its way to the surface of the blood cell, where it acts like glue. The team also demonstrates how it bonds strongly with the surface of type A blood cells, but only weakly to type O.


Conceptually simple

Principal investigator Mats Wahlgren, a Professor at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Microbiology, Tumour and Cell Biology, describes the finding as "conceptually simple". However, since RIFIN is found in many different variants, it has taken the research team a lot of time to isolate exactly which variant is responsible for this mechanism.

"Our study ties together previous findings", said Professor Wahlgren. "We can explain the mechanism behind the protection that blood group O provides against severe malaria, which can, in turn, explain why the blood type is so common in the areas where malaria is common. In Nigeria, for instance, more than half of the population belongs to blood group O, which protects against malaria. "

The study was financed by grants from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the EU, the Swedish Research Council, the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Karolinska Institutet. Except Karolinska Institutet, co-authors of the study are affiliated to Stockholm University, Lund University, Karolinska University Hospital, and the national research facility SciLifeLab in Sweden, and to the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and University of Helsinki in Finland. Mats Wahlgren is a shareholder and board member of drug company Dilaforette AB, which is working on an anti-malaria drug. The company was founded with support from Karolinska Development AB, which helps innovators with patent-protected discoveries reach the commercial market.



Rifins are Adhesins Implicated in Severe Plasmodium falciparum Malaria

School Goel, Mia Palmkvist, Kirsten Moll, Nicolas Joannin, Patricia Lara, Reetesh Akhouri, Nasim Moradi, Karin Öjemalm, Mattias Westman, Davide Angeletti, Hanna Kjellin, Janne Lehtiö, Ola Blixt, Lars Ideström, Carl G Gahmberg, Jill R Story, Annika K. Hult, Martin L. Olsson, Gunnar von Heijne, Ingmarie Nilsson and Mats Wahlgren

Nature Medicine, AOP 9 March 2015, DOI: 10.1038/nm. 3812
 [en línea] Solna (SUE):, 18 in May of 2015 [REF. 10 March of 2015] Available on Internet:


14 05 2015

Recent discoveries about how the brain works are shedding light on the processes of learning. Better understand how to acquire new knowledge can help us to improve the schools and the educational system. Scientists and teachers begin to go hand in hand.

 If I could slip on tiptoe in a class of literature of a Finnish school, perhaps think that the children are in recess or pausing. Because not we would find the teacher on the stage explaining the work of, We say, Shakespeare, and the guys taking notes and listening to. Nothing that. Most likely, We would see students scattered in small groups developing lists of music which perform soundtrack to express the feelings of the characters of Hamlet. Or Romeo and Juliet.

It is just a real example of something that science has now proven and that many teachers already began to sense some time: I do not learn to base of store concepts, repeating and repeating, but do, experience and, above all, thrill us. And that if we learn in Group, those skills persist with greater intensity in the memory.

As recently as 30 years, largely unknown how the brain worked. However, the developments and advances in areas such as medicine and, above all, Neuroscience have enabled us to scrutinize the neurons, their relationships, and understand a little more brain activity.


"That has opened a new stage in order to know better ourselves, to understand better how we operate and apply that knowledge to areas as diverse as the economy, the culture and education", considered David good, Professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona, specialized in the formation of the brain and science popularizer.

And this is how in recent years we have begun to listen to new terms, as neuromarketing, neuroeconomics, neuroarquitectura and also, neuroeducation, an international movement, still incipient, scientists and educators who seek to apply the discoveries about the brain in the school and University to help learn and teach better.

"So far we have talked about memory, attention, the emotion, but in a scattered way, without actually realizing how the codes that brings the brain to learn or memorize are so essential for survival as eating or drinking", designates the Neuroscientist Francisco Mora, who has recently published "Neuroeducation. You can only learn what is ama", one of the first manuals devoted to this theme and that has become a phenomenon of best sellers.

Know those codes of brain functioning has permitted to demonstrate, for example, the importance of curiosity and excitement to be able to acquire new knowledge; which sport is essential to secure the learning and also that the brain is not a continuum, but that there are windows of knowledge that opens and closes depending on the stages of life.

And if until now educators and scientists had been isolated, some in classrooms and others in their laboratories, now begin to go hand in hand. Universities such as John Hopkins, in United States, already they have launched research projects on neuroeducation, as also Harvard, There is a program called mind, Brain and education that aims to explore the intersection of biological neuroscience and education. It is the era of Neuroeducation.



Remember when they were in school and in specific subjects made them learn dozens of things in memory? If formulas of physics and chemistry, If the capital of Colombia is Bogotá, that if the French Revolution erupted in 1789... Data and more data that time just deleting. And even more if the Professor had was well boring. On the other hand, sure that they resemble some teacher who managed to arouse their attention and interest.

And it is that emotion is the secret ingredient of learning, says neuroscience, fundamental to who teaches and who learns. "The binomial emocion-cognicion is indissoluble, intrinsic to the anatomical and functional design of the brain", explains Francisco Mora, expert in neurophysiology. Apparently, the information that comes through the senses goes through emotional brain or limbic system until it is processed by the cerebral cortex, responsible for cognitive processes. Within the limbic system, the amygdala plays a vital role. It is one of the most primitive parts of the brain and turns to things considered important to the survival, What helps to consolidate a memory more efficiently.

The stories, por ejemplo, they tend to operate as a true alarm clocks of this brain region. Good David has proven with its University students. "When I have explain, por ejemplo, Tartaglia tfor examplemathematical formula they need to solve many problems of genetics, I have that in fact the Italian mathematician who formulated it was not called Tartaglia, but Niccolo Fontana. What happens is that he was tongue-tied, o Tartaglia, in Italian. And at the end the nickname that had ended up giving name to the formula. That anecdote POPs of laughter to students and the best thing is that already don't forget the formula".

The surprise is another essential factor to activate the amygdala. The brain is an organ which likes to process patterns, understand things that are always repeated in the same way, It is the way how is facing the world that surrounds it. Now well, everything that escapes those patterns is stored deeper way in the brain. Why use elements in the class that break the monotony, with expectations, more impact on learning.

In this sense, Jaime Romano, physician and neurologist, leading the project pioneer Neuromarketingproposes: "In a class of history, the teacher arrives one day dressed as Napoleon, for example, and the guys are also dress and have fun representing an episode of history. That it will remain deeply engraved in their minds". And Roman knows very well what speaks.

This Mexican neuroscientist has been investigating the brain from more than 30 years as a researcher at UCLA and the Mexican Institute of mental health. It has also served to children and adolescents with learning disabilities and development. A decade ago started a laboratory of Neurosciences to try to better understand the learning process in children and improve it.

To do this, "I designed a model which is known as neuropiramide, with six rungs. Each one of them considers what happens to the information when you are entering through the organs of the senses, How is it processed in the brain until it becomes learning. And we have seen that it has to do with processes of attention, emotional", explains Roman.

Now, This Mexican doctor is launching a project that confesses that it is a dream for him. In the hands of developers, you are designing entertaining games, very attractive for children, but they impact on each and every one of the steps of the neuropiramide. "There will be games that reinforce, for example, process of care of children; other, the process of analysis and synthesis", explains Roman. Like this, the idea is to create a platform with video games aimed at different ages children arriving home from school will catch up to play and to spend it well, develop their mental activities.

"We want to improve the mental and emotional capacity of the kids, the calculation process, understanding, and that will have an impact in that it will better learn math, to read and understand texts, to fix your attention"explained excited Roman. And it highlights the importance that has the game, the fun part, fun, experiential learning. The game is a gateway to learning and new technologies are a great ally, since they quickly capture the attention of children.


Move your neurons

In antiquity they already sensed the relationship between exercise and physical and mental well-being, Mind Sana in Corpore Sano. And in recent years, Science has shown this relationship. Apparently, whenever we practice cardiovascular sport, to shrink and stretch the muscles they secrete a protein that travels to the brain and there further brain plasticity, that new neurons are created, new connections between them or synapses, and rightly memory centers.

"Sometimes when a student goes wrong at school - designated University Professor David good- remove it from the sport, so that you can study more. But it is a mistake, because what we are doing is to subtract you attribute that allows you to memorize what studies. Many times it is not a matter of hours, but quality of hours".

Has also been that sport activates the secretion of molecules called endorphins and opiates are, able to generate feeling of well-being, of pleasure, optimism, and closely related to the concentration and attention.


Taking advantage of windows

One of the most interesting and new things that defends the neuroeducation are the "windows". Contrary to what was believed a long time, the brain is not static and is learning things without more one after another, but "there are plastic windows, critical periods in which learning is more favoured than other", said Francisco Mora, 'Neuroeducation' author.

Like this, for example, to learn how to speak the window opens at birth and when the seven years, approximately. That is not to say that past that age the child not to acquire the language, because thanks to the enormous plasticity of the brain, would it even though it would cost much more and, ensures Mora, would never have a mastery of the language as another child who has learned to speak of the 0 to the 3 years.

Discover that there are specific learning periods ago that schools must also rethink the educational model. For David good, expert in formation of the brain, "to the 10 o 12 years, the brain has a specific window to learn skills, to handle information, to reason. This stage is perhaps the point enhance the understanding of a text; they are able to understand and extract information; that you learn to reason mathematically, instead of memorizing much content. In short, work those skills that will later form a brain with desire to learn new things".

The current education system in some cases strikes those brain windows. For example, When are children very young, have them sitting in a class, still, "we know that it has a negative impact on your brain", alert Jaime Romano, at the forefront of Neuromarketing. Because to be able to mature, create new networks of neurons, the brain needs new experiences. "Imagine young children exposed every day to the same things... They end up making less neural networks and your brain is less developed", Adds.

Since the neuroeducation is advisable in the first years of life will be in contact with nature, an inexhaustible source of stimuli, because it is at these ages, point, when built the percepts, Forms, colors, the movement, depth, that the concepts are then Tehran. "To build good ideas should be good percepts. They are the atoms of the knowledge, thinking", emphasizes Francisco Mora, He added "we cannot understand the education properly if we do not take into account how the brain works. Neuroeducation is looking at the biological evolution and learn from it to apply to our educational processes. During the first two years of life, the sensory is basic to the construction of future concepts. The abstract, What are the construction of ideas, they come after, When has the perceptual world been rich. ”.


Ay, adolescence...!

One of the things about the current school that is completely against the codes of the brain is the way that attempts to teach teens. At this age, they begin to have subjects like biology, Chemistry, Physics, You should learn in a completely rational. The problem is that at that age the brain is fully emotional. "From an evolutionary point of view it makes sense because at this time of life the boys seek their own limits and try to overcome them. It is part of a strategy of survival of the species", explains good.

Thus, We have brains deregulated naturally emotionally to those who try to teach things rationally. "So many kids at this stage say that they don't want to do science and lost many vocations scientific and especially in the case of the girls", Add this researcher in genetics.

But, how fix it? Because... introducing thrill. Instead of talking only of formulas and theorems, try to bring science into their lives, engage your social brain. And if the Professor of mathematics not directly explain the Pythagorean theorem, but that counted his life, their adventures and misadventures, to understand what led to this philosopher and Greek mathematician to enunciating this principle?

We should also take into account schedules. Upon entering adolescence, the brain automatically delays the time to go to sleep and wake up in the morning. On the other hand, at this stage many schools advance time entry of boys. "School rhythms should be adapted to the biological", highlights good. Not necessary to be so many hours in class. Do more experiential, say experts on neuroeducation, more knowledge is taught in less time.


Change school

"The current education system is totally anachronistic. The children are bored. We teach in the same way from ago 200 years. It makes no sense", exclaims Mark Prensky, expert in education and inventor of the concept of 'digital natives'. For Sir Ken Robinson, another of the great gurus in education, the current school was designed during the industrial revolution, When it was necessary to have workers prepared to repeat the same thing over and over again. The College followed that same pattern: children who learned from memory certain knowledge and that repeating them like parrots.

But the world, It has fortunately changed. Our society is no longer based on the mass production of objects, but more and more the ideas, on creativity and emerge new professions that are adapted to this new era in which we live. "We need teachers who prepare children to deal with those new challenges. They are capable of transforming the brain, both physically and chemically, students, in the same way as a sculptor with his chisel is able from an amorphous marble to create a figure as beautiful as David", says neuroscientist Francisco Mora.

Teachers, calls for the Neuroeducation, they should start to take advantage of everything what is known of the functioning of the human brain to teach better. And that doesn't mean just math, language or literature. "Often train people so they are great professionals, but we forget that before they have to be people. And that also means learning how to enjoy your free time. Get bored because they have nothing to do, "work very fast and long followed" considered good David.

We know that there is no cognitive brain that has not been filtered by the emotional brain. Therefore, insists Mora, We must find the emotional significance of what is taught, to make students think: ' Follow teacher telling me that, which I am very interested '. "Teachers have to be the jewel in the Crown of a country, because his back bears a huge responsibility. They must be very trained and get children to feel really excited by what you learn. Because that is the basis to create not only educated citizens, but also honest and free".

 (This story was first published in the Quo Mexico magazine, in September of 2014) [en línea] Barcelona (ESP):, 14 in May of 2015 [REF. 06 October of 2014] Available on Internet:

Cost of Medical School

11 05 2015

Many people dream of becoming a doctor, but only a small percentage actually move down this path.

Those who are interested in this profession must answer a variety of questions, including but not limited to:

  • What type of doctor do I want to be?
  • How long will it take me to complete school?
  • What is the process of applying to medical school?
  • What is the average cost of attending medical school?
  • How long does it take, on average, for a doctor to pay back school loans?
  • What is the average doctor salary and career earnings?

While some people know the answers to each and every question, others are unsure of what the future holds and how they will be impacted if they continue to move forward with this career path.

For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on the financial side of becoming a doctor. This includes everything from the cost of medical school to how to secure financing for tuition to average salaries and career earnings.


Your Time in School and Training

To become a physician in the United States, you are required to complete many educational requirements.

As you get started, you must receive a four year degree from a college or university, typically in the area of science.

From there, you will move onto medical school. Known as an undergraduate medical education, this entails four years of education at an institution accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Upon completion, a student will earn a doctor of medicine degree.

Once medical school is complete, you will complete a residency program that lasts between three and seven years. From there, a fellowship is completed. This additional training is not required, but is for doctors who want to become highly specialized in a particular field.

As this is a lot of schooling, the cost of obtaining a medicine degree can quickly add up.


What is the Cost of Medical School?



Just the same as an undergraduate education, the cost of medical school differs from one institution to the next.

The Association of American Medical Colleges tracks the average cost of medical school, noting that during the 2013-14 school year, the annual tuition and fees at public medical schools averaged:

  • $31,783 for state residents
  • $55,294 for non-residents

Students who attend a private medical school find tuition and fees much higher, reaching:

  • $52,093 for state residents
  • $50,476 for non-residents

Use these approximate numbers, the average cost of medical school, over a four-year period, ranges from $127,132 on the low end to $221,176 on the high end.


How to Afford Medical School

Even though the cost of medical school can be high, loans, grants, and scholarships are available. Some are merit based, while others are need based.

Most medical students borrow some money to finance their education. The Association of American Medical Colleges noted that the "median debt for graduating students was $175,000.

There are many types of federal loans to consider, including the Stafford loan, Perkins loan, and PLUS loan.

Scholarships and grants are also available, both from the government as well as the individual institution. Any free money you receive will reduce the amount of debt you take on.


Average Salary

There is no denying the fact that medical school is expensive. As noted above, most students leave school with nearly $200,000 in debt.

Here is the good thing: doctors have a high earning potential, meaning that loans can be paid back sooner rather than later. From there, once the debt is gone, it is easy to realize that all of the schooling was worthwhile.

The Association of American Medical Colleges notes that the average salary for a family medicine doctor in 2013 was $161,000.

Forbes outlined the best and worst paying jobs for doctors, with orthopedic surgeons at the top of the list, thanks to an average salary of $519,000.


Final Word

The cost of medical school is extremely high. Furthermore, it takes many years for a student to complete the necessary education to become a doctor.

When everything is said and done, doctors are among the highest paid professionals. For many, this is enough to cancel out the cost of their education.



Article provided by:

Mr Sasha Boyd

Outreach Director [en línea] Seminole, FL (USA):, 11 in May of 2015 Available on Internet:


Space technology to reduce blindness by degeneration macular

7 05 2015

The optics laboratory designed lenses with technology of space telescopes able to reduce up to in a 40% blindness caused by degeneration age related macular.


The magazine 'Biomedical Optical Express' just presented this technological breakthrough that enables a surgical treatment against the leading cause of total loss of eyesight in older of 55 years. The minitelescopios iolAMD, designed by the team of Professor Pablo Artal in collaboration with Dr. Qureshi of the London Eye Hospital Pharma, implanted in ten minutes and without the need for sutures to be the first manufactured with a flexible material.

Thousands of affected age-related macular degeneration (DME) You can again lead, read, watch television and recognize faces thanks to the latest optical development created by the optics laboratory of the University of Murcia (LOUM). The research team directed by Pablo Artal, Professor of optics and renowned world expert in Adaptive Optics, has served its own space telescope technology to create intraocular lenses capable of reducing the progressive and irreversible vision loss suffering from those affected by the serious eye disorder.

Macular degeneration associated with age is the leading cause of blindness in adults of 55 years in Western countries, with more than 25 millions of patients around the world. The patient loses central vision by damaging the blood vessels that supply the macula, an area of the retina that is responsible for our sight is more sharp and can appreciate the details. Patients with DME in acute phase were doomed to blindness to the absence of an effective and safe drug or surgical treatment. Until today.

The prestigious scientific journal 'Biomedical Optical Express' describes in its latest issue the technological advance that the physicist Pablo Artal research team has developed for the minitelescopios in close collaboration with Dr. Qureshi, Director and founder of the famous London Eye Hospital (United Kingdom). The purpose of this famous ophthalmologist was to intervene to DME affected using the same type of microsurgery used in cataract operation.


Inspired by Galileo Galilei

"We are inspired by the first telescope which Galileo Galilei built in" 1609 to demonstrate that the earth revolved around the Sun. It is a refractive telescope, with a positive lens and other negative. Starting from there solved the problems presenting other optical procedures failed to treat the DME also played Galileo telescope. The main advantage of bringing our lenses is that we have been able to manufacture them with a flexible material, It is injected into the eye through a small-incision so that it does not require sutures, which significantly reduces the risk of infection and postoperative complications. It's like make the leap from an operation open heart to a cut of the size of a lock slot", detailed teacher Artal.

Another of the innovations that make these minitelescopios a promising treatment involves the application of modified optical. Professor Artal points out that "iolAMD lenses moving vision of the patient to the peripheral area of the eye, avoiding the damaged central area. In this way, the patient controls their vision without the need of turning your head sharply whenever he focuses on an object and, In addition, advanced optical design solves serious problems of adaptation to peculiarities that owns each eye", detailed teacher Artal.

Currently are being carried out clinical trials in more of 200 patients from the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. The recipients of these innovative minitelescopios have experienced an improvement in vision of between a 20% and a 40%, According to preliminary data that manages the London Eye Hospital. Professor of optics of the UMU stresses that "it is not a cure, but return that percentage of vision a person with DME may mean to give you the opportunity to drive or read". However, the final results of these clinical trials will validate soon with its publication in accredited journals.


Video : [en línea] Murcia (ESP):, 07 in May of 2015 [REF. 13 March of 2015] Available on Internet:


Scientists unravel the complex brain mechanisms responsible for tinnitus

4 05 2015

Scientists have undertaken a unique study to help them unravel the complex brain mechanisms responsible for tinnitus.

Dr William Sedley, from Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience

For the first time, researchers have recorded directly from the brain of someone with the condition to find the brain networks linked to causing the debilitating problem in order to gain a better understanding of the issue.

Dr William Sedley, from Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience, co-led the international research with Dr Philip Gander, from the University of Iowa in America. Their research contrasted brain activity during periods when tinnitus was relatively stronger and weaker.

The research was only possible because the 50-year-old man they studied required invasive electrode monitoring for epilepsy. He also happened to have a typical pattern of tinnitus, including ringing in both ears, in association with hearing loss.

Findings of the research, which are today (April 23) published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, shed new light on the mechanisms of tinnitus and it is hoped that this will eventually lead to better treatments for patients.

The researchers found the expected tinnitus-linked brain activity, but they report that the unusual activity extended far beyond circumscribed auditory cortical regions to encompass almost all of the auditory cortex, along with other parts of the brain.

Dr Sedley said: "This is a big step forward in our understanding of tinnitus, as it is the first time we have been able to clearly associate the patient's own subjective experience of tinnitus with direct and precise measurements of brain activity.

"Perhaps the most remarkable finding was that activity directly linked to tinnitus was very extensive, and spanned a large proportion of the part of the brain we measured from. In contrast, the brain responses to a sound we played that mimicked the tinnitus were localised to a tiny area.

"We hope that the extra amount of knowledge we have gained will indirectly help us to develop more treatments for patients in the future. For Newcastle University to collaborate with scientists in America reflects the great work thats going on into this common condition. "

Approximately one in five people experience tinnitus, the perception of a sound – often described as ringing – that isn't really there. In the UK it is estimated that around six million people have mild tinnitus, with around 600,000 experiencing it to the severity where their quality of life is affected.

The study may help to inform treatments such as neurofeedback, where patients learn to control their ' brainwaves ', or electromagnetic brain stimulation, according to the researchers. A better understanding of the brain patterns associated with tinnitus may also help point towards new pharmacological approaches to treatment.

Dr Sedley, who also works for Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's neurology department, added: "We now know that tinnitus is represented very differently in the brain to normal sounds, even ones that sound the same, and therefore these cannot necessarily be used as the basis for understanding tinnitus or targeting treatment. "

Studies on the patient took place in the University of Iowa's Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, where patients requiring epilepsy surgery are often studied for up to two weeks with electrodes implanted in their brains, in order to locate the part of the brain responsible for the epilepsy so that it can be removed.

Dr Gander said: "It is such a rarity that a person requiring invasive electrode monitoring for epilepsy also has tinnitus that we aim to study every such person if they are willing.

"The sheer amount of the brain across which the tinnitus network is present suggests that tinnitus may not simply ' fill ing the ' gap ' left by hearing damage, but also actively infiltrates beyond this into wider brain systems. "

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council in the UK, and the National Institutes of Health in the USA. At present the research is based on a single patient, but over time the researchers are hopeful of being able to study more patients with tinnitus in a similar way.

Dr Ralph Holme, Action on Hearing Loss Head of Biomedical Research, said: "Tinnitus is a debilitating condition, for which there is currently no cure.

"We welcome investment and research into tinnitus as the mechanisms behind it are still not fully understood and more progress is needed to improve the chances of effective treatments in the future."


Case study

Father-of-two Lindsay Waddell has suffered from tinnitus for 10 years and welcomes the new research.

The head gamekeeper has spent most of his life working on farms and believes the constant noise of heavy machinery has contributed towards his condition.

Mr Waddell, 64, from Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham, said: "My tinnitus has got worse over the years and it sounds like a constant hissing in my ears. Since I was a teenager I've been surrounded by the loud noise of farm machinery and I think this has damaged my hearing.

"I'm delighted that this research has been carried out as it's a great step forward in understanding tinnitus, which will hopefully help lead to the development of new treatments in the future for those suffering the condition.

"Newcastle University is often leading the way with research and this is another example of that." [en línea] Newcastle (UK):, 04 in May of 2015 [REF. 23 April of 2015] Available on Internet: