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  • April 23, 2013
  • 09:29 AM
  • 713 views

Temple of the Autonomus Machine

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

A news item over at Archaeology reports that a little wireless robot called Tlaloc II-TCwill soon “investigate the far reaches of a tunnel found beneath the Temple of the Plumed Serpent at Teotihuacan,” entering a chamber “estimated to be 2,000 years old, and [that] may have been used as a place for royal ceremonies or burials.”... Read more »

BLDGBLOG. (2013) TEMPLE OF THE AUTONOMOUS MACHINE. BLDGBLOG. info:/

  • April 23, 2013
  • 06:15 AM
  • 1,095 views

fMRI lie detection and the Semrau case

by Know Your Images in Know Your Images

Semrau is a psychologist accused of committing fraud to Medicare and Medicaid. The case became mostly famous, because he asked that fMRI lie detection would be a evidence in court. The judge had to decide if fMRI was admissible and after hearing scientists advocating for both sides, he has decided not to admit such evidence. However, the question is: Will it be possible to use fMRI lie detection one day?, because the reason for not admitting it has been based on the error rates and acceptance by scientific community and that can change any day...Image from here So how does fMRI lie detection work at the moment?- A deception task is presented to the volunteers: they have to lie about the object they have taken from a box (or similar, such as a card from envelope).- The volunteer goes inside the scanner and structural MRI is performed and a motor task can also be performed to make the volunteers more familiar with the MRI itself.- The deception task starts and the volunteer is asked questions about the stolen object among other questions. The volunteer has to lie about stealing the object. During this time, EPI (Echo Planar Imaging) images are acquired. - Processing of data starts, which includes reorientation and motion correction. Brain patterns are analyzed to detect lying. Findings have shown that there are specific activated areas (anterior cingulate and the prefrontal cortex) in subjects in the task of deception when a group study is performed. This is a group study, but for fMRI to become a lie detector, it has to stand in individual studies. This has been difficult, because fMRI is a technique with a low signal-to-noise ratio, but some studies have been done. Moreover, deception tasks in these studies are still simple ones, while more complex ones (like the Semrau case) have not been performed.One of the studies which presented results on individual basis (the one referenced here at the bottom) has led that a company has been formed to sell this type of service (CEPHOS). This was the company involved in the Semrau case and the CEO of this company is the scientist advocating for the fMRI lie detection. The two scientists which advocated against the fMRI lie detector were Marc Raichle, PhD (Wash. U. St. Louis, Neuroscience) and Peter Imrey, PhD (Cleveland Clinic, Statistics).Anyway, my personal belief is that fMRI should be on the service of health and not of law...Other Links:http://www.sciencemag.org/content/328/5984/1336.1.fullhttp://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/05/fmri-lie-detection-gets-its-day-.htmlhttp://blogs.law.stanford.edu/lawandbiosciences/2012/09/07/hot-news-6th-circuit-affirms-in-us-v-semrau-says-no-to-fmri-lie-detection/Kozel, F., Johnson, K., Mu, Q., Grenesko, E., Laken, S., & George, M. (2005). Detecting Deception Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Biological Psychiatry, 58 (8), 605-613 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.07.040... Read more »

Kozel, F., Johnson, K., Mu, Q., Grenesko, E., Laken, S., & George, M. (2005) Detecting Deception Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Biological Psychiatry, 58(8), 605-613. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.07.040  

  • April 22, 2013
  • 08:20 PM
  • 995 views

Connecting Form and Function: Serial Block-face EM

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

The retina is a beautiful and wondrous structure, and it has some really weird cells. Retina by Cajal (source)Retinal Ganglion Cells (RGC) have all sorts of differentiating characteristics. Some are directly sensitive to brightness (like rods and cones), while some are sensitive to the specific direction that a bar is traveling. I am discussing really amazing new techniques to see inside cells this month, and have already posted about the magic that is Array Tomography. Today we'll look at another amazing new technique that (like array tomography) combines nano-scale detail with a scale large enough to see many neurons at once. This technique is called Serial Block-face Electron Microscopy (SBEM), and was recently used to investigate how starburst amacrine cells control the direction-sensitivity of  retinal ganglion cells.Serial Block-face EM (source)SBEM images are acquired by embedding a piece of tissue (like a retina) in some firm substance and slicing it superthin (like 10s of nanometers thick) with a diamond blade. The whole slicing apparatus is set up directly under a scanning electron microscope, so as soon as the blade cuts, an image is taken of the surface remaining. Then another thin slice is shaved off and the next image is taken, and so on.Using this technique, Briggman et al. (2011) are able to trace individual neurons and their connections for a (relatively) large section of retina. What is so great about this paper is that before they sliced up the retina, they moved bars around in front of it and measured the directional selectivity of a bunch of neurons. Then, using blood vessels and landmarks to orient themselves, they were able to find the exact same cells in the SBEM data and trace them.Briggman et al. (2011) Fig1C: Landmark blood vesselsThe colored circles above represent the cell bodies and the black 'tree' shape are the blood vessel landmarks. Once they found the cell bodies, the could trace the cells through the stacks of SBEM data. What is really neat is that you can try your hand at this yourself. This exact data set has been turned into a game called EYEWIRE by the Seung lab at MIT. Reconstructing the cells, they could not only tell which cells connected to which other cells, but they could also see exactly where on the dendrites the cells connected. This is the really amazing part. They found that specific dendritic areas made synapses with specific cells.Briggman et al. (2011) Fig4: dendrites as the computational unitThis starburst amacrine cell overlaps with many retinal ganglion cells (dotted lines represent the dendritic spread of individual RGCs)...BUT its specific dendrites (left, right, up down etc) synapse selectively onto RGCs sensitive to a particular direction. Each color represents synapses onto a specific direction-sensitivity. e.g. yellow dots are synapses from the amacrine cell onto RGCs which are sensitive to downward motion.This suggests that each individual dendritic area of these starburst amacrine cells inhibits (probably) a specific type of RGC, and that these dendrites act relatively independently of one another. "The specificity of each SAC dendritic branch for selecting a postsynaptic target goes well beyond the notion that neuron A selectively wires to neuron B, which is all that electrophysiological measurements can test. Instead the dendrite angle has an additional, perhaps dominant, role, which is consistent with SAC dendrites acting as independent computational units."  -Briggman et al (2011)(discussion)These cells are weird for so many reasons, but the ability of the dendrites to act so independently of one another is a new and exciting development that I hope to see more research on soon. © TheCellularScaleBriggman KL, Helmstaedter M, & Denk W (2011). Wiring specificity in the direction-selectivity circuit of the retina. Nature, 471 (7337), 183-8 PMID: 21390125... Read more »

  • April 20, 2013
  • 04:00 AM
  • 443 views

Will the droids take academic jobs?

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

As a researcher, one of the biggest challenges I face is keeping up with the scientific literature. This is further exasperated by working in several disciplines, and without a more senior advisor or formal training in most of them. The Evolutionary Game Theory Reading Group, and later this blog, started as an attempt to help [...]... Read more »

  • April 19, 2013
  • 03:53 AM
  • 556 views

Decoding the structure of bone

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

[...] a team of researchers at MIT has finally unraveled the structure of bone with almost atom-by-atom precision, after many years of analysis by some of the world’s most powerful computers and comparison with laboratory experiments to confirm the computed results [...]... Read more »

David L. Chandler. (2013) Decoding the structure of bone. MIT News Office. info:/

  • April 16, 2013
  • 06:25 AM
  • 552 views

Nanosponges Soak Up Toxins Released by Bacterial Infections and Venom

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a “nanosponge” capable of safely removing a broad class of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream – including toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli, poisonous snakes and bees.... Read more »

Catherine Hockmuth, & Daniel Kane. (2013) Nanosponges Soak Up Toxins Released by Bacterial Infections and Venom. UC San Diego News Center. info:/

  • April 15, 2013
  • 04:46 PM
  • 663 views

Greece's ups and downs

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

A new data processor is creating maps of land deformation from satellite radar data over larger areas and with higher precision than ever before. These maps can be used to detect and monitor geological hazards.... Read more »

ESA Observing the Earth. (2013) Greece's ups and downs. ESA Observing the Earth. info:/

  • April 15, 2013
  • 03:27 PM
  • 641 views

Brain-to-Brain Interface - Share Information via Internet

by Vivek Misra in Uberbrain Research Frontier

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ... Read more »

  • April 15, 2013
  • 05:30 AM
  • 508 views

Mathematical Turing test: Readable proofs from your computer

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

We have previously discussed the finicky task of defining intelligence, but surely being able to do math qualifies? Even if the importance of mathematics in science is questioned by people as notable as E.O. Wilson, surely nobody questions it as an intelligent activity? Mathematical reasoning is not necessary for intelligence, but surely it is sufficient? [...]... Read more »

  • April 11, 2013
  • 10:50 AM
  • 583 views

Human organ-on-chips: An alternative approach to drug and toxin testing?

by Professor Donald Ingber in NC3Rs Blog

In this first post, our 2012 NC3Rs 3Rs Prize winner, Professor Donald Ingber at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, USA, describes how his prize-winning lung-on-a-chip microdevice could change the face of how we test drugs and model human disease in the future.... Read more »

Huh, D., Leslie, D., Matthews, B., Fraser, J., Jurek, S., Hamilton, G., Thorneloe, K., McAlexander, M., & Ingber, D. (2012) A Human Disease Model of Drug Toxicity-Induced Pulmonary Edema in a Lung-on-a-Chip Microdevice. Science Translational Medicine, 4(159), 159-159. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004249  

  • April 10, 2013
  • 12:06 PM
  • 385 views

The Effects of Social Media Monopolies

by Mark Fonseca Rendeiro in United Academics

Though some new statistical reports show signs of slowing down, we are still very much in the era of social media euphoria, where more and more people join up, sign in, and check their feeds as often as possible. ”Like” it or not- grievances are aired, ideas are sometimes exchanged, and a never ending stream of baby photos are shared at every minute of the day. On the surface, both regular users and professional researchers have observed and chronicled the list of achievements and possibilities brought on by this technology as we are currently using it. But taking a deeper look into the power, politics, and effects of everyone becoming a “prosumer”, some researchers see a major crisis on the horizon as both governments and commercial institutions quietly take advantage of what appears to be an exercise in freedom of expression.... Read more »

  • April 10, 2013
  • 09:12 AM
  • 283 views

The Effects of Social Media Monopolies

by Mark Fonseca Rendeiro in United Academics

Though some new statistical reports show signs of slowing down, we are still very much in the era of social media euphoria, where more and more people join up, sign in, and check their feeds as often as possible. ”Like” it or not- grievances are aired, ideas are sometimes exchanged, and a never ending stream of baby photos are shared at every minute of the day. On the surface, both regular users and professional researchers have observed and chronicled the list of achievements and possibilities brought on by this technology as we are currently using it. But taking a deeper look into the power, politics, and effects of everyone becoming a “prosumer”, some researchers see a major crisis on the horizon as both governments and commercial institutions quietly take advantage of what appears to be an exercise in freedom of expression.... Read more »

  • April 8, 2013
  • 02:02 PM
  • 450 views

A mighty wind

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

Thrusters powered by ionic wind may be an efficient alternative to conventional atmospheric propulsion technologies.... Read more »

Jennifer Chu. (2013) A mighty wind. MIT News Office. info:/

  • April 8, 2013
  • 12:00 PM
  • 652 views

Programming playground: Cells as (quantum) computers?

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Nearly a year ago, the previous post in this series introduced a way for programmers to play around with biology: a model that simulated the dynamics of a whole cell at unprecedented levels of details. But what if you want to play with the real thing? Can you program a living cell? Can you compute [...]... Read more »

Bonnet J, Yin P, Ortiz ME, Subsoontorn P, & Endy D. (2013) Amplifying Genetic Logic Gates. Science. PMID: 23539178  

  • April 2, 2013
  • 12:12 PM
  • 551 views

The Misguided Search for Validation via Social Media

by Jason Carr in Wired Cosmos

We human beings are social creatures. It’s natural for us to orient ourselves in terms of the world outside and what the people around us are thinking and doing. This socialization instinct is strongest in us when we’re young and still developing our own sense of identity. Historically speaking, this dynamic has typically played itself … Read More →... Read more »

  • April 2, 2013
  • 11:28 AM
  • 725 views

Film preparations for oral drug delivery

by Maren Preis in Pharmaceutical Solid State Research Cluster (PSSRC)

Oral films have gained interest in the last couple of years. Films for oral application offer an interesting new approach for drug administration. Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) can be implemented in thin-sheeted polymer film matrices. These dosage forms are intended to be placed in mouth to dissolve in the saliva without the need of additional liquid and without swallowing of a solid dosage form.... Read more »

Hoffmann EM, Breitenbach A, & Breitkreutz J. (2011) Advances in orodispersible films for drug delivery. Expert opinion on drug delivery, 8(3), 299-316. PMID: 21284577  

Janßen E.M., Schliephacke R,, Breitenbach A,, & Breitkreutz J. (2013) Drug-printing by flexographic printing technology—A new manufacturing process for orodispersible films. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 441(1-2), 818-825. info:/10.1016/j.ijpharm.2012.12.023

Garsuch V, & Breitkreutz J. (2009) Novel analytical methods for the characterization of oral wafers. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 73(1), 195-201. PMID: 19482082  

Woertz K, Tissen C, Kleinebudde P, & Breitkreutz J. (2011) Taste sensing systems (electronic tongues) for pharmaceutical applications. International journal of pharmaceutics, 417(1-2), 256-71. PMID: 21094230  

  • March 29, 2013
  • 09:11 AM
  • 703 views

Scientists Detect Magnetic Fingerprints of Defects in Solar Cells

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

A new highly sensitive method of measurement allowed physicists form Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy to directly detect defects in solar cells with atomic resolution. This findings can be used to optimize solar cells’ efficiency and decrease production costs.


HZB physicists have managed to localize defects in amorphous/crystalline silicon heterojunction solar cells. Now, for the first time ever, using computer simulations at Paderborn University, the scientists were able to determine the defects’ exact locations and assign them to certain structures within the interface between the amorphous and crystalline phases.... Read more »

George, B., Behrends, J., Schnegg, A., Schulze, T., Fehr, M., Korte, L., Rech, B., Lips, K., Rohrmüller, M., Rauls, E.... (2013) Atomic Structure of Interface States in Silicon Heterojunction Solar Cells. Physical Review Letters, 110(13). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.136803  

  • March 28, 2013
  • 10:01 AM
  • 526 views

Texas Unleashes Stampede for Science

by Perikis Livas in Chilon

Stampede, the newest supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and one of the most advanced scientific research instruments in the world, fills aisle after aisle of a new 11,000-square-foot data center on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus. Through the glass machine room doors, you can see 182 racks holding more than 500,000 interconnected computer processors. Inside, wind whips from in-row coolers, wires snake over the racks and chilled water courses below the floor as Stampede performs calculations on behalf of scientists and engineers nationwide.... Read more »

Aaron Dubrow. (2013) Texas Unleashes Stampede for Science. UT - Texas Advanced Computing Center. info:/

  • March 27, 2013
  • 09:45 AM
  • 691 views

Video Tip of the Week: Enzyme Portal and User-Centered Design

by Mary in OpenHelix

This week’s video tip of the week introduces you to Enzyme Portal, an interface to explore data about these important proteins, from the EBI. In the video, Jenny Cham–one of the authors of the paper below–takes you through the main features of their newly designed resource. I learned about the new effort from this blog [...]... Read more »

de Matos, P., Cham, J., Cao, H., Alcántara, R., Rowland, F., Lopez, R., & Steinbeck, C. (2013) The Enzyme Portal: A case study in applying user-centred design methods in bioinformatics. BMC Bioinformatics, 14(1), 103. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2105-14-103  

  • March 27, 2013
  • 08:27 AM
  • 297 views

Modern Privacy: More Access to Cells than Toilets

by Katja Keuchenius in United Academics

Most people in the world now live in a city, feeling pretty anonymous. An even bigger number of people don’t have to defocate out in the open anymore, but have access to a toilet. And then there’s this growing amount of people that can talk in private on their cells. But beware, these are false senses of privacy.... Read more »

de Montjoye YA, Hidalgo CA, Verleysen M, & Blondel VD. (2013) Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility. Scientific reports, 1376. PMID: 23524645  

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