Stimulating Neural Circuits with Magnetism

Brain stimulation might sound like some Frankensteinian demonstration from a Victorian science fair. But in reality, it is a contemporary technique making a huge impact in neuroscience by addressing a longstanding limitation of traditional methods for investigating human brain function. Such techniques, like EEG and fMRI, can only be used to infer the effects of a stimulus or task on brain activity, and not vice versa. For example, a scientist might use EEG to study the effect of a task like arm movement on brain activity, but how can one study the effect of brain activity on arm movement?Continue reading

Repaving Old Roads After Spinal Cord Injury by Knowing Neurons

Repaving Old Roads After Spinal Cord Injury

The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 500,000 people will experience spinal cord injuries (SCI) every year.  Researchers at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland reported that approximately half of human spinal cord injuries lead to paralysis severe enough to keep the person in a wheelchair for the rest of his or her life.  An incomplete spinal cord injury is sufficient to cause severe motor impairments.  However, in most of these patients, a few nerve fiber bridges remain at the site of injury.  Can researchers figure out a way to repair these paths and help the patient regain functional movement after spinal cord injury?Continue reading