All posts filed under: Health

Categorizing Brain Cells

Researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego discuss new efforts to perform single-cell analyses on the brain’s billions of cells. By Jef Akst | November 16, 2016 WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, GERRYSHAW The deeper scientists probe into the complexity of the human brain, the more questions seem to arise. One of the most fundamental questions is how many different types of brain cells there are, and how to categorize individual cell types. That dilemma was discussed during a session yesterday (November 11) at the ongoing Society for Neuroscience (SfN) conference in San Diego, California. As Evan Macosko of the Broad Institute said, the human brain comprises billions of brain cells—about 170 billion, according to one recent estimate—and there is a “tremendous amount of diversity in their function.” Now, new tools are supporting the study of single-cell transcriptomes, and the number of brain cell subtypes is skyrocketing. “We saw even greater degrees of heterogeneity in these cell populations than had been appreciated before,” Macosko said of his own single-cell interrogations of the mouse brain. He …

Ultrasound jump-starts brain of man in coma

New non-invasive technique may lead to low-cost therapy for patients with severe brain injury — possibly for those in a vegetative or minimally conscious state August 26, 2016 NOTE: this article appeared in KurtzweilAI blog. It was NOT written by me, David Wolf, as indicated above. (That label is an artifact of this format and I can’t remove it!) The non-invasive technique uses ultrasound to target the brain’s thalamus (credit: Martin Monti/UCLA) UCLA neurosurgeons used ultrasound to “jump-start” the brain of a 25-year-old man from a coma, and he has made remarkable progress following the treatment. The technique, called “low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation” (LIFUP), works non-invasively and without affecting intervening tissues. It excites neurons in the thalamus, an egg-shaped structure that serves as the brain’s central hub for processing information. “It’s almost as if we were jump-starting the neurons back into function,” said Martin Monti, the study’s lead author and a UCLA associate professor of psychology and neurosurgery. “Until now, the only way to achieve this was a risky surgical procedure known as deep brain stimulation, …