(TMU) — In previous articles, we discussed the importance of brain waves in modern technological developments. It even seemed like something “magical” to me, when I was writing about how through brain waves and AI scientists can “see” what you are seeing in real-time. Now, even more progress is being made thanks to neuroscientists at MIT.
So far, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s despite rapid growth in the number of people living with the disease. It is estimated that around 44 million people around the world suffer from this condition or a related form of dementia. In the U.S., an estimated 5.5 million people have Alzheimer’s disease. It is also the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S, killing even more people than breast and prostate cancer combined.
Even though a few drugs temporarily manage certain cognitive symptoms of the illness, none of them can stop Alzheimer’s progression. Virtually all new treatments have failed in clinical trials. “We really don’t have much to offer people,” says Shannon Macauley, a neuroscientist at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
This new research basically works with imitating the healthy rhythmic patterns—or brain waves—that operate at different frequencies. Gamma brain waves oscillate at roughly 30 to 100 Hz and are associated with higher-order cognitive functions, and they are also known to decrease in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
A previous study showed that flashing light 40 times a second into the eyes of mice treated their Alzheimer’s disease. If this was not amazing enough, researchers also added sound of a similar frequency and this dramatically improved the results. In a way, we can be talking of “healing frequencies”… some “alternative” therapies in medicine may not sound so crazy now, huh?
This noninvasive treatment also greatly reduced the number of amyloid plaques found in the brains of these mice. Plaques were cleared in large swaths of the brain, including areas critical for cognitive functions such as learning and memory.
“When we combine visual and auditory stimulation for a week, we see the engagement of the prefrontal cortex and a very dramatic reduction of amyloid,” said Li-Huei Tsai, one of the researchers from MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
Another fact to consider is that the researchers found that if they treated the mice for one week, then waited another week to perform the tests, many of the positive effects had faded, suggesting that the treatment would need to be given continuously to maintain the benefits.
Tsui used a frequency ranging around 40 Hertz, a sound only just high enough for humans to hear, and as a “side effect,” it also helped clear the nearby hippocampus, an important area of the brain associated with memory. After treatment, mice exposed to this “therapy” performed better in a range of cognitive tasks. Findings show an overall neuroprotective effect, even in the later stages of neurodegeneration, the researchers reported.
“Though there are important differences among species, there is reason to be optimistic that these methods can provide useful interventions for humans,” says Nancy Kopell, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Boston University.
While further research is needed and a few numbers to understand, such as 40, the frequency that is creating a profound impact in mice, this is encouraging news to finally have an effective treatment for all stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings
People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.
However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.
In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.
“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”
The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.
In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.
Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.
The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.
Toddler Goes On $2000 Furniture-Shopping Spree On Mom’s Phone
A New Jersey mom learned that keeping your browser open may not be the best idea as children, and even infants, become increasingly tech savvy.
Madhu Kumar was browsing Walmart’s furniture selection on their website and had added some items to her shopping cart but never checked out. She was shocked and confused when she started to receive a steady stream of packages from the big-box retailer.
Madhu immediately turned to her husband and two older children to find out who ordered the packages.
“I need one or two, why would we need four?” Madhu asked.
As it turned out, her toddler Ayaansh Kumar – who, at 22 months old, was barely learning to count – had gone on a $2,000 shopping spree while playing on his mother’s phone.
“It is really hard to believe that he has done this, but that’s what happened,” Ayaansh’s dad, Pramod Kumar, told NBC New York.
Among the packages were some that could barely be squeezed through the family’s front door at their home in Monmouth Junction.
Purchases included accent chairs, flower stands and a range of other household items that arrived throughout the week.
“He’s so little, he’s so cute, we were laughing that he ordered all this stuff,” his mom remarked.
From birth, young Ayaansh had observantly watched his family members engage in a range of activities from home – including shopping, attending classes, and going to school. And as it the case for many kids of his generation, he knows the basics of operating a smartphone.
The parents are still waiting for all of the boxes to arrive so that they can return them to their local Walmart. The retailer has already told the Kumars that they are eligible for a refund, but the parents plan to save at least a few items to remind them of their son’s first e-commerce adventure.
“Moving forward, we will put tough passcodes or face recognition so when he picks up the phone he finds it in locked condition,” his father said.
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