Friday, August 31, 2007

Super Paper Friday

Gamma oscillations dynamically couple hippocampal CA3 and CA1 regions during memory task performance.
Montgomery SM, Buzsáki G.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Aug 28; [Epub ahead of print]

Speech-associated gestures, Broca's area, and the human mirror system.
Skipper JI, Goldin-Meadow S, Nusbaum HC, Small SL.
Brain Lang. 2007 Jun;101(3):260-77.

Evidence for the Flexible Sensorimotor Strategies Predicted by Optimal Feedback Control
Dan Liu and Emanuel Todorov
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 29, 2007, 27(35):9354-9368

Frequency Control of Motor Patterning by Negative Sensory Feedback
Jessica Ausborn, Wolfgang Stein, and Harald Wolf
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 29, 2007, 27(35):9319-9328

Neuronal population coding of continuous and discrete quantity in the primate posterior parietal cortex.
Tudusciuc O, Nieder A.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Aug 27; [Epub ahead of print]

Neural Signal Based Control of the Dasher Writing System
Felton EA, Lewis NL, Wills SA, Radwin RG, Williams JC
Neural Engineering, 2007. CNE '07. 3rd International IEEE/EMBS Conference on (2007), pp. 366-370.

Memory in neuroscience: rhetoric versus reality.
Wolpaw JR.
Behav Cogn Neurosci Rev. 2002 Jun;1(2):130-63.

Threshold control of arm posture and movement adaptation to load.
Foisy M, Feldman AG.
Exp Brain Res. 2006 Nov;175(4):726-44. Epub 2006 Jul 18.

Insights into seeing and grasping: distinguishing the neural correlates of perception and action.
Lebedev MA, Wise SP.
Behav Cogn Neurosci Rev. 2002 Jun;1(2):108-29.

The Olympic Brain. Does corticospinal plasticity play a role in acquisition of skills required for high-performance sports?
Nielsen JB, Cohen LG.
J Physiol. 2007 Aug 23; [Epub ahead of print]

Sensory adaptation.
Wark B, Lundstrom BN, Fairhall A.
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2007 Aug 20; [Epub ahead of print]

Video ergo sum: manipulating bodily self-consciousness.
Lenggenhager B, Tadi T, Metzinger T, Blanke O.
Science. 2007 Aug 24;317(5841):1096-9.

Sensorimotor Learning Configures the Human Mirror System.
Catmur C, Walsh V, Heyes C.
Curr Biol. 2007 Aug 21; [Epub ahead of print]

Motor unit synchronization measured by cross-correlation is not influenced by short-term strength training of a hand muscle.
Kidgell DJ, Sale MV, Semmler JG.
Exp Brain Res. 2006 Nov;175(4):745-53. Epub 2006 Oct 19.

For fun:

The role of the dorsal striatum in reward and decision-making.
Balleine BW, Delgado MR, Hikosaka O.
J Neurosci. 2007 Aug 1;27(31):8161-5.

Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity.
Premack D.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Aug 28;104(35):13861-7. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Out-of-body experiences enter the laboratory.
Miller G.
Science. 2007 Aug 24;317(5841):1020-1.

The experimental induction of out-of-body experiences.
Ehrsson HH.
Science. 2007 Aug 24;317(5841):1048.

I know I know...

I have had zero time to post. In the meantime, enjoy this Onion audio commentary on prosthetics...

Or enjoy the Most Bizarre Experiments of All Time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eat this DARPA

Sure, it isn't human scale, but who do you think will win in an arm wrestling match between this and the Dean Kamen arm? Finally! Something to get back at that arm wrestling game that was recalled for snapping limbs (reported last week).

via Engadget

Sunday, August 26, 2007


MetaFilter had an interesting question posted on "YouTube for Scientists". SciVee lets you upload a presentation with narration, along with all the excitement that entails.

On an (obvious) note, if you're looking for video clips of landmark experiments, You Tube is actually pretty good. Just make sure you hit that sweet spot between generality and specificity. Something like "brain computer interface" works nicely.

On a YouTube note, I'm sure our international readers will enjoy this clip of American pride...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Piping hot Super Paper Friday

Analyzing the activity of large populations of neurons: how tractable is the problem?
Nirenberg SH, Victor JD.
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2007 Aug 18; [Epub ahead of print]

Oscillatory brain responses evoked by video game events: the case of super monkey ball 2.
Salminen M, Ravaja N.
Cyberpsychol Behav. 2007 Jun;10(3):330-8.

The thalamus is more than just a relay.
Sherman SM.
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2007 Aug 16; [Epub ahead of print]

Amplitude Modulation Patterns of Local Field Potentials Reveal Asynchronous Neuronal Populations
Javier Díaz, Pablo Razeto-Barry, Juan-Carlos Letelier, John Caprio, and Juan Bacigalupo
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 22, 2007, 27(34):9238-9245

Neural interfacing: not just BCI or BMI!
Dominique M Durand
2006 J. Neural Eng. 4

Free-paced high-performance brain–computer interfaces
Neil Achtman, Afsheen Afshar, Gopal Santhanam, Byron M Yu, Stephen I Ryu and Krishna V Shenoy
2007 J. Neural Eng. 4 336-347

Limb-state feedback from ensembles of simultaneously recorded dorsal root ganglion neurons
D J Weber et al
2007 J. Neural Eng. 4 S168-S180

New functional electrical stimulation approaches to standing and walking
Vivian K Mushahwar, Patrick L Jacobs, Richard A Normann, Ronald J Triolo and Naomi Kleitman
2007 J. Neural Eng. 4 S181-S197

High-resolution EEG techniques for brain-computer interface applications.
Cincotti F, Mattia D, Aloise F, Bufalari S, Astolfi L, De Vico Fallani F, Tocci A, Bianchi L, Marciani MG, Gao S, Millan J, Babiloni F
J Neurosci Methods. 2007 Jul 10; [Epub ahead of print]

The muscle activation method: an approach to impedance control of brain-machine interfaces through a musculoskeletal model of the arm.
Kim HK, Carmena JM, Biggs SJ, Hanson TL, Nicolelis MA, Srinivasan MA.
IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2007 Aug;54(8):1520-9.

Muscle fatigue: what, why, and how it influences muscle function.
Enoka R, Duchateau J
J Physiol. 2007 Aug 16;

The nature of corticospinal paths driving human motoneurones during voluntary contractions.
Butler JE, Larsen TS, Gandevia SC, Petersen NT
J Physiol. 2007 Aug 16

Binomial parameters differ across neocortical layers and with different classes of connections in adult rat and cat neocortex.
Brémaud A, West DC, Thomson AM.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Aug 16; [Epub ahead of print]

Correlation between neural spike trains increases with firing rate.
de la Rocha J, Doiron B, Shea-Brown E, Josić K, Reyes A.
Nature. 2007 Aug 16;448(7155):802-6.

Distinct movement parameters are represented by different neurons in the motor cortex.
Stark E, Drori R, Asher I, Ben-Shaul Y, Abeles M.
Eur J Neurosci. 2007 Aug;26(4):1055-1066.

General interest papers:

Remembering the past to imagine the future: the prospective brain.
Schacter DL, Addis DR, Buckner RL.
Nat Rev Neurosci. 2007 Sep;8(9):657-661.

Rapid Erasure of Long-Term Memory Associations in the Cortex by an Inhibitor of PKM
Reut Shema, Todd Charlton Sacktor, and Yadin Dudai
(17 August 2007)Science 317 (5840), 951.

Can neuroscience be integrated into the DSM-V?
Hyman SE.
Nat Rev Neurosci. 2007 Sep;8(9):725-32.

Ground squirrels use an infrared signal to deter rattlesnake predation.
Rundus AS, Owings DH, Joshi SS, Chinn E, Giannini N.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Aug 17; [Epub ahead of print]

The arms race

Arms arms arms. So many arms. German company Festo has their muscle emulating arm, called Airic's_Arm. Click through for some fluidic muscle awesomeness. Note that there are a significant number of components in the torso piece, making this a little way off for use as a prosthetic.

Best Slashdot comment on the story:
Now the Japanese must develop the next version of their robot arm so it can beat this one.

The arms race begins!
via Slashdot.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Every scientific presentation

This is hilarious. Make sure you can hear the stirring dialog and watch all the way through the end.

From OmniBrain.

Recycling robotics

One thing about BCI I've come to realize over the last year: The same news is rehashed over and over in the media. Many time there is no major advancement tied to the announcements, but companies and funding agencies love to see their work in the limelight. One positive aspect of this is that the labs show off more interesting material, as the basics have been previously covered.

Case in point, the Vanderbilt/Rocket powered/Goldfarb/DARPA/liquid nitrogen (or was it hydrogen) arm. Still cool as Hell, but now we get to see the funky video above. At some point I'm going to sit down and list out all the big players and their aliases (the Dean Kamen are is also a 'DARPA arm').
Covered here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Little vacation?

So, when JPD told us he was going on a little vacation and stopping off in Germany, I didn't know he meant he was going to accept Germany's top Neuroscience award. A big 'ole congrats, you dog, you! (Lab page, if you're interested.)

(In the above picture, you'll notice that he does know how to use a pre-1997 Mac. :) )

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Raise you hand if you're having a kick ass Saturday night spike sorting!
*raises hand*
*looks around excitedly*
*realizes no one else is raising their hand*

Actually, I kinda like it. It gives me a chance to meditate on the data a little. Oh lord. Did I just actually say, "Meditate on the the data"? Wow. Just wow.

Power the body electric

Looks like we're moving closer to thermo-biogenerators. Engadget has a little snippet on work at the Fraunhoffer Institute, where they apparently are making progress in harnessing the body's heat to generate electricity. (actually from January, but still worth mentioning.)

One thing to note - remember that very small changes in temperature over a small area of the brain for a prolonged time can be catastrophic. So, much of the work on implantable electronics for use in neural integration is looking at ways of using the least amount of power possible (thus generating the least amount of heat). Of course, there are ways of dispersing the heat locally and by separating components, but that adds bulk, immunoreactive surfaces, and complexity (though makes 'upgrading' easier - new power transducer can be added under local anesthesia). My point is that if BCI researchers are trying to optimized for power and heat as a primary focus, and power/physics researchers are working on providing the largest amount of power, the two are likely to meet at a nice, common ground once they are more widely applicable.

Telescopic contacts

I have contact lenses, and I even after a few years, I still hate putting them in. Imagine getting these suckers in there without blinking. Do they work if you have astigmatism?

via Boing Boing

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mini Super Paper Friday

We got a short one this week. I even included one relatively unrelated and one older paper.

Individual Differences in White-Matter Microstructure Reflect Variation in Functional Connectivity during Choice.
Boorman ED, O'shea J, Sebastian C, Rushworth MF, Johansen-Berg H.
Curr Biol. 2007 Aug 8; [Epub ahead of print]

Laterality of movement-related activity reflects transformation of coordinates in the ventral premotor cortex and the primary motor cortex of monkeys.
Kurata K.
J Neurophysiol. 2007 Aug 8; [Epub ahead of print]

Dendritic action potentials connect distributed dendrodendritic microcircuits.
Migliore M, Shepherd GM.
J Comput Neurosci. 2007 Aug 3; [Epub ahead of print]

Optimal feedback control and the neural basis of volitional motor control
Stephen H. Scott
Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5, 532-546 (July 2004)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


BoingBoing picked up on a Mind Hacks post on the topic of Locked-In Syndrome. Locked-In Syndrome refers to a condition caused by any number of disorders or injuries which leave a patient mentally intact, but unable to communicate with the outside world. Essentially, these people are prisoners in their own minds. I've worked with several of these people during my time with Phil Kennedy and John Donoghue, and know this is generally a misnomer.

Most Locked-in patients retain some ability to communicate, using either eye blinks, directional gaze, or binary interfaces to signal intent (especially true for patients in BCI clinical trials, since consent is needed). These folks are generally referred to as 'partially locked-in'. Many conditions eventually lead to becoming 'fully locked-in', such as ALS or mitochondrial myopathy. When people ask why we want to control a simple cursor, this would be a prime example. Even reliable binary control without supervision would be a huge improvement over the current state of affairs.

So, while I know the juicy bits come from robotic arms and exoskeletons, let's keep it grounded. The main reason prosthetic control, cursor control, and switches are worked on all at once is that we have some understanding of limb control by the nervous system. I guess you can consider limb control more 'natural', or more crystallized in the motor system's organization by the time these disorders and injuries are relevant.

They mention Jean-Dominique Bauby, who wrote the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly while locked-in, using eye blinks. It is a great read, and I would say it is essential for anyone in BCI that hasn't read it, should.

Brain (Video) Game

I know, again, not directly BCI related (I seem to wandering off lately. I'll try to wrangle it back in.), but the NIH is funding the development of a video game aimed at teaching kids about the brain. There are several sites aimed at educating the young uns', like here, but this is a step int he right direction, IMO.

Coming soon: Neurosurgery Using the Wii!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Go-Go-Gadget Ankle!

Old news, but still good news. Here are some spicy stories about a robotic ankle being used to help soldiers coming back from Iraq minus a limb. The device assist in gait by simulating the movement of muscles and tendons. There are a couple projects that I always confuse. This is the PowerFoot which is meant to replace missing feet. There is mounting evidence that robot assisted gait technology is incredibly beneficial for rehabilitation from MS and other motor disorders.

Story on Medgadget, Gizmodo, CNet, I4U.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Super Paper Friday

Feedforward versus feedback modulation of human vestibular-evoked balance responses by visual self-motion information.
Day BL, Guerraz M.
J Physiol. 2007 Jul 1;582(Pt 1):153-61. Epub 2007 Apr 19.

Modulation by dopamine of human basal ganglia involvement in feedback control of movement.
Kempf F, Brücke C, Kühn AA, Schneider GH, Kupsch A, Chen CC, Androulidakis AG, Wang S, Vandenberghe W, Nuttin B, Aziz T, Brown P.
Curr Biol. 2007 Aug 7;17(15):R587-9.

Development of Neural Circuitry for Precise Temporal Sequences through Spontaneous Activity, Axon Remodeling, and Synaptic Plasticity.
Jun JK, Jin DZ.
PLoS ONE. 2007 Aug 8;2:e723.

Development of distinct control networks through segregation and integration.
Fair DA, Dosenbach NU, Church JA, Cohen AL, Brahmbhatt S, Miezin FM, Barch DM, Raichle ME, Petersen SE, Schlaggar BL.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Aug 6; [Epub ahead of print]

Context Familiarity Enhances Target Processing by Inferior Temporal Cortex Neurons
Ryan E. B. Mruczek and David L. Sheinberg
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 8, 2007, 27(32):8533-8545.

An Integrated Microcircuit Model of Attentional Processing in the Neocortex
Salva Ardid, Xiao-Jing Wang, and Albert Compte
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 8, 2007, 27(32):8486-8495

Learning the value of information in an uncertain world.
Behrens TE, Woolrich MW, Walton ME, Rushworth MF.
Nat Neurosci. 2007 Aug 5; [Epub ahead of print]

Distributed Representations Accelerate Evolution of Adaptive Behaviours.
Stone JV.
PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 Aug 3;3(8):e147 [Epub ahead of print]

(News item) Implant boosts activity in injured brain.
Hopkin M.
Nature. 2007 Aug 2;448(7153):522.

(Associated paper) Behavioural improvements with thalamic stimulation after severe traumatic brain injury.
Schiff ND, Giacino JT, Kalmar K, Victor JD, Baker K, Gerber M, Fritz B, Eisenberg B, O'Connor J, Kobylarz EJ, Farris S, Machado A, McCagg C, Plum F, Fins JJ, Rezai AR.
Nature. 2007 Aug 2;448(7153):600-3.

Close to me: Multisensory space representations for action and pre-reflexive consciousness of oneself-in-the-world
Dorothee Legrand, Claudio Brozzoli, Yves Rossetti and Alessandro Farne.
Consciousness and Cognition, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 1 August 2007.

Individual variation in human motor-sensory (rolandic) cortex.
Farrell DF, Burbank N, Lettich E, Ojemann GA.
J Clin Neurophysiol. 2007 Jun;24(3):286-93.

Neuronal competition for action potential initiation sites in a circuit controlling simple learning
G.E. Cruza, C.L. Sahleyb and K.J. Mullera,
Neuroscience, Volume 148, Issue 1, 10 August 2007, Pages 65-81

(Mentioned yesterday) Adaptation reveals independent control networks for human walking
Julia T Choi & Amy J Bastian
Nature Neuroscience - 10, 1055 - 1062 (2007), Published online: 1 July 2007.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Link purge-o-matic

Wow, tons of work to do on my end here, so with the exception of Super Paper Friday tomorrow, this will probably be the last post until Monday. Here are a bunch o' stories, in no particular order.

- Telepresence/Virtual Reality: An omnidirectional treadmill. Going nowhere fast? Better get one of these!

- Stem cell therapy: Large numbers of human embryonic stem cells turned into neurons. File under "You can be anything you want to be!"

- Alternative input paradigm: Sweet, sweet interactive awesomeness. The ReacTable synth. Watch the video.

- Stroke rehab: Using a Nintendo Wii! As one Digg commenter said, "Wiihabilitation!"

- Mirror Neurons and Gestures: A nice writeup of two conflicting papers, pointing out some of the general flaws of MNS.

- Story follow-up: More details from Keirstead on the whole situation with Geron and the treatments being researched. You might remember his from a previous post. I think this statement speaks volumes about the guy's personal integrity:
I promise that my research team will push towards the goal of treating spinal cord injured people with intellectual rigor and tremendous personal intensity. We understand that our job is to invent safe and effective treatments that may then be evaluated in the clinic. I expect that we will fail and succeed along the way, and thank you in advance for allowing us to do both.
Sounds like an awesome guy all around.

- Neurophilosophy: From, surprise, the Neurophilosopher's blog, some Q & A. I agree with his conclusions about the current state of neurotechnology, but think that many of the issues discussed will work themselves out. Here's a curveball for ya: If we could create a little 'widget' that perfectly mimicked the activity of a single neuron, and we plucked a neuron out of your head, replacing it, and all its synapses, with this little widget, would 'you ' cease to exist? What if we did it with 5 widgets the next day? A thousand the next? A million the next? Your whole brain the next day?

- Epilepsy chip: Purdue researchers are working on an implantable system for detecting epileptic seizures across multiple locations. Just an implantable EEG system, with work being done on the transmitter and pattern discriminator. Nothing for actually TREATING the condition. That'll be a tough sell. More invasive than surface EEG, greater chance on infection, no benefit to the participants, and marginally better data collected. (Okay, significantly better data, but still. Not THAT great.)

- Walking: A Nature Neuroscience paper is stepping up to propose two independent networks for walking. This stride might provide a crucial step for making great leaps and bounds in the area of locomotion. Alright, out of foot puns. I'll post the paper tomorrow in SPF.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I'll post more on this later (post prelim), but Wired has a nice overview of the DARPA arm project. They make mention of the Deam Kamen arm as well, and that the current control mechanism for both is myoelectric (EMG pads recording rerouted, off site, or residual muscle movement).

I just thought I'd mention that the reasons many of my posts are relate to robotic prostheses are that:
1) They make for good media, so they get plenty of coverage
2) They represent something of a parallel but separate line from what I do (decoding = neuroscience, prosthesis = engineering)
3) Aside from implantable stimulation systems, artificial prosthetics are the Mecca of neuroprosthesis. Cursor movement is great, but it doesn't tie your shoe. Additionally, they provide the possibility of extending the human body. In Sci-Fi Fantasy Future Land, there is always the possibility of having more than two arms (you laugh, but there's no evidence that this would not be possible!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A lickable interface

Ganked from PhysOrg, a tongue driven device that uses changes in ear air pressure (say that three times fast!), to detect tongue movements. The device is actually positioned in the ear, as shown above, and overcomes the issues of previous tongue-driven devices with attachment and comfort during use.

Monday, August 6, 2007

When will science catch up with the Web?

It seems that we've had an explosion in the tools for collaborative work in programming projects, social interaction, and general resource management over the past 5 years thanks to the Web. So, why is it that science seems to be stuck back in 1993? Sure, collaboration via email, messengers, and Skype is on the rise, but where's the truly USEFUL implementations of internet technology. Ignoring the fact that 99.9% of all science department websites barely scrape by with HTML 1.0 specifications, where's the ingenuity? (I would like to point you to OUR department website - be prepared to laugh and be horrified at the same time. You've been warned!)

Sure, we can grab papers a little quicker, and there's distributed computing, but most of that is old hat, and barely a step up from 1980's clusters and Xerox machines.

The closest thing I've seen recently has been NeuroCommons - a component of Science Commons. The general idea is based around the idea of Creative Commons, a copyright method that currently fits the internet model for the publishing, display and use of original materials. This is not a niche phenomenon - heavyweights like Flickr (owned by Yahoo!) and Blogger (owned by Google) are among the companies on board.

Part of the problem is obviously recognition. New systems of copyright have yet to be really tested for how well they will hold up in court, and the impact of recognition for CC work has really yet to be seen. I think everyone is frantically trying to be the next Einstein - that lone scientific figure that makes a huge breakthrough. The more you share, the more of the limelight you lose. Add to that the issue of funding, and it's no wonder copyright/researchright schemes fail. No doubt an international free market approach to translational research would solve many of these issues (you make the discovery leading to a medication, you get part of the profit), but that leaves basic science as the bastard child of rest of research.

I have some ideas that I'm mulling over in my head right now. I like shocking the system. I don't want to share them just yet, but if I decide against my little 'plan', I'll put it out there for others to consider. There are legal reasons that this idea would not be feasible, and I'm not THAT nuts, nor do I want to jeopardize the work of others. I'll talk with some people, get some feedback, and see if it is feasible.

PopSci has a nice overview of the copyrighting idea for the uninitiated.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bionic woman 2007

I'm not saying that I myself have seen this, because there is no way I could get ahold of such an item, but it appears SOMEONE has, and that that someone has watched and reviewed the new Bionic Woman pilot episode. Since it doesn't air until Sept 23, I'm sure this is either speculation or industry insider's work. Sure isn't mine. Nope. Okay, maybe I re-wrote it in my own words. (you get my drift)

Finally got around to watching the new Bionic Woman series premier. It was, well, meh, not too great. Very character driven, but poor acting. They set the stage for the series pretty well, but I just can't help but not care. Just something about how convenient each character quirk is that really bothers me. It's like they had a meeting and said:
"Okay, she's got a daughter but what's strange?"
"She's adopted!"
"Good. What else?"
"Ooo Ooo I know! She's deaf, too!"
"Nice touch. Let's go have pie."

The only nice twist is that the nemesis is the original Bionic Woman. Really, though, the series has been dead for so long that any interesting use of the character is impossible. I guess they went with it because it was a nice twist to lure people in, not for any actual content.

The special effects are decent, but no fun "na-nan-nan-naaaa" when she runs or jumps. I probably won't bother watching another episode, as the whole story is going to be predictable. At some point the daughter will be kidnapped by the bad bionic woman , the boyfriend will need to be rescued, and then at the last minute save the main character. They'll run away from whatever government agency is in control of the situation, and there will be some sort of betrayal, like the bad guy was working for the same agency all along. Oh, and the kid will get bionic hearing in a very heart-touching episode (season finale?) and save our protagonist.

Visuals: 6/10
Sound: 5/10
Plot: 6/10
Dialog: 3/10
Characters: 6/10
Acting: 4/10
Overall: 5/10 (my official "meh" rating)

The series might have some longevity due to the cult status of the actors and actresses (from Battlestar Gallactica), but it left me not caring if I ever see another episode.

Quick Dymaxion sleep update

The picture pretty much sums it up. My biggest problem was that I can't get to sleep in under an hour - sometimes as long as four hours. I did manage to get to two two-hour sessions, which was actually pretty nice, but caused concentration problems.

The first day, I thought I would gracefully slip into the rhythm - sleep like 'normal' and then when I get tired, take a 30 minute nap to begin the new schedule. No dice. The biggest problem? Setting an alarm. Every time I tried to take a nap, the alarm would sound within 15 minutes of when I actually fell to sleep. I set the alarm for later, and ended up with a mixture of 1 and 2 hour naps. It was a total mess. I might try 2x1hour naps this week and see if that works out better.

Anyhow, I'm inspired to mess with this more, so we'll see where it goes.

(In in site news... this was my 100th post! Wooohooo! Woo Woooooo Woo! Woo. woo. wuh.. woo... ok. no big deal.)

Saturday, August 4, 2007


From that thalamic stimulation study's media attention. PLEASE tell me that's a picture of a consultation!

Friday, August 3, 2007

First person prosthetic blog

BoingBoing points to a blog set up by a friend of theirs, Steve, who is in the process of getting a new prosthetic leg. Interesting stuff.

Question - Free publication access?

I was thinking that some people visiting the site may not have access to all these journals. Anyone have any tips for those who don't have journal access, like a listing of free primary publication resources?

Triple Super Paper Friday!

Three weeks worth of papers, starting off with a fun one…

Observations on the giraffe central nervous system related to the corticospinal tract, motor cortex and spinal cord: what difference does a long neck make?
Neuroscience. 2007 Jul 28;
Authors: Badlangana NL, Bhagwandin A, Fuxe K, Manger PR

Single trial classification of motor imagination using 6 dry EEG electrodes.
PLoS ONE. 2007;2:e637
Authors: Popescu F, Fazli S, Badower Y, Blankertz B, Müller KR

Humans trade off viewing time and movement duration to improve visuomotor accuracy in a fast reaching task.
J Neurosci. 2007 Jun 27;27(26):6984-94
Authors: Battaglia PW, Schrater PR

Fronto-striatal connections in the human brain: a probabilistic diffusion tractography study.
Neurosci Lett. 2007 May 29;419(2):113-8
Authors: Leh SE, Ptito A, Chakravarty MM, Strafella AP

Studying the use of fuzzy inference systems for motor imagery classification.
IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2007 Jun;15(2):322-4
Authors: Fabien L, Anatole L, Fabrice L, Bruno A

EEG-based assessment of driver cognitive responses in a dynamic virtual-reality driving environment.
IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2007 Jul;54(7):1349-52
Authors: Lin CT, Chung IF, Ko LW, Chen YC, Liang SF, Duann JR

Sensorimotor adaptation in response to proprioceptive bias.
Exp Brain Res. 2007 Feb;177(2):147-56
Authors: Bernier PM, Chua R, Inglis JT, Franks IM

Human medial frontal cortex mediates unconscious inhibition of voluntary action.
Neuron. 2007 Jun 7;54(5):697-711
Authors: Sumner P, Nachev P, Morris P, Peters AM, Jackson SR, Kennard C, Husain M

Predicting movement from multiunit activity.
J Neurosci. 2007 Aug 1;27(31):8387-94.
Stark E, Abeles M.

Functional Specialization of the Primate Frontal Cortex during Decision Making
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 1, 2007, 27(31):8170-8173
Daeyeol Lee, Matthew F. S. Rushworth, Mark E. Walton, Masataka Watanabe, and Masamichi Sakagami

The Neural Basis of Choice and Decision Making
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 1, 2007, 27(31):8159-8160
Bernard W. Balleine

The interplay between strategic and adaptive control mechanisms in plastic recalibration of locomotor function.
Exp Brain Res. 2007 Apr;178(3):326-38
Authors: Richards JT, Mulavara AP, Bloomberg JJ

Network structure of cerebral cortex shapes functional connectivity on multiple time scales.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jun 12;104(24):10240-5
Authors: Honey CJ, Kötter R, Breakspear M, Sporns O

Walking the walk (News article)
Nature Neuroscience - 10, 940 - 941 (2007)
R Christopher Miall

The scientific research potential of virtual worlds.
Science. 2007 Jul 27;317(5837):472-6.
Bainbridge WS.

Neural mechanisms underlying immediate and final action goals in object use reflected by slow wave brain potentials.
Brain Res. 2007 May 7;1148:183-97
Authors: van Schie HT, Bekkering H

General design principle for scalable neural circuits in a vertebrate retina.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 31;104(31):12931-5. Epub 2007 Jul 23.
Lee S, Stevens CF.

Neural Systems in the Visual Control of Steering
David T. Field, Richard M. Wilkie, and John P. Wann
The Journal of Neuroscience, July 25, 2007, 27(30):8002-8010

Representations of Space and Time in the Maximization of Information Flow in the Perception-Action Loop
Alexander S. Klyubin, Daniel Polani, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv
Journal of Neural Computation, September 2007, Vol. 19, No. 9, Pages 2387-2432

A Multichip Neuromorphic System for Spike-Based Visual Information Processing
September 2007, Vol. 19, No. 9, Pages 2281-2300
R. Jacob Vogelstein, Udayan Mallik, Eugenio Culurciello, Gert Cauwenberghs, Ralph Etienne-Cummings

The neural basis of visual body perception.
Nat Rev Neurosci. 2007 Aug;8(8):636-48.
Peelen MV, Downing PE

Neuronal competition for action potential initiation sites in a circuit controlling simple learning
Neuroscience. 2007 Jul 16; [Epub ahead of print]
Cruz GE, Sahley CL, Muller KJ

Yay, sleep literature! (Provigil study)
Modafinil enhances thalamocortical activity by increasing neuronal electrotonic coupling
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 24;104(30):12554-9. Epub 2007 Jul 19.
Urbano FJ, Leznik E, Llinás RR

A single-chip signal processing and telemetry engine for an implantable 96-channel neural data acquisition system
J. Neural Eng. 2007 4 309-321
Michael Rizk, Iyad Obeid, Stephen H Callender and Patrick D Wolf

Cortical modulations increase in early sessions with brain-machine interface.
PLoS ONE. 2007;2:e619
Authors: Zacksenhouse M, Lebedev MA, Carmena JM, O'Doherty JE, Henriquez C, Nicolelis MA

The cerebellar interpositus nucleus and the dynamic control of learned motor responses.
J Neurosci. 2007 Jun 20;27(25):6620-32
Authors: Sánchez-Campusano R, Gruart A, Delgado-García JM

Encoding of reach and grasp by single neurons in premotor cortex is independent of recording site.
J Neurophysiol. 2007 May;97(5):3351-64
Authors: Stark E, Asher I, Abeles M

Differential activity-dependent development of corticospinal control of movement and final limb position during visually guided locomotion.
J Neurophysiol. 2007 May;97(5):3396-406
Authors: Friel KM, Drew T, Martin JH

Evidence of a Tonotopic Organization of the Auditory Cortex in Cochlear Implant Users
The Journal of Neuroscience, July 18, 2007, 27(29):7838-7846
Jeanne Guiraud, Julien Besle, Laure Arnold, Patrick Boyle, Marie-Hélène Giard, Olivier Bertrand, Arnaud Norena, Eric Truy, and Lionel Collet

Adaptive, Fast Walking in a Biped Robot under Neuronal Control and Learning.
PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 Jul 13;3(7):e134 [Epub ahead of print]
Manoonpong P, Geng T, Kulvicius T, Porr B, Wörgötter F

Probabilistic models in human sensorimotor control.
Hum Mov Sci. 2007 Jul 10; [Epub ahead of print]
Wolpert DM.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Presto-whammo, excite-thalamo!

I would be remiss to skip a big story that has hit nearly every major media outlet. A 38-year old man in a minimally conscious state was aroused from his 'slumber' via stimulation of the "central thalamus". I'll leave you to read any one of the below reports, but I want to highlight the issues brought up by Wired. In short, they question the rise of what might be called the cognitive life support system, and when it would be ethical to "pull the plug".

Nature news
Nature news and views

N. D. Schiff, J. T. Giacino, K. Kalmar, J. D. Victor, K. Baker, M. Gerber, B. Fritz, B. Eisenberg, J. O’Connor, E. J. Kobylarz, S. Farris, A. Machado, C. McCagg, F. Plum1, J. J. Fins & A. R. Rezai.
Behavioural improvements with thalamic stimulation after severe traumatic brain injury.
Nature 448, 600-603 (2 August 2007)


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Shadowboxing skills +10

Yet another robotic hand/forearm. 1:1 mapping to human movement, compressed air powered, 40 expanding and contracting 'muscles', and 24 pre-defined movements (I assume this repertoire can be expanded).

From Gizmodo


Wired has a couple articles about former motocross racer Ricky James Jr, who tried to donate his life's savings to a Geron, a company set up to perform stem cells research on spinal injury repair. The work, being done by Hans Keirstead, is being done in private industry to get around the idiotic issues (IMO) that the US government has set in place to deter stem cell research. They DO need money to complete the work, and Mr. James Jr thought he would help by donating $200,000.

Keirstead declined the offer, saying, "I explained to Ricky that these fund raisers are aimed at raising money to help people in his situation not to take from them."

I'm going to add a little controversy. Ready? Before you continue to read, I am making an argument, not taking a position. I happen to think that what Keirstead did was appropriate, but here's the other side of the coin. It can be argued that Keirstead took the easy way out, and I offer the following three points:

1) Accepting money from a person hoping that your research produces viable applications for treating their own condition makes the situation personal. You're no longer doing research to treat a condition; you're doing research to treat a person. The reality of the situation is too much.
2) Why deny money from a celebrity, especially in a situation where private funding is necessary? Why is it okay to parade Michael J. Fox around for Parkinson's research, but not accept Ricky's donation? My point is that there is a disconnect. It is easier to not deal with the media implications and attention than turn down the donation.
3) The obligatory journal paper introduction always gives the broader implications of research, but I think either many researchers aren't actually aware of the work to bring a treatment to market, or the journal reviewers have made competition for publication such that these little intro blurbs have expanded to over-generalized and over-summarized to the point where the complexity of the groundwork is lost even to other researchers. My point? Dealing with the real complexities no longer requires a couple paragraphs - it requires a ****load of work.

As I said, these aren't my views, but they underline the complexity of dealing with research on the cusp of application. These are issues any scientist looking to move into industry must deal with, and I thought I would throw them out there. Again, no offense meant, I'm just making a point. I personally applaud Keirstead for his choice, and consider it "the gentleman's approach".

Charley the cat

This was too cute. The owners of a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia made a funny little video as a public service announcement.

On the topic of cats, here's a fun little trick. There's a name for the phenomenon, but I just can't remember it. I have tried this on my cats, and it does happen (it doesn't hurt them, as the tape doesn't stick well to their fur). Just don't use duct tape. I used packing tape.