Nov 282016
 

Minority Report

Set 38 years in the future, the plot of 2002’s blockbuster film Minority Report revolves around Washington DC’s PreCrime unit, a police force who able to stop future murders from happening with the aid of three mutant human who are able to predict homicides before they happen.  Minority Report managed to side step the “psychic predicts a murder” cliché storyline with its innovative use of technology: not only could precogs predict future murders, but their visions could be streamed via a neural bridge in the form of a video that the police officers could watch. Fantastical? Nope, and researchers from MIT already have a jump on the technology.

Continue reading »

Jan 252016
 
Dr. Marvin Minksy

Marvin Minsky in 2008

Dr. Marvin Minksy, artificial Intelligence pioneer and inspiration for both the personal computer and Internet, passed away on January 24th, 2016. He was 88 years old. The cause of death is reported to have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

Continue reading »

Mar 142006
 

A team of neuroscientists and bioengineers from MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Center for Biomedical Engineering have been able to partially restore the vision of rodents whose visual neural pathways had been severed by injecting them with a tiny, biodegradable substrate on which brain cells were able to regrow and reconnect. The research marks the first time that nanotechnology has been used to heal a damaged brain region and restore lost functionality. The results could lead to major advancements in the treatment of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries and strokes.

Continue reading »

Feb 242006
 

According to a study published recently in Nature, neurons firing synchronously help to focus the brain’s attention on certain tasks and lead to quicker response times. When neurons fire independently their electrical output is nothing but noise, and no coherent signal is discernible in the static. When even a few neurons fire synchronously, their individual signals reinforce one another, and a tone arises from the background noise. The study, a collaboration between Robert Desimone, from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands, expands on previous work by Desimone which concluded that neurons fired synchronously during periods of concentration. The new experiments indicate that neural synchronization also helps the brain detect and react quickly to events.

Continue reading »

Feb 132006
 

Rat

Neuroscientists from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have discovered that after completing a task, a rat’s brain will mentally replay recent events, but in reverse order. They believe this process plays a key role in learning and memory and may explain why taking frequent breaks when studying is more effective for learning new material than cramming for extended periods of time. Their work could yield a better understanding of amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders and lead to more efficient methods for learning and memorization.

Continue reading »

Jan 172006
 

GNU General Public LicenseThe Free Software Foundation (FSF) released the first draft of the General Public License (GPL) version 3 on Monday at the First International Conference on GPLv3, a two day conference held at MIT. As expected, the draft addresses patent litigation protection and digital rights management (DRM) systems among other issues. The new version, when finally adopted, will be the first major revision of the widely popular software license in the more than fifteen years since version 2 was adopted in 1991.

Continue reading »

Dec 282005
 
Neurons

credit: Lee, Nedivi Lab

Researchers from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have recently found that contrary to popular belief, neurons do grow in mature brains. It had been widely accepted that structural remodeling of neurons does not occur in adult brains, but the discovery that it does could lead to advances in treatments of spinal cord injuries and other neural damage caused by accidents or disease. The study, co-authored by Elly Nedivi, appears in the December 27th issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology.

Continue reading »

Dec 202005
 

Researchers from MIT studying brain plasticity, the reorganization of brain cells and their connections over time, have recently discovered a “backtalk” or retrograde signal from post-synaptic to pre-synaptic neurons that plays a crucial role in synapse development. It has long been known that synaptic strength, the strength of the connections between neurons, plays a central role in learning and memory in neural networks. The scientists hope their work will lead to breakthroughs in understanding and fighting neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Continue reading »

Dec 142005
 
MIT's Snail Robot

source: AIP/MIT/Chan, B. et al

Nature.com is reporting today that researchers from MIT have created a robotic snail capable of climbing vertical walls and traveling upside down across ceilings. The team, led by Anette Hosoi, developed the mechanical slug primarily to study the locomotive mechanisms of biological snails, although they believe the results of their research will eventually end up in practical robot applications.

Continue reading »

Dec 072005
 

Rheo KneeHugh Herr, director of MIT’s Biomechatronics Group, has created the Rheo Knee, an artificial knee with an integrated microprocessor that both learns the user’s walking style and is able to quickly react and adapt to changes in terrain. The microprocessor calculates the position of the knee and the load on the limb 1000 times per second, continually learning the wearer’s gait and optimizing the proper resistance in the joint for each step.

Continue reading »