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2017 News

NeuroHackathon Competitors Race Clock To Study the Brain

Carnegie Mellon University
May 31, 2017

A team of students and recent graduates of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar won the university's second annual NeuroHackathon last week by identifying a characteristic in synapses that could point to a gene associated with autism in mice.

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New procedure could provide longer lasting Parkinson's disease treatment

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
May 16, 2017

Taming Parkinson’s disease involves controlling the interaction among brain cells (neurons) in the basal ganglia — the part of the central brain shaped like the @ symbol. In normal function, the neurons chatter among themselves in a way similar to a crowd talking before a concert. The result is steady brain signaling that produces normal motor function. Things go wrong when those neurons quit chattering and become synchronized in their signaling, as though the crowd quit chattering and now is clapping in unison. The result is the notable Parkinson’s disease symptom — shaking hands...In a scientific sense, the CMU biologist [Aryn Gittis] and her team from CMU, the University of Pittsburgh and the CMU/​Pitt Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, have figured out how to kick the turntable and get the system back to normal function for hours at a time.

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Researchers Discover Neuronal Targets That Restore Movement in Model of Parkinson’s Disease

Mellon College of Science
May 8, 2017

Researchers working in the lab of Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientist Aryn Gittis have identified two groups of neurons that can be turned on and off to alleviate the movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The activation of these cells in the basal ganglia relieves symptoms much longer than current therapies, like deep brain stimulation and pharmaceuticals.

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Want a True Bionic Limb? Good Luck Without Machine Learning

Wired
May 3, 2017

A growing number of researchers at places like Johns Hopkins, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon are combining vision learning with brain-computer interfaces.

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When computers merge with our minds

Axios
April 27, 2017

Brain-machine interfaces are having a moment. We asked four scientists whether it is the moment and what we can reasonably expect from the intersection of engineering and neuroscience.

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David Danks Wins 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
April 26, 2017

Carnegie Corporation of New York has named Carnegie Mellon University’s David Danks a 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. The 35 selected fellows will receive a total of $7 million in funding, or $200,000 each, making it the most generous stipend for humanities and social sciences research available.

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Cohen-Karni Studies Electrical Activity of Neurons

College of Engineering
April 25, 2017

Imagine using the electrical properties of neurons to illuminate aspects of neural diseases. Imagine screening for drugs using the electric signals of the brain. Imagine devices better able to communicate with brain cells. Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering Tzahi Cohen-Karni is conducting the research leading to these applications.

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Motor Neurons Adjust to Control Tasks

College of Engineering
April 18, 2017

New research reveals that motor cortical neurons optimally adjust how they encode movements in a task-specific manner. The findings have the potential to improve the performance and reliability of brain-machine interfaces, or neural prosthetics, that assist paralyzed patients and amputees.

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NIH Awards Team $7 Million for Autism Genetics Research

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
April 19, 2017

Five organizations, including CMU, have received a major grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health to extend the work of the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC) through 2022. Established in 2010, the ASC collects and shares samples and genetic data from individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

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Can There Be a Microscope of the Mind?

e-Literate
April 17, 2017

Michael Feldstein goes beyond analogies and looks at the actual state of some cutting-edge cognitive science because lot of educators are skeptical or even cynical regarding the potential relevance of this work to the ways that they think about teaching. By exploring the science in some detail, he attempts to show that having a basic understanding of even foundational research that has no direct classroom applications can stimulate the thinking of classroom educators in useful ways.

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Beacons help Waze users navigate Pittsburgh's tricky tunnel exits

MarketPlace
April 17, 2017

Even before reliance on GPS, tunnel driving has been difficult for drivers.

"As you go from light to dark, you have a momentary adjustment of the lighting in your eye, the responses of the photo-receptors in your eye," said Roberta Klatzky, who teaches psychology and human computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Statement on the Passing of Henry Hillman

Carnegie Mellon University
April 15, 2017

CMU President Subra Suresh's statement on the passing of Henry Hillman, who provided a $5 million gift to help launch BrainHub.

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Research Suggests Noninvasive Way To Suppress Epileptic Seizures

College of Engineering
March 30, 2017

A wearable device would noninvasively stop the progression of seizure activity in the brain by launching a random spatio-temporal pattern of ultrasonic waves from outside of the brain to target populations of neurons in various locations across the cortex.

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Finding Faces in A Crowd: Context Is Key When Looking for Small Things in Images

School of Computer Science
March 30, 2017

Spotting a face in a crowd, or recognizing any small or distant object within a large image, is a major challenge for computer vision systems. The trick to finding tiny objects, say researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, is to look for larger things associated with them.

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Carnegie Mellon Neuroscientists Lay Groundwork for Identifying the Algorithm Behind Information Processing in the Neocortex

Mellon College of Science
March 27, 2017

Researchers in Biological Sciences Professor Alison Barth's lab have identified principles for information processing in the neocortex, an area of the brain critical for cognition. The study is one of most elaborate of its type, and lays the groundwork for understanding the algorithm neurons use to transform information during learning. The research also could further the study of disorders caused by deficits in cortical processing, like Alzheimer’s disease, autism and epilepsy.

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Adult Subcortex Processes Numbers With Same Skill as Infants

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
March 20, 2017

Despite major brain differences, many species from spiders to humans can recognize and differentiate relative quantities. Adult primates, however, are the only ones with a sophisticated cortical brain system, meaning that the others rely on a subcortex or its evolutionary equivalent.

Carnegie Mellon University scientists wanted to find out whether the adult human subcortex contributes to number processing at all. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, their study found that the adult subcortex processes numbers at the same level as infants and perhaps other lower-order species, such as guppies and spiders.

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Computational Biologist Part of All-Star Alzheimer's Collaboration

School of Computer Science
February 20, 2017

As part of an international research team assembled by the Cure Alzheimer's Fund, Andreas Pfenning will use computational techniques to potentially identify thousands of genetic sequences that hold therapeutic potential for Alzheimer's disease. He is also developing new biological techniques to test the function of those human DNA fragments in the brains of mice.

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Innovation in Brain Imaging

College of Engineering
February 16, 2017

Writers and scientists throughout history have searched for an apt technological analogy for the human brain, often comparing it to a computer. For CMU's Pulkit Grover, this analogy couldn’t be more fitting. Although Grover and his research team spend much of their time exploring how information flows through computer networks (such as coding systems, cyberphysical systems, and low-power wireless systems), they also apply these information theory principles to brain-imaging systems. This cross-disciplinary research approach bridges mathematical theory with clinical applications—striving to improve the treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy.

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How to Speed Read the Internet

Inverse
January 29, 2017

Skimming can serve as an exercise in efficiency and prioritization: Is what you’re reading actually worth your time? According to Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon, “Sometimes you’re really familiar with something and you can reconstruct the text after skimming. Speed reading isn’t a good method for expanding your knowledge base, but it is a good way to quickly determine what some piece of writing is about and whether it’s worthwhile to go read it in detail or not.”

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How To Survive Nail-Biter Football Games, According to Science

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
January 19, 2017

For the millions of people watching NFL football games this weekend, it is not all fun and games. Rooting for your favorite team can leave you feeling anxious and stressed — right down to the last second.

The good news is that there is a way to help manage your stress reactions during the game. Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve stress management, and CMU scientists are leading the way to understanding how and why.

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