How very low birth weight affects brain development

Every year, one in ten babies worldwide are born too early. That’s roughly 15 million children, according to the World Health Organization. When children are born too soon, they are at higher risk of mental and physical disabilities, especially if they weigh less than 1500 grams at birth. While three-quarters of these preterm births are thought to be preventable, sometimes it’s simply not possible. That last fact has researchers like Alexander Olsen, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), working to better understand the consequences of very low birth weights on cognitive development. Olsen is director of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory at the university, which focuses on investigating the consequences of brain injury and disease, in part by using advanced neuroimaging. Olsen is also a specialist in clinical neuropsychology and holds a position at St. […]

The creative brain is wired differently

It’s often said that creative people see the world differently than the rest of us — and a Harvard researcher is providing one answer why. Scientists studying brain scans of people who were asked to come up with inventive uses for everyday objects found a specific pattern of connectivity that correlated with the most creative responses. Researchers were then able to use that pattern to predict how creative other people’s responses would be based on their connections in this network. The study is described in a January 15 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “What this shows is that the creative brain is wired differently,” said Roger Beaty, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Psychology and the first author of the study. “People who are more creative can simultaneously engage brain networks that don’t typically work together. We […]

Tractor beams paving the way for levitating humans

Acoustic tractor beams use the power of sound to hold particles in mid-air, and unlike magnetic levitation, they can grab most solids or liquids. For the first time University of Bristol engineers have shown it is possible to stably trap objects larger than the wavelength of sound in an acoustic tractor beam. This discovery opens the door to the manipulation of drug capsules or micro-surgical implements within the body. Container-less transportation of delicate larger samples is now also a possibility and could lead to levitating humans. Researchers previously thought that acoustic tractor beams were fundamentally limited to levitating small objects as all the previous attempts to trap particles larger than the wavelength had been unstable, with objects spinning uncontrollably. This is because rotating sound field transfers some of its spinning motion to the objects causing them to orbit faster and […]

Promising New Malaria Treatment Tested

An international research team has conducted successful phase II clinical tests of a new anti-malaria medication. The treatment led to a cure in 83 cases. The new combination of drugs was developed by Professor Peter Kremsner of the Tübingen Institute of Tropical Medicine and the company DMG Deutschen Malaria GmbH. The study was recently published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and is freely accessible. In the study, the researchers tested the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a combination of the drugs Fosmidomycin and Piperaquine. The twofold medication was administered for three days to patients aged one to thirty who were infected with malaria via the Plasmodium falciparum pathogen. In the 83 evaluable cases, there was a 100% cure rate. Patients tolerated the treatment well, and it led to a swift reduction of clinical symptoms. Safery issues were limited to changes in electrocardiogram readings, […]

Commercial quantities of lithium discovered in the Volta Region

Ghana has discovered Lithium in commercial quantities. Lithium, which is among the top 10 most expensive minerals in the world was discovered in the Volta Region by the Minerals Commission. According to the Chief Executive of the Commission, Kwaku Addai Antwi-Boasiako, the mineral was identified during a nationwide exploration exercise. “The mining activities will start but we want to attract investments into the Volta Region. That is where we have the Lithium and all these rare minerals. These are the minerals of the future. Lithium is about green energy and renewable energy. So if you have lithium and all these rare minerals in the Volta Region, you will want to expand the base of mineral production. The presence of these minerals is as important as having the money to mine them… for now, we know we have it,” he said. […]

3D Printing Drug Manufacturing System

A new and compact drug manufacturing system, which relies on 3-D printing and chemical analysis software, has the potential to quickly and conveniently produce a variety of medications on-site. The advancement sidesteps many challenges that come with mass production of drugs at large-scale facilitates. For example, central drug manufacturing plants are costly to maintain and to repurpose for the production of different drugs. In contrast, the system created by Philip J. Kitson and colleagues yields a customized blueprint for drug synthesis using simple plastic modules that can easily be assembled on-site, at low cost. First, software is used to identify the chemical reactions and processes that are necessary for the desired drug, and then the ideal chambers and components of the system are created using a cheap 3-D printer (that costs about $2,000). In this study, the researchers chose to […]

Self-healing fungi concrete could provide sustainable solution to crumbling infrastructure

A new self-healing fungi concrete, co-developed by researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, could help repair cracks in aging concrete permanently, and help save America’s crumbling infrastructure. Congrui Jin, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Binghamton University, has researched concrete and found that the problem stems from the smallest of cracks. “Without proper treatment, cracks tend to progress further and eventually require costly repair,” said Jin. “If micro-cracks expand and reach the steel reinforcement, not only the concrete will be attacked, but also the reinforcement will be corroded, as it is exposed to water, oxygen, possibly CO2 and chlorides, leading to structural failure.” These cracks can cause huge and sometimes unseen problems for infrastructure. One potentially critical example is the case of nuclear power plants that may use concrete for radiation shielding. While remaking a structure would replace […]

Recording a thought through the brain

University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response to a perception. Recording the electrical activity of neurons directly from the surface of the brain, the scientists found that for a simple task, such as repeating a word presented visually or aurally, the visual and auditory cortexes reacted first to perceive the word. The prefrontal cortex then kicked in to interpret the meaning, followed by activation of the motor cortex in preparation for a response. During the half-second between stimulus and response, the prefrontal cortex remained active to coordinate all the other brain areas. For a particularly hard task, like determining the antonym of a word, the brain required several seconds to respond, during […]