Activity Dependent Plasticity
The organic brain has the inherent ability to be plastic – to remould and reshape itself according to different patterns of activity carried out by the individual. For example if the person is right-handed and something happens to the right hand, then the left hand will become increasingly proficient over time. We see the same thing in a person who has lost their sight – hearing, scent and touch become much more acute to compensate.
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Neurons in the brain communicate by short electrical pulses, the so-called action potentials or spikes. How can we understand the process of spike generation? How can we understand information transmission by neurons? What happens if thousands of neurons are coupled together in a seemingly random network? How does the network connectivity determine the activity patterns?
A new neuroprosthetic on the market at the end of 2009, is an attempt to actually combiine a neural activity detector and a neurostimulator into one package. Traditionally this never worked because oncethe neurostimulator activates, it blocks out all underlying brain activity in the area - the implant is only reading itself. But, what if that is the desired outcome?
The predictably over-paranoid US government has begun to take its spy networks into cyberspace, targeting virtual environments for terrorist-like activity. Project codename Reynard aims to recognise "normal" behaviour in online worlds and home in on "anomalous" activity.
In the video below, tunes are played via neuroprosthetics. What you are hearing, sounding eirie and mournful, is quite literally the sound of a healthy human brain working. Different areas were assigned to different notes, and the volume determined by the amount of activity. Areas with very low activity were filtered out entirely.
An intreguing article written from a MMO player's perspective, taking a balanced approach and arguing as to what rights players and participants should have to the virtual goods created within and dependent upon a specific platform.
Gameindustry.biz take a look at Cities XL, Monte Cristo's ambitious product, attempting to combine a traditional city-simulation game with massively multiplayer online functionality, giving players the option to take part in a global, entirely player-dependent global economy.
As Halo 3 chalks up $130,000,000 in its first 24 hours' trading, this BBC article looks at the ongoing flow of gaming and social VR from niche activity to the new way of life.
What do players actually want from a world such as a MMORPG? Could it be that we are getting too complex in modern designs, and are turning them off, or is content too linear, too structured round the shared activity to be truly appealing? Decide for your self in this fascinating article.
Part of a talk from TED 2008, this podcast by Christopher deCharms takes a look at what, for VR is a low-hanging holy grail for neurology: A way to use fMRI to show brain activity -- thoughts, emotions, pain -- while it is happening.
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Like a gardener who stakes some plants and weeds out others, the brain is constantly building networks of synapses, while pruning out redundant or unneeded synapses. Researchers at The Jackson Laboratory led by Assistant Professor Zhong-wei...
Transplanting fetal neurons into the brains of young mice opens a new window on neural plasticity, or flexibility in the brain's neural circuits. The research, published today in the journal Science, suggests that the brain's ability to r...
The instruction manual for maintaining an efficient brain may soon include a section on synaptotagmin-IV (Syt-IV), a protein known to influence learning and memory, thanks to a study by UW-Madison researchers.
The study showe...
Recently, the accuracy of current methods of pain assessment in babies have been called into question. New research from London-area hospitals and the University of Oxford measures brain activity in infants to better understand their pain r...
New ways to manipulate neural plasticity--the brain's ability to rewire itself--could make adult brains as facile as young ones, at least in part. But first scientists will need to figure out how to harness this rewiring capacity without d...