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VWN Resource Database: The Brain
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Resource Database > The Brain
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Neuroprosthetics | Sensation | Replacing WIMP | Grasping The Emotions | Theraputic Worlds
 
The brain, that mysterious 2-5lbs of bodily organ that houses the mind. With VR, and to a lesser extent AR, the brain is really everything. The mind is the only part of you that VR truly cares about, as an alternative reality to the physical, it really has no interest in the physical body, only the workings of the brain, and of the mind.

Here, that is exactly what we look at, the workings of the mysterious mind, breakthroughs and suspicions which concern the brain. To understand the center of self, is to be able to harness it, to mould realities to suit the mind.


Sections


Our Processing Regions (12)

Broadly, which sections of he brain control what sense or function. The five primary senses are of interest to us here, as are the location of the emotive, and cognative sectors of the brain.
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3D Visual Processing Centre Identified
Detecting 3D is a trait of stereoscopy. Its why humans tend to have two eyes, two different viewpoints create a degree of parallax, and allow us to perceive in 3D. However, motion parallax and movement in all three dimensions is harder to discern than simple 3D structure.

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Attention is what makes Sensory Data Stand Out
The title above should come as no surprise to most people. However, we now have empirical scientific evidence to back this up. When you concentrate your attention or focus on a particular channel of sensory input, it comes in clear and sharp, regardless of the background information. The study focuses on the sense of sight, but what applies there, applies to all.

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Brain Search
The brain is of profound importance. It is the place that houses our sense of self, our mind. It contains all of who and what we are. As technologies advance, Brain-Machine interfaces will become more and more sophisticated, and our understanding of the brain's functions will become ever-greater. This resource is a search engine specifically geared to finding all resources on the site that deal with developments / prosthetics for different brain regions.

This book, written by a neuroscientist, proposes that use of technology such as social networking, where computer mediation rather than face to face communication is the order of the day, actively changes how our brains process information over time.



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Mapping Intelligence to the Brain
Intelligence. We understand the concept, and the meaning of this word, but where in the brain, precisely, is intelligence actually located? Until recently, we did not really, have a clue. Now, using perhaps the most common sense approach possible, from neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology have mapped the cognitive zones of the human brain.

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Monkey Behavior Controlled through Brain Stimulation
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 18-03-2005. Stimulating specific brain areas can cause monkeys to carry out complex behaviors, showing that such behaviors are hardwired into the primate mind.

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Podcast: 3 Ways The Brain Creates Meaning
This podcast comes from TED 2009, where Tom Wujec - an information expert at Autodesk - gives a quick talk about ways the brain creates meaning out of the environment it is perceiving. It should be noted going in, that this person is not a neuroscientist or neuroengineer.

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Prevailing View of Brain's Sensory Processing System is Under Fire
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted on the first of July 2013, concerning the discovery that sensory data processed by the brain does not always follow the pathways it was shown to follow in the past. Specifically, signals often go through these areas, deeper into the brain, and the whole sensory processing model has been turned on its head.

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Specialized Brain Cells Predict Intentions as Well as Define Actions
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 23-02-2005. A study by UCLA neuroscientists featuring functional magnetic resonance imaging has for the first time found evidence that mirror neurons help people understand the intentions of others.

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Studying Gila Development
Gila cells are more or less an unknown quantity in the nervous system. In humans and other mammals, in insects, in brds; in practically all lifeforms with a brain, gila cells exist, in the central nervous system and the periphery, binding the neurons together.

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Synthetic Brain to Aid Research
In what is certainly initially seems like a novel twist on logic, researchers from UC Irvine are utilising a robot outfitted with an artificial mind, to help them understand how the human brain works.

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"Memory Code" Discovered in Brain
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 11-04-2005. In a determined effort to understand exactly how memories are managed, neuralprosthetic experiments on mice showed something interesting.



Repairing Damage (2)

solutions to repairing damage in the brain itself, and in the spine, that control circuit forthe physical body, so necessary for the augmented.
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MIT researchers work to build implants to replace stroke-damaged brain areas
Industry News

Strokes are nasty things. They damage the brain, killing off neuronsin their thousands or millions, causing lasting, permanent loss of function in the computer which houses the mind. Fledgeling bio-neural technologies, coaxing brain cells to grow in test tubes ,and training them to think the right way, may hold a salvation.

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Using Blue Food Dye to Repair a Spinal Cord
A novel approach at limiting the damage done in spinal cord injuries, is to use a blue food dye to inhibit the body's repair mechanism. Its an approach that actually works.



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How We Work (21)

How does the brain work exactly? Just what do we know?
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A Golden Age of Brain Exploration
The Allen Brain Atlas, a project like never before: Literally a mapping of the human brain, an attempt to make connections between anatomical, genetic, and behavioral observations.

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A Secondary Network Discovered in the Brain
We have understood for years that the brain is plastic, not just as a child, but all through adulthood. Connections grow and change across all sections of the organ, and it can react to control a new bodily configuration with relative ease. However, recently, neuroscientists found evidence of it changing with unsuspected speed.

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Blue Brain Project - creating a simulated brain
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 16-06-2005. On the sixth of June 2005, the most ambitious project to date for brain research was launched. Its mission: to recreate a human brain in simulation, neuron for neuron, connection for connection.

Linked resource
Brain Maps.org
BrainMaps.org is an original idea ? a fully searchable high-resolution digital brain atlas. Consisting of hundreds of scanned slices of human, primate, cat, and mouse brains, it is geared to help researchers query and retrieve data about brain structure and function at a second?s notice.

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Brain Navigator: 3D Brain Exploration
Brain Navigator is a type of single user virtual environment. Designed as an aide to research more than anything else, it understandably has a wide plethora of uses outside the academic fields.

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Building a (Rodent) Brain
There has been a great deal of effort, in recent years towards the simulation of a fully working brain. The drive to understand the workings of the human brain has never been greater, with actual neuroprosthetic devices in existence to drive research. We are a long, long way from recreating a human brain with it's billions of neurons and trillions of connections, however that does not mean we are incapable of building a brain.

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Cells with double vision
Unlike in the peripheral nervous system, where cells are often unable to distinguish which branching pathway an electrical system is travelling from, the central nervous system makes use of sophisticated internal networks not too dissimilar from an IP record, to differentiate between nervous pathways.

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Inside the injured brain, many kinds of awareness
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 11-04-2005. Neuroscientists now understand at least some of the physiology behind a wide range of unconscious states, from deep sleep to coma.

The human brain is the ultimate legacy system, with bodges, klonks, workarounds and kludges forcing it to work as a (mostly) cohesive system.



"Today a brain scan reveals our thoughts, moods, and memories as clearly as an X-ray reveals our bones. We can actually observe a person's brain registering a joke or experiencing a painful memory."



Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science comes as a two volume set, of 1631 pages between them. They are the first attempt at chronicling the entire 50-year history of the field, and showing how the paths are laid for future research. Both books are invaluable for this reason, as well as providing very intriguing and useful reading for anyone interested in creating powerful AI, or interfacing their brain with a computer, or even seeing where others have trod before.



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Podcast: Exploring the re-wiring of the brain
This podcast comes from TED 2004, and discusses the nature of the organic brain; its ability to learn, to structure itself, and then re-structure itself, together with examples of early attempts to manually steer that process, altering the input, and changing learned behaviours fundamentally.


On the sixth of June 2005, the most ambitious project to date for brain research was launched. Its mission: to recreate a human brain in simulation, neuron for neuron, connection for connection. Then, turn it on, and give it stimulai, to see what happens.



In light of the withdrawal by DARPA (American Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) from the business of building brains in silico, we at VWN decided to catalogue just who is, and who is no-longer attempting to build a complete, or partial artificial human brain during 2007.


Linked resource
Scientists Map the Brain, Gene by Gene
A Wired article looking in depth at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and its attempt to produce a map of the brain, that is virtually automating discoveries.

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 reconciliation of two conflicting visions of what a person is--one embedded in our humanistic traditions, the other advanced by mind science--from one of the most influential philosophers of our time.



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Understanding Grows on Roots of Memory
A digital signal processing technique long used by statisticians to analyse data, is being applied to the brain in a novel endeavour by researchers from Rice University, to understand the roots of memory and learning, along with diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and stroke.

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Using Simple Brains to Understand the Mechanics of Emotion
Emotion is a tricky beast. We still do not fully understand what triggers a given emotion, in terms of the neurochemical signals in the brain, despite several years of study. This is because of the difficulty of determining whether an electrical pattern is triggering an emotional state, or is caused in response to an emotional state.

In ?What Is Thought?? Eric Baum proposes a computational explanation of thought. Just as Erwin Schrodinger in his classic 1944 work What Is Life? argued ten years before the discovery of DNA that life must be explainable at a fundamental level by physics and chemistry, Baum contends that the present-day inability of computer science to explain thought and meaning is no reason to doubt there can be such an explanation.



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"Memory Code" Discovered in Brain
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 11-04-2005. In a determined effort to understand exactly how memories are managed, neuralprosthetic experiments on mice showed something interesting.



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Connecting a Body (4)

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Cranial Nerves
There are twelve cranial nerve pairings (making 24 nerves in total) which split out from the brain, and move to cover the needs of the cranium and face, rather than make their way down through the central spinal cord. These nerves are important to consider, as most are of critical importance to sensory data, yet do not pass through the central cord, and so cannot be intercepted at the same juncture.

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Nervous Structure of the Arm
This article is intended to serve as a general introduction to the nerve layout in the human arm and hand. It is not concerned with bone or muscle layout, but simply with the areas affected by each nerve pathway, and data type. It exists as an aid to those desiring to create a replacement arm, either prosthetic or virtual, and understand purely which area of the limb feeds sensory information to which part of the nervous system.

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The Brain's Rewiring Superability
A 10 year old girl from Germany is the subject of a great deal of medical scrutiny of late. She has occasional spasms, and can only see in one eye. Other than that she seemed perfectly normal, until fMRI was used to image her brain.

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The Spinal Cord
A basic overview of the spinal cord, and the reasons why it is such a problem to repair, or interface a prosthetic onto.



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Imaging (7)

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Brain Reading: Diffusion Spectrum Imaging
Diffusion spectrum imaging is a new technique at time of writing, which allows magnetic resonance brain imaging, at a much higher level of fidelity than fMRI permits.

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Brain Reading: fMRI
fMRI or functional magnetic resonance imaging, is one of the newest brain imaging technologies for the first decade of the 21st century. It is a basic form of Brain-Computer Interaction.

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Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier for Improved Visualisation
When it comes to using chemical or radioactive markers to make parts of the brain easier to see, and more finely detailed with a magnetic resonance scan, your options have been rather limited.

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Doubts raised over fMRI Validity
Doubts have been raised, over the accuracy of many fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) studies, used to decode the information in the brain.

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Holograms can reveal brain's inner workings
Usually with imaging of the inner workings of the brain, we cannot get down as far as the individual neurons. That's a pity because if we could image individual neurons during the firing process, it would add another tool into our toolkit for working out at a fine level, exactly how neurons are assigned into functions.

Linked resource
In Pictures: Time Travel Through the Brain
A Technology Review picture gallery showcasing how the way we look at and understand the brain has changed in the period 1909-2009.

Linked resource
The Brain Unveiled
Technology Review's long, and in depth look at the rise of diffusion spectrum imaging, and how this new neural interface imaging technique is rapidly accelerating the study of both human and animal brains to an extent unparalleled by any previous imaging technique, even fMRI.



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Emulating a Brain (2)

Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Memory Transfer
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Blue Brain Project - creating a simulated brain
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 16-06-2005. On the sixth of June 2005, the most ambitious project to date for brain research was launched. Its mission: to recreate a human brain in simulation, neuron for neuron, connection for connection.