Neuroscience

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Brain Scientists Push Back on "Technology Fetish"

February 28, 2017

A new study described by The Atlantic as "part philosophical treatise and part shot across the bow," argues that neuroscientists have been led astray by new research technologies. The authors point to the need for "a more pluralistic notion of neuroscience when it comes to the brain-behavior relationship: behavioral work provides understanding, whereas neural interventions test causality." Lead author John Krakauer notes, "People think technology + big data + machine learning = science. And it’s not." One example is mirror neurons, "the most hyped concept in neuroscience," in which "interpretation is being mistaken for result." Read the study, published in Neuron, here

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Prof. Jerrold Vitek

Major Grant Will Focus on Promising Parkinson's Treatment

September 26, 2016

The University of Minnesota has been awarded a five-year, $9 million grant for Parkinson’s research. Jerrold Vitek, MD, PhD, will lead the study, which establishes a prestigious Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research on campus, one of only nine such centers in the nation. An article about the grant in Twin Cities Business Magazine quotes Brian Herman, PhD, the U's Vice President for Research: "I think it puts this university in a very elite class of other major U.S. and international research universities that have recognized expertise." Prof. Vitek's work focuses on the therapeutic effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS), which he likens to "a pacemaker for the brain." Watch a video about the grant and DBS here

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Girl using BCI headseht to race drone

First Race of Brain-controlled Drones Builds on U of M Research

April 26, 2016

A recent competition at the University of Florida featured a race of 16 drones guided by human thoughts. The technology, called Brain Computer Interface (BCI), has been used in the past to help some paralyzed people manipulate prosthetics with their minds. In 2013, University of Minnesota biomedical engineering professor Bin He, PhD, first presented a drone controlled by BCI, in which electroencephalogram (EEG) headsets are fine-tuned to determine the electrical activity linked with specific thoughts in the brain. Programmers then write code to convert these signals into commands a computer sends to the drones. Regarding the drone race, Prof. He noted: "The progress of the BCI field has been faster than I had thought ten years ago. We are getting closer and closer to broad application." Read more about the competition and the technology behind it here

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Brain scan side view

Research Pinpoints Neural Circuits Driving PTSD

February 23, 2016

CBC News reports that new research has identified a key mechanism of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, who is on the faculty of Consortium member the Center for Cognitive Sciences, also leads the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA. His lab has identified the neural pathways that drive the flashbacks and panic attacks that characterize PTSD. Healthy brains are able to re-form neural networks, wiping the slate clean of past stimuli to allow the absorption of new information. Using brain scans to compare healthy people vs. those who suffer from PTSD, the scientists at the lab observed "healthy people had the ability to maintain the flexibility of their networks at various trauma strength exposures," according to Georgopolous. However, those with PTSD had "inflexible" neural networks that were "locked in and couldn't be modulated." The hope is this research can be applied to create more effective PTSD therapies. Read the entire article here

Consortium Faculty

Consortium Faculty

Consortium Faculty

Consortium Faculty

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Teen with orange jumpsuit

Decades of Scholarship Bear Fruit in NYC Juvenile Justice Reforms

July 15, 2015

New York City's Office of Juvenile Justice has announced changes to the way it will handle offenders between the ages of 16 and 25 in the aftermath of public outcry about the scandalous treatment of young inmates at Riker's IslandAn article in today's Huffington Post outlines these reforms and cites scholarship by University of Minnesota Law professor Barry Feld, who wrote a groundbreaking article laying out the case for such reforms nearly 20 years ago. Some scholars, including Consortium guest lecturer Laurence Steinberg, believe adolescent brain develop can continue long after the age of legal adulthood, into the mid-20s and beyond. Prof. Steinberg's lecture on the topic can be viewed here

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Red State (elephant) and Blue State (donkey)

Red States, Blue States, and Brain States

February 24, 2015

new study co-authored by Consortium affiliated faculty member Prof. Francis Shen has found Republicans and Independents are more likely to disapprove of neuroscience-based legal reforms if the reforms are perceived as being too lenient on criminal defendants. The study is the first of its kind in the new field of "neurolaw," and was written with Dr. Dena Gromet of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Research

Nano net

DNA Nanotechnology: Developing and Analyzing a New Tool for Sensing and Targeting Disease

This 2-year project used breakthrough DNA nanotechnology to engineer and evaluate materials to address major health challenges and food system issues. We propose to use aptamer-amphiphiles as DNA nanotubes to target and treat Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors, and as sensors to detect food allergens such as milk. DNA nanotubes have the potential to deliver compounds – such as nucleic acids – to the brain safely and efficiently, while aptamer-amphiphiles can detect milk with potentially ultrafast response time.

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Susan M. Wolf, JD, Founding Chair of the Consortium

Susan Wolf on Biorepository Guidelines and Incidental Findings

October 1, 2012

Prof. Susan Wolf, an elected member of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine (IOM), is part of an IOM committee that issued recommendations for the world’s largest tissue repository, which has its origin in the Civil War. Read more. Prof. Wolf is also quoted in a recent issue of Science. In the article,"Neuroethics: When a Brain Scan Bears Bad News," she says that "although clinicians have a legal 'duty to care' for their patients, scientific researchers are not legally bound or professionally trained to interpret brain scans diagnostically."

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Conference

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