While it’s known that the brain is responsible for instructing our fat stores to break down and release energy as we need it, scientists haven’t yet been able to pin down exactly how this process plays out. Leptin, a hormone produced by our fat cells, travels to the brain to regulate appetite, metabolism and energy, but it hasn’t been clear what communication was coming back the other way. New research has now uncovered this missing link for the first time, revealing a set of nerves that connect with fat tissue to stimulate the process in a development that could lead to new types of anti-obesity treatments.

The leptin hormone was identified around 20 years ago as a regulator of the body’s metabolism. Low levels of the hormone serve to boost one’s appetite and slow metabolism, while conversely, high leptin levels dull the appetite and facilitate better fat breakdown. Using a combination of techniques, a research team led by Ana Domingos from Portugal’s Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência were able to shed light on how leptin behaves when sending signals back to the fat by finding the nerves that meet with white fat tissue to prompt its breakdown.

“We dissected these nerve fibers from mouse fat, and using molecular markers identified these as sympathetic neurons,” explains Domingos. “When we used an ultra sensitive imaging technique, on the intact white fat tissue of a living mouse, we observed that fat cells can be encapsulated by these sympathetic neural terminals.”

But to determine the extent of these neurons’ role in obesity, the team carried out further research on mice. The rodents were genetically engineered so that these neurons could be switched on and off through optogenetics, where brain cells are made to behave differently by exposing them to light. Optogenetics is an emerging technique we have seen explored as a means of treating blindness and altering our pain threshold, among other things.

Domingos’ team found that flicking the switch on the neurons locally triggered the release of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which in turn flooded the fat cells with signals that brought about fat breakdown. The team report that without these sympathetic neurons, leptin was not able to stimulate fat breakdown on its own. Therefore the findings suggest that these sympathetic neurons offer a potential target for obesity treatments other than leptin, which the brains of many obese people have a resistance to.

“This result provides new hopes for treating central leptin resistance, a condition in which the brains of obese people are insensitive to leptin,” says Domingos.

The team’s research was published in the journal Cell.


Researchers at University of South Carolina (USC) and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a brain prosthesis that is designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss.

The prosthesis, which includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain, has performed well in laboratory testing in animals and is currently being evaluated in human patients.

Designed originally at USC and tested at Wake Forest Baptist, the device builds on decades of research by Ted Berger and relies on a new algorithm created by Dong Song, both of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The development also builds on more than a decade of collaboration with Sam Deadwyler and Robert Hampson of the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology of Wake Forest Baptist who have collected the neural data used to construct the models and algorithms.

When your brain receives the sensory input, it creates a memory in the form of a complex electrical signal that travels through multiple regions of the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain. At each region, the signal is re-encoded until it reaches the final region as a wholly different signal that is sent off for long-term storage.

If there’s damage at any region that prevents this translation, then there is the possibility that long-term memory will not be formed. That’s why an individual with hippocampal damage (for example, due to Alzheimer’s disease) can recall events from a long time ago – things that were already translated into long-term memories before the brain damage occurred – but have difficulty forming new long-term memories.

Song and Berger found a way to accurately mimic how a memory is translated from short-term memory into long-term memory, using data obtained by Deadwyler and Hampson, first from animals, and then from humans. Their prosthesis is designed to bypass a damaged hippocampal section and provide the next region with the correctly translated memory.

That’s despite the fact that there is currently no way of “reading” a memory just by looking at its electrical signal.

“It’s like being able to translate from Spanish to French without being able to understand either language,” Berger said.

Their research was presented at the 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in Milan on August 27, 2015.

The effectiveness of the model was tested by the USC and Wake Forest Baptist teams. With the permission of patients who had electrodes implanted in their hippocampi to treat chronic seizures, Hampson and Deadwyler read the electrical signals created during memory formation at two regions of the hippocampus, then sent that information to Song and Berger to construct the model. The team then fed those signals into the model and read how the signals generated from the first region of the hippocampus were translated into signals generated by the second region of the hippocampus.

In hundreds of trials conducted with nine patients, the algorithm accurately predicted how the signals would be translated with about 90 percent accuracy.

“Being able to predict neural signals with the USC model suggests that it can be used to design a device to support or replace the function of a damaged part of the brain,” Hampson said.
Next, the team will attempt to send the translated signal back into the brain of a patient with damage at one of the regions in order to try to bypass the damage and enable the formation of an accurate long-term memory.


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Ever wonder how they ID’d the Boston bombers in a few days? This may help you to understand what the government is looking at. This photo was taken in Vancouver, Canada and shows about 700,000 people.

Hard to disappear in a crowd. Pick on a small part of the crowd click a couple of times — wait – then, click a few more times and see how clear each individual face will become each time. Or use the wheel on your mouse.

This picture was taken with a 70,000 x 30,000 pixel camera (2100 Mega Pixels.) These cameras are not sold to the public and are being installed in strategic locations. The camera can identify a face among a multitude of People.

Place your computer’s cursor in the mass of people and double-click a couple times. It is not so easy to hide in a crowd anymore.


Thanks to Pete Cuomo for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

By Rich Cholodofsky

A Monessen man convicted of the robbery and assault of a 91-year-old Rostraver woman was sentenced Thursday to serve up to 40 years in prison. About an hour later, Greg Howard appeared in another Westmoreland County courtroom to marry his girlfriend.

Howard, 47, had nothing to say standing before Judge Rita Hathaway as she ordered that he spend at least 20 years behind bars for the October 2014 home invasion that left Frances Tekavec severely injured and her savings stolen. He was given credit for the time he has served in jail since early November.

“Thank God she is here today and didn’t die in the incident,” Hathaway said.

Howard’s silence was in sharp contrast to his demeanor during the three-day trial in July in which he served as his own lawyer. Howard gave a rambling closing argument during the trial, referencing Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and other cultural icons. It took jurors 43 minutes to convict Howard of robbery, aggravated assault and conspiracy.

During the trial, prosecutors said Howard and two other men broke into Tekavec’s home. The men used a Levin’s furniture truck as a ruse to get into the home by asking her to sign a fake delivery receipt, according to trial testimony. Witnesses said they took $13,000 and jewelry and left Tekavec lying on her bed with her ankles and wrists bound.

Tekavec identified Howard as one of her attackers. She made no comment in court on Thursday, but Hathaway read a letter she wrote about the impact of the crime.

In the letter, Tekavec said she is now confined to a wheelchair, and because of the injuries she suffered in the attack, she is in constant pain and is restricted from performing basic personal chores, such as brushing her hair.

“Certainly there are very serious effects she has suffered because of the crime committed against her,” Hathaway said.

Defense attorney Tim Dawson asked that Howard receive concurrent sentences because two other men were more responsible for the violence.

Charges are pending against co-defendants Lamont Dixon, 35, and Branddon Danilchak, 28.

Howard was allowed to wear civilian clothing in court instead of a prison jumpsuit. Deputies said Howard remained shackled during a brief wedding ceremony later in the afternoon presided over by Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr.

The ceremony was attended by five deputies and the bride’s baby, who was born last month.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/9191589-74/howard-gets-prison#ixzz3nbzLDYFm

Paraplegic Adam Fritz works out with Kristen Johnson, a spinal cord injury recovery specialist, at the Project Walk facility in Claremont, California on September 24. A brain-to-computer technology that can translate thoughts into leg movements has enabled Fritz, paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal cord injury, to become the first such patient to walk without the use of robotics.

It’s a technology that sounds lifted from the latest Marvel movie—a brain-computer interface functional electrical stimulation (BCI-FES) system that enables paralyzed users to walk again. But thanks to neurologists, biomedical engineers and other scientists at the University of California, Irvine, it’s very much a reality, though admittedly with only one successful test subject so far.

The team, led by Zoran Nenadic and An H. Do, built a device that translates brain waves into electrical signals than can bypass the damaged region of a paraplegic’s spine and go directly to the muscles, stimulating them to move. To test it, they recruited 28-year-old Adam Fritz, who had lost the use of his legs five years earlier in a motorcycle accident.

Fritz first had to learn how exactly he’d been telling his legs to move for all those years before his accident. The research team fitted him with an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap that read his brain waves as he visualized moving an avatar in a virtual reality environment. After hours training on the video game, he eventually figured out how to signal “walk.”

The next step was to transfer that newfound skill to his legs. The scientists wired up the EEG device so that it would send electrical signals to the muscles in Fritz’s leg. And then, along with physical therapy to strengthen his legs, he would practice walking—his legs suspended a few inches off the ground—using only his brain (and, of course, the device). On his 20th visit, Fritz was finally able to walk using a harness that supported his body weight and prevented him from falling. After a little more practice, he walked using just the BCI-FES system. After 30 trials run over a period of 19 weeks, he could successfully walk through a 12-foot-long course.

As encouraging as the trial sounds, there are experts who suggest the design has limitations. “It appears that the brain EEG signal only contributed a walk or stop command,” says Dr. Chet Moritz, an associate professor of rehab medicine, physiology and biophysics at the University of Washington. “This binary signal could easily be provided by the user using a sip-puff straw, eye-blink device or many other more reliable means of communicating a simple ‘switch.’”

Moritz believes it’s unlikely that an EEG alone would be reliable enough to extract any more specific input from the brain while the test subject is walking. In other words, it might not be able to do much more beyond beginning and ending a simple motion like moving your legs forward—not so helpful in stepping over curbs or turning a corner in a hallway.

The UC Irvine team hopes to improve the capability of its technology. A simplified version of the system has the potential to work as a means of noninvasive rehabilitation for a wide range of paralytic conditions, from less severe spinal cord injuries to stroke and multiple sclerosis.

“Once we’ve confirmed the usability of this noninvasive system, we can look into invasive means, such as brain implants,” said Nenadic in a statement announcing the project’s success. “We hope that an implant could achieve an even greater level of prosthesis control because brain waves are recorded with higher quality. In addition, such an implant could deliver sensation back to the brain, enabling the user to feel their legs.


Bigfin Squid in Gulf of Mexico

Posted: October 3, 2015 in bigfin squid

Meet the bigfin squid, an elusive and frankly quite terrifying cephalopod. This one was spotted in the Gulf of Mexico under 7,800 feet of water.

According to Deep Sea News, little is known about these squid because few have ever been captured.

The first was seen in 1988 and only a handful have been seen since, mostly by cameras on remotely operated vehicles.

NFL players are tough. But they’re also sensitive souls – and they care deeply about toilet paper.

The New York Jets are at Wembley on Sunday, and they have gone to great – some may say outré – lengths to make sure the players are looked after properly. They have their own clothes washer. Their own private chef. And – get this – they’ve imported 350 rolls of their own toilet paper to, as the New York Times puts it, “replace the thinner version used in England”.

The Times spoke to Aaron Degerness, the Jets’ senior manager of team operations, about what was required for the team’s arduous trek to one of the world’s most inhospitable environments for a few days in one of the world’s most easygoing cities. And people say professional sports stars are pampered.

The details are mind-boggling. Five thousand items – from cereal and extension cords to gauze pads and wrist – have been loaded on to a ship containing supplies for all six NFL teams playing in London this season. (Jacksonville play Buffalo in week seven, and Kansas City take on Detroit the following week. The ship left New York in August) The Jets have spent 11 months planning for about 65 hours overseas, an undertaking that Degerness said involved about 10 times the work that preparing to play in, say, Miami would have required.

An industrial launderer will pick up the players’ dirty practice clothing at one location and deliver it clean to another. A chef at the Jets’ London hotel will be flown in to observe how food is cooked and served at team headquarters.