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BrainFacts.org

Introduction

Might researchers one day design prosthetic limbs that respond to the brain’s signals? Will brain scans someday allow researchers to read a person’s thoughts? Recent advances in neuroscience are spurring the development of technology to address long-standing challenges. And the development of new technologies — such as ways to trace connections between our 100 billion nerve cells, decode activity patterns in neural circuits, and turn cells on and off with light — are guiding scientists to new understanding of the brain and nervous system. New technologies also aim to improve doctors’ abilities to diagnose neurological or psychiatric illness earlier and expand treatment options for people with brain disease or injury. For instance, therapies aimed at identifying and replacing defective genes or nerve cells are currently being tested. With each discovery, scientists uncover new details about brain function and how it differs in health and disease.

Discoveries

Source: Dana Foundation
The cochlear implant is a near-miraculous device, widely considered the most effective brain-machine interface technology yet developed. Now, researchers are working to make this very good implant even better.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
The discovery of a protein that gives jellyfish their colorful glow revolutionized scientists' view of the nervous system, allowing them to add color to what had only been seen in black and white.
Source: TED
Mice, bugs and hamsters are no longer the only way to study the brain. Functional MRI (fMRI) allows scientists to map brain activity in living, breathing, decision-making human beings.

Technologies in the News

Source: Vox
Date: 7 Sept 2014
This is likely the closest that people have ever gotten to telepathy — although, admittedly, it's still not very close.
Source: Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date: 14 Aug 2014

Researchers have developed a set of software tools called Thunder that can find meaningful patterns in large-scale data on brain activity.

Source: Scientific American
Date: 14 Aug 2014

A new study reports on an optical technique that can replicate functional MRI experiments, and it is more comfortable, more portable and less expensive.

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