Wednesday April 8, 2020

Brain can Integrate Natural and Artificial Vision: Study

Brain knows how to integrate natural, artificial vision

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Brain
Researchers have found that brain knows how to integrate natural and artificial vision. Pixabay

Raising hope of effective treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), researchers have found that the brain knows how to integrate natural and artificial vision, while maintaining information processing that is important for vision.

AMD is a common cause of severe vision loss in among those aged 50 and over. Though there is no cure for AMD, significant recent advancements in artificial retina implants may lead to effective treatment.

“These pioneering results have implications for better restoration of sight in AMD patients implanted with retinal prosthetic devices and support our hypothesis that prosthetic and natural vision can be integrated in the brain,” said the study’s lead author Yossi Mandel from Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

“The results could also have implications for future brain-machine interface applications where artificial and natural processes co-exist,” said Mandel. Located inside the eye the retina contains light receptors (photoreceptors) which absorb light. Information is then processed and transmitted to the brain.

Brain vision
The macula, the central area of the retina, processes most of the information that reaches the brain from the eye. Pixabay

The macula, the central area of the retina, processes most of the information that reaches the brain from the eye, enabling one to see while reading and driving, facial recognition, and any other activity that requires accurate vision.

In the peripheral retina, the area of the retina outside the macula that assists mainly with spatial judgment, vision is 10-20 times less precise.

In AMD precise vision is impaired due to damage to the centre of the retina, while peripheral vision remains normal.

When there is damage to the photoreceptor layers in the retina, an artificial retina — a device built from tiny electrodes smaller in width than a hair — may be implanted.

Activating these electrodes results in electrical stimulation of the remaining retinal cells and results in visual restoration, albeit partially. AMD patients implanted with an artificial retina possess a combination of artificial central vision and normal peripheral vision.

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“We used a unique projection system which stimulated either natural vision, artificial vision or a combination of natural and artificial vision, while simultaneously recording the cortical responses in rodents implanted with a subretinal implant,” said Tamar Arens-Arad from Bar-Ilan University.

The implant is composed of dozens of tiny solar cells and electrodes, developed by Professor Daniel Palanker at Stanford University in the US. (IANS)

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All You Need to Know About Parkinson’s Disease

10 early signs of Parkinson's Disease

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parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease and related disorders is common in people above 60 years of age. Pixabay

While the focus remains on the pandemic its easy to forget that there are many other illnesses which patients are struggling with.

Parkinson’s disease and related disorders is common in people above 60 years of age. Parkinson’s disease is a disorder where most tests including MRI Brain are not very helpful in diagnosis or non-contributory (except dopamine scans). So, an understanding of its clinical symptoms and signs is as vital as a diagnosis.

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Dr. Praveen Gupta, Director & HOD, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram shares some early signs to keep a look out for.

parkinson's disease
Parkinson disease responds very well to treatment and response may last up to more than a decade, so it is very useful to diagnose it early to restore a patient’s quality of life. Pixabay

1. A pill rolling type of tremor visible in the resting position usually in one hand which improves intruding to move the hand.

2. There is change in handwriting with the writing becoming small and cramped called micrographia.

3. There is sudden quickening of steps which the patient cannot control called shuffling; it is also accompanied by difficulty in maintaining posture.

4. There is shortening of steps leading to short stepped walk and overall time to cover a small distance increases significantly.

5. There is decreased movement of arms while walking and the arm swing is reduced, a sign of slowing.

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6. There are sleep problems with increased dreaming and enacting dreams called REM Sleep Behaviour disorder.

7. There are abnormal limb movements in sleep called PLMS and current like pain in legs called restless legs syndrome.

parkinson's disease
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder where most tests including MRI Brain are not very helpful in diagnosis or non-contributory (except dopamine scans). Pixabay

8. A gradual loss of smell and difficulty detecting or identifying doors called hyposmia during conversation

9. There is a clear lack of expression on face with significant lack of emotive expressions called mask-like face.

10. There is a forward bending of posture leading to early stooping and bending forward.

These early signs are a feature of decreased dopamine in the brain which interferes with sleep and changes in motor function leading to slowness of activities (Bradykinesia medically), stiffness of muscles (rigidity), loss of posture sense and trembling. These features usually affect one side of the body initially and respond very well to levodopa replacing treatments. There may also be some mental and behaviour changes and some patients there is an unexplained loss of weight.

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If the patient walks in the clinic the physician can often start diagnosing based on these early symptoms. Tests are done to rule out other disorders mimicking Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson disease responds very well to treatment and response may last up to more than a decade, so it is very useful to diagnose it early to restore a patient’s quality of life. (IANS)