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Parents Can Meet their Unborn Babies for First Time in 3D Virtual Reality

The virtual reality foetal 3-D models are remarkably similar to the post-natal appearance of the newborn baby

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Representational image. Pixabay

New York, November 22, 2016: In a new breakthrough research, Brazilian scientists have developed a new technology that will enable parents to watch their unborn babies grow in realistic three-dimensional immersive visualisation.

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The new technology combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — which provides high-resolution foetal and placental imaging with excellent contrast — and ultrasound data to scan segments of the mother’s womb and foetus to build a 3-D model which can be brought to life by using a virtual reality (VR) headset.

“The 3-D foetal models combined with virtual reality immersive technologies may improve our understanding of foetal anatomical characteristics and can be used for educational purposes and as a method for parents to visualise their unborn baby,” said Heron Werner Jr. from the Clinica de Diagnostico por Imagem, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sequentially-mounted MRI slices are used to begin construction of the model. A segmentation process follows in which the physician selects the body parts to be reconstructed in 3-D.

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Once an accurate 3-D model is created — including the womb, umbilical cord, placenta and foetus — the virtual reality device can be programmed to incorporate the model, the study said.

The virtual reality foetal 3-D models are remarkably similar to the post-natal appearance of the newborn baby.

They recreate the entire internal structure of the foetus, including a detailed view of the respiratory tract, which can aid doctors in assessing abnormalities, Werner added.

The technology also can help coordinate care with multidisciplinary teams and provide better visual information to parents to help them understand malformations and treatment decisions.

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“We believe that these images will help facilitate a multidisciplinary discussion about some pathologies in addition to bringing a new experience for parents when following the development of their unborn child,” Werner said.

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, US. (IANS)

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Playing video games can help boost memory, says research

During the test of gamers and non-gamers, the gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas relevant to learning

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Video games help boost memory
Video games help boost memory. Pixabay
  • Researchers have found that playing video games can help boost memory in the young as well as in the elderly
  • The gamers performed significantly better during the test of gamers and non-gamers
  • The gamers also showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas relevant to learning

London, October 2, 2017: Tired of watching your child play video games? Instead, join them, as researchers have found that playing video games can help boost memory in the young as well as in the elderly.

“Our study shows that gamers are better in analysing a situation quickly, to generate new knowledge, and to categorise facts — especially in situations with high uncertainties,” said lead author Sabrina Schenk from Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Germany.

During the test of gamers and non-gamers, the gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas relevant to learning.

This kind of learning is linked to an increased activity in the hippocampus — a brain region that plays a key role in learning and memory.

“We think that playing video games trains certain brain regions like the hippocampus. That is not only important for young people, but also for older people; this is because changes in the hippocampus can lead to a decrease in memory performance. Maybe, we can treat that with video games in the future,” Schenk added.

Both teams did the so-called weather prediction task, a well-established test to investigate the learning of probabilities. The researchers simultaneously recorded the brain activity of the participants via magnetic resonance imaging.

Also read: ‘Games of Change’ Festival at New York Gives Gamers a Reality Check by Introducing Video Games based on Social and Civic Issues

The participants were shown a combination of three cue cards with different symbols. They should estimate whether the card combination predicted sun or rain and got a feedback if their choice was right or wrong.

They gradually learned, on the basis of the feedback, which card combination stands for which weather prediction.

The combinations were thereby linked to higher or lower probabilities for sun and rain.

After completing the task, the study participants filled out a questionnaire to sample their acquired knowledge about the cue card combinations.

Also, the gamers were notably better in combining the cue cards with the weather predictions than the control group. (IANS)

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‘Parent by Choice for Choice’ : Thousands Join Protests Against Ireland’s Abortion Laws

This year's march against abortion laws was more significant than ever given the latest confirmation that there will be a referendum on abortion next year

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Thousands gathered to protest against Ireland's abortion laws holding placards saying "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries" and "Parent by choice for choice (representational image) Wikimedia

Dublin, September 1, 2017 : Thousands of people staged a massive protest in Dublin, calling for an end to Ireland’s strict abortion laws, the media reported.

Campaigners took part in the March for Choice in the capital’s city centre on Saturday, chanting: “Hey, hey Leo (Prime Minister Leo Varadkar), the eighth amendment has got to go” and carrying banners which read: “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” and “Parent by choice for choice”, reports the Guardian.

This year’s march against abortion laws, the sixth in a series of annual events, was more significant than ever given the latest confirmation that there will be a referendum on abortion next year.

The Irish government recently set a potential timescale of early 2018 for the referendum on the eighth amendment, the section of Ireland’s constitution imposing tight legal restrictions on terminations.

ALSO READ Anti-abortion Activists and supporters of a Woman’s right choose staged demonstrations in US

The amendment, which was voted into the constitution by referendum in 1983, affords equal rights to unborn babies and pregnant women and gives foetuses the right to life by law, the Guardian reported.

Terminations are only permitted when the life of the mother is at risk, and the maximum penalty for having an illegal abortion in Ireland is 14 years in prison.

Thousands of Irish women travel to the British mainland each year to have a legal termination.

ALSO READ DIY abortions: To do or not to do?

Anti-abortion activists staged counter events in the city and across Ireland to warn against the relaxation of the current law reports the BBC.

A pro-choice rally was also staged outside the Irish embassy in London on Saturday, with campaigners highlighting the numbers of Irish women who have traveled to the UK for an abortion in the last three decades.  (IANS)

 

 

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High-Frequency Magnetic Pulses May Treat “Hearing of Voices” Condition of Schizophrenia Patients: Study

People with schizophrenia experience delusions, muddled thoughts, and hallucinations

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"Hearing of voices" condition experienced by schizophrenia patients. Pixabay

London, Sep 06, 2017: Researchers have found that high-frequency magnetic pulses can improve “hearing of voices” condition experienced by many patients with schizophrenia.

The research presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) conference in Paris identified the area of the brain involved in the condition in some patients.

Also Read: New hormone test may distinguish schizophrenia, depression  

“This is the first controlled trial to precisely determine an anatomically defined brain area where high frequency magnetic pulses can improve the hearing of voices,” said lead researcher Sonia Dollfus, Professor at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Caen in France.

Schizophrenia is a serious long-term mental health problem. People with schizophrenia experience a range of symptoms, which may include delusions, muddled thoughts and hallucinations.

One of the best-known is hearing voices, also known as Auditory Verbal Hallucination (AVH), which around 70 per cent of people with schizophrenia experience at some point.

These voices, may be ‘heard’ as having a variety of different characteristics, for example as internal or external, friendly or threatening, they may be continuously present or present only occasionally, and so on.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), which uses magnetic pulses to the brain, has been suggested as a possible way of treating the hearing of voices in schizophrenia.

However, there is a lack of controlled trials to show that TMS works effectively in treating “hearing of voices”.

The French research team worked with a small group of patients who received active TMS treatment. A control group received sham (placebo) treatment.

The researchers interviewed the patients using a standard protocol — the Auditory Hallucinations Rating Scale — which revealed most of the characteristic features of the voices which they were hearing.

The treated patients received a series of 20 Hz high-frequency magnetic pulses over two sessions a day for two days.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the pulses were targetted at a specific brain area in the temporal lobe, which is associated with language.

After two weeks, the patients were re-evaluated. The researchers found that 34.6 per cent of the patients being treated by TMS showed a significant response, whereas only 9.1 per cent of patients in the sham group responded. (IANS)