Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Potential for Medical Treatments Using Vagus Nerve Stimulation

 



The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex of the 12 cranial nerves. It transmits information to or from the brain's surface to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body. It is responsible for regulating internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate, as well as vasomotor activity and reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting.

An abnormal vagal tone with minimal heart rate variability has been associated with conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, and high blood pressure. Conversely, the ideal vagal manner may represent a high variability between heartbeats.

In the early 2000s, researchers started to show that vagus nerve stimulation could help some patients who were severely depressed and had not responded to other treatments. By 2005, the Food and Drug Administration had approved implantable pulse-generating devices that sent electrical signals to the vagus nerve for use in patients with treatment-resistant depression. 

Similar devices have also been supported for obesity — to help control feelings of hunger and fullness. In addition, internal vagus nerve stimulation to treat inflammation may also have applications for psychiatric disorders such as PTSD. Other conditions improved by stimulating the vagus nerve include epilepsy, diabetes, and inflammatory autoimmune conditions such as Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis. 

Home remedies that improve vagus tome include holding the breath and submerging the face in cold water. The process can trigger the "diving reflex," a response that slows the heartbeat and constricts blood vessels. Some people who have tried it report that it has a calming effect and can even reduce insomnia. Others wrap an ice pack in a cloth and place it on their chest to relieve anxiety.

Image credit: Manu5, via Wikimedia Commons

Read the article: This nerve influences nearly every internal organ. Can it improve our mental state, too?



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Copyright © 2022 by Eva Deli

Male and Female Stem Cells Derived from One Donor for the first time





Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can develop into any type of tissue in the body. As a result, they have the potential to be used in a variety of medical treatments, including regenerative medicine, in which damaged or diseased tissue is replaced with healthy cells. In a groundbreaking discovery in stem cell research, scientists, for the first time, successfully derived both male and female stem cells from the same donor.

The ability to derive both male and female stem cells from the same donor could have significant implications for personalized medicine, in which treatments are tailored to an individual's specific genetic makeup. In the past, researchers have been limited to using stem cells from a single gender, which can impact the effectiveness of treatments. However, with the ability to derive both male and female stem cells from the same donor, researchers can now create treatments that are more tailored to the specific needs of an individual patient.


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Copyright © 2023 by Eva Deli

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

What is the structure of the universe? The universe's accelerating expansion may originate in the wave function

 


My latest manuscript, "Can Dimensional Anisotropy Satisfy Mach's Principle?" examines the cosmic structure. In dimensional anisotropy, the dimensions of space depend on the object's location or orientation. Mach's principle states that the universe's mass-energy distribution determines local inertia. In other words, the motion of distant stars must influence the local state or movement. General relativity fails to satisfy this requirement because mass is unaffected by the gravitational field.

Can dimensional isotropy follow Mach's Principle? Let's create a compact wave function, which is isolated by an information-blocking horizon from a spatial field; the separation of the wave function introduces an energy requirement for the corresponding interaction. The condition above stabilizes the spatial curvature and obeys conservation principles. As a result, the field curvature changes smoothly while the isolated quantum waves form a discrete energy spectrum. Thus, the expanding cosmic structure originates in the microstructure of space and gives rise to a quaternion cosmic structure.

Image: the structure of the universe

Watch the video; what is the structure of the universe? The physical foundations of reality

Read the article, Can Dimensional Anisotropy Satisfy Mach's Principle? A Topological Approach to Variable Dimensions of Space using the Borsuk-Ulam Theorem in Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy, Vol: 10(7)

"Can Dimensional Anisotropy Satisfy Mach's Principle?" on Qeios.




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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

New Inspiration in Aging Research: Studying Naked Mole Rats May Give us Tools to Slow Aging




Naked mole rats are small, subterranean rodents native to parts of East Africa. Unlike most mammals that experience a decline in physical and cognitive function as they age, naked mole rats remain healthy and active throughout their unusually long lifespan, exceeding 30 years. Consequently, these animals have garnered significant attention in the scientific community due to their unique ability to defy aging.

One key factor contributing to the naked mole rats' longevity is their low metabolism. Naked mole rats have a slower metabolic rate than other rodents, which means they burn energy more slowly and generate less oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a type of cellular damage that is thought to contribute to aging and age-related diseases. By causing less oxidative stress, naked mole rats may be less prone to age-related decline that are common in other mammals.

In addition to their low metabolism, naked mole rats also have an unusually high cellular repair mechanism. These mechanisms help to keep their cells functioning optimally, even as they age. Naked mole rats also can regenerate their tissues, which may help maintain their overall health and prevent age-related decline. Nevertheless, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms that allow these animals to age gracefully and whether their unique abilities can benefit humans.

The naked mole rats' exceptional longevity and health give us valuable insights into the aging process and help discover new ways to promote human health and longevity.

Read the whole article: Naked Mole Rats Defy Aging. One Scientist Has Dedicated Her Career to Finding Out How.

Image credit: Naked mole rat at the Atlanta Zoo.




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Friday, November 25, 2022

The biology of the alpha male: Can parasite infection explain aggressive dominance?

 



My 2018 post, Cognitive Manipulation by parasites, discusses the behavioral effects of parasite infection. It also speculates a possible role of Toxoplasma gondii infection in human psychology. A recent article in Nature, a premier scientific journal, provides a clear link between parasite infection to risk-taking and dominance. 

Sexual reproduction of Toxoplasma gondii occurs in a cat's body. As a result, the infected rodents lose their fear of cats, which allows the reproductory cycle to complete. However, warm-blooded mammals can catch the parasite by eating an infected animal or ingesting forms of the parasite shed in the feces of infected cats. After acute infection, semi-dormant cysts form in muscle and brain tissue and persist for the rest of the host's life. An analysis of over 200 North American wolves shows that parasite infection inspires leadership by boosting bold, uninhibited aggressive behavior. In addition, the infected animals are also more likely to leave their home packs and strike out independently.

Therefore, pathogens may have a significant role in the ecology and behavior of wild animal populations. In addition, it is estimated that up to one-third of humans might be chronically infected. Physical and behavioral changes found in people include increased testosterone and dopamine production, which leads to more significant risks taking.






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Saturday, November 12, 2022

Can AI improve its ability of learning by adapting sleep?







Spiking neural networks have a complex, biologically-inspired design yet haven't been practical for widespread use because it's challenging to train them. Nevertheless, spiking neural networks are more energy-efficient, providing a considerable impetus for transitioning to more spiking network technology over the next decade. 

Many AIs can only master one set of well-defined tasks – they can't acquire additional knowledge later without losing everything they previously learned. However, interspersing focused training periods with sleep-like periods prevents forgetting. Sleep in the neural network occurs by activating the network's artificial neurons in a noisy pattern reminiscent of the training's neuronal firing pattern. This way, replay strengthens the connections related to the task. In addition, rapidly alternating sessions of training and sleep help consolidate the links from the first task that would have otherwise been forgotten.

Such a network can combine consecutively learned knowledge in intelligent ways and apply this learning to novel situations – just like animals and humans do.

Read more: AI uses artificial sleep to learn a new task without forgetting the last.

Image credit: Image by iuriimotov on Freepik




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Saturday, October 15, 2022

Human brain cells cultured in a lab can play the game 'Pong.'

 



DishBrain is a culture of at least 800,000 brain cells cultured in a lab. Surprisingly, these "mini-brains" can carry out goal-directed tasks by taking information from an external source, processing it, and responding to it in real-time.  

In the experiment, DishBrain made from mouse embryonic brain cells and human stem cells were placed on top of an electrode array hooked up to Pong, an arcade game. Electrical pulses sent to the neurons indicated the position of the ball in the game. DishBrain received a strong and consistent feedback signal (a form of stimulus) when the paddle hit the ball and a short, random pulse when it missed. In turn, signals from the neurons directed the paddle up and down. 

Apparent learning occurred within five minutes of real-time gameplay, which was not observed in control conditions. After playing Pong for 20 minutes, the cells were reorganizing, developing networks, and learning. The experiments demonstrate the importance of closed-loop structured feedback in eliciting learning. Synthetic biological intelligence shows self-organization in a goal-directed manner in response to sparse sensory information about the consequences of actions.

 was published in Neuron.


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