Growing human retinas in vitro, patching damaged brains, and imaging an entire brain's activity.

In the journal Nature earlier this month a paper was published by one Dr. Valeria Canto-Soler who works in the field of regenerative medicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns-Hopkins University. Medical science has gotten pretty good at creating induced pluripotent stem cells, or stem cells which started out as other kinds of human body cells that were hacked to devolve back into pluripotent stem cells which can then be caused to differentiate into other, more specialized kinds of cells. Dr. Canto-Soler and her research team have taken this process to the next logical step: Causing those cultured stem …

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Studying the human connectome.

Late last year I did an article about the simulation of parts of the the human brain on a massive scale called SPAUN that was implemented using software called Nengo. The basic concept behind SPAUN, as you may recall, is that it is a functional model of some aspects of the human brain which duplicate some of the neural networks as well as the myriad connections between them. What isn't obvious is that this connection model was developed in part through the microscopic examination of many human brains post mortem plus many different kinds of scans carried out on living …

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