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This might sound gross, but I remember being excited to dissect a worm in school. Learning about animals and their behavior is intriguing, but seeing and learning about their inner workings can be just as fascinating. Check out the following websites, which are listed under the Lab: Dissections section of the Dana Foundation site to learn more about the makeup of animals:
It’s taken a long time for humans to evolve from apes. This site takes you through the skeletal evolution of mankind by showing pictures of gorillas, baboons, and other mammals, to show the comparison among their structure. You can see how we’ve evolved from four legged mammals to upright humans over time.
During the opening ceremonies at this past summer’s World Cup, a young man paralyzed from the mid-chest down walked onto the field and kicked the first ball of the event. The demonstration—in front of 65,000 fans and an estimated one-billion TV viewers—was based on a battery-powered “Iron Man” exoskeleton with sensors built into the suit to detect muscle movements and a control system guided by brain waves. The volunteer participant, 29 year-old Juliano Pinto, wore an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap dotted with electrodes that picked up and magnified the faint electrical signals emanating through his skull.
The person behind the demonstration was Duke University neurologist Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., the author of this month’s Cerebrum feature, “Brain-to-Brain Interfaces: When Reality Meets Science Fiction.” Nicolelis is a pioneer in “brain-computer interfaces” (BCI)—defined as a direct connection between a human (or animal) brain with an external device. These connections range from non-invasive technologies, which recognize brain signals from outside the brain, to invasive technologies that involve surgery and implanting electrodes. While many of these technologies aim to restore function to disabled people, others aim to improve upon or augment existing functions.
This morning, the Lasker Foundation announced that two scientists, one a European Dana Alliance member and the other a Dana Alliance member, will share the 2014 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. The award recognizes the work of Alim Louis Benabid and Mahlon R. DeLong to develop deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus, surgically implanting a “brain pacemaker” that can reduce tremors and restore motor functions in people who have advanced Parkinson’s disease.
Last week, the Society for Neuroscience announced the winners of the 2014 Brain Awareness Video Contest. Leigha Phillips, with Helen Tang and Lily Benedict, snagged first place for their video on vision and illusion (a topic we’ll be exploring with AAAS in a public event on October 28 in DC—stay tuned!). Second and third place winners addressed brain lesions and brainbows (brain mapping with colors), respectively.