Tummy Tales I: Me vs. My Stomach - A History

I am one of many lucky sufferers of gluten intolerance and generally-obnoxious bowel syndrome. Ever since I was 14 years old I’ve had an unexplainable pain in my gut. I thought it was an ulcer for the longest time and got to experience having video tubes in all sorts of exciting places in pursuit of this invisible villain. 

"Your stomach is perfectly healthy." My doctor told me after the endoscopy; the same words would be repeated years later by my colonoscopist (is that a word?). After both victories, my evil tummy gurgled in maliciously in triumph. 

"Why do you hate me so?" I asked my tummy time and time again, desperate. But never was an answer spoken…

Now, to any of you who have never felt continuous pain in your stomach for a sustained period of time, I cannot properly relate to you how this affects your life. Imagine either a hangover that refuses to go away for weeks and weeks or being stuck with that feeling you get two hours after eating shady-looking Thai food.

If we listen to Eastern wisdom, we learn that the stomach is our primary energy source, which makes sense because we eat to survive and food becomes energy and building-blocks for our cells. I’m also keen to the idea that emotions are felt in “the gut”; for example colloquialisms like, “gut instincts”, “going off your gut feeling”, “a gut reaction”, or “trust your gut”, etc, etc. The combination of these two ideas together means that when your stomach is sour, both your mood and your life-force are feeling pretty Charlie Brown (that kid was seriously depressed).

Now, flash forward to 2011, I’m 23 and working at the Waterford Institute and my friend and partner in rhyme (we’re both writers; I know, I’m a pun grand master), Christian Heidicker, announces that he’s gone Gluten-Free. Not only does he say he has more energy, he also just “feels cleaner inside and happier all over” (Christian, forgive me if I’m misquoting you, my brain puts a sitcom filter on all my memories for its own enjoyment). As someone working full-time, going to school at night, partying every weekend, and in a committed(ish) relationship, energy was a very precious commodity to me. So, I tried this whole “Gluten-Free” thing in hopes of gaining some more energy and two weeks later, after 9 years of dealing with an angry monster ruling my life from its abdominal throne, the beast was quiet.

Stay Tuned for Episode II of Tummy Tales: Memories of Gluten

Windows Update Day. 

For the uninitiated, Windows Update Day is the day when so-called IT “Professionals” stay late, after all our users have gone home to their families and are tucked safely in their non-technical worlds, and install updates on the servers (that may or may not break everything) and then reboot them and pray they all come back up without any issues. When you have close to 50 servers, this can be quite a lengthy process.

Much caffeine is involved and USUALLY someone breaks out some Journey.

neurosciencestuff
neurosciencestuff:

Expanding our view of vision
Every time you open your eyes, visual information flows into your brain, which interprets what you’re seeing. Now, for the first time, MIT neuroscientists have noninvasively mapped this flow of information in the human brain with unique accuracy, using a novel brain-scanning technique.
This technique, which combines two existing technologies, allows researchers to identify precisely both the location and timing of human brain activity. Using this new approach, the MIT researchers scanned individuals’ brains as they looked at different images and were able to pinpoint, to the millisecond, when the brain recognizes and categorizes an object, and where these processes occur.
“This method gives you a visualization of ‘when’ and ‘where’ at the same time. It’s a window into processes happening at the millisecond and millimeter scale,” says Aude Oliva, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
Oliva is the senior author of a paper describing the findings in the Jan. 26 issue of Nature Neuroscience. Lead author of the paper is CSAIL postdoc Radoslaw Cichy. Dimitrios Pantazis, a research scientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, is also an author of the paper.
Read more

Aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!! So cool!

neurosciencestuff:

Expanding our view of vision

Every time you open your eyes, visual information flows into your brain, which interprets what you’re seeing. Now, for the first time, MIT neuroscientists have noninvasively mapped this flow of information in the human brain with unique accuracy, using a novel brain-scanning technique.

This technique, which combines two existing technologies, allows researchers to identify precisely both the location and timing of human brain activity. Using this new approach, the MIT researchers scanned individuals’ brains as they looked at different images and were able to pinpoint, to the millisecond, when the brain recognizes and categorizes an object, and where these processes occur.

“This method gives you a visualization of ‘when’ and ‘where’ at the same time. It’s a window into processes happening at the millisecond and millimeter scale,” says Aude Oliva, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

Oliva is the senior author of a paper describing the findings in the Jan. 26 issue of Nature Neuroscience. Lead author of the paper is CSAIL postdoc Radoslaw Cichy. Dimitrios Pantazis, a research scientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, is also an author of the paper.

Read more

Aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!! So cool!

How is it that so many roads converge to the same destination?

If I began my life in a different place or moved myself now, would I end up somewhere else? Or would I still come to the same home at the end of it all?

Is there some kind of seed in me that it doesn’t care where I am planted, but will spill the same branches and the same fruit regardless?

Are my limbs simply weathervanes to a much subtler master?

Who is running to the gate when my will gets weak, and who is at the door to answer him?

image

neurosciencestuff

neurosciencestuff:

Researcher advances retinal implant that could restore sight for the blind

People who went blind as a result of certain diseases or injuries may have renewed hope of seeing again thanks to a retinal implant developed with the help of Florida International University’s W. Kinzy Jones, a professor and researcher in the College of Engineering and Computing.

A tiny video camera mounted on special glasses captures the scene in the patient’s environment, and a pocket controller relays the captured video signal to the implant. Inspired by cochlear implants that can restore hearing to some deaf people, the retinal implant works by electrically stimulating nerve cells that normally carry visual input from the retina to the brain, and bypassing the lost retinal cells.

The Boston Retinal Implant Project, a highly-specialized, academically-based team of 30 researchers including Jones, was responsible for bringing the implant to light. The group is comprised of biologists and engineers from Harvard, Cornell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and others who are developing new technologies for the blind.

“Jones’ work was one the most important technological developments needed to make the device possible,” said Douglas Shire, engineering manager for the Boston Retinal Implant Project. “As a result, users of the retinal implant will be able to adjust the implant according to their needs.”

Jones has been working for years to advance the airtight sealed titanium housing and feed-through component that transfers the signals from the implanted microchip to the electrodes. His improvements in the density of that feed-through will greatly improve the quality of the image the person wearing the device will see.

The retinal implant was designed for people who lost vision due to injury to the eyes; progressive vision loss caused by eye disorders (also known as retinitis pigmentosa); or age-related macular degeneration, when the center of the retina that is responsible for central vision deteriorates. According to the National Institutes of Health, age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years old and older.

“The impact of this technology, which increases the available pixels that can be stimulated, will bring enhanced visual acuity to people with debilitating eye loss,” Jones said. “My mother had macular degeneration and I saw the quality of her life degrade as the disease progressed. Hopefully, when these devices are available for FDA approved use, total loss of eye sight from macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa will be a thing of the past within 10 to 15 years.”

Recently, a similar device that features 60 electrodes was approved for use in patients and has proven successful in allowing people who were blind to read words on a screen.

Shire explained that the device that the Boston Group is building with Jones’ help has more than 256 electrodes and therefore allows for images with a larger number of pixels, which is expected to give patients a meaningful visual experience.