Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some bioethics stories of note this past week....

For you trekkies, could this be Data version 1.3? -
Selmer Bringsjord, director of the Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Laboratory at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, spends a lot of time in Second Life, but not for recreation or entertainment -- he and his team at RPI (RPI) are the creators of synthetic agent Edd Hifeng, who they have endowed with a limited ability to converse and reason.

See the rest of the article here.


Do difficult times call for deep brain stimulation?

Brain-stimulation devices for treating depression have faced unexpected setbacks. To serve the 40 million or so sufferers who fail to respond to antidepressant drugs, a few companies have tried to treat the disorder with electronic implants and electromagnets. These therapies, however, have stumbled en route to the doctor's office.

To take a crack at those intractable cases, experiments exploring five device therapies will start this year. In total, nine different technologies are now under investigation in at least 27 human trials.

Full story here.

A Superhighway to Bliss

JILL BOLTE TAYLOR was a neuroscientist working at Harvard’s brain research center when she experienced nirvana.

But she did it by having a stroke.

On Dec. 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor, then 37, woke up in her apartment near Boston with a piercing pain behind her eye. A blood vessel in her brain had popped. Within minutes, her left lobe — the source of ego, analysis, judgment and context — began to fail her. Oddly, it felt great.

Access the rest of the story here.


Concerns about carbon nanotubes as carcinogenic

Nanotechnology experts are calling for prompt government action to ensure that carbon nanotubes are properly regulated, after researchers discovered that some carbon nanotubes can cause precancerous growths in the same way that asbestos does.

Researchers led by Ken Donaldson of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Inflammation Research, UK, found that in mice, long, straight, multi-walled carbon nanotubes can cause the same kind of damage as that inflicted by asbestos fibres when they are injected into
the lung's outer lining, called the mesothelium.

Full article accessible here.

How Our Brains are Wired for Belief

From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, transcripts from a discussion about how recent advances in neuroscience and brain-imaging technology have offered researchers a look into the physiology of religious experiences. The whole article and transcripts accessible here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to Jill Bolte Taylor's wonderful and emotional TED lecture.

Truly inspiring.