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Mental health disorders are often a complicated conundrum for clinicians to diagnose and treat, especially when factoring in a coexisting neurological condition like epilepsy.

Unfortunately, people with epilepsy have an increased risk of several mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder — also known as ADHD.

The statistics are grim: close to one in five people with epilepsy also have symptoms of ADHD, and nearly one in three people with epilepsy suffer from anxiety and depression.

Scientists are not entirely clear on why epilepsy and mental health disorders often overlap. Epilepsy on its own is a complex neurological disorder, and it becomes even more challenging to identify the origins of a coexisting mental health disorder when factoring in biological, psychological, and environmental causes. …


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Ask any person with epilepsy, and they’ll probably tell you that accurately tracking seizures is difficult. For one, life gets busy. For another, some common types of seizures can impair memory, making it difficult to remember exactly what happened. Oftentimes, it’s the caretaker spearheading seizure logging efforts, but even their memories are fallible.

But, even though it’s a challenge, recording seizures is crucial. …


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Imagine a seizure. What do you see?

My guess is an assortment of frightening symptoms: violent shaking of the limbs, falling to the ground, eyes blank or even blood from the person biting their lips.

But ask a person who experiences seizures due to epilepsy, they might have an entirely different answer. Some, for example, will say they just “blank out” for a bit; others say they see strange light patterns.

For ages, seizures have frightened those inexperienced with it. Some cultures even deem it as a sort of “demonic possession,” unfortunately adding to its stigma. But as a main symptom of epilepsy, seizures are hardly rare. Over 6.5 million people in the US have epilepsy–that’s more than 1 in 26 people. …


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Dr. Salam Gabran with the Novela smart probe

Toronto, ON — To further develop its wireless electrode for reading from and writing into the brain, Novela Neurotech is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Division of Comparative Medicine at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.

The move signals Novela’s return to its academic R&D roots, allowing the brain-computer interface startup to further optimize its cutting-edge brain implant in animal models under strict research and ethical guidelines. Furthermore, Novela aims to leverage UofT’s critical role in supporting novel neurostimulation research, and foster academic collaboration with Toronto’s leading neuroscience and innovation institutions.

“Although we have invested over 12 years in the development for our brain probe and supporting software platforms, the next step is to fully validate its efficiency and safety in animal models. This will build a knowledge base to ensure quality of treatment for neurological disorders in humans, such as relapsing opioid addiction and chronic pain that can’t be efficiently managed using pharmaceuticals,” says Ray Iskander, CEO of Novela Neurotech. …


科学家将经典热力学与人脑实验数据相结合,形成了一种新的跨学科原理,即人脑如何组织其神经活动。该理论可能会导致有关意识神经生物学的新见解。

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Translated from original press release意识是大脑最神秘的谜团之一。西班牙和美国科学家受热力学启发了一种新理论,从高层次揭发大脑中的神经网络如何瞬时组织以产生记忆,思想和意识。

产生意识的关键是能量的潮起潮落:当神经元功能性地结合在一起以支持信息处理时,它们的活动模式似如海浪一样同步。这个过程不仅来与神经生物学,而同样受热力学原理的指导。就像一双看不见的手,热力学促进神经元建立有助于意识的神经联系。此过程的中断破坏神经网络之间的通信从而引起神经系统疾病,例如癫痫,自闭症或精神分裂症。

研究作者Jose L Perez Velazquez 博士说,热力学原理例如能量梯度,耗散和平衡可以让我们开始理解或解释“思想和意识如何产生” 以及为何朝病理状态偏离。Perez Velazquez 隶属于新泽西州蒙特克莱尔的罗宁学院。
此项研究由旧金山区域脑机接口初创公司Novela Neurotech资助,发表在Frontiers in Neuroscience 杂志《关于大脑组织的简单总则》。能态作为大脑组织的指导原则长期以来,科学家一直认为意识是由于神经元之间广泛存在的协调活动引起的。其中一种框架,即“Global Workplace Theory”,假设某些大脑区域可以帮助其他区域跨时空整合信息,从而产生大脑的“工作区域”用于各种过程(例如记忆,注意力和语言)。另一个理论是“ Integrated Information Theory”,认为意识是大脑高度相互连接的结果,并且其程度可以量化。

尽管科学家进行了数十年的研究,这些理论并未直接解决更棘手的问题:指导这些联系的原理以便产生意识是什么?目前越来越多的工作争取判断智能机器是否有意识,因此追求意识的生物学原理非常重要。

这篇文章结合了经典物理学中的热力学定律和现代神经科学,描绘了大脑内自由能的变化如何帮助神经元暂时同步而产生意识。

在有意状态下,大脑必须主动整合和隔离来自不同感官的信息,因此比无意识时消耗更多的能量。利用不同大脑“宏观状态”,例如清醒,睡眠,昏迷和癫痫发作期间人类参与者的神经记录,研究小组发现,意识状态下的熵高于无意识状态下的熵。熵作为一个概念用许多特定的方式来解释和衡量。此处,“熵“与同步或“连接”的大脑网络的配置数量相关。

Perez Velazquez及其同事说:“随着更多神经元的连接,自由能被消散了。”热力学模型表明,大脑健康,有意识状态下有更大的能量消散。

但是,研究人员说意识不只由大脑中自由能量度决定。

每个宏观状态由多个可配置的微状态组成。在形成意识思维的过程中,大脑具有最佳数量相连的神经网络,并具有更多的微状态来支持认知。相比之下,在癫痫等无意识状态下,大脑形成过多相互连接的神经网络,从而导致较少的微状态。因此癫痫状态下,大脑熵降低自由能升高,导致出现神经故障。

研究人员说:“保持健康的大脑状态并不只是大脑中能量的总量,而在于能量的组织方式。”
大脑组织的统一原理利用能量梯度和耗散来观察大脑的组织可以形成一个研究意识重要原理。利用此原理,科学家可以区别将健康有意识的大脑状态与无意识的大脑状态。因此,研究小组认为,他们的方法可用于进一步阐明意识丧失(例如某些癫痫发作)时大脑的神经生物学。

利用该原理,研究小组对正常的大脑活动如何转变为异常状态提供了解释。当神经元过度活跃时,这会导致同步性高于正常水平,例如持续时间太长或到达大脑的广泛区域。换句话说,大脑会处于过于稳定的状态。此结果是大脑的熵降低,因而大脑可以形成可辨活动模式的能力降低。也就是说,它具有更少的微状态,导致更少的交互神经网络配置,而剥夺大脑快速,灵活适应外界的能力。在某些情况下,意识也会崩溃。

该小组已经描述了各种实研究以检验该理论。阿根廷教授 Diego M. Mateos 和法国教授 Ramon Guevara Erra 也为这项工作做出了贡献。

这项工作是由Novela Neurotech资助的一个项目。Novela Neurotech针对脑机接口的研究和发展,总部位于加利福硅谷,致力于解决癫痫症,并有意揭示意识的神经生物学机制。目前Novela的合作者包括加州大学旧金山分校。

Novela Neurotech首席执行官Ray Iskander说:“ Novela致力与神经科学研究团体合作,阐明意识之谜。如果要成功管理和治愈神经精神疾病,我们必须揭露大脑的工作原理。”
关于Novela位于加利福尼亚州硅谷的Novela Neurotech公司一直在脑机接口研究的前沿。 Novela从加拿大Waterloo大学分离出来,有十二年的研究基础,并且正在开发一个全脑刺激平台”Neureka“。该平台包括硬件(崭新双规模电探针)和人工智能指导的软件分析套件,以帮助科学家研究新型神经调节。此外,Novelia正在与加州大学旧金山分校(UCSF)的脑波记录和刺激专家Loren Frank博士合作,标准化大脑电数据,并通过促进全球神经科学合作以加速治疗发现过程。Novela有意和中国神经科学家建立脑机接口研究合作。欲获得更多信息请联系 (中英都可)Dr. Shelly Fan,神经科学博士
媒体与大学通讯公司董事
media@novelaneuro.com

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Image by www.flickr.com/photos/cblue98/ under CC

Montclair, NJ — Consciousness is one of the brain’s most enigmatic mysteries. A new theory, inspired by thermodynamics, takes a high-level perspective of how neural networks in the brain transiently organize to give rise to memories, thought and consciousness.

The key to awareness is the ebb and flow of energy: when neurons functionally tag together to support information processing, their activity patterns synchronize like ocean waves. This process is inherently guided by thermodynamic principles, which — like an invisible hand — promotes neural connections that favors conscious awareness. …


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Toronto, ON — Directly controlling the activity of the human brain is the next frontier in medicine. This futuristic field, neuromodulation, links biological brains to computer chips, allowing software to tinker with neural activity. Elon Musk’s Neuralink may be the most famous example, but other efforts abound. Today, Canada’s largest neurotechnological group, CRANIA, held its first annual international conference on accelerating neuromodulation R&D at the MaRS Discovery District, and Novela Neurotech is proud to be a major sponsor.

Our memories, decisions and thoughts are all encoded in the electrical and chemical activity inside the brain. Disruptions in these activity patterns result in severe disorders that are difficult to treat with pharmaceuticals, such as epilepsy, addiction, depression and Parkinson’s disease. In contrast, technologies that measure brain activity, and deliver targeted electrical stimulation when needed, may be the silver bullet in targeting these neurological diseases. Pharmaceutical drugs such as anti-depressants, flood the entire brain with chemicals leading to severe side effects. …

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Novela Neurotech

We tap into brain and health data to inspire better home monitoring & treatment solutions for millions of people with epilepsy.

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