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New Brain Scanner Fits Right Atop the Head

The MEG helmet. (Credit: Wellcome)

When it comes to observing the inner workings of our brains, there are a few ways we can do it. But, for most, bulky machines and carefully controlled environments are the norm. The traditional trade-off researchers face for a glimpse inside the mind is a mind that’s constrained in some fairly unnatural ways. It can make doing research on how the brain works during basic human activities difficult.

Researchers from the U.K., however, have found a better way to get inside our heads. They’ve designed a helmet equipped with sensitive scanners that they say can precisely monitor the activity of neurons in the brain, while still allowing the wearer to move relatively freely. The device should allow researchers to get much better data on children and those with disabilities, as well on a broad range of activities requiring movement they couldn’t before.

Measuring Magnetism

The helmet itself resembles an odd mash-up of medieval and futuristic sensibilities. It covers most of the subject’s head, and thick wires snake from the top, where an array of magnetic sensors is positioned. The sensors pick up on magnetic fields generated by electrical impulses in the brain, which occur when synapses fire. Measuring the strength and position of these magnetic fields allows researchers to see which regions of the brain are activated during particular activities and helps them both to diagnose problems and better understand the overall layout of the brain.

It’s a technique known as magnetoencephalography or MEG and it’s one of several tools researchers use to study the brain. Other common techniques include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG)—there are benefits and drawbacks to each. MEG is attractive to researchers because it allows for more precise imaging than EEG does, and lets researchers pinpoint the timing of brain activity with more accuracy than MRI.

Crucial to the design of the MEG helmet is a new kind of sensor that doesn’t need to be super-cooled to work. Traditional MEG machines rely on magnetic sensors cooled to less than -450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the machinery required to do so makes them bulky and immobile. It also means that the sensors must be kept away from the subject’s head, decreasing the device’s precision. Those getting an MEG must keep very still while the scan is underway — movements of even 5 millimeters can render the results useless. The end result is that scans of people doing normal activities, and of restless children and those with diseases like Parkinson’s, are nearly impossible.

Wearable Tech

The new sensor, though, is smaller and can be fitted into the helmet. It works by shining a laser through a cloud of heated rubidium isotope atoms and monitoring for dips in luminosity. The rubidium atoms are sensitive to magnetic fields, and they disrupt the laser beam ever so slightly in the presence of magnetism. The researchers published their work Wednesday in Nature.

The magnetic fields our brains generate are miniscule on the order of femtoteslas. They’re several orders of magnitude less than the Earth’s own magnetic field, and it means that protective shielding is needed for MEG machines. To make their helmet work, the researchers’ final design includes a pair of electromagnetic coils that generate a field exactly equal, and opposite to, that of the Earth’s, creating a space effectively without outside magnetism.

With the coils in place, the researchers tested the helmet on people doing a range of motions. This included everything from drinking a cup of tea to bouncing a ping-pong ball on a paddle — actions that would have been unthinkable in a normal MEG machine. Their device’s results were comparable to those from a normal MEG in a side-by-side comparison of more traditional tasks, they say, and should allow for even greater precision because the sensors are closer to the scalp.

The range of motion is still a bit limited — subjects can’t move more than a few inches in any direction, but it’s enough to greatly expand the uses of MEG devices. The researchers suggest that their helmet could, in the future, help to research neural development in children, study diseases involving physical disabilities and observe subject’s brains as they perform natural actions that were impossible while surrounded by the constricting hood traditional MEG machines utilize. This means bouncing ping-pong balls, but also things like the development of motor functions and how they break down in disease.

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Yet Another Study Says Vitamin Supplements Are Worthless

(Credit: Thunderstock/Shutterstock)

Vitamin — the first four letters come from the Latin word for “life.” To sustain that, we need these organic compounds in small amounts, but it seems their purpose ends there.

New research reaffirms the counterintuitive notion that vitamin and mineral supplements aren’t the magical panacea we’ve been led to believe. It’s something that researchers have been finding for years, and a meta-analysis, summarizing the findings of 179 individual studies, published on Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that most common vitamins provide precisely zero benefit to those taking them.

Non-vital Vitamins

Specifically, the study concluded that multivitamins, as well as calcium, and vitamins C and D are essentially powerless. They do no harm, but they might as well be placebos. These findings run contrary to popular wisdom, which instructs us to load up on supplements to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and premature death.

This isn’t the first time science has refuted vitamin worship. In 2013 a series of studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine, collectively including hundreds of thousands of participants, concurred that vitamins do not lead to any boost in health. In fact, the studies found that beta-carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A actually slightly increase mortality.

The only supplement that may live up to its reputation, according to the new study, is folic acid. This, with or without vitamin B, may prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The tradition of using vitamins and minerals for nutrient deficiencies dates back to 1747, when the British naval surgeon James Lind treated scurvy with citrus fruit, rich in vitamin C. Physicians routinely make such prescriptions, though usually only in cases where the patient has a demonstrated deficiency of a particular vitamin or nutrient.

Supplement Crazy

In recent years, though, we’ve come to view supplements as the gateway to general health and longevity. A Gallup poll in 2013 showed that 50 percent of Americans regularly take vitamins or multivitamins.

On the flip side, a comparison of Gallup polls in 1975 and 2016 reveals plunging public trust in the mainstream American medical system. This phenomenon may have contributed to the ascent of “natural” vitamin and mineral supplements.

But it probably also stems from rampant marketing and advertising. Thanks to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, manufacturers don’t have to prove the to the Food and Drug Administration that their supplements work. They can claim their products work, though, as long as they keep it vague (“strengthens the body”) and don’t profess to truly treat anything.

Call it a healthcare failure, call it a marketing miracle. Either way, call a doctor before you pop another vitamin. Odds are they’ll tell you to stick to fruits and veggies.

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KNOW THE CAUSE: Lyme Disease and Fungus

Lyme Disease and Fungus

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Morgellons and Dope (Crack)

Even though this person in this video blog needs help with her drug addiction she shares her true story of being infected with morgellons. Everyone has their own way in dealing with this horrible disease. If you google Morgellons or resistant scabies mites you will come across forums of people questioning if some narcotic drugs could possibly get rid of these things. It’s not uncommon to hear individuals who gets high and complains about feeling bugs crawling all over them, biting them, etc. In reality in many cases it is true. Because of these narcotic drugs poisoning the system it drives them out of the body. Just as the same as if taking anti-parasitic drugs such as ivermectin.

Morgellons disease is a poorly understood condition characterized by small fibers, particles and bugs emerging from the skin. People with this condition often report feeling as if something is crawling on or stinging/ biting their skin.

In no way do we endorse or suggest in using any illegal substance to deal or attempt to get rid of morgellons or resistant scabies mites.



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