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News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Reading is such a new ability in human evolutionary history that the existence of a 'reading area' could not be specified in our genes. A kind of recycling process has to take place in the brain while learning to read: Areas evolved for the recognition of complex objects, such as faces, become engaged in translating letters into language. Some regions of our visual system thereby turn into interfaces between the visual and language systems. "Until now it was assumed that these changes are limited to the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, which is known to adapt quickly to new challenges," says project leader Falk Huettig from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. The Max Planck researchers together with Indian scientists from the Centre of Bio-Medical Research (CBMR) Lucknow and the University of Hyderabad have now discovered what changes occur in the adult brain when completely illiterate people learn to read and write. In contrast to previous assumptions, the learning process leads to a reorganisation that extends to deep brain structures in the thalamus and the brainstem. The relatively young phenomenon of human writing therefore changes brain regions that are very old in evolutionary terms and already core parts of mice and other mammalian brains. "We observed that the so-called colliculi superiores, a part of the brainstem, and the pulvinar, located in the thalamus, adapt the timing of their activity patterns to those of the visual cortex," says Michael Skeide, scientific researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and first author of the study, which has just been published in the magazine Science Advances. "These deep structures in the thalamus and brainstem help our visual cortex to filter important information from the flood of visual input even before we consciously perceive it." Interestingly, it seems that the more the signal timings between the two brain regions are aligned, the better the reading capabilities. "We, therefore, believe that these brain systems increasingly fine-tune their communication as learners become more and more proficient in reading," the neuroscientist explains further. "This could explain why experienced readers navigate more efficiently through a text." The interdisciplinary research team obtained these findings in India, a country with an illiteracy rate of about 39 percent. Poverty still limits access to education in some parts of India especially for women. Therefore, in this study nearly all participants were women in their thirties. At the beginning of the training, the majority of them could not decipher a single written word of their mother tongue Hindi. Hindi, one of the official languages of India, is based on Devanagari, a scripture with complex characters describing whole syllables or words rather than single letters. Participants reached a level comparable to a first-grader after only six months of reading training. "This growth of knowledge is remarkable," says project leader Huettig. "While it is quite difficult for us to learn a new language, it appears to be much easier for us to learn to read. The adult brain proves to be astonishingly flexible." In principle, this study could also have taken place in Europe. Yet illiteracy is regarded as such a taboo in the West that it would have been immensely difficult to find volunteers to take part. Nevertheless, even in India where the ability to read and write is strongly connected to social class, the project was a tremendous challenge. The scientists recruited volunteers from the same social class in two villages in Northern India to make sure that social factors could not influence the findings. Brain scans were performed in the city of Lucknow, a three hours taxi ride away from participants' homes. The impressive learning achievements of the volunteers do not only provide hope for adult illiterates, they also shed new light on the possible cause of reading disorders such as dyslexia. One possible cause for the basic deficits observed in people with dyslexia has previously been attributed to dysfunctions of the thalamus. "Since we found out that only a few months of reading training can modify the thalamus fundamentally, we have to scrutinise this hypothesis," neuroscientist Skeide explains. It could also be that affected people show different brain activity in the thalamus just because their visual system is less well trained than that of experienced readers. This means that these abnormalities can only be considered an innate cause of dyslexia if they show up prior to schooling. "That's why only studies that assess children before they start to learn to read and follow them up for several years can bring clarity about the origins of reading disorders," Huettig adds.


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Reading is such a new ability in human evolutionary history that the existence of a 'reading area' could not be specified in our genes. A kind of recycling process has to take place in the brain while learning to read: Areas evolved for the recognition of complex objects, such as faces, become engaged in translating letters into language. Some regions of our visual system thereby turn into interfaces between the visual and language systems. "Until now it was assumed that these changes are limited to the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, which is known to adapt quickly to new challenges", says project leader Falk Huettig from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. The Max Planck researchers together with Indian scientists from the Centre of Bio-Medical Research (CBMR) Lucknow and the University of Hyderabad have now discovered what changes occur in the adult brain when completely illiterate people learn to read and write. In contrast to previous assumptions, the learning process leads to a reorganisation that extends to deep brain structures in the thalamus and the brainstem. The relatively young phenomenon of human writing therefore changes brain regions that are very old in evolutionary terms and already core parts of mice and other mammalian brains. "We observed that the so-called colliculi superiores, a part of the brainstem, and the pulvinar, located in the thalamus, adapt the timing of their activity patterns to those of the visual cortex", says Michael Skeide, scientific researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and first author of the study, which has just been published in the renowned magazine Science Advances. "These deep structures in the thalamus and brainstem help our visual cortex to filter important information from the flood of visual input even before we consciously perceive it." Interestingly, it seems that the more the signal timings between the two brain regions are aligned, the better the reading capabilities. "We, therefore, believe that these brain systems increasingly fine-tune their communication as learners become more and more proficient in reading", the neuroscientist explains further. "This could explain why experienced readers navigate more efficiently through a text." The interdisciplinary research team obtained these findings in India, a country with an illiteracy rate of about 39 percent. Poverty still limits access to education in some parts of India especially for women. Therefore, in this study nearly all participants were women in their thirties. At the beginning of the training, the majority of them could not decipher a single written word of their mother tongue Hindi. Hindi, one of the official languages of India, is based on Devanagari, a scripture with complex characters describing whole syllables or words rather than single letters. Participants reached a level comparable to a first-grader after only six months of reading training. "This growth of knowledge is remarkable", says project leader Huettig. "While it is quite difficult for us to learn a new language, it appears to be much easier for us to learn to read. The adult brain proves to be astonishingly flexible." In principle, this study could also have taken place in Europe. Yet illiteracy is regarded as such a taboo in the West that it would have been immensely difficult to find volunteers to take part. Nevertheless, even in India where the ability to read and write is strongly connected to social class, the project was a tremendous challenge. The scientists recruited volunteers from the same social class in two villages in Northern India to make sure that social factors could not influence the findings. Brain scans were performed in the city of Lucknow, a three hours taxi ride away from participants' homes. The impressive learning achievements of the volunteers do not only provide hope for adult illiterates, they also shed new light on the possible cause of reading disorders such as dyslexia. One possible cause for the basic deficits observed in people with dyslexia has previously been attributed to dysfunctions of the thalamus. "Since we found out that only a few months of reading training can modify the thalamus fundamentally, we have to scrutinise this hypothesis", neuroscientist Skeide explains. It could also be that affected people show different brain activity in the thalamus just because their visual system is less well trained than that of experienced readers. This means that these abnormalities can only be considered an innate cause of dyslexia if they show up prior to schooling. "That's why only studies that assess children before they start to learn to read and follow them up for several years can bring clarity about the origins of reading disorders", Huettig adds.


Nomura J.,Bio-Medical Research Limited | Nomura J.,University of Lausanne | So A.,University of Lausanne | Tamura M.,Bio-Medical Research Limited | Busso N.,University of Lausanne
Journal of Immunology | Year: 2015

Activation of the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor family, pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome initiates an inflammatory response, which is associated with host defense against pathogens and the progression of chronic inflammatory diseases such as gout and atherosclerosis. The NLRP3 inflammasome mediates caspase-1 activation and subsequent IL-1β processing in response to various stimuli, including extracellular ATP, although the roles of intracellular ATP (iATP) in NLRP3 activation remain unclear. In this study, we found that in activated macrophages artificial reduction of iATP by 2-deoxyglucose, a glycolysis inhibitor, caused mitochondrial membrane depolarization, leading to IL-1β secretion via NLRP3 and caspase-1 activation. Additionally, the NLRP3 activators nigericin and monosodium urate crystals lowered iATP through K+- and Ca2+-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction, suggesting a feedback loop between iATP loss and lowering of mitochondrial membrane potential. These results demonstrate the fundamental roles of iATP in the maintenance of mitochondrial function and regulation of IL-1β secretion, and they suggest that maintenance of the intracellular ATP pools could be a strategy for countering NLRP3-mediated inflammation. © 2015 The Authors.


Patent
Bio-Medical Research Limited | Date: 2012-05-23

The invention relates to facial stimulation apparatus configured to be worn in a generally horizontal orientation on a users head, and which uses the ear (14) as an anatomical reference to ensure correct and repeatable placement of skin electrodes (16a,16b) overlying the human facial nerves (1-5) to facilitate Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS). The apparatus is provided with a headband (22) having a bend or deviation (24) proximate a distal portion (20) thereof on which the electrodes (16a, 16b) are attached. The internal angle of each non-adjustable bend or deviation (24) extends out of the general plane within which the remainder of the headband (22) lies and defines an unambiguous location feature which ensures repeatable and accurate positioning of each electrode (16a, 16b). The apparatus overcomes problems inherent in known devices and, in particular, requires no anatomical knowledge on the part of the end user for its safe and most effective placement.


Patent
Bio-Medical Research Limited and University College Dublin | Date: 2010-01-08

A method of and apparatus for stimulating pelvic floor muscles in a patient comprises applying at least one electrode externally to each side of the patients body in the region of the pelvis, and energising the electrodes to apply a muscular stimulation current which flows laterally across the patient through the patients pelvic floor. Preferably a plurality of electrodes are applied symmetrically on each side of the body. The electrodes may be incorporated in a garment.


Patent
Bio-Medical Research Limited | Date: 2010-06-16

A method and apparatus for stimulating the lower back and abdominal muscles in a patient comprising applying a first electrode A1/A2 substantially centrally to the lower lumbar region of the patients body, and applying second and third electrodes B, C respectively to opposite side flanks of the patients body. The electrodes are energised to apply a first group of muscular stimulation current pulses which flow between the second and third electrodes and a second group of muscular stimulation current pulses which flow between the first electrode and the second and third electrodes alternately.


Trademark
Bio-Medical Research Limited | Date: 2014-02-03

Computer networking and data communications equipment; point to point communications equipment; programmable controllers; power controllers; computer controllers; electronic controllers; communications controllers; electrical controllers; controllers (regulators); electric and electronic components; battery chargers; electric battery chargers; application software; computer software applications (downloadable); smartphones. Medical apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments used to electrically stimulate subcutaneous muscles, and increase tone, strength and physical performance for health and medical purposes; electrical apparatus and instruments used as aids to slimming, facial toning, massaging, muscle toning and beauty care; abdominal belts; medical electrodes; transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation electrodes; parts and fittings for all of the aforesaid goods. Body building and face training apparatus and instruments, namely apparatus and instruments for the strengthening and toning of muscles including facial muscles; parts and fittings for all of the aforesaid goods.


Trademark
Bio-Medical Research Limited | Date: 2015-08-31

Medical apparatus, instruments, equipment and devices for the treatment, control or prevention of urinary and fecal incontinence in females and males, namely pelvic floor muscle strengthening devices, pelvic floor neuromodulators, pelvic floor strength detection devices, sacral neuromuscular electrical stimulation devices, and sacral neuromodulators to treat and assess urinary and fecal incontinence, with treatment data processed and displayed on a hand held controller or mobile computing device, for use in direct association with patient monitoring, diagnosis and treatment.


Trademark
Bio-Medical Research Limited | Date: 2015-11-13

Medical apparatus, instruments, equipment and devices for the treatment, control or prevention of urinary and fecal incontinence in females and males, namely pelvic floor muscle strengthening devices, pelvic floor neuromodulators, pelvic floor strength detection devices, sacral neuromuscular electrical stimulation devices, and sacral neuromodulators to treat and assess urinary and fecal incontinence, with treatment data processed and displayed on a hand held controller or mobile computing device, for use in direct association with patient monitoring, diagnosis and treatment.


Trademark
Bio-Medical Research Limited | Date: 2015-02-12

Medical equipment in the nature of medical apparatus, instruments and devices all for the treatment, control or prevention of incontinence in humans; medical apparatus, namely, neuromuscular electrical stimulation devices for use in the control of incontinence; urinary incontinence devices for medical purposes; female urinary incontinence medical devices.

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