SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have created a prosthetic arm that is the most sophisticated mind-controlled prosthesis ever created. Using a mix of cutting edge hardware and complex programming, the team has enabled a 52-year-old woman paralyzed from the neck down by a degenerative neurological disorder to move a robotic arm and hand with a degree of nuance and fluidity never before seen.
That’s not just a boon for the prosthetics community of course, but for the whole discipline of brain-machine interfaces--a field that is enjoying both an influx of funding (in the wake of two wars that have seen many soldiers lose appendages to improvised explosive devices) and huge leaps in capability thanks to better algorithms that can translate brain signals into the appropriate mechanical movements.
The U. of Pittsburgh arm relies on just two microelectrodes implanted in the patient’s left motor cortex based on functional MRI scans that pinpointed the exact nerve clusters that lit up when they asked the patient to think about moving her arm and hand. A complex set of algorithms then turns the brain signals into their corresponding movements, allowing the patient to not only move the arm but to pick up and reorient objects--with a 91.6 percent rate of success (video here). She was even able to feed herself a chocolate bar. It took her just two weeks to gain full control of the hand (though she was able to move it after just two days), and her speed increased with practice, suggesting that both the algorithms and the human brain are capable of improving performance of these kinds of brain-machine interfaces over time.
The next steps will be to incorporate wireless technology into the system and perhaps integrate some kind of sensory data into the systems so the patient can feel things like temperature, texture, and pressure. - www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Islamist activists raided the last working bar in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on Monday, smashing bottles and chasing away customers, witnesses said.
Around 50 activists burst into the bar in the Hotel Horchani in the center of town, customers and staff told AFP.
Bearded men then raided the reception and the upstairs rooms of the hotel, the last in Sidi Bouzid to serve alcohol, some of them shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “Al-Saharab haram” (drinking is a sin).
A young man who tried to film the raid was beaten by members of the group and taken to an unknown location, as angry hotel guests gathered at the scene.
The sale and consumption of alcohol is regulated but legal in Tunisia, traditionally a popular destination for tourists, especially from France.
Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of the uprising that toppled veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last year, is a stronghold of the Salafist movement, which has grown increasingly assertive in recent months.
The North African country has witnessed numerous violent incidents linked to the hardliners, prompting opposition activists to accuse the Islamist-led coalition government of not doing enough to rein them in.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — An Illinois woman who left her mentally disabled daughter outside a Tennessee bar cannot be charged with a crime, police said Tuesday.
Police in Caryville, Tennessee, said the daughter is 19 and not assigned to a legal guardian.
"As terrible as it is, unfortunately there is nothing we can do," Assistant Police Chief Stephanie Smith said. "There is no doubt we need a law for mental health rights, but pending this investigation, we just don't know what else to do."
According to police, Eva Cameron stopped at the Big Orange Bar in Caryville on June 28 when her daughter, Lynn, needed to use the restroom.
The mother left Lynn by the side of the road and returned to her home in Algonquin, Illinois, according to Smith.
"(Lynn) didn't know her age, she didn't know her address, she didn't know her phone number and she didn't even know her name," Smith said.
Eva Cameron told the Northwest Herald newspaper in Illinois that she brought Lynn to Caryville because of its concentration of Baptists and because Tennessee has the "No. 1 health care system in the United States of America."
The young woman's identity was unknown until Caryville police received an anonymous tip on Monday, having released a picture and requested information from the public.
At their request, Eva Cameron had a brief meeting with Caryville police on Tuesday. She signed a statement saying that Lynn Cameron was now a ward of Tennessee, officials said.
"She basically said, 'I don't want her and I don't want to take her.' Then she got in her car and she left," said Smith.
When reached later Tuesday by CNN, Eva Cameron said, "We understand she lost her ID card and that's how the situation has turned into what happened. She's already an adult. I just have to leave it at that."
Eva Cameron would not answer further questions.
Authorities took Lynn Cameron to a hospital, where she was discovered to have only a basic vocabulary of 30-40 words, according to Smith.
A Campbell County Chancery Court order in the case described Lynn Cameron as a "severely disabled adult, suffering from profound mental deficits, and is unable to care for herself or her personal needs."
According to the court, the mother stated "she could not and would not care for Lynn Cameron."
Eva Cameron said that she has another disabled child and that caring for both was too much to handle, according to the Northwest Herald.
Authorities said Lynn Cameron is being cared for at a facility in Roane County.
When asked how the young woman is doing, Smith replied, "Lynn is doing fantastic."— www.shafaqna.com/english/