Neuroscientists one step closer to re-creating the sense of touch

first_imgA new study led by neuroscientists from the University of Chicago brings us one step closer to building prosthetic limbs for humans that re-create a sense of touch through a direct interface with the brain.The research, published October 26, 2015, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that artificial touch is highly dependent on several features of electrical stimuli, such as the strength and frequency of signals. It describes the specific characteristics of these signals, including how much each feature needs to be adjusted to produce a different sensation.“This is where the rubber meets the road in building touch-sensitive neuroprosthetics,” said Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago and senior author of the study. “Now we understand the nuts and bolts of stimulation, and what tools are at our disposal to create artificial sensations by stimulating the brain.” Email Share on Twitter Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img Share Pinterest Bensmaia’s research is part of Revolutionizing Prosthetics, a multi-year Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project that seeks to create a modular, artificial upper limb that will restore natural motor control and sensation in amputees. The project has brought together an interdisciplinary team of experts from government agencies, private companies and academic institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the University of Pittsburgh.Bensmaia and his colleagues at UChicago are working specifically on the sensory aspects of these limbs. For this study, monkeys, whose sensory systems closely resemble those of humans, had electrodes implanted into the area of the brain that processes touch information from the hand. The animals were trained to perform two perceptual tasks: one in which they detected the presence of an electrical stimulus, and a second in which they indicated which of two successive stimuli was more intense.During these experiments, Bensmaia and his team manipulated various features of the electrical pulse train, such as its amplitude, frequency and duration, and noted how the interaction of each of these factors affected the animals’ ability to detect the signal.Of specific interest were the “just-noticeable differences” (JND), or the incremental changes needed to produce a sensation that felt different. For instance, at a certain frequency, the signal may be detectable first at a strength of 20 microamps of electricity. If the signal has to be increased to 50 microamps to notice a difference, the JND in that case is 30 microamps.The sense of touch is really made up of a complex and nuanced set of sensations, from contact and pressure to texture, vibration and movement. By documenting the range, composition and specific increments of signals that create sensations that feel different from each other, Bensmaia and his colleagues have provided the “notes” scientists can play to produce the “music” of the sense of touch in the brain.“When you grasp an object, for example, you can hold it with different grades of pressure. To recreate a realistic sense of touch, you need to know how many grades of pressure you can convey through electrical stimulation,” Bensmaia said. “Ideally you can have the same dynamic range for artificial touch as you do for natural touch.”The study has important scientific implications beyond neuroprosthetics as well. In natural perception, a principle known as Weber’s Law states that the just-noticeable difference between two stimuli is proportional to the size of the stimulus. For example, with a 100-watt light bulb, you might be able to detect a difference in brightness by increasing its power to 110 watts. The JND in that case is 10 watts. According to Weber’s Law, if you double the power of the light bulb to 200 watts, the JND would also be doubled to 20 watts.However, Bensmaia’s research shows that, with electrical stimulation of the brain, Weber’s Law does not apply–the JND remains nearly constant, no matter the size of the stimulus. This means that the brain responds to electrical stimulation in a much more repeatable, consistent way than through natural stimulation.“It shows that there is something fundamentally different about the way the brain responds to electrical stimulation than it does to natural stimulation,” Bensmaia said.“This study gets us to the point where we can actually create real algorithms that work. It gives us the parameters as to what we can achieve with artificial touch, and brings us one step closer to having human-ready algorithms.”last_img read more

WHO: Antibiotic usage varies widely in Eastern Europe

first_imgThe first report from a World Health Organization (WHO) surveillance network covering parts of Eastern Europe and western Asia indicates that consumption of antimicrobials varies widely across the region, with Turkey the heaviest consumer.The report assesses antimicrobial consumption in 11 non–European Union countries, all members of the WHO Antimicrobial Consumption (AMC) Network, from 2011 through 2014. Also included in the report is Kosovo, which declared itself independent from Serbia in 2008 but is not universally recognized. (The AMC Network consists of 17 countries in the region, but some did not participate in the report.)The authors conclude that the variation in consumption may not be explained by differences in population health or disease burden alone and say that more investigation is needed. In a statement, the WHO’s Europe office said, “The quantitative data provide a starting point for better understanding the use of antibacterials in clinical practice.”Hans Kluge, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Health Systems and Public Health at WHO Europe, commented, “The assembling and sharing of data from the AMC Network is . . . a sign that national governments are taking antimicrobial resistance seriously as a public health issue.”The report includes a chapter on each of the 12 jurisdictions that contributed data: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.Fourfold difference in ratesThe report focused on antimicrobials for systemic use. Consumption, measured in defined daily doses per 1,000 people per day, ranged from 8.54 in Azerbaijan to 40.4 in Turkey, a more than fourfold difference, the authors found. The mean consumption for all 12 jurisdictions was 24.4 doses per 1,000 people per day.In August 2016, a group of global health experts proposed that, to counter the rise of antimicrobial resistance, countries should aim to limit their antimicrobial consumption to 8.54 defined daily doses per person per year, which they described as the current global median amount.For comparison, basic math shows that the consumption reported in the AMC Network study ranges from 3.12 doses per person per year in Azerbaijan to 14.75 doses per person annually in Turkey, with a mean of 8.91. (This was derived by dividing the AMC dose numbers by 1,000 to find the dose per person per day and then multiplying by 365 to get the annual amount.)The report also showed great variability in the use of injectable systemic antimicrobials, from 4% of total consumption in Turkey to 69% in Azerbaijan.Beta-lactams used most oftenThe most commonly used class of antimicrobials was beta-lactams, whose share of the total ranged from 35.4% in Belarus to 65.6% in Azerbaijan, the report says. Cephalosporins accounted for between 6.1% (Azerbaijan) and 30.3% (Turkey) of total consumption, while the share for quinolones ranged from less than 0.1% in Uzbekistan to 17% in the Republic of Moldova.The report notes that cephalosporins and quinolones are broad-spectrum antibiotics and are considered second-line drugs in many prescribing guidelines. The two groups combined accounted for 10% (Azerbaijan) to 38% (Moldova) of total consumption.In other findings, “The relative consumption of amoxicillin and the broader-spectrum amoxicillin and clavulanic acid varied widely,” the authors said. “Amoxicillin was the more consumed agent in most datasets—the exception was Turkey, where only 11% of consumption of these two agents was amoxicillin.”Data used in the report were collected by national experts from sources including import and customs records, sales records, and estimates of local manufacturing. The authors said the findings have a number of limitations and should be interpreted cautiously.”Despite this, the levels of [consumption] reported, and in some cases the choices of antimicrobial agents used, confirm the need for action,” they concluded. “A commitment to ongoing collection, analysis and use of consumption data is essential: it is a central element laid out in the Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance adopted during the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015.”See also:May 1 WHO Europe statementFull text of WHO AMC Network report (148 pages)Aug 19, 2016, CIDRAP News story on proposed global targets for cutting antimicrobial uselast_img read more

Get a grip on CCJ

first_img CCJ Upholds COTED Decision on Cement Tariff Increase Apr 26, 2020 Jamaica reaches 350 positive cases Jamaica’s 24 April update – 31 new cases 2 May update – 31 new cases You may be interested in… Jun 11, 2020 Apr 24, 2020 Jamaica to decide on CCJ membership in AprilCANANEWS  – The Jamaica Parliament will decide on April 28 whether or not Jamaica should join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Appeal as its final court replacing the London-based Privy Council. Government has tabled three bills, namely an act to make provision for the implementation of the agreement establishing the…January 21, 2015In “General”Jamaica House of Representatives to vote on CCJ Bills todayTHE House of Representatives is expected to vote today on three Bills seeking to delink Jamaica from the Privy Council in London, and replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final appellate court. The Bills to be debated are: An Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate…May 12, 2015In “CARICOM”Saint Lucia to table legislation to make CCJ final courtBRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The St. Lucia government says it will soon table legislation that will allow for the island to make the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) its final court, replacing the London-based Privy Council. Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony said that St. Lucia has a provision in…July 7, 2015In “CARICOM”Share this on WhatsApp It is unfortunate that opponents to Jamaica’s accession to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) perpetrate and perpetuate myths about the malleability of the CCJ and constitutional protection enjoyed by the United Kingdom-based Privy Council, which it would replace as this country’s court of last resort. Not even the Privy Council believes this.Indeed, in their 2004 ruling in which they held as unconstitutional the process by which the then Jamaican Government sought to install the CCJ into the Jamaican Constitution, the Privy Council judges readily conceded that their court enjoyed only limited protection in that it could be easily removed.Said Lord Bingham of Cornhill at Paragraph 16 of that judgment: “As already recorded, Dr [Lloyd] Barnett for the appellants accepts in argument that Section 110 of the Constitution, providing for appeal to the Privy Council, could have been repealed by the votes of a majority of members of each House, since that section is not entrenched. The result would have been to constitute the Court of Appeal [of Jamaica] as the ultimate appellate tribunal in and for Jamaica.” Read more at Jamaica Gleaner Share this:PrintTwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:Like Loading… May 2, 2020last_img read more

Trakmotive Names New Powersports Sales Manager

first_imgDeMoulpied has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Dayton in Marketing and International Business. He served six years with the USAF overseeing the development of technology used on fighter aircraft and the E-3 Surveillance aircraft, finishing his career honorably as Captain. LSI President Brett Tennar says, “Steve’s success in developing operational strategies that improves the bottom line, builds teamwork, reduces waste and ensures quality product development and distribution checks many of the boxes of what we were looking for in a COO. This, coupled with his career in the Air Force working with highly technical systems and his in-depth understanding of Lean Six Sigma and Business Process Management sealed our offer. As our tagline states, our products are Powered by Science. This data driven approach is one reason why our company has grown exponentially as we employ the most advanced technology to product development. I am confident that Steve is the right person to drive operational strategy for our diverse and growing brands.” Advertisement Trakmotive has announced the recent hiring of Jeff Gagliano as the new powersports sales manager for Advanced Innovative Technology (AIT) and the TrakMotive brand of CV Axles for the ATV and UTV off-road market.AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisementGagliano has more than 12 years of experience in the powersports industry, ranging from past president of Green Light Global, to sales and marketing manager with Lockhart Phillips USA, to national sales manager for Supersprox USA.The company says that Gagliano is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys riding both street and off-road bikes.,Lubrication Specialties Inc. (LSI), manufacturer of Hot Shot’s Secret brand of performance additives and oils, recently announced the expansion of senior leadership. Steve deMoulpied joins LSI as the company’s chief operating officer (COO). AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement With more than 20 years of experience across multiple industries and functional areas, deMoulpied has particular expertise in organizations with complex technical products. Combined, his prior positions have required a spectrum of skills in corporate strategy, operations improvement, product quality, and revenue cycle management. He has an impressive history of utilizing data driven problem solving (Lean Six Sigma) and project management (PMP and CSM) to achieve strategic goals surrounding customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and improved profit.  DeMoulpied comes to LSI from the Private Client Services practice of Ernst & Young where he managed strategy & operations improvement engagements for privately held client businesses. Some of his prior roles include VP of strategic development, director of strategic initiatives, and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt at OptumHealth, UnitedHealth Group’s health services business, as well as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at General Electric, where he applied operations improvement principles to customer service, supply chain and product development. A successful entrepreneur, deMoulpied is also the founder of PrestoFresh, a Cleveland-based e-commerce food/grocery business. last_img read more

ADL introduces new hydrogen bus

first_imgSubscribe Get instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270.last_img

Increased Tonnage at Panama Canal

first_imgThe Panama Canal registered an increase in tonnage to 326.8 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) during fiscal year 2014 which concluded on September 30.This figure represents a 2 percent increase compared to the 320.6 million PC/UMS tons registered in FY 2013, according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).“The increase was primarily driven by the bulk carrier segment which registered an 18.2 percent increase totaling 85.9 million PC/UMS tons, compared to the 72.7 million PC/UMS tons registered the previous year.The dynamic movement of bulk through the Panama Canal in the last year is attributed to the surge in grain cargo flows from the US Gulf to Asia,” ACP said.Other top market segments during this fiscal year included car carriers with 45.8 million PC/UMS and gas carriers with 6.0 million PC /UMS tons, which increased 6.7 percent and 24.2 percent, respectively.The Panama Canal’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.The Canal is currently undergoing a USD 5.3 billion expansion project, which has achieved an overall progress of 78%.The project is expected to be complete by December 2015, 16 months behind schedule due to work suspension triggered by cost overruns.The Panama Canal Pilots raised their voice against not being involved in the consultation and development process of the expansion of the canal by the Panama Canal administration.The Union said it was concerned about potential dangers behind the intended navigation proposals as they believe them to be unsafe.[mappress]Press Release, October 15, 2014last_img read more

Appeal court in landmark ruling on migrant removal

first_imgMigrants are denied the right of access to the court if they are given under 72 hours’ notice of their removal from the UK, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday. The judgment frustrates the UK Border Agency’s aim to win permission for zero-notice removals. In an ex tempore judgment read by Lord Justice Sullivan, sitting with the Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice Maurice Kay, the Court of Appeal dismissed UKBA’s appeal against the decision of the High Court to allow a claim for judicial review by the charity, Medical Justice. The case bought by Medical Justice challenged the lawfulness of exceptions to UKBA’s general policy that requires at least 72 hours’ notice to be given to immigrants of their removal. The policy, which came into effect in January 2010, allowed certain individuals who had made unsuccessful claims to enter or remain in the UK, to be issued removal directions with little or no notice of their removal. In the High Court in July 2010, Mr Justice Silber quashed the exceptions to the policy. He agreed with Medical Justice that the policy fails to ensure that the person subject to removal will have access to justice, because they would have no realistic chance of asking the court to intervene to stop the removal where it was unlawful. Silber said: ‘The effect of the 2010 exceptions is that in removal, it is frequently almost impossible that somebody served with removal directions will be able to find a lawyer who would be ready, willing and able to provide legal advice within the time available prior to their removal. ‘There is a very high risk, if not an inevitability, that the right of access to justice is and will be infringed,’ he said. The judge took account of the witness statement from the Law Society’s director of legal policy Mark Stobbs, submitted in support of Medical Justice. Stobbs highlighted the impact of changes to the legal aid system, which have resulted in a significant decline in the number of lawyers available to give immigration and asylum advice – adding to the difficulty of obtaining legal advice if the 2010 exceptions were applied. He also noted the demise of Refugee Migrant Justice and the Immigration Advisory Service, which were two of the biggest advice providers. Following the High Court’s ruling, the home secretary, on behalf of UKBA, appealed in relation to the ‘consent’ exception, arguing that migrants who consented to removal from the UK had in effect waived their right to legal advice and did not require 72 hours’ notice. In a second statement submitted on behalf of the Society, Stobbs told the appeal court that consent has to be real and therefore properly informed by legal advice, particularly when it means that the individual is withdrawing outstanding court challenges. He said it is unsafe for UKBA to rely upon that consent unless it is properly informed, and that it is in its own interest to ensure that consent is properly given and recorded. The Court of Appeal ruled that migrants have the common law right to access the court to challenge the legality of their removal, and that less than 72 hours’ notice was insufficient to enable them to access legal advice and make that right effective. The consequence of the judgment is that, save in relation to port cases, at least 72 hours’ notice of removal must be given. Commenting, Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said the Court of Appeal stood above the criticisms made by politicians and elements of the media about the courts’ intervention in immigration cases. He said: ‘This case shows the need for the courts to protect the rights of the individual, whether an immigrant or anyone else, to have access to legal advice. ‘UKBA’s failure to observe its own procedural safeguards, to take steps to ensure that consent was informed, and to keep proper records undermined its position, leading not only to today’s challenge but in some cases to migrants having been removed then being returned to this country at the taxpayer’s expense,’ he said. A Home Office spokesman said the department is considering the decision. The written judgment of the Court of Appeal is not expected for several weeks. Justin Leslie, a barrister leading the judicial review working group at Medical Justice, said: ‘The Court of Appeal’s judgment strongly reaffirms the necessity of having the opportunity to access effective legal advice. Lord Justice Sullivan was clear about the proven risk of injustice in the Home Office’s policy of providing no notice before removing someone from the UK. ‘This case was about the application of a basic constitutional principle – giving everyone, especially the most vulnerable, a realistic opportunity to challenge the legality of decisions made in often desperate circumstances. The Court of Appeal’s decision will help many people, such as those detainees suffering from medical conditions exacerbated by the immigration detention system. ‘We are delighted that the decision will benefit this group of people which Medical Justice exists to help.’ Read the High Court’s earlier ruling.last_img read more

Short-notice listing will harm diversity – criminal practitioners

first_imgListing Crown court cases that can be heard at short notice creates a barrier to a more diverse legal profession, criminal defence practitioners have said.A warned list consists of cases that are listed for trial to start on any day within a defined window as opposed to a fixture where a case is fixed to start on a specific date. Judges decide which cases go in the warned list.In his latest weekly message, Criminal Bar Association chair Mark Fenhalls QC (pictured) says warned lists in the Crown court are a ‘significant barrier’ to those caring for young children who wished to return to practice.‘By way of illustration, should a parent returning to practice be instructed in a case where s/he knows that the [plea and trial preparation hearing] will be adjusted to allow him/her to attend and then that case is given a fixed date, then s/he can make the appropriate child care arrangements that will probably make all the difference as to whether or not that case is economic,’ Fenhalls said.‘Without such steps the sheer uncertainty is a huge barrier to returners and there will be substantial damage done to the diversity of our cadre of advocates and the pool from which future judges are often chosen.’Zoe Gascoyne, chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, said Crown court listings needed to be reformed ‘urgently’.The listing of cases created problems for any advocate wanting to work part-time, whether at the independent bar or employed, she said.‘Many advocates, particularly those with a young family, seek financial security through employment with firms,’ Gascoyne said.‘In order to fulfil that employment, it is essential that they are able to cover cases from the outset and this is often made increasingly difficult when cases are moved in and out of lists over long periods of time.’A number of cases are ‘short-warned’ to cover the large number of settlements that occur in the warned list, HM Courts & Tribunals states on its website.Parties in cases that are selected to be short-warned will be notified that their case is likely to be listed from a specified date and that they may be listed at less than a day’s notice from that date.Around six cases are short-warned in any specified week.last_img read more

Benefits of reduced PII cover ‘illusory’, says City group

first_imgThe body representing City solicitors has published a stinging condemnation of plans to reduce law firms’ minimum professional indemnity cover.The City of London Law Society (CLLS) said SRA proposals to cut the required minimum from £2m to £500,000 (or to £1m for firms doing conveyancing) could end up harming firms, partners and the clients who are intended to benefit.The SRA is consulting on how to best protect the users of legal services after failing to push through similar measures in 2014. It says more than half of firms take out more than the minimum cover presently required and that 98% of PII claims against law firms are valued at less than £500,000.But the CLLS argues those figures may be skewed by the SRA not taking into account sufficient historic data, and ignoring insurers who have exited the market in recent years and who faced large losses.The response notes that with insurers taking on greater risk, there is the chance that premiums will increase. Meanwhile, partners in firms that fail – such as those at the defunct European arm of KWM – will be exposed to a greater degree to liability above insured levels, including after retirement.The response, signed off by Jonathan Kembery, the CLLS chairman of its regulation committee, adds: ‘There is simplicity in the current PII market. The SRA’s proposals, even if individually attractive (which is not our view) risk upsetting those arrangements to the detriment of CLLS member firms and their partners.’While the changes would have no effect on most firms entering the City market, the CLLS warns that for smaller firms the potential savings in their insurance costs could ‘illusory’.The group says further efforts should be made to raise clients’ awareness of the risks of cyber crime and how to limit them, and any proposal to weaken protection under minimum terms and conditions should be resisted.The SRA, which closed its consultation last week, has said a balance needs to be achieved between the right level of insurance cover and ensuring legal services are affordable.The regulator said: ‘Many people struggle to afford legal services, with only one in 10 making use of [a lawyer] when they experience a legal problem. When so many people are struggling to access solicitors’ expertise, we need to be confident that the protection is set at the right level.‘The lower costs of insurance should, if the market is working well, ultimately flow though to lower prices for the users of legal services.’last_img read more

Belgrano Railway returns to state control

first_imgARGENTINA: By means of a ministerial resolution published on February 5, the federal government has formally terminated the contract held by a consortium of businesses and trade unions to operate freight services on the metre-gauge Belgrano network. The consortium had been operating freight trains on an ‘emergency’ basis under the contract signed on June 13 2006.Interior & Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo has now directed the government’s railway infrastructure and operating agencies to form a new limited company that will be responsible for operating and maintaining the Belgrano network, excluding those routes used by commuter services in Buenos Aires. The new company is to present a three-year programme for the network within 90 days of being formed.According to President Cristina Fernández, the government is to make a ‘significant’ investment in new wagons, with existing vehicles and locomotives to be repaired at workshops in Córdoba and Tafí Viejo. Aiming to raise agricultural production to 160 million tonnes by 2020, her administration is expecting the Belgrano network to play a key role in moving grain and other export crops.last_img read more