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Forbes

Prof. Roger Levy, Prof. Tracy Slatyer and Prof. Martin Wainwright are among the 2024 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship recipients, reports Michael T. Nietzel for Forbes. “The new fellows represent 52 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields and are affiliated with 84 academic institutions,” writes Nietzel.

The Boston Globe

Prof. Roger Levy, Prof. Tracy Slatyer and Prof. Martin Wainwright have been awarded John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships, reports Mark Feeney for The Boston Globe. A Guggenheim fellowship “is one of the most sought-after honors in academe, the arts, and culture,” explains Feeney. “It helps underwrite a proposed art or scholarly project.”

The Washington Post

Prof. Tali Sharot speaks with Washington Post reporter Kristyn Kusek Lewis about how to spark happiness and embrace novelty. “The neurons in our brains stop responding to things that don’t change,” says Sharot. “We need to make room for the new and unexpected, so our brain filters out the old and expected. We’ve all experienced this physically when jumping in a pool: The water feels cold at first, but then your body acclimates. In the case of a negative emotion, like grief, it’s good that we habituate, because the feelings lessen over time. But when it comes to positive things, we actually enjoy them less as we get used to them.”

The Economist

Research Scientist Robert Ajemian, graduate student Greta Tuckute and MIT Museum Exhibit Content and Experience Developer Lindsay Bartholomew appear on The Economist’s Babbage podcast to discuss the development of generative AI. “The way that current AI works, whether it is object recognition or large language models, it’s trained on tons and tons and tons of data and what it’s essentially doing is comparing something it’s seen before to something it’s seeing now,” says Ajemian.  

The Wall Street Journal

Alumnus Benjamin Rapoport co-founded Precision Neuroscience, a brain-computer interface company, that is developing technology that will allow “paralyzed patients the ability to operate a computer with their thoughts,” reports Jo Craven McGinty for The Wall Street Journal. “In order to be a citizen of the world in 2024, to communicate with loved ones, to make a living, the ability to work with a digital system is indispensable,” says Rapoport. “To operate a word processor is totally transformative.”

Reuters

Will Dunham at Reuters writes about new research from Prof. Evelina Fedorenko and others, which found that polyglots “who spoke between five and 54 languages” used less brain activity when processing their native language. "We think this is because when you process a language that you know well, you can engage the full suite of linguistic operations - the operations that the language system in your brain supports," says Fedorenko.

New Scientist

MIT scientists have found that a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease involving flickering lights and low-pitched sound could also help prevent cognitive problems after cancer treatment, reports Clare Wilson for New Scientist. The treatment is aimed at stimulating 40 Hz brainwaves, which are linked to memory processing. The results suggest targeting such “brainwaves may result in broader benefits for the brain, including increasing the activity of immune cells and, most recently, boosting its drainage system, which could help clear a toxic protein called beta-amyloid.”
 

Wired

Cognito Therapeutics, an MIT startup co-founded by Prof. Li-Huei Tsai and Prof. Ed Boyden, has developed a headset that uses light and sound to slow the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, reports Emily Mullin for Wired. “Cognito’s headset, dubbed Spectris, delivers flashing lights and sounds through a pair of connected glasses and headphones to stimulate gamma waves in the brain” writes Mullin. “Different types of brain waves have different paces, or frequencies. Gamma waves are fast-frequency brain waves associated with thinking skills and memory, and people with Alzheimer’s are known to have fewer of these fast brain waves.”

Newsweek

A new study by MIT researchers finds that an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment involving sound and light stimulation at a frequency of 40 Hz is associated with, “an increase in activity of the brain's own cleanup crew; the glymphatic system,” reports Pandora Dewan for Newsweek. The findings offer an, “exciting, non-invasive potential treatment option for patients with neurological disorders in the future,” Dewan notes.

New Scientist

MIT scientists have found that an experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease involving sounds and flickering lights appears to “ramp up the brain’s waste disposal networks, which boosts the clearance of beta-amyloid and other toxic proteins that contribute to memory and concentration problems,” reports Clare Wilson for New Scientist. “Once we understand the mechanism, we can probably figure out how to further optimize this whole concept and improve the efficacy,” explains Prof. Li-Huei Tsai.

Boston.com

Prof. Feng Zhang has been named to STAT’s 2024 STATUS List, which highlights the leaders shaping the future of health and life sciences, reports Dialynn Dwyer for Boston.com. “Among the companies he’s co-founded is Editas Medicine, which as of late 2023 was now the official holder of patent rights to the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool used in the sickle cell therapy Casgevy, and Aera Therapeutics, which in February 2023 raised $193 million in venture funding to develop protein nanoparticles as a way of delivering gene editing,” Dwyer writes.

Los Angeles Times

Senior lecturer Tara Swart speaks with Los Angeles Times reporter Deborah Netburn about healthy compartmentalization. Swart says “at its most useful, compartmentalization is the ability to acknowledge challenges in your personal circumstances or current events, and make a conscious decision to not allow those things to take over your thoughts and emotions,” writes Netburn. “But that doesn’t mean shutting out the world.”

TechCrunch

MIT researchers have used machine learning to uncover the different kinds of sentences that most likely to activate the brain’s key language processing centers, reports Kyle Wiggers and Devin Coldewey for TechCrunch. The model, “was able to predict for novel sentences whether they would be taxing on human cognition or not,” they explain.

Scientific American

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have developed a new AI technique for teaching robots to pack items into a limited space while adhering to a range of constraints, reports Nick Hilden for Scientific American. “We want to have a learning-based method to solve constraints quickly because learning-based [AI] will solve faster, compared to traditional methods,” says graduate student Zhutian “Skye” Yang.

Nature

MIT researchers have “used an algorithm to sort through millions of genomes to find new, rare types of CRISPR systems that could eventually be adapted into genome-editing tools,” writes Sara Reardon for Nature. “We are just amazed at the diversity of CRISPR systems,” says Prof. Feng Zhang. “Doing this analysis kind of allows us to kill two birds with one stone: both study biology and also potentially find useful things.”