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Brain and cognitive sciences

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Inverse

MIT researchers have uncovered evidence that humans crave social contact in the same way they crave food, reports Ali Pattillo for Inverse. The study, “provides empirical support for the idea that loneliness acts as a signal – just like hunger – that signals to an individual that something is lacking and that it needs to take action to repair that," explains former MIT postdoc Livia Tomova.

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Rasha Aridi writes that MIT researchers have found that longing for social interaction elicits a similar neurological response to a hungry person craving food. The researchers found that “after a day of fasting, they noted that they were uncomfortable and had intense food cravings. After social isolation, they felt lonely and unhappy and yearned for interactions.”

Fortune

A new study by MIT researchers finds that lack of social contact can lead many people to crave interactions in a similar manner as they do when experiencing hunger, reports Katherine Dunn for Fortune. The researchers found that “10 hours without any social contact, for many people, led to a kind of psychological and physical craving that's on the same level of intensity as 10 waking hours without food.”

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Corrie Pikul spotlights Prof. Li-Huei Tsai’s work finding that exposure to a specific pattern of rhythmic lights and sound bursts could potentially serve as a non-invasive treatment for Alzheimer’s. “These are really surprising findings,” says Tsai. “We are seeing multiple different cellular responses that are consistent with increased brain health.”

WBUR

A CRISPR-based diagnostic test for Covid-19 developed by researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute could produce results within an hour, reports Deborah Becker for WBUR. "Using these technologies will really allow for much more rapid testing — down from days to sometimes less than an hour," said McGovern fellow Jonathan Gootenberg. "That would enable a drastic change in how the tracing and handling of the pandemic is done."

Mashable

MIT researchers have developed a new wearable device, called Dormio, that can be used to record and even guide a person’s dreams, reports Mashable. Dormio is aimed at providing “insights into how dreams work and their effect on various things like memory, emotion, creativity.”

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Darrell Etherington writes that CSAIL researchers have built a new two-fingered robotic gripper. The researchers “equipped their robotic gripper with fingertips that are not only made out of a soft material, but that also have embedded sensors which help it continually detect the position of a cable between the grippers to better control holding and manipulating them while performing simple tasks like detangling.”

WBUR

WBUR’s Carey Goldberg explores how MIT researchers developed a new CRISPR-based research tool that can be used to detect Covid-19. "A lot of things that we try fail," says research scientist Jonathan Gootenberg. "And that’s OK. Because sometimes you find these things that are really, really awesome."

New Scientist

Prof. Ed Boyden speaks with New Scientist reporter Clare Wilson about his work studying the inner workings of the human brain. “I have a deep desire to understand what it means to be human – the meaning of our thoughts and feelings,” says Boyden. “That is really what motivates me to get out of bed in the morning.”
 

TechCrunch

CSAIL’s RoboRaise robot can successfully execute the Bottle Cap Challenge, removing a bottle cap with a well-placed kick, reports Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch. Etherington explains that the robot, “can mirror the actions of a human just by watching their bicep. This has a number of practical applications, including potentially assisting a person to lift large or awkward objects.”

Scientific American

MIT researchers have developed artificial muscles that can stretch more than 1,000 percent of their size and lift more than 650 times their weight, reports Sid Perkins for Scientific American. The new fibers could have applications in robotics and prosthetic devices, Perkins explains, and “work more like real muscles: they do work by pulling on or lifting objects.”

WBUR

Reporting for WBUR, Carey Goldberg highlights how MIT researchers have developed a new RNA editing tool that could be used to tweak a gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As the effects of RNA editing are not permanent, “it's almost like a small, pill-like version of gene therapy,” explains research scientist and McGovern Fellow Omar Abudayyeh.

CNN

Using a tactile sensor and web camera, MIT researchers developed an AI system that allows robots to predict what something feels like just by looking at it, reports David Williams for CNN. “This technology could be used to help robots figure out the best way to hold an object just by looking at it,” explains Williams.

Forbes

Forbes contributor Charles Towers-Clark explores how CSAIL researchers have developed a database of tactile and visual information that could be used to allow robots to infer how different objects look and feel. “This breakthrough could lead to far more sensitive and practical robotic arms that could improve any number of delicate or mission-critical operations,” Towers-Clark writes.

TechCrunch

MIT researchers have created a new system that enables robots to identify objects using tactile information, reports Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch. “This type of AI also could be used to help robots operate more efficiently and effectively in low-light environments without requiring advanced sensors,” Etherington explains.