Modern science assumes that our consciousness is generated solely by electro-chemical processes in the brain, a fortunate byproduct of billions of neurons recording and processing sensory information as it comes in. But that view comes into question if one take into account stories from ancient traditions of astral travel, and more modern accounts of out-of-body experiences by individuals that live at the edge of reality as we know it. But how can we determine which of these views is correct, or if there is a shade of gray involved somewhere between the two? Perhaps the answer, or maybe an even better question, can come from rare cases where otherwise normal individuals have what might be considered insufficient brain matter to properly function.
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Of all the illnesses that one might have to face throughout life, one of the most frightening is that of experiencing a stroke, where a circulatory problem in the brain delivers either too much or too little blood flow to a given region, resulting in impairment in that part of the brain. The effects can be life-changing, resulting in the loss of various functions in the patient, including impairment of vision, speech, and motor functions. However, a new study from Stanford University may be offering researchers a new glimpse into how the brain heals itself, using a stem cell therapy that triggered profound healing effects in its patients, including giving one formerly wheelchair-bound individual the ability to walk again.
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A new device developed by a research team at UC Berkeley is able to produce mechanical speech using only the thought of the word being produced from the subject. The researchers hope that this device will enable patients suffering from conditions that limit or prohibit spoken communication, such as the effects from a stroke or Lou Gehrig’s disease, to be able to communicate normally.

The researchers placed electrodes on the surface of the subjects’ brains in the region associated with language, then recorded the electrical patterns their brains produced when perceiving spoken speech. This information was then applied to a computer model that sorted out which patterns belonged to which sounds, creating maps of the subjects’ perceived speech patterns.
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A research team at Ohio University has enabled a man suffering from quadriplegia to regain partial use of his right hand, using signals recorded by an implant that was surgically placed in his brain. "For the first time, a human with quadriplegia regained volitional, functional movement through the use of intracortically recorded signals linked to neuromuscular stimulation in real-time," the study’s text proclaims.

Ian Burkhart, now 24, broke his neck six years ago in a swimming accident, resulting in his paralysis. Two years ago, he underwent the procedure to have an implant inserted into his brain’s motor cortex, where the device picks up on the signals that would ordinarily be sent to the rest of his body to activate his muscles.
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