Neuroengineers Bring Science Cred, Berkeley Feel to ‘Transcendence’ Film

April 19th, 2014

Engineering professor Jose Carmena was working on a research grant in December 2012 when his colleague and friend, Michel Maharbiz, burst through his office door accompanied by director Wally Pfister and a production team for an upcoming sci-fi thriller. The Hollywood filmmakers were working on a story about a brilliant artificial intelligence scientist whose brain is uploaded to a quantum computer, and they were seeking to tap the UC Berkeley researchers’ expertise in neural engineering and brain-machine interfaces…

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On Memory’s Trail

April 8th, 2014

Berkeley neuroscientist Ehud (Udi) Isacoff, and his colleagues explore the brain at several levels critical to ultimately understand how memories form and what can threaten their demise. They study how molecular interactions drive neuron-to-neuron communication and influence how neurons “wire up” to form networks during embryonic development.

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Director Wally Pfister Visits UCB to Discuss the Science Behind ‘Transcendence’

April 7th, 2014

Transcendence” director Wally Pfister, Oscar®-winning cinematographer (“Inception”), will come to the University of California, Berkeley, for a screening of exclusive film clips and audience Q&A. The movie, opening Friday, April 18, is about a leading artificial intelligence researcher, played by Johnny Depp, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. UC Berkeley provided significant inspiration during the making of the film.

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Scientists Pinpoint How We Miss Subtle Visual Changes, And Why It Keeps Us Sane

March 30th, 2014

Ever notice how Harry Potter’s T-shirt changes from a crewneck to a henley shirt in the “Order of the Phoenix,” or how in “Pretty Woman,” Julia Roberts’ croissant inexplicably morphs into a pancake? Don’t worry if you missed those continuity bloopers. Vision scientists at UC Berkeley and MIT have discovered an upside to the brain mechanism that can blind us to subtle visual changes in the movies and in the real world.

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Photoswitch Chemical Restores Sight

February 19th, 2014

Richard Kramer from the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues have restored sight to blind mice using a small molecule called DENAQ, which, as a photoswitch chemical, changes conformation in response to light.

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Daniela Kaufer named Bakar Fellow for 2013-2014

February 19th, 2014

A few years after serving in the Israeli army during the first Gulf War, Daniela Kaufer made a startling discovery about the effect of psychological stress on the brain.  As a graduate student at the Hebrew University she showed that the kind of extreme stress experienced  in combat can break down the physiological barriers that normally protect the brain.

She could not have known it then, but the finding would eventually lead her to uncover a key change in brain chemistry that triggers epileptic seizures. The Bakar Fellows Program is now helping her refine a strategy to block the threat and protect the brain from damage caused by physical trauma and other insults.

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