Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments in healthcare.
Brain implants that are changing lives
Computer chips that can read our brains are becoming sophisticated, moving from sci-fi to reality. With just a small device, known as a brain-computer interface (BCI), implanted into the brain cortex, people with disabilities can now type, control a robotic arm, and even drive, simply by using their thoughts.
At the core, machine learning is accelerating BCI’s ability to read and analyse brain electric signals in order to decode intentions with greater accuracy. This momentum is opening up possibilities for people with disabilities to acquire greater functional independence.
Currently, the implantation of BCI to treat patients is only approved on a case-by-case basis. To date, only an estimated 35 people have a BCI implanted long-term in their brains.
All this is fast changing as commercial interest in BCIs increases. Synchron, for instance, obtained approval to run the first-ever BCI human clinical trial to prove the safety of its devices. This will pave the way to secure approval for wider and long-term use of its products in patients with brain-related injuries and illnesses. Its close rival, Elon Musk’s Neuralink, is raring to do the same.
Technologists envision a future world where anyone, not just people with disabilities, can receive implants to augment human ability and intelligence. The bigger question lies in the health risks and ethics of such a development. What happens to the data harvested, and who will have access to it? How will they be stored and can they be tempered with? Will there be a loss of cognitive freedom in time to come? These are questions that will need answers.
Healthcare in the Spotlight
The Straits Times: Bill Gates explains how to prevent the next pandemic
His proposals for nipping infections in the bud are worth exploring.
The New York Times: Climate change will accelerate viral spillovers, study finds
The study warns that a warming planet may usher in entirely new diseases.
The Straits Times: Singapore trial underway on the use of Lianhua Qingwen in treating mild COVID-19
The trial will provide a scientific basis to validate if the Chinese pills can help fully-vaccinated adults with mild symptoms recover more quickly.
Time: Why acupuncture is going mainstream in medicine
Anecdotal success, research-backed results and a growing level of openness from the medical community are driving the popularity of acupuncture as a therapy.
The Straits Times: NTU launches centre to study how dementia develops in Asians
Biological factors unique to the Asian brain are found to increase the prevalence of dementia in the Asian population.
The Straits Times: Three reasons why there is still no universal vaccine for dengue
With Singapore dengue cases surpassing 6000 in the first four months of 2022, experts address the reasons for the lack of a dengue vaccine.
The Straits Times: Clinicians play key role in supporting Singapore’s public health efforts
A mindset shift will be required for clinicians to not only treat illnesses but also provide preventive care and convey public health messages to patients.
The Washington Post: How Americans’ love of beef is helping destroy the Amazon rainforest
Illegal deforestation to meet the demand for beef is killing the Amazon, a vital carbon sink to avert catastrophic global warming.
Water 101 – 10 tips for staying hydrated
Source: Nebraska Medicine
Water intake is essential for life yet we lose it every minute of the day through our skin, urine, waste and sweat. Learn about the benefits of water for the body, and how you can stay hydrated throughout the day.