Facebook Wants to Interact With Your Brain

Facebook Brain TypingFacebook, the intrusive social-media giant you love to hate is now turning its attention to your brain. On Thursday, the company revealed it’s working to develop a brain-computer interface that lets users type with their thoughts, according to the Verge. The project is being led by its Building 8 research group, and the head of the group, Regina Dugan said in a Facebook release, “this is about decoding the words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain.” The device would also have profound implications for patients with paralysis to act as a “speech prosthetic,” the Verge notes. While Facebook has no plans to ship an invasive device that would implant within the body, it does envision a cap that could be worn instead.

DIY Brain Surgery

DIY Brain SurgeryNeurosurgeon Dilan Ellegala, M.D., has given the gift of brain surgery to Tanzania, not by doing it, but by teaching non-MDs how to perform it. In an article in Stat, Ellegala describes how as a burned out fellowship grad, he visited the African country for six months to take stock of his life and career and stumbled into the concept. After he discovered the nation of 43 million people had just three neurosurgeons, he did what many would consider unthinkable: he taught an assistant medical officer how to do basic brain surgery, who in turn taught another non-MD. Ellegala argues that the approach of teaching skills to those without them is the best way to solve shortages of all kinds of clinicians, much more so than buying equipment. “Transferring stuff is easy,” he writes. “Transferring skills and knowledge, though, are truly lasting gifts.”

New Paperwork Sheds Light on Prince’s Addiction

Prince OpioidsIt’s been one year since legendary musician Prince passed away from accidentally over-dosing on the powerful opioid fentanyl. With little public information available about the star’s habits, the overdose was surprising, as well as in contrast to the clean image he projected. Now, new evidence sheds light on what may have led up to his death, the New York Times reports. Recently released police files related to the investigation revealed that the singer may have taken pains to hide his addiction: it showed a prescription for another opioid, oxycodone, in the name of Prince’s bodyguard Kirk Johnson. And, there was “a sizable amount” of opioids in Prince’s apartment, for which Prince did not have prescriptions. These included some pills hidden in over-the-counter vitamin and aspirin bottles.

Safe Needle Vending Machines

Syrince Vending MachineSome advocates have pushed for the use of needle-exchange programs, giving heroin users clean syringes in the hopes of avoiding outbreaks of HIV or Hepatitis C. But some are taking it a step further in Las Vegas, by rolling out the first vending machines in the U.S. that are stocked with clean needles, NBC News reports. They won’t take quarters, but rather, drug users who are part of the Las Vegas Harm Reduction Center’s Trac-B Exchange can scan a card and enter an ID number. They’ll be stationed at three different locations by the end of next month, with each client able to obtain two kits per week, which include syringes, alcohol wipes and a sharps disposal box, according to NBC. "Providing clean needles and supplies is a proven method for limiting disease transmission in a community," Joe Iser, M.D., chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, said in a statement.