My stay in Oxford so far!

Hii, I arrived in Oxford today to start my 17 day ‘challenge’. So far I’ve been put in a huge, beautiful 4* hotel room that’s attached to a lovely Victorian halls of residence. Walking through the halls there’s a study room and a bar and lots of beautiful garden bits - though the best thing has been the super-posh dinner we’re apparently having every day. CRUST BREAD, MAIN AND A PUDDING. And mineral water. Loving life.

I have to go to the hospital 3 times tomorrow, it’s going to be mental. 

I now have malaria ahhhh

Ahhhh

I’m 4 days into having malaria.

Last Monday at 7.30am all 9 of us guinea-pigs got picked up outside Southampton General Hospital and driven in a really fancy minibus to London. I never thought I’d watch Skyfall pre-8am ever but I did woo. We got free sweets too, but they tasted like medicine 3: 

None of us were allowed to

  • Shower that morning
  • Eat spicy foods the night before
  • Wear deodorant
  • Use cream on da body

Because apparently mosquitoes are really picky about what/who they bite. They must like ‘em smelly.

When we got to the Imperial College’s medicine faculty we got to meet some of the other study-doers from Oxford, but they were all emerged in their books and essays so us Southerners messed around while we waited to be called in.

WE ALSO GOT MARKS AND SPENCER LUNCH. FOR FREE. I KNOW RIGHT. We got like fresh juice, punnets of fruit, crisps, those tubs of cake, and sandwich platters. I was loving life. You could tell who was a student because we ate as much as we possibly could and one of my friends doing a masters had stuffed 4 litres of fresh OJ into his rucksack haha.

People were asked in to the mosquito room one at a time, and there’d be up to 4 people in this tiny room at any given time. You’d think they’d inject the malaria into us, but no; we were given a cardboard espresso cup with a bit of mesh over it, secured by a rubber band. Inside were 5 infected mosquitoes, all ready to bite. The doctor breathed into the cup to ‘excite’ them (mosquitoes like CO2) and then we pushed the cups onto our arms. Once the mosquitoes have bitten, the people in the room next door ‘euthanise’ them and look at their blood to see if they’ve taken and infected our blood.

The aim of the game was to get 5 successful malaria-infected bites. Some people got all 5 in 10 minutes, but it took me 5 cups of mosquitoes to get enough proper bites :( I was in there for an hour and missed my new friends’ trip to the Natural History Museum next door to look at the giant whale.

^ Ma bites 

We got given Anthisari cream to relieve itchiness, a card saying we’re now infected with malaria, and a sheet of details about where we’ll be staying next week and the week after. We’re being put in 4 star student accommodation in Oxford and we get free WiFi, breakfast, dinner, and free-view TV! We’ve already planned an malaria-themed party and I’ve shotgunned going as a blood pressure machine and just hugging people really tightly. We’ve also agreed to watch all of Breaking Bad together and we’ve allocated 4 hours of communal TV watching a day.

Oh, and I got my first cash-installment of about £500 (people in group 1 get more cash because they’ve had more vaccines). Next lump sum’s after Oxford mm. Christmas shopping galore.

I HAVE A FEVER

Hey guys, major progress. I had my second vaccine against malaria today (out of 3) and everything hurts. I’m currently in bed shivering with multiple jumpers and a woolly hat. Bring me hot drinks asap.

All in all it’s been a bad day. Fell asleep in a lecture, the hospital gave me an animal sticker then took it off immediately just as I was learning what all the different animals were, and my spinach and ricotta cannelloni went weird in the microwave.

Thankfully I took a photo before they tore it from me. As you can see, I have a hot dog and a rooster on my arm. I thought the bug was a mosquito; alas.

My really cool wristband.

neurosciencestuff
neurosciencestuff:

Researcher controls colleague’s motions in 1st human brain-to-brain interface
University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.
Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other side of the UW campus, causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard.
While researchers at Duke University have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard researchers have demonstrated it between a human and a rat, Rao and Stocco believe this is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain interfacing.
“The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Stocco said. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”
The researchers captured the full demonstration on video recorded in both labs.
Rao, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, has been working on brain-computer interfacing in his lab for more than 10 years and just published a textbook on the subject. In 2011, spurred by the rapid advances in technology, he believed he could demonstrate the concept of human brain-to-brain interfacing. So he partnered with Stocco, a UW research assistant professor in psychology at the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.
On Aug. 12, Rao sat in his lab wearing a cap with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, which reads electrical activity in the brain. Stocco was in his lab across campus wearing a purple swim cap marked with the stimulation site for the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil that was placed directly over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement.
The team had a Skype connection set up so the two labs could coordinate, though neither Rao nor Stocco could see the Skype screens.
Rao looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game with his mind. When he was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand (being careful not to actually move his hand), causing a cursor to hit the “fire” button. Almost instantaneously, Stocco, who wore noise-canceling earbuds and wasn’t looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon. Stocco compared the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily to that of a nervous tic.
“It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”
The technologies used by the researchers for recording and stimulating the brain are both well-known. Electroencephalography, or EEG, is routinely used by clinicians and researchers to record brain activity noninvasively from the scalp. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a noninvasive way of delivering stimulation to the brain to elicit a response. Its effect depends on where the coil is placed; in this case, it was placed directly over the brain region that controls a person’s right hand. By activating these neurons, the stimulation convinced the brain that it needed to move the right hand.
Computer science and engineering undergraduates Matthew Bryan, Bryan Djunaedi, Joseph Wu and Alex Dadgar, along with bioengineering graduate student Dev Sarma, wrote the computer code for the project, translating Rao’s brain signals into a command for Stocco’s brain.
“Brain-computer interface is something people have been talking about for a long, long time,” said Chantel Prat, assistant professor in psychology at the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, and Stocco’s wife and research partner who helped conduct the experiment. “We plugged a brain into the most complex computer anyone has ever studied, and that is another brain.”
At first blush, this breakthrough brings to mind all kinds of science fiction scenarios. Stocco jokingly referred to it as a “Vulcan mind meld.” But Rao cautioned this technology only reads certain kinds of simple brain signals, not a person’s thoughts. And it doesn’t give anyone the ability to control your actions against your will.
Both researchers were in the lab wearing highly specialized equipment and under ideal conditions. They also had to obtain and follow a stringent set of international human-subject testing rules to conduct the demonstration.
“I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology,” Prat said. “There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation.”
Stocco said years from now the technology could be used, for example, by someone on the ground to help a flight attendant or passenger land an airplane if the pilot becomes incapacitated. Or a person with disabilities could communicate his or her wish, say, for food or water. The brain signals from one person to another would work even if they didn’t speak the same language.
Rao and Stocco next plan to conduct an experiment that would transmit more complex information from one brain to the other. If that works, they then will conduct the experiment on a larger pool of subjects.

neurosciencestuff:

Researcher controls colleague’s motions in 1st human brain-to-brain interface

University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.

Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other side of the UW campus, causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard.

While researchers at Duke University have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard researchers have demonstrated it between a human and a rat, Rao and Stocco believe this is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain interfacing.

“The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Stocco said. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”

The researchers captured the full demonstration on video recorded in both labs.

Rao, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, has been working on brain-computer interfacing in his lab for more than 10 years and just published a textbook on the subject. In 2011, spurred by the rapid advances in technology, he believed he could demonstrate the concept of human brain-to-brain interfacing. So he partnered with Stocco, a UW research assistant professor in psychology at the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

On Aug. 12, Rao sat in his lab wearing a cap with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, which reads electrical activity in the brain. Stocco was in his lab across campus wearing a purple swim cap marked with the stimulation site for the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil that was placed directly over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement.

The team had a Skype connection set up so the two labs could coordinate, though neither Rao nor Stocco could see the Skype screens.

Rao looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game with his mind. When he was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand (being careful not to actually move his hand), causing a cursor to hit the “fire” button. Almost instantaneously, Stocco, who wore noise-canceling earbuds and wasn’t looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon. Stocco compared the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily to that of a nervous tic.

“It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”

The technologies used by the researchers for recording and stimulating the brain are both well-known. Electroencephalography, or EEG, is routinely used by clinicians and researchers to record brain activity noninvasively from the scalp. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a noninvasive way of delivering stimulation to the brain to elicit a response. Its effect depends on where the coil is placed; in this case, it was placed directly over the brain region that controls a person’s right hand. By activating these neurons, the stimulation convinced the brain that it needed to move the right hand.

Computer science and engineering undergraduates Matthew Bryan, Bryan Djunaedi, Joseph Wu and Alex Dadgar, along with bioengineering graduate student Dev Sarma, wrote the computer code for the project, translating Rao’s brain signals into a command for Stocco’s brain.

“Brain-computer interface is something people have been talking about for a long, long time,” said Chantel Prat, assistant professor in psychology at the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, and Stocco’s wife and research partner who helped conduct the experiment. “We plugged a brain into the most complex computer anyone has ever studied, and that is another brain.”

At first blush, this breakthrough brings to mind all kinds of science fiction scenarios. Stocco jokingly referred to it as a “Vulcan mind meld.” But Rao cautioned this technology only reads certain kinds of simple brain signals, not a person’s thoughts. And it doesn’t give anyone the ability to control your actions against your will.

Both researchers were in the lab wearing highly specialized equipment and under ideal conditions. They also had to obtain and follow a stringent set of international human-subject testing rules to conduct the demonstration.

“I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology,” Prat said. “There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation.”

Stocco said years from now the technology could be used, for example, by someone on the ground to help a flight attendant or passenger land an airplane if the pilot becomes incapacitated. Or a person with disabilities could communicate his or her wish, say, for food or water. The brain signals from one person to another would work even if they didn’t speak the same language.

Rao and Stocco next plan to conduct an experiment that would transmit more complex information from one brain to the other. If that works, they then will conduct the experiment on a larger pool of subjects.

Tea and biscuits in the volunteer lounge at the NHS Clinical Research unit. Just had two tubes of blood taken and they failed to give me an animal plaster so I’m feeling let down, but I guess this makes up for it. I said “you treat me well” and the nurse said in a Dracula voice “give me your blood”.

Tea and biscuits in the volunteer lounge at the NHS Clinical Research unit. Just had two tubes of blood taken and they failed to give me an animal plaster so I’m feeling let down, but I guess this makes up for it. I said “you treat me well” and the nurse said in a Dracula voice “give me your blood”.

INTERVIEW

It’s a big day for me. I have an interview with a man who writes for The Mental Elf, a really cool and informative magazine which looks into psychological and biological research. It’s at 1. I’m really excited about malaria research being given more national coverage. In 2010, malaria caused an around 660,000 deaths and with more participants in clinical trials like these we can get closer and closer to a sustainable and affordable cure for the disease.

OH YEAH, this is my goody bag. I get this super swanky thermometerdevice which bleeps after 3 minutes to tell me how hot I am (37.1c tonight yeahhh, immune system like a steel wall). Then I have this paper ruler thing, where I can now FREE OF CHARGE measure the swelling red abomination on my arm. If it ever gets to that stage. At the moment all that’s left of my needle adventure is a tiny red dot. FINALLY, I have my Diary Card. Because the vaccine isn’t yet perfected (in the last study the NHS did, only 3 of 11 participants were actually saved from getting malaria from the mosquitoes because of their vaccine. For the others, the vaccine didn’t work at all. For that reason, I’ve gotta fill out a questionnaire every evening telling them exactly how I’m feeling, from headaches, to nausea, to a tickley foot, just so they know what it does. 
If anyone’s interested, at the moment I really struggle to move my arm far above my head. The muscle’s just like NOPE. It aches a lot. But the rest of me’s fine. I’ve got some pins and needles on my left side and the rest is a bit of lightheadedness.

OH YEAH, this is my goody bag. 

I get this super swanky thermometerdevice which bleeps after 3 minutes to tell me how hot I am (37.1c tonight yeahhh, immune system like a steel wall). 

Then I have this paper ruler thing, where I can now FREE OF CHARGE measure the swelling red abomination on my arm. If it ever gets to that stage. At the moment all that’s left of my needle adventure is a tiny red dot. 

FINALLY, I have my Diary Card. Because the vaccine isn’t yet perfected (in the last study the NHS did, only 3 of 11 participants were actually saved from getting malaria from the mosquitoes because of their vaccine. For the others, the vaccine didn’t work at all. For that reason, I’ve gotta fill out a questionnaire every evening telling them exactly how I’m feeling, from headaches, to nausea, to a tickley foot, just so they know what it does. 

If anyone’s interested, at the moment I really struggle to move my arm far above my head. The muscle’s just like NOPE. It aches a lot. But the rest of me’s fine. I’ve got some pins and needles on my left side and the rest is a bit of lightheadedness.

Day 0 - The Mysterious Animal Plaster Extraordinaire 
Today I got vaccinated and like a billion blood cells were removed from my body. I went to Southampton General at 11:45 and left at 13:00; in that time I’d had my blood pressure taken, my temperature taken twice, my pulse taken, 10 test-tubes filled with my blood, a pregnancy test, the vaccine popped in and then stuck under a half an hour surveillance to check I wasn’t going to faint and get run over on the way home.
The nurses were my favourite because they had an unlimited supply of animal plasters, but then I got sad when they took my penguin one off to look at my malaria vaccine wound. I nearly wept.
I was so lightheaded from the loss of blood that I stumbled around the ward giggling at things. The nurses were concerned for my wellbeing. I laughed more. 
Notes to self - Drink water before you go in because man my wee sample was like the pathetic produce of a dehydrated mouse.
PS. Sorry for the gross hair in the photo. It’s plaguing me.

Day 0 - The Mysterious Animal Plaster Extraordinaire 

Today I got vaccinated and like a billion blood cells were removed from my body. I went to Southampton General at 11:45 and left at 13:00; in that time I’d had my blood pressure taken, my temperature taken twice, my pulse taken, 10 test-tubes filled with my blood, a pregnancy test, the vaccine popped in and then stuck under a half an hour surveillance to check I wasn’t going to faint and get run over on the way home.

The nurses were my favourite because they had an unlimited supply of animal plasters, but then I got sad when they took my penguin one off to look at my malaria vaccine wound. I nearly wept.

I was so lightheaded from the loss of blood that I stumbled around the ward giggling at things. The nurses were concerned for my wellbeing. I laughed more. 

Notes to self - Drink water before you go in because man my wee sample was like the pathetic produce of a dehydrated mouse.

PS. Sorry for the gross hair in the photo. It’s plaguing me.

HELLO!

I just gave about 10 test tubes of blood to the Hospital and feel drunk so anything I write may/may not be factually inaccurate. 

I’m Claire Joines and this is my blog all about me getting malaria voluntarily. Why, you ask? Well, well well. I was scrolling around Southampton University’s website and stumbled upon the NHS advertising for participants in the ‘Malaria Challenge’. I like a challenge. I also like money. This seemed like the perfect crime. And by crime I mean opportunity.

My dream when I grow up is to be a super Graphic Designer and Illustrator, but I chose the wrong degree so now I’m at Soton doing BA English and Philosophy in my final year.

Here is a giraffstrich licking an apple:

image

When I leave I want to go to London and do a MA in Illustration, but it costs a bomb (£5,700). Hopefully this trail will help me out financially. If I survive, that is. (I will survive, don’t worry. The vaccination I’ve been given has been tested on 11,000 babies and children. Worldwide over 1300 people have been deliberately infected with malaria and all have made a complete recovery.)

UNTIL NEXT TIME, FOLKS.