Now, on to some science – new technology, it seems, might make brain implants practical. Not surprisingly, this news comes out of MIT. Excerpt:
Researchers at Harvard Medical School will use a new kind of implant that will go beneath the skull but can rest on the surface of an animal’s brain, instead of penetrating inside the organ. An array of microscopic coils inside the hair-like device can generate powerful, highly targeted magnetic fields to induce electrical activity at particular locations in the brain tissue underneath. The implant will also be tested when placed inside brain tissue.
The device will be used to stimulate the visual cortex of the monkeys to try and re-create the activity normally triggered by signals from the eyes—creating the sensation of sight without the eyes’ input. Ultimately, the goal is to use the implant to convert signals from a camera into brain activity. Unlike conventional electrodes, the coils’ effectiveness shouldn’t degrade over time. Magnetic fields aren’t impeded by tissue forming around an implant as electric currents are.
I’m certain this tech will never be used for nefarious purposes, of course.
While this technology might (literally!) allow the deaf to hear and the blind to see, it’s unclear whether it could be used to, say, restore motor functions. I would tend to think it’s possible, but back when I studied biology my area of focus was behavior, not neurology, so I will be the first to admit my understanding here is limited.
Still. It’s an amazing modern era we live in. At least in the Western world, it is; large parts of the globe are still struggling out of the Dark Ages.
Maybe we can come up with a brain implant for that?