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Nano Electrode Wires Neurons

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posted on Sep, 21 2007 @ 07:51 PM

In August 2006, researchers announced the creation of a microscopic device that can make an electrical connection to an individual neuron, an invention that might one day lead to synthetic substitutes for damaged nerve cells. Charles Lieber, a chemist at Harvard University, and his colleagues devised a tool that can record, stimulate, and modulate signals at multiple points on a neuron, from individual dendrites to axons, essentially duplicating the way the brain cells communicate. The device is so small - just 20 nanometers across - that 50 can fit on a neuron. While other researchers have made electrical connections to the nervous system s of animals and humans, until now no one has been able to forge a link at the level of individual axons or dendrites (axon and dentrites - - - . "These devices can be used not only to record signals but to apply voltages back to the nerve cell," Lieber says. "We could stimulate a neuron to fire and control the rate of propogation of the electrical implulse." The invention has PROFOUND implications for research and treatment. Using multiple inputs, it could soon be possible to decipher how neurons pass signals back and forth and how learning, memory, and other processes occur. Implanted in the brain, Liebers electrodes might one day serve as prostheses to help damaged nerves regain their function! "The goal," he says, "is the betterment of the brain condition."

Can you think of other profound implications of this?


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[edit on Wed Feb 18 2009 by Jbird]

posted on Sep, 22 2007 @ 01:51 AM
Some ideas off the top of my head:

-Studying the brain. We don't actually know a lot about the brain, and by measuring electrical signals in the brain, we can better learn how it works. I think this is the biggest one, since it will lead to other things, such as...
-Brain repair. If we can figure out where parts of the brain get damaged, whether by disease or injury, we might be able to fix it. This is pure speculation at this point, but if we can learn how the brain works, and observe it at the nano-level safely and easily, the potential is there for healing.
-Brain function. Again, if we learn how things in the brain work, say, memory, we might be able to figure out how to enhance it, or maybe even figure out how to get the brain to do things that we cannot even do now, like finer body motor control, or control of autonomous reflexes like breathing or heartbeat. (although for that last I'm not sure that would be useful, or even if it would be safe)
-On a more sinister level, it might be used to control other people's minds, or torture them (imagine stimulating all the pain nerves in the body, for instance) or block the ability to do or learn or think of certain things, somewhat like Huxley's "Brave New World", although that used psychological conditioning, not nanotech. We might end up with attempts to use this for therapeutic or sociological reasons, like "A Clockwork Orange" or "The Terminal Man", where patients' brains were treated in order to change behaviour in an attempt to remove criminal tendencies; the plot of those books involved it backfiring in the scientist's faces.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 01:03 AM
Seems you and I are the only two bright enough to understand the implications...

Why doesnt that sadden me?

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 05:16 AM
Wat implicesions? Me as brigt as u!


The (bloody amazing) Sci Fi writer Iain M Banks often has his "Culture" characters hooked up to a central AI in this way, merging the brain with electronics. I think he calls it a neural lace.

He mentions the use of neural laces as the ultimate instrument of torture in one novel.


posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 06:26 AM
i am glad for the news ! I guess this is another major step towards singularity - or creating trans-humans. Google "singularity" for more info.

posted on Jul, 30 2008 @ 12:26 AM
I wouldnt doubt for one second the uses of this technology for evil / torturous purposes. shame...

posted on Jul, 30 2008 @ 02:55 PM
Im looking forward to the matrix like possibilities, no need for a holodeck, get busy in your own brain, lucid dreaming is just too hard!

posted on Aug, 16 2008 @ 11:01 PM

Could information be fed directly to the brain/mind in order to influence ones thoughts? Feelings? Understandings? Outlook? Attitude?...

posted on Aug, 16 2008 @ 11:03 PM
How about a hookup directly to the pleasure centers of the brain? A little bit of juice and away we go.

posted on Aug, 17 2008 @ 12:17 AM
Preamble: This entire post is obviously speculative, and therefor an amount of fantasy is required when reading it. I don't hold any of my following statements to be in any way true right now, and it is unknown if they ever will be. But, speculations on technology can be fun, and it's what sci-fi is all about! So, here goes:

If you can hook up directly to the electrical circuitry of the brain on a nano level, you could essentially control it, it seems to me.

When we learn how memories and knowledge is stored in the brain, think of the possibilities. You could attach a computer directly to the brain and feed it a specific set of instructions to encode X memory in to the brain. It'd be like getting a new memory in an instant, similar to how Neo in The Matrix learned styles of fighting instantly.

Controlling the electrical signals in the brain could essentially make you think you are in an entire different reality, since reality is ultimately perceived by the brain as an influx of electrical signals interpreted by specific parts of the brain, which our consciousness and level of awareness uses as it sees fit. This leads to being able to plug yourself in to an alternate reality for whatever you want.

Being able to plug in to the brain will also let us read exactly what is going on at the moment. Let's say we figure out the "coding language" behind the brain, as I mentioned in the memory installation example. Since we know how to code it, that means we know how to read it. We could read exactly what is happening to a person. Does this mean we could "record" their dreams?

This technology could be useful for pinpointing brain inactivity as well. We can do it will technology we already have, but this technology seems to imply we'd be able to get it down to the level of a single neuron. Once technology in the surgery field catches up and has the ability to operate on such a small scale with minor risk of injury to other parts in the system, operating could become much more precise and heal people more quickly.

I think that's enough speculation for now. Most of the things I mentioned - if at all possible - are a long way off. They all require connection to 100% of the neurons in the human brain, or at least the specific parts that control the functions being altered/healed/edited. You would most certainly need 100% connection in the case of an alternate reality computer program, and that may be a little difficult to achieve (understatement).

Either way, it's bound to fuel some sci-fi books out there, and perhaps some of those books will fuel future scientists in to making more discoveries.

posted on Aug, 17 2008 @ 12:21 AM

Originally posted by OnionCloud

Either way, it's bound to fuel some sci-fi books out there, and perhaps some of those books will fuel future scientists in to making more discoveries.

Done. My "idea" is actually from Larry Niven. And yours, not saying you didn't come up with it independently, but have you seen a little picture called Total Recall?

posted on Aug, 17 2008 @ 08:15 AM
Heh, I own the movie, actually. Is that how they did the memories? I completely forgot about it, to be honest.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 04:16 PM
Interesting perspective... the implications of this can definately have control aspects to the ramifications. Lets hope they use this for medical advancement and helping people instead of controling and manipulating.

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