An updated version of a neurochip can monitor brain cells' communications at the clearest resolution yet, according to scientists in Canada. It's cellular-scale mind-reading -- or mind-listening, to be more precise.
The team at the University of Calgary was one of a handful of groups to first demonstrate it was possible to wire neurons into a computer chip, thereby sensing brain cells' electrical communications. The goal is an improved understanding of how brain cells talk to each other, which could help scientists can design new drugs and therapies for neurological disorders.
Now, UC professor Naweed Syed's research team has an updated neurochip that drills down into the brain's smallest, most complex communication systems -- the level of ion channels and synaptic potential, according to a University of Calgary news release.
The team embedded a recording device beneath the neurochip, and developed an amplification system that allows them to hear the electrical activity taking place among the cells, as
The Globe and Mail reports.
Brain cells communicate through electrical and chemical signals. Connections between synapses pass along chemical signals; electrical signals travel through ion channels, which are essentially gateways on the cell surface, as the Calgary Herald explains.
Understanding this cellular communication could help scientists develop better drugs, repair damaged neurons and even improve future neurochip implants that would operate brain-controlled artificial limbs.
If scientists can "hear" what the cells are saying, they can quickly test the efficacy of drugs for patients with various brain disorders, Syed says.
The research was reported early online this week in the journal Biomedical Microdevices.
I wonder if this will open up the door to eventually creating implantable chips into our brains that allow us to control things with our mind or copy our brains to a computer or robot. This is cool stuff they are doing none the less.
When I saw the title, before reading this, I thought, "It doesn't matter the resolution. As long as we can't monitor individual synapses, we can't get all the information." Then I read it and saw that not only can this monitor individual synapses, but the resolution is even further down to individual ion channels.
Holy crap. Amazing.
@rossfudgew: Controlling things with our minds is already possible. Look up BCIs, or Brain-Computer Interfaces. On the other hand, uploading out minds to a robot/computer would require reading of proteins and interpretation of neuronal connections, not just reading the synaptic activity (which would only tell you what's happening in the brain right as you read it, and nothing about stored memories, personality, etc.).
-IMP ;) :)
Reading is only 1 step away from writing...
Bring on the downloadable learning apps into my brain!
Nothing like a new Sony Brain+/-RW chip
I see TTL......semiconductors are pretty amazing, dont know if we will see implants in our lifetime too many signals bouncing around already
There are dangers of neurochips. This sciece ficition short story explains how it can be abused. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007LAX6YY