Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brain Implants are Coming: Can They Repair Stroke Damage?

Recent research on rats at Tel Aviv University is offering hope that we may soon have access to brain implants which could help to bypass damaged areas of brain, and allow relatively normal functioning after stroke and other types of brain damage.
Matti Mintz of Tel Aviv University in Israel and his colleagues have created a synthetic cerebellum which can receive sensory inputs from the brainstem - a region that acts as a conduit for neuronal information from the rest of the body. Their device can interpret these inputs, and send a signal to a different region of the brainstem that prompts motor neurons to execute the appropriate movement.

"It's proof of concept that we can record information from the brain, analyse it in a way similar to the biological network, and return it to the brain," says Mintz, who presented the work this month at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in Cambridge, UK.

...The team analysed brainstem signals feeding into a real cerebellum and the output it generated in response. They then used this information to generate a synthetic version on a chip that sits outside the skull and is wired into the brain using electrodes.

To test the chip, they anaesthetised a rat and disabled its cerebellum before hooking up their synthetic version. They then tried to teach the anaesthetised animal a conditioned motor reflex - a blink - by combining an auditory tone with a puff of air on the eye, until the animal blinked on hearing the tone alone. They first tried this without the chip connected, and found the rat was unable to learn the motor reflex. But once the artificial cerebellum was connected, the rat behaved as a normal animal would, learning to connect the sound with the need to blink.

...The next step is to model larger areas of the cerebellum that can learn a sequence of movements and test the chip in a conscious animal - a much greater challenge. "This is very demanding because of the decrease of [neural] signal quality due to artefacts caused by movement," says Robert Prueckl of Guger Technologies in Graz, Austria, who is working with Mintz. He thinks this can be achieved, though, by developing improved software to tune out noise and better techniques for implanting the electrodes. Ultimately, the goal is to build chips that can replicate complex areas of the brain _NewScientist
Yes, the implant used by the researchers was only able to substitute for a small part of the cerebellum -- which is only one part of the brain. Still, it is a start. The challenge is to enlarge and consolidate this understanding of the motor system. Then we can move beyond these early victories to the far more complex and difficult challenges of substituting for more complex signaling that occurs in the cortical and subcortical tissues.

And yet it would be best not to underestimate this achievement. The cerebellum helps to control and coordinate body movement, which is a very important function of being human. Those who have lost the ability to initiate, control, coordinate, and terminate basic movements, understand how important the motor system is to quality of life.

Cyborg brain part replacement is not the end goal, of course. We really want to re-grow any damaged brain parts or nerve connections which have been lost. But cyborg replacements will be an important bridge between where we are now and where we would like to go.

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Blogger Dov Henis said...

Is AAAS Science Blind?
"Longevity genes" are PRODUCTS, NOT CAUSES, of longevity:

Genes’ Expressions Are Results Of Life Culture, NOT Their Cause

Long-lived people distinguished by DNA”? Ludicrous…

The "long life" DNA expressions are formed by the living mode-culture of the old timers, by the genes “adapting” to their “desirable” circumstances. This is evolution, natural selection, and the genes ARE ORGANISMS.

It's the culture horses that pull-effect the genetic changes, NOT "longevity genes wagon" that pushes-effects long life.

Ask Pavlov. Learn from him...

Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century)

Ludicrous Ignorant Concepts-Understanding Of Culture-Genetics Life-Aging
“Longevity Genes” Are Expressions Effected By The Life Mode, Culture, Of The Aged
It’s Culture That Modifies Genes, NOT Vice Versa



"To Map Cell Circuits" with ludicrous ignorant concepts-understanding of what is life, cell...!
Quantum Mechanics Of Life

Life’s Evolution Is The Quantum Mechanics Of Biology
From “Essence Of Quantum Mechanics”

The universe, and life within it, are not just conglomerations of mechanisms. The universe, and life within it, have come into being by the nature of energy-mass dualism, and their fate, their final outcome, is governed by this dualism. The genesis and, most probable cyclic, existence of the universe are governed by the energy-mass relationship.
Energy-mass relationship governs also the routes, the mechanisms, of cosmic and life evolutions.
Mechanisms do not set/determine the classical physics fate states. Mechanisms are routes of evolution between classical physics fate states. Quantum mechanics are mechanisms, probable, possible and actual mechanisms of getting from one to other classical physics states WITHIN the expanse from cosmic singularity to the maximum expanded universe and back to singularity states.
The universe is the archetype of quantum within classical physics. This is the fractal oneness of the universe. Astronomically there are two physics. A classical Newtonian physics behavior of and between galactic clusters, and a quantum physics behavior WITHIN the galactic clusters.

Life’s Evolution Is The Quantum Mechanics Of Biology.
Extend Evolution/Natural Selection Backward To Life’s Primal Organisms, RNA Genes, And To Genomes, BOTH ARE ORGANISMs, evolving adapting by culture, by reactions to circumstances.

The origin-reason and the purpose-fate of life are mechanistic, ethically and practically valueless. Life is the cheapest commodity on Earth.
Human life is just one of many nature’s routes for the natural survival of RNAs, the base Earth organism.
It is up to humans themselves to elect the purpose and format of their life as individuals and as group-members.

Dov Henis
(Comments From 22nd Century)
“Rethink Evolution/Natural Selection”

12:02 AM  

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