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[Researching the Brain] - White House officially proposes BRAIN Initiative

24

Posts

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Huh, is this why the AAN has been complaining of selective cuts in neurology medicine and research?

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    That article gets crazy when they start talking about n-brain networks of animals.

    What I'm trying to say is, the coming of the rat hive-mind overlords is nigh.

    Skynet shall come, and it will demand endless jars of peanut butter

    waNkm4k.jpg?1
    PLA
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    A single neuron is a lot more complicated than a single base pair, in that the total structure of the neuron determines how it receives and outputs signals, further modulated by the fact that it is a cell and can have fluctuating membrane proteins and intracellular contents resulting in tons of output modalities instead of "off" and "on." Neurons are also probably the most variable tissue between organisms due to the fact that their development is not only largely determined by trophic factors, but continues this process forever in a happy go lucky fashion, to the point where you could say that no two olfactory bulbs are alike. Neurons are designed to die and change growth patterns to best react to the environment, and while genes do this too, it's usually minimal or on an epigenetic level that preserves the template.

    So what kind of technology are we developing that has a hope of setting some kind of standard to justify a brain mapping project that's at all generalizable?

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
    Taranis
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Knowing the general map of synaptic connections in the brain would be illuminating.

    The internet carries many different types of data, but you can infer a lot by knowing just the linkages and their bandwidth.

  • MillMill Registered User regular
    Got to say some of the negative nancies on this annoy me. Probably one of the worst things to do in the name of science is put other scientific endeavors down because they won't have the desired results. The whole fucking point of science is to do experimentation and research to gather up data to better understand things. So even if one isn't getting the desired results, the exercise is still worth the effort if it's still providing new data.

    I'm a little more sympathetic towards the concerns that this could take funding away from other sources. When you have limited resources (be that the actual case or caused by bullshit artificial restraints), it certainly is a valid concern since there is always the risk of someone getting shafted because there research is deemed less valuable than the new stuff.

    Granted I'm a little skeptical that we have to worry about accidentally creating a sentient AI any time soon. I also think that this is probably worth the effort given the potential it could have for diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and injuries associated with the brain.

  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Shivahn wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    Cliff wrote: »
    Shivahn wrote: »
    Also, I hope some of that money will be allocated for developing some guidelines now for the ethical problems associated with starting up complex brain simulations. At some point, those things will be not only arguably alive, but arguably human as well.

    I'd rather we know what we're doing with AI rights before we commit too many atrocities.

    Realizing we've committed accidental genocide would be a hell of a thing.

    This line of thinking is so silly, machines are things, no matter how complex their programming may be.

    and what makes you so god damned special?
    :)

    The fact that humans have no programming, obviously!

    We are entirely programmed through hardware so we are far less modable than actual computers.

    I don't know. We can assimilate new capabilities by interfacing with data stored in a network of peers through locally standardized communications protocols. I mean, maybe we aren't modeable, but we're very extensible.

    Yeah, but mostly that is the restructuring of some of the hundred billion nodes in a huge AND and NOT network. The nodes operate at a peak speed of 100 Hz and are really a massive low-frequency parallel processing network.

    Not to say that our brains aren't fucking amazing, but they are not a general purpose computer :P

    They're more akin to a graphics card really. But the analogy is getting strained I guess.

  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    PLA wrote: »
    Oh, geth.

    Seriously, though, "people are fairy-dust-magic" gets in the way of science. People are boxes of wires.

    It only hinders science if you're arrogant.

    It's possible to believe in a soul and still support brain research. The only reason you wouldn't is if you believe in a soul/a god, and are arrogant enough to think that you're powerful enough to fuck that up via experimentation.

    I meant the "it can't be figured out because it's so special" thing. Even a soul has to work by some function, not just because shrug. Once you throw your hands up, your hands are in the way.

    GethEdith UpwardsMr Raychristian
  • TaranisTaranis Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Ignoring the question of a soul's existence, am I alone in wondering whether or not we can ever fully understand the brain itself? Maybe it's epistemically paradoxical to expect to understand the workings of subjective consciousness using our own subjective consciousnesses to conduct and interpret research? Perhaps a cognitive bias will always exist, unless we could find a way to fully objectify subjective consciousness for the purpose of research?

    Not that I think that science is futile without the ultimate prospect of complete understanding, just that an insurmountable bias may always skew our theories (while still yielding practical advances in medicine).

    Taranis on
    / steam / [blizzard] taranis#1834 /
    EH28YFo.jpg
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Taranis wrote: »
    Ignoring the question of a soul's existence, am I alone in wondering whether or not we can ever fully understand the brain itself? Maybe it's epistemically paradoxical to expect to understand the workings of subjective consciousness using our own subjective consciousnesses to conduct and interpret research? Perhaps a cognitive bias will always exist, unless we could find a way to fully objectify subjective consciousness for the purpose of research?

    Not that I think that science is futile without the ultimate prospect of complete understanding, just that an insurmountable bias may always skew our theories (while still yielding practical advances in medicine).

    Isn't it somewhat too soon to ask that question? It's not like we've got what should be a working model of the brain that just...doesn't work. What we lack is basic tools - the ability to map neurons, determine chemical states etc. But there's no physical reason to think this can't be done. We just can't do it yet.

    PLA
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    Taranis wrote: »
    Ignoring the question of a soul's existence, am I alone in wondering whether or not we can ever fully understand the brain itself? Maybe it's epistemically paradoxical to expect to understand the workings of subjective consciousness using our own subjective consciousnesses to conduct and interpret research? Perhaps a cognitive bias will always exist, unless we could find a way to fully objectify subjective consciousness for the purpose of research?

    Not that I think that science is futile without the ultimate prospect of complete understanding, just that an insurmountable bias may always skew our theories (while still yielding practical advances in medicine).

    You are using a lot of poorly defined terms here that have multiple meanings.

    Frankly, it is a scientific fact we will never be able to fully understand a single electron. We will never 'fully' understand all brains, one individual function brain, or a mind.

    There is so much that we can still learn, that we honestly don't even know how deep the rabbit hole is. The Standard Model of particle physics makes are our model of a brain look about as detailed and throughout as phrenology.

    This machine kills threads.
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    As we expand our understanding, the outer border of that understanding also grows, drawing attention to more of what we don't yet know. One answer asks two questions.

  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    Well, for a while. I think fields usually start with a small question the turns out to be a series of ostensibly unrelated questions and so on until you get good models and then questions start getting just straight answered.

    Then eventually someone discovers like relativity and radiation and quantum events and cells and DNA and you start over.

  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Also who cares if we don't ever know everything?

    Do we utterly and completely understand physics and electromagnetism? No. Do we have rail guns? Yes.

    Push them fucking boundaries.

    Mr RayCinders
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    We get more questions because we get better. It's a good sign.

  • CliffCliff Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Cliff wrote: »
    Shivahn wrote: »
    Also, I hope some of that money will be allocated for developing some guidelines now for the ethical problems associated with starting up complex brain simulations. At some point, those things will be not only arguably alive, but arguably human as well.

    I'd rather we know what we're doing with AI rights before we commit too many atrocities.

    Realizing we've committed accidental genocide would be a hell of a thing.

    This line of thinking is so silly, machines are things, no matter how complex their programming may be.

    and what makes you so god damned special?
    :)

    I'm not an inanimate object, for one.

    Wasn't that movie about David Bowie seducing a 16 year old girl while surrounding himself with monsters and rubbing his balls?

    I don't think it was even a movie, it was just some footage of what Bowie does in his day to day life.
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    A single neuron is a lot more complicated than a single base pair, in that the total structure of the neuron determines how it receives and outputs signals, further modulated by the fact that it is a cell and can have fluctuating membrane proteins and intracellular contents resulting in tons of output modalities instead of "off" and "on." Neurons are also probably the most variable tissue between organisms due to the fact that their development is not only largely determined by trophic factors, but continues this process forever in a happy go lucky fashion, to the point where you could say that no two olfactory bulbs are alike. Neurons are designed to die and change growth patterns to best react to the environment, and while genes do this too, it's usually minimal or on an epigenetic level that preserves the template.

    So what kind of technology are we developing that has a hope of setting some kind of standard to justify a brain mapping project that's at all generalizable?

    Right now, we don't really even know how generalizable a brain mapping project would be. Of course there are going to be individual differences, but understanding the primary structures and how they interact in a general sense has gets us a lot of information we can use to move to more individual mappings. As we develop more information, we'll get a better model or template, as well as better and more efficient tools, that will then make it easier to identify those individual differences. Similar to the accelerating cycles we see in genetics over the past 20 or so years where advancement and better tools lead to advancement and better tools.

    It may also be interesting, once we have a more generalized mapping, to find out what impact cultural differences have on the structures of our brain. Since, as you pointed out, neurons die / change based on our environment, it may be possible to directly identify the physical manifestations or conditions that lead to different sociological phenomena. Of course, I'm pessimistic that this won't just be perverted into another form of phrenology, Lysenkoism, or used to justify eugenics / racism etc.

  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Cliff wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    Cliff wrote: »
    Shivahn wrote: »
    Also, I hope some of that money will be allocated for developing some guidelines now for the ethical problems associated with starting up complex brain simulations. At some point, those things will be not only arguably alive, but arguably human as well.

    I'd rather we know what we're doing with AI rights before we commit too many atrocities.

    Realizing we've committed accidental genocide would be a hell of a thing.

    This line of thinking is so silly, machines are things, no matter how complex their programming may be.

    and what makes you so god damned special?
    :)

    I'm not an inanimate object, for one.

    Steven Hawking makes in interesting edge case there, but it is kinda a dumb distinction to make given mobility is a really easy thing to give a computer.

    redx on
    This machine kills threads.
  • CliffCliff Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Cliff wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    Cliff wrote: »
    Shivahn wrote: »
    Also, I hope some of that money will be allocated for developing some guidelines now for the ethical problems associated with starting up complex brain simulations. At some point, those things will be not only arguably alive, but arguably human as well.

    I'd rather we know what we're doing with AI rights before we commit too many atrocities.

    Realizing we've committed accidental genocide would be a hell of a thing.

    This line of thinking is so silly, machines are things, no matter how complex their programming may be.

    and what makes you so god damned special?
    :)

    I'm not an inanimate object, for one.

    Steven Hawking makes in interesting edge case there, but it is kinda a dumb distinction to make given mobility is a really easy thing to give a computer.

    From merriam-webster.com

    Definition of INANIMATE

    1
    : not animate:
    a : not endowed with life or spirit <an inanimate object>
    b : lacking consciousness or power of motion <an inanimate body>


    Using the term inanimate as in definition 1a, not in terms of kinetic potential. If we are not at least starting from the point of human beings as more than objects, I am not exactly sure what your angle even is. Steven Hawking doesn't remotely make an interesting edge case to anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of the term inanimate object. The insinuation that someone's physical handicap could be considered potential for labeling them as such is a little disturbing.

    Wasn't that movie about David Bowie seducing a 16 year old girl while surrounding himself with monsters and rubbing his balls?

    I don't think it was even a movie, it was just some footage of what Bowie does in his day to day life.
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    How is anything "more than object"? It's a vague term.

    Are we talking animism? A psuedo-liquid form of HP lifepoints lifeforce?

    PLA on
    redx
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Cliff wrote: »
    a : not endowed with life or spirit <an inanimate object>

    ...

    Using the term inanimate as in definition 1a, not in terms of kinetic potential.

    Ah, so because magic.

    Well then there you go.

  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Cliff wrote: »
    a : not endowed with life or spirit <an inanimate object>

    ...

    Using the term inanimate as in definition 1a, not in terms of kinetic potential.

    Ah, so because magic.

    Well then there you go.

    Ontology is powerful magic, ask Anselm about it sometime.

  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Cliff wrote: »
    a : not endowed with life or spirit <an inanimate object>

    ...

    Using the term inanimate as in definition 1a, not in terms of kinetic potential.

    Ah, so because magic.

    Well then there you go.

    Hey look, an answer offered us more questions! mainly, what is life and/or spirit and how do you define it?

    It's SCIENCE!

  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    Indeed. It happens that someone is very certain of their answer, but their answer contains no information to bite into. That answer would be "because shrug".

    I'm confident enough Cliff's idea has more content than "because shrug", if he elaborates.

  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    In the realm of Brain Machine Interfaces, scientists at Brown University have made a device that can interact with the brain (data acquired from 100 neurons) and wirelessly transmit the information to an external device:

    http://io9.com/5988596/this-wireless-brain-implant-could-make-telekinesis-a-reality
    original.jpg

    This wireless brain implant could make telekinesis a reality
    George Dvorsky
    Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.
    The purpose of the project was to develop a neural interface device that could eventually help amputees, spinal cord injury victims, and those living with severe neuromotor disease (like Parkinson's) overcome their physical limitations. The challenge, however, was in developing a system that's safe, effective — and durable. Brain implants are not the kind of thing physicians want to be implanting and extracting on a regular basis. Ideally, the researchers wanted to create something that was small, low-power, leak-proof, and could last for decades.

    medium.png
    Li-ion Batteries
    To that end, David Borton and his colleagues developed a hermetically sealed implantable interface device that can be recharged by an external source.

    They achieved this by using an embedded medical grade rechargeable Li-ion battery that can last for seven hours of continuous operation between recharges. It takes about two hours to refuel, with the incoming energy arriving from an inductive transcutaneous wireless power link at 2 MHz. Amazingly, the entire thing only requires 100 milliwatts of power to function.

    During the early developmental stages, the researchers noticed that the recharging process caused it to heat up, which is obviously not good when you're talking about something that's connected to the brain. So, to resolve this problem, the researchers developed a liquid cooling system that uses chilled water.

    medium.jpg

    A "Brain Radio"
    The interface device is basically a "brain radio"; it transmits 24 Mbps via 3.2 and 3.8 Ghz microwave frequencies to an external receiver (which is about one meter away). The signals are transmitted in real-time by subjects who can move freely, and the data stream can relay information extracted from up to 100 neurons.

    To make it work, a pill-sized chip of electrodes were implanted on a brain's motor cortex, which in turn relayed signals into the device's laser-welded, hermetically sealed titanium "can." It measures 2.2 inches (56 mm) long, 1.65 inches (42 mm) wide, and 0.35 inches (9 mm) thick. The entire signal processing system is contained within that tiny space, including the lithium ion battery, ultralow-power integrated circuits for signal processing and conversion, wireless radio and infrared transmitters, and a copper coil for recharging.

    The researchers essentially established a point-to-point communication link for human clinical use. They can now use the system to observe, record, and analyze the signals emitted by scores of neurons in particular parts of the brain.

    Capturing and Decoding Motor Activity
    The brain-interface device was shown to work in six different animals, namely three pigs and three rhesus monkeys. "[The] wireless implant was electrically stable, effective in capturing and delivering broadband neural data, and safe for over one year of testing," noted the researchers in their study. "In addition, we have used the multichannel data from these mobile animal models to demonstrate the ability to decode neural population dynamics associated with motor activity."

    No doubt, this is the very heart of the experiment. This information, once mapped, can be used for a variety of applications.

    100-channel-microsystem.jpg

    In particular, this implantable neural interface technology will greatly assist in the development of advanced neuroprostheses. Once refined and proven safe for humans, it could allow disabled people to move objects remotely with their thoughts. It would be a kind of technologically-enabled telekinesis. Indeed, the project is very closely linked to the BrainGate initiative — another Brown University project that's working to develop brain interface technologies for the disabled.

    And of course, this technology will very likely trickle over to non-medical applications, allowing even able-bodied people to move objects with their minds.

    In terms of next steps, Borton's team will be using a version of the device to study the role of the motor cortex in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. They will also work to reduce the size and cost of the device.

    You can read the entire study at the Journal of Neural Engineering.

    Supplementary source: ExtremeTech.

    All images: David A Borton et al./J. Neural Eng.

    Lanz on
    waNkm4k.jpg?1
    GethPLAJulius
  • DarklyreDarklyre Registered User regular
    Shivahn wrote: »
    Also, I hope some of that money will be allocated for developing some guidelines now for the ethical problems associated with starting up complex brain simulations. At some point, those things will be not only arguably alive, but arguably human as well.

    I'd rather we know what we're doing with AI rights before we commit too many atrocities.

    Realizing we've committed accidental genocide would be a hell of a thing.

    Good thing we can just hit Ctrl+Z amirite?

    ...What do you mean you didn't autosave?

  • ZephiranZephiran Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Lanz wrote: »
    In the realm of Brain Machine Interfaces, scientists at Brown University have made a device that can interact with the brain (data acquired from 100 neurons) and wirelessly transmit the information to an external device:

    Spoilered for size
    http://io9.com/5988596/this-wireless-brain-implant-could-make-telekinesis-a-reality
    original.jpg

    This wireless brain implant could make telekinesis a reality
    George Dvorsky
    Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.
    The purpose of the project was to develop a neural interface device that could eventually help amputees, spinal cord injury victims, and those living with severe neuromotor disease (like Parkinson's) overcome their physical limitations. The challenge, however, was in developing a system that's safe, effective — and durable. Brain implants are not the kind of thing physicians want to be implanting and extracting on a regular basis. Ideally, the researchers wanted to create something that was small, low-power, leak-proof, and could last for decades.

    medium.png
    Li-ion Batteries
    To that end, David Borton and his colleagues developed a hermetically sealed implantable interface device that can be recharged by an external source.

    They achieved this by using an embedded medical grade rechargeable Li-ion battery that can last for seven hours of continuous operation between recharges. It takes about two hours to refuel, with the incoming energy arriving from an inductive transcutaneous wireless power link at 2 MHz. Amazingly, the entire thing only requires 100 milliwatts of power to function.

    During the early developmental stages, the researchers noticed that the recharging process caused it to heat up, which is obviously not good when you're talking about something that's connected to the brain. So, to resolve this problem, the researchers developed a liquid cooling system that uses chilled water.

    medium.jpg

    A "Brain Radio"
    The interface device is basically a "brain radio"; it transmits 24 Mbps via 3.2 and 3.8 Ghz microwave frequencies to an external receiver (which is about one meter away). The signals are transmitted in real-time by subjects who can move freely, and the data stream can relay information extracted from up to 100 neurons.

    To make it work, a pill-sized chip of electrodes were implanted on a brain's motor cortex, which in turn relayed signals into the device's laser-welded, hermetically sealed titanium "can." It measures 2.2 inches (56 mm) long, 1.65 inches (42 mm) wide, and 0.35 inches (9 mm) thick. The entire signal processing system is contained within that tiny space, including the lithium ion battery, ultralow-power integrated circuits for signal processing and conversion, wireless radio and infrared transmitters, and a copper coil for recharging.

    The researchers essentially established a point-to-point communication link for human clinical use. They can now use the system to observe, record, and analyze the signals emitted by scores of neurons in particular parts of the brain.

    Capturing and Decoding Motor Activity
    The brain-interface device was shown to work in six different animals, namely three pigs and three rhesus monkeys. "[The] wireless implant was electrically stable, effective in capturing and delivering broadband neural data, and safe for over one year of testing," noted the researchers in their study. "In addition, we have used the multichannel data from these mobile animal models to demonstrate the ability to decode neural population dynamics associated with motor activity."

    No doubt, this is the very heart of the experiment. This information, once mapped, can be used for a variety of applications.

    100-channel-microsystem.jpg

    In particular, this implantable neural interface technology will greatly assist in the development of advanced neuroprostheses. Once refined and proven safe for humans, it could allow disabled people to move objects remotely with their thoughts. It would be a kind of technologically-enabled telekinesis. Indeed, the project is very closely linked to the BrainGate initiative — another Brown University project that's working to develop brain interface technologies for the disabled.

    And of course, this technology will very likely trickle over to non-medical applications, allowing even able-bodied people to move objects with their minds.

    In terms of next steps, Borton's team will be using a version of the device to study the role of the motor cortex in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. They will also work to reduce the size and cost of the device.

    You can read the entire study at the Journal of Neural Engineering.

    Supplementary source: ExtremeTech.

    All images: David A Borton et al./J. Neural Eng.

    Combined with something like, say, one of those full body exoskeletons that are currently being refined, this might well have some very interesting applications for people with complete paralysis.

    Zephiran on
    Alright and in this next scene all the animals have AIDS.

    I got a little excited when I saw your ship.
  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Zephiran wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    In the realm of Brain Machine Interfaces, scientists at Brown University have made a device that can interact with the brain (data acquired from 100 neurons) and wirelessly transmit the information to an external device:

    Spoilered for size
    http://io9.com/5988596/this-wireless-brain-implant-could-make-telekinesis-a-reality
    original.jpg

    This wireless brain implant could make telekinesis a reality
    George Dvorsky
    Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.
    The purpose of the project was to develop a neural interface device that could eventually help amputees, spinal cord injury victims, and those living with severe neuromotor disease (like Parkinson's) overcome their physical limitations. The challenge, however, was in developing a system that's safe, effective — and durable. Brain implants are not the kind of thing physicians want to be implanting and extracting on a regular basis. Ideally, the researchers wanted to create something that was small, low-power, leak-proof, and could last for decades.

    medium.png
    Li-ion Batteries
    To that end, David Borton and his colleagues developed a hermetically sealed implantable interface device that can be recharged by an external source.

    They achieved this by using an embedded medical grade rechargeable Li-ion battery that can last for seven hours of continuous operation between recharges. It takes about two hours to refuel, with the incoming energy arriving from an inductive transcutaneous wireless power link at 2 MHz. Amazingly, the entire thing only requires 100 milliwatts of power to function.

    During the early developmental stages, the researchers noticed that the recharging process caused it to heat up, which is obviously not good when you're talking about something that's connected to the brain. So, to resolve this problem, the researchers developed a liquid cooling system that uses chilled water.

    medium.jpg

    A "Brain Radio"
    The interface device is basically a "brain radio"; it transmits 24 Mbps via 3.2 and 3.8 Ghz microwave frequencies to an external receiver (which is about one meter away). The signals are transmitted in real-time by subjects who can move freely, and the data stream can relay information extracted from up to 100 neurons.

    To make it work, a pill-sized chip of electrodes were implanted on a brain's motor cortex, which in turn relayed signals into the device's laser-welded, hermetically sealed titanium "can." It measures 2.2 inches (56 mm) long, 1.65 inches (42 mm) wide, and 0.35 inches (9 mm) thick. The entire signal processing system is contained within that tiny space, including the lithium ion battery, ultralow-power integrated circuits for signal processing and conversion, wireless radio and infrared transmitters, and a copper coil for recharging.

    The researchers essentially established a point-to-point communication link for human clinical use. They can now use the system to observe, record, and analyze the signals emitted by scores of neurons in particular parts of the brain.

    Capturing and Decoding Motor Activity
    The brain-interface device was shown to work in six different animals, namely three pigs and three rhesus monkeys. "[The] wireless implant was electrically stable, effective in capturing and delivering broadband neural data, and safe for over one year of testing," noted the researchers in their study. "In addition, we have used the multichannel data from these mobile animal models to demonstrate the ability to decode neural population dynamics associated with motor activity."

    No doubt, this is the very heart of the experiment. This information, once mapped, can be used for a variety of applications.

    100-channel-microsystem.jpg

    In particular, this implantable neural interface technology will greatly assist in the development of advanced neuroprostheses. Once refined and proven safe for humans, it could allow disabled people to move objects remotely with their thoughts. It would be a kind of technologically-enabled telekinesis. Indeed, the project is very closely linked to the BrainGate initiative — another Brown University project that's working to develop brain interface technologies for the disabled.

    And of course, this technology will very likely trickle over to non-medical applications, allowing even able-bodied people to move objects with their minds.

    In terms of next steps, Borton's team will be using a version of the device to study the role of the motor cortex in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. They will also work to reduce the size and cost of the device.

    You can read the entire study at the Journal of Neural Engineering.

    Supplementary source: ExtremeTech.

    All images: David A Borton et al./J. Neural Eng.

    Combined with something like, say, one of those full body exoskeletons that are currently being refined, this might well have some very interesting applications for people with complete paralysis.

    Seems to me that would just be the beginning of the potential applications :)

    Lanz on
    waNkm4k.jpg?1
  • ZephiranZephiran Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Lanz wrote: »
    Zephiran wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    In the realm of Brain Machine Interfaces, scientists at Brown University have made a device that can interact with the brain (data acquired from 100 neurons) and wirelessly transmit the information to an external device:

    Spoilered for size
    http://io9.com/5988596/this-wireless-brain-implant-could-make-telekinesis-a-reality
    original.jpg

    This wireless brain implant could make telekinesis a reality
    George Dvorsky
    Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.
    The purpose of the project was to develop a neural interface device that could eventually help amputees, spinal cord injury victims, and those living with severe neuromotor disease (like Parkinson's) overcome their physical limitations. The challenge, however, was in developing a system that's safe, effective — and durable. Brain implants are not the kind of thing physicians want to be implanting and extracting on a regular basis. Ideally, the researchers wanted to create something that was small, low-power, leak-proof, and could last for decades.

    medium.png
    Li-ion Batteries
    To that end, David Borton and his colleagues developed a hermetically sealed implantable interface device that can be recharged by an external source.

    They achieved this by using an embedded medical grade rechargeable Li-ion battery that can last for seven hours of continuous operation between recharges. It takes about two hours to refuel, with the incoming energy arriving from an inductive transcutaneous wireless power link at 2 MHz. Amazingly, the entire thing only requires 100 milliwatts of power to function.

    During the early developmental stages, the researchers noticed that the recharging process caused it to heat up, which is obviously not good when you're talking about something that's connected to the brain. So, to resolve this problem, the researchers developed a liquid cooling system that uses chilled water.

    medium.jpg

    A "Brain Radio"
    The interface device is basically a "brain radio"; it transmits 24 Mbps via 3.2 and 3.8 Ghz microwave frequencies to an external receiver (which is about one meter away). The signals are transmitted in real-time by subjects who can move freely, and the data stream can relay information extracted from up to 100 neurons.

    To make it work, a pill-sized chip of electrodes were implanted on a brain's motor cortex, which in turn relayed signals into the device's laser-welded, hermetically sealed titanium "can." It measures 2.2 inches (56 mm) long, 1.65 inches (42 mm) wide, and 0.35 inches (9 mm) thick. The entire signal processing system is contained within that tiny space, including the lithium ion battery, ultralow-power integrated circuits for signal processing and conversion, wireless radio and infrared transmitters, and a copper coil for recharging.

    The researchers essentially established a point-to-point communication link for human clinical use. They can now use the system to observe, record, and analyze the signals emitted by scores of neurons in particular parts of the brain.

    Capturing and Decoding Motor Activity
    The brain-interface device was shown to work in six different animals, namely three pigs and three rhesus monkeys. "[The] wireless implant was electrically stable, effective in capturing and delivering broadband neural data, and safe for over one year of testing," noted the researchers in their study. "In addition, we have used the multichannel data from these mobile animal models to demonstrate the ability to decode neural population dynamics associated with motor activity."

    No doubt, this is the very heart of the experiment. This information, once mapped, can be used for a variety of applications.

    100-channel-microsystem.jpg

    In particular, this implantable neural interface technology will greatly assist in the development of advanced neuroprostheses. Once refined and proven safe for humans, it could allow disabled people to move objects remotely with their thoughts. It would be a kind of technologically-enabled telekinesis. Indeed, the project is very closely linked to the BrainGate initiative — another Brown University project that's working to develop brain interface technologies for the disabled.

    And of course, this technology will very likely trickle over to non-medical applications, allowing even able-bodied people to move objects with their minds.

    In terms of next steps, Borton's team will be using a version of the device to study the role of the motor cortex in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. They will also work to reduce the size and cost of the device.

    You can read the entire study at the Journal of Neural Engineering.

    Supplementary source: ExtremeTech.

    All images: David A Borton et al./J. Neural Eng.

    Combined with something like, say, one of those full body exoskeletons that are currently being refined, this might well have some very interesting applications for people with complete paralysis.

    Seems to me that would just be the beginning of the potential applications :)

    You could start mining BitCoins with your brain!

    :lol:

    No, seriously though, I hope they come up with a stable construction. Up to this point it seems fairly alright I suppose, but I'm thinking there might well be some unintended consequences if the contact node (or whatever you wish to call the bit that sits right in the middle of the brain tissue) starts to, say, decay or corrode. That could turn ugly pretty quickly. Proper materials could probably be engineered with a bit of research, but it'd be a bitch to find out something a bit more long-lasting was needed only after the first Dreadnought starts oozing pus out of his brainport and catches on fire or something.

    Zephiran on
    Alright and in this next scene all the animals have AIDS.

    I got a little excited when I saw your ship.
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    There would be regular checkups. Pacemakers already require some maintenance.

  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    Zephiran wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    Zephiran wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    In the realm of Brain Machine Interfaces, scientists at Brown University have made a device that can interact with the brain (data acquired from 100 neurons) and wirelessly transmit the information to an external device:

    Spoilered for size
    http://io9.com/5988596/this-wireless-brain-implant-could-make-telekinesis-a-reality
    original.jpg

    This wireless brain implant could make telekinesis a reality
    George Dvorsky
    Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.
    The purpose of the project was to develop a neural interface device that could eventually help amputees, spinal cord injury victims, and those living with severe neuromotor disease (like Parkinson's) overcome their physical limitations. The challenge, however, was in developing a system that's safe, effective — and durable. Brain implants are not the kind of thing physicians want to be implanting and extracting on a regular basis. Ideally, the researchers wanted to create something that was small, low-power, leak-proof, and could last for decades.

    medium.png
    Li-ion Batteries
    To that end, David Borton and his colleagues developed a hermetically sealed implantable interface device that can be recharged by an external source.

    They achieved this by using an embedded medical grade rechargeable Li-ion battery that can last for seven hours of continuous operation between recharges. It takes about two hours to refuel, with the incoming energy arriving from an inductive transcutaneous wireless power link at 2 MHz. Amazingly, the entire thing only requires 100 milliwatts of power to function.

    During the early developmental stages, the researchers noticed that the recharging process caused it to heat up, which is obviously not good when you're talking about something that's connected to the brain. So, to resolve this problem, the researchers developed a liquid cooling system that uses chilled water.

    medium.jpg

    A "Brain Radio"
    The interface device is basically a "brain radio"; it transmits 24 Mbps via 3.2 and 3.8 Ghz microwave frequencies to an external receiver (which is about one meter away). The signals are transmitted in real-time by subjects who can move freely, and the data stream can relay information extracted from up to 100 neurons.

    To make it work, a pill-sized chip of electrodes were implanted on a brain's motor cortex, which in turn relayed signals into the device's laser-welded, hermetically sealed titanium "can." It measures 2.2 inches (56 mm) long, 1.65 inches (42 mm) wide, and 0.35 inches (9 mm) thick. The entire signal processing system is contained within that tiny space, including the lithium ion battery, ultralow-power integrated circuits for signal processing and conversion, wireless radio and infrared transmitters, and a copper coil for recharging.

    The researchers essentially established a point-to-point communication link for human clinical use. They can now use the system to observe, record, and analyze the signals emitted by scores of neurons in particular parts of the brain.

    Capturing and Decoding Motor Activity
    The brain-interface device was shown to work in six different animals, namely three pigs and three rhesus monkeys. "[The] wireless implant was electrically stable, effective in capturing and delivering broadband neural data, and safe for over one year of testing," noted the researchers in their study. "In addition, we have used the multichannel data from these mobile animal models to demonstrate the ability to decode neural population dynamics associated with motor activity."

    No doubt, this is the very heart of the experiment. This information, once mapped, can be used for a variety of applications.

    100-channel-microsystem.jpg

    In particular, this implantable neural interface technology will greatly assist in the development of advanced neuroprostheses. Once refined and proven safe for humans, it could allow disabled people to move objects remotely with their thoughts. It would be a kind of technologically-enabled telekinesis. Indeed, the project is very closely linked to the BrainGate initiative — another Brown University project that's working to develop brain interface technologies for the disabled.

    And of course, this technology will very likely trickle over to non-medical applications, allowing even able-bodied people to move objects with their minds.

    In terms of next steps, Borton's team will be using a version of the device to study the role of the motor cortex in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. They will also work to reduce the size and cost of the device.

    You can read the entire study at the Journal of Neural Engineering.

    Supplementary source: ExtremeTech.

    All images: David A Borton et al./J. Neural Eng.

    Combined with something like, say, one of those full body exoskeletons that are currently being refined, this might well have some very interesting applications for people with complete paralysis.

    Seems to me that would just be the beginning of the potential applications :)

    You could start mining BitCoins with your brain!

    :lol:

    No, seriously though, I hope they come up with a stable construction. Up to this point it seems fairly alright I suppose, but I'm thinking there might well be some unintended consequences if the contact node (or whatever you wish to call the bit that sits right in the middle of the brain tissue) starts to, say, decay or corrode. That could turn ugly pretty quickly. Proper materials could probably be engineered with a bit of research, but it'd be a bitch to find out something a bit more long-lasting was needed only after the first Dreadnought starts oozing pus out of his brainport and catches on fire or something.

    Infection, rejection and increased cancer risk(and other stuff) due to constant inflammation are all kinda real concerns. However, we can test that stuff in animal analogs, I'm guessing mostly pigs and eventually monkeys, and that will give eventually give us enough confidence to move to small scale testing on humans for whom it would me a substantial quality of life improvement.

    There's also an issue where, I think from something ELM posted, the neurons keep growing up into the implants, which can cause failures. That may have been limited to the peripheral nervous system though. I'm not totally remembering the article he linked.

    It's not going to be 'safe' for a while, but it is almost an engineering problem that we can solve by simply throwing money and time at.

    This machine kills threads.
  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    You can implant things on the inside of the skull rather than the brain itself to mitigate a lot of those issues.

  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    Yeah, keeping direct contact-surface minimal is a good place to start.

  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    ...So, if I understand the article correctly, you'd have to have a recharge chord dangling out of your head or neck? And spend a few hours a day literally plugged into a wall?


    I mean, obviously that'd be worth it for most amputees, but I'm thinking that'd be a pretty crippling limitation for most otherwise capable people.



    With Love and Courage
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    The Ender wrote: »
    ...So, if I understand the article correctly, you'd have to have a recharge chord dangling out of your head or neck? And spend a few hours a day literally plugged into a wall?

    I mean, obviously that'd be worth it for most amputees, but I'm thinking that'd be a pretty crippling limitation for most otherwise capable people.

    No, I think it's inductive charging so no physical connection. I suppose you wouldn't need to even be plugged into the wall - the induction pad could probably be built into a hat or something and hooked to a larger external battery pack that you carry with you and plug in when it needs to be charged. I'd assume the external battery pack could be relatively small and fit into a pocket or something.

    EDIT - although, if you thought people getting worked up about brain tumors from cell phones was bad...now we've both got a wireless transmitter (and eventually receiver?) along with the charging. Don't know how those power needs would compare to a cell phone, but probably comparable at a minimum.

    EDIT2 - if you made it without a battery and running entirely on inductive power, that would be kinda cool too. Gives 'put your thinking cap on' a bit of a new meaning. Wearing a helmet that interfaces your cyborg prosthetic limbs directly to your brain using a wireless neural interface? The future is now.

    zagdrob on
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Oh, okay. That makes more sense.

    I was imagining someone accidentally getting their recharge chord caught in a door or something and, oops, sudden brain hemorrhaging!

    With Love and Courage
  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    I imagine in the future you might not necessarily need to depend on the battery. About a year ago, MIT researchers published a paper on how to power neurological implants via the glucose in cerebrosprinal fluid:

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/glucose-fuel-cell-0612.html
    New energy source for future medical implants: sugar
    Implantable fuel cell built at MIT could power neural prosthetics that help patients regain control of limbs.
    Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

    20120612124505-0.jpg
    This silicon wafer consists of glucose fuel cells of varying sizes; the largest is 64 by 64 mm.
    IMAGE: SARPESHKAR LAB

    MIT engineers have developed a fuel cell that runs on the same sugar that powers human cells: glucose. This glucose fuel cell could be used to drive highly efficient brain implants of the future, which could help paralyzed patients move their arms and legs again.

    The fuel cell, described in the June 12 edition of the journal PLoS ONE, strips electrons from glucose molecules to create a small electric current. The researchers, led by Rahul Sarpeshkar, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, fabricated the fuel cell on a silicon chip, allowing it to be integrated with other circuits that would be needed for a brain implant.

    The idea of a glucose fuel cell is not new: In the 1970s, scientists showed they could power a pacemaker with a glucose fuel cell, but the idea was abandoned in favor of lithium-ion batteries, which could provide significantly more power per unit area than glucose fuel cells. These glucose fuel cells also utilized enzymes that proved to be impractical for long-term implantation in the body, since they eventually ceased to function efficiently.

    The new twist to the MIT fuel cell described in PLoS ONE is that it is fabricated from silicon, using the same technology used to make semiconductor electronic chips. The fuel cell has no biological components: It consists of a platinum catalyst that strips electrons from glucose, mimicking the activity of cellular enzymes that break down glucose to generate ATP, the cell’s energy currency. (Platinum has a proven record of long-term biocompatibility within the body.) So far, the fuel cell can generate up to hundreds of microwatts — enough to power an ultra-low-power and clinically useful neural implant.

    “It will be a few more years into the future before you see people with spinal-cord injuries receive such implantable systems in the context of standard medical care, but those are the sorts of devices you could envision powering from a glucose-based fuel cell,” says Benjamin Rapoport, a former graduate student in the Sarpeshkar lab and the first author on the new MIT study.

    Rapoport calculated that in theory, the glucose fuel cell could get all the sugar it needs from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the brain and protects it from banging into the skull. There are very few cells in the CSF, so it’s highly unlikely that an implant located there would provoke an immune response. There is also significant glucose in the CSF, which does not generally get used by the body. Since only a small fraction of the available power is utilized by the glucose fuel cell, the impact on the brain’s function would likely be small.

    Karim Oweiss, an associate professor of electrical engineering, computer science and neuroscience at Michigan State University, says the work is a good step toward developing implantable medical devices that don’t require external power sources.

    “It’s a proof of concept that they can generate enough power to meet the requirements,” says Oweiss, adding that the next step will be to demonstrate that it can work in a living animal.

    A team of researchers at Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions recently demonstrated that paralyzed patients could use a brain-machine interface to move a robotic arm; those implants have to be plugged into a wall outlet.

    Mimicking biology with microelectronics

    Sarpeshkar’s group is a leader in the field of ultra-low-power electronics, having pioneered such designs for cochlear implants and brain implants. “The glucose fuel cell, when combined with such ultra-low-power electronics, can enable brain implants or other implants to be completely self-powered,” says Sarpeshkar, author of the book “Ultra Low Power Bioelectronics.” This book discusses how the combination of ultra-low-power and energy-harvesting design can enable self-powered devices for medical, bio-inspired and portable applications.

    Sarpeshkar’s group has worked on all aspects of implantable brain-machine interfaces and neural prosthetics, including recording from nerves, stimulating nerves, decoding nerve signals and communicating wirelessly with implants. One such neural prosthetic is designed to record electrical activity from hundreds of neurons in the brain’s motor cortex, which is responsible for controlling movement. That data is amplified and converted into a digital signal so that computers — or in the Sarpeshkar team’s work, brain-implanted microchips — can analyze it and determine which patterns of brain activity produce movement.

    The fabrication of the glucose fuel cell was done in collaboration with Jakub Kedzierski at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. “This collaboration with Lincoln Lab helped make a long-term goal of mine — to create glucose-powered bioelectronics — a reality,” Sarpeshkar says. Although he has just begun working on bringing ultra-low-power and medical technology to market, he cautions that glucose-powered implantable medical devices are still many years away.

    waNkm4k.jpg?1
    PLAEdith UpwardsredxCinders
  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    More in the realm of "Let's inject brain cells into rodents": Turns out if you inject human glial cells, specifically astrocytes, into a mouse they will eventually become the de-facto glial cells of the mouse *and* make them smarter:

    http://gizmodo.com/5989511/injecting-mice-with-human-brain-cells-actually-makes-them-smarter
    Injecting Mice With Human Brain Cells Actually Makes Them Smarter
    Ashley Feinberg

    A scenario like Planet of the Apes might not be as unrealistic as we think, but fortunately—or at least for right now—it seems like our future overlords will be far less threatening than Caesar and co.. That's because scientists have discovered that injecting mice with human brain cells can actually make them smarter. All hail our hyper-intelligent, beady-eyed kings.

    The research team led by Steven Goldman and neurobiologist Maiken Nedergaard wanted to the test the importance of supporting, non-neural brain cells called "glia" in information processing. So they injected human progenitor glial cells into newborn mice, naturally. These progenitor cells are able to form all sorts of glial cells, but for this case, the most important glial cell made by progenitors were cells called "astrocytes." All animals have them, but the astrocytes in human brains are vastly more complex than in other animals. And it's these astrocytes that put the human brain in a completely different league than that of, oh—a mouse, for instance.

    Six months after the initial injection, the human glial cells had almost entirely replaced those of the mice. Our astrocytes had taken over—and it showed. The mice with the boost of brain power performed at a significantly higher level in mazes and other tasks than the control mice.

    So while the results are an incredible testament to the complex inner-workings of the brain (which we're truly just beginning to understand), it's probably best to proceed with caution. Or at least, be very, very kind to our little rodent friends. Because one day, they may be able to return the favor—or lack thereof. [PopSci]

    Image: Yurchyks / Shutterstock

    Lanz on
    waNkm4k.jpg?1
    Edith UpwardsPLATaranisredxkime
  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    Glia are amazing.

    Also <3 the brain's immunological privilege that lets us do that easily ish.

    Though astrocytes perform immunological function so it's cool that they didn't just, you know, eat the rat brains.

    PLA
  • furlionfurlion Riskbreaker Lea MondeRegistered User regular
    I am constantly amazed by the fact that despite how much we know about the brain, we still have not really begun to scratch the surface. I hope these two projects give us new insights, but it is important to realize it will probably be decades after the projects are done before we see any real benefits from the research.

    Also I wish we had a general science discussion thread. I know as someone who is no longer in academics it sucks not having a place to talk science.

    sig.gif Gamertag: KL Retribution
    PSN:Furlion
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    That MIT thing is pretty sweet - getting rid of all the biological components means the whole assembly can be more reliable. The question is how long it can go - if we're still only looking at a year or two of life it's no good, but if it'll happily turn over glucose for decades then we're talking serious business.

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