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Posted: 10/26/2004 9:07:58 AM EDT
Remember the thread the other day about the University of Florida researcher who got a jar full of cultured rat brain cells to control a flight simulator game?

Well now it seems University of Southern California researchers have done the opposite- they have built a microchip that can replace part of a rats hippocampus.

Here is the interesting part:

Mathematical mimicry

In previous work, Berger’s team had recorded exactly what biological signals were being produced in the central part of the hippocampal circuit and had made a mathematical model to mimic its activity. They then programmed the model onto a microchip, roughly 2 millimetres square.

Now the team has tested whether its chip can work like the real thing. They cut out the central part of the circuit in real rat brain slices and used a grid of miniature electrodes to feed signals in and out of their microchip. “We asked if output from an intact slice was the same as from a slice with the substituted chip,” says Berger. “The answer was yes. It works really well.”

The signals produced by the intact brain slice and the prosthetic hippocampus matched in shape, timing and statistics, the team revealed at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego on Sunday.

“It proves you can take out a piece of a central brain region - a piece with real clinical interest - replace it with a chip, and get it to operate as it did before,” said Berger.

What is left unspoken here is- if you can successfullly integrate this microchip into the brains circutry, why couldn't you just tap a extra output and record the data that passes through? And also, if you knew what the brains "language" was you could also send in signals?

Did uploading and downloading of data directly to and from living human brains get a step closer?
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 9:09:18 AM EDT
hmm, maybe I can go in for an upgrade
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 9:17:04 AM EDT

"Can you fly that thing?"
"Not yet."

That would just be so awesome. Grade school to PhD in 1 week.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 9:18:19 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Admiral_Crunch:
"Can you fly that thing?"
"Not yet."

That would just be so awesome. Grade school to PhD in 1 week.

Assuming the brain can handle THAT kind of throughput. What if it turns out that the brain has very low bandwith?
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 10:07:32 AM EDT
This article from July is also interesting:

Brain implants 'read' monkey minds

19:00 08 July 04

NewScientist.com news service

Brain implants have been used to "read the minds" of monkeys to predict what they are about to do and even how enthusiastic they are about doing it.

It is the first time such high level cognitive brain signals have been decoded and could ultimately lead to more natural thought-activated prosthetic devices for people with paralysis, says Richard Andersen project leader at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, US.

By decoding the signals from 96 electrodes in a region of the brain just above the ear – called the parietal cortex - the researchers were able to predict 67 per cent of the time where in their visual field trained monkeys were planning to reach.

They also found that this accuracy could be improved to about 88 per cent when the monkeys expected a reward for carrying out the task.

The team were even able to predict what sort of reward the monkeys were expecting - whether it was juice or just plain water – from their brain signals.

"In the future you could apply this cognitive approach to language areas of the brain," says Andersen. By doing so it may be possible to decode the words someone was thinking, he says.

'Reach region'

Previous research by Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has shown how electrodes implanted in the motor cortices of monkeys can be used to control a robot arm. But this involved recording signals used to control muscles to move the monkey's arm.

The new findings could in theory make this simpler by allowing, say, a paralysed patient to merely specify which object to reach for, and let the robot worry about how it gets there.

The monkeys were trained to think about a particular point in their visual field before reaching for it while the researchers recorded signals in an area Andersen calls the "reach region".

This area is associated with planning, he says. "It takes information from the sensory system and forms early plans for intention."

Previously it has not been clear whether these signals were cognitive or simply related to where the monkey was looking, says John Chapin, at State University of New York who is carrying out related work using a different part of the brain.

Andersen believes this work shows the signals are cognitive because the monkeys were trained not to move their eyes during their experiments so the signals are not linked directly to sensory input.

Ultimately the only way to be really sure, says Chapin, is to try it on humans.

The work was also carried out with researchers in Canada and Switzerland.

Journal reference: Science (vol 305, p 258)

Duncan Graham-Rowe

Return to news story

© Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Unlike tit jobs and body piercings THIS is one kind of implant/body modification that could have enormous positive impact.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 10:11:14 AM EDT
The brain is massively parallel, correct? Brain cells are not simple gates. I think we're decades off from even the most basic models of brain function.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 10:16:57 AM EDT
Where are Control Alt and Delete?

As long as Bill Gates has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the software, it could be viable....

I can see it now....you look deep into some gal's eyes and see

ERR fe105978768329756

press any key to restart
press # to send the dump to Microsoft

Link Posted: 10/27/2004 10:21:56 AM EDT
I am far more interested in things like thought controlled interfaces for fighter jets, ect. Than in AI.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 3:08:12 PM EDT
WTF is up this week? Here is ANOTHER article this one out of the University of Pittsburgh

Brain-linked Robot Arm Closer to "Plug-and-play"
Advance brings neural prosthetics nearer for paralyzed and limbless people
By Liz Brown
Betterhumans Staff
10/26/2004 3:51 PM

Credit: NASA
Food for thought: A new robot arm wired to the brain has allowed monkeys to feed themselves just by thinking about it

Neural prosthetics for people who are paralyzed or limbless are nearer with the development of a new brain-linked robotic arm that's a step towards a "plug-and-play" device.

Developed by US researchers at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, the arm is about the size of a child's arm and moves like a natural limb. Complete with a simple gripper, it has allowed monkeys to grab and hold food while their own arms are restrained.

While previous work by Miguel Nicolelis and colleagues at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina has also enabled monkeys to control a robotic arm with their brain, the new device requires less preparatory work to use and is more directly applicable to real-world situations.

"In previous studies, because they have all this data from the monkey moving the cursor ahead of time, they knew which brain cells linked certain directions," says Peter Passaro, a graduate student researcher in the Laboratory for Neuroengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. "In this case, they didn't know ahead of time. So what they tried to duplicate is what you would find if you go into a human patient who's a quadriplegic—you're not going to have the arm movement to train them because they don't have it."

"Breakthrough" development

For their study, the researchers from Pittsburgh wired a robot arm to a monkey's brain using electrodes attached to probes that tap into neuronal pathways in the motor cortex. The motor cortex is the region of the brain responsible for voluntary movement.

This region of the brain contains thousands of neurons that fire in different directions for various movements. The direction which a neuron fires fastest is its "preferred direction."

To interpret these signals, the researchers developed an algorithm which translates the directions to the arm, telling it which direction to go. The algorithm fills in the missing neuron signals that can't be tapped, allowing the machine to get a useable signal from fewer electrodes. By finding a cell's preferred direction, the algorithm predicts the movement based on what the majority of the cells prefer.

"This is a breakthrough in the development of neural prosthetic devices that will someday lead to devices that could help people who are paralyzed or who have lost limbs," says Andrew Schwartz, senior researcher on the project.

Hands and fingers next

The monkeys were trained to reach for food, and when the electrodes were added, their arms were restrained and the algorithm adjusted to assume the animal was reaching for food.

"Each cell is movement-sensitive and has a preferred direction, and each cell's preferred direction is like a vote," says Chance Spalding, a graduate student who presented the findings. "When all of the votes are added up it gives us the population vector."

The "votes," in turn, serve as the control signal, passing the monkey's intention to the robotic arm.

However, the monkeys have to modify their thinking to refine the control of the arm, as the algorithm isn't completely accurate, relying on only a small number of the thousands of neurons that move a real arm.

"The next step with this device is to add realistic hand and finger movement," says Meel Velliste, a member of the research team. "This presents quite a challenge because there are hundreds of different subtle movements we make with our hands and we need to interpret all of them."

The research was reported in San Diego, California at the 2004 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Link Posted: 10/27/2004 3:10:37 PM EDT

no and if or buts...
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