Researchers at Stanford University have engineered a brand new device for connecting the brain directly to silicon-based applied sciences. While brain-machine interface gadgets already exist—and are used for prosthetics, disease therapy and mind research—this newest device can record more information while being less intrusive than present options.
The device, the subject of a paper, appeared March 20 in Science Advances, contains a bundle of microwires, with each wire less than half the width of the thinnest human hair. These skinny wires can be gently inserted into the mind and connected on the outside straight to a silicon chip that data the electrical mind signals passing by each wire—like making a film of neural electrical activity. Present versions of the gadget embody lots of microwires; however, future models could include thousands.
The researchers reviewed their brain-machine interface on remoted retinal cells from rats and in the brains of living mice. In each case, they successfully obtained meaningful alerts throughout the array’s hundreds of channels.
Ongoing research will determine for how long the device can stay in the brain and what these alerts can reveal. The crew is very eager about what the indicators can tell them about learning. The researchers are also focusing on applications in prosthetics.