November 13, 2011
Higher Capacity Brain Surface Interface Device

The scientists say it is for people with diseases. But of course the gamers will eventually be the biggest users. Of course, if virtual game playing is an addiction the scientists are right anyhow.

PHILADELPHIA - A team of researchers co-led by the University of Pennsylvania has developed and tested a new high-resolution, ultra-thin device capable of recording brain activity from the cortical surface without having to use penetrating electrodes. The device could make possible a whole new generation of brain-computer interfaces for treating neurological and psychiatric illness and research. The work was published in Nature Neuroscience.

When will the first person get their skull sawed open to implant an interface to play video games faster? Which country will they have to travel to in order to get this surgery done? Seriously. Also, will humans ever drive cars with implanted interfaces? Or will cars be shifted to pure robotic operation before that happens?

There is of course scientific value to a higher resolution way to measure brain activity.

"The new technology we have created can conform to the brain's unique geometry, and records and maps activity at resolutions that have not been possible before," says Brian Litt, MD, the study's senior author and Associate Professor of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine and Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. "Using this device, we can explore the brain networks underlying normal function and disease with much more precision, and its likely to change our understanding of memory, vision, hearing and many other normal functions and diseases." For our patients, implantable brain devices could be inserted in less invasive operations and, by mapping circuits involved in epilepsy, paralysis, depression and other 'network brain disorders' in sufficient detail, this could allow us to intervene to make patients better, Litt said.

Want a brain implant that distracts you from negative thoughts? No, I'm not talking about emotional depression. I'm talking about the sorts of resentful negative thoughts people develop when the financial system nearly crashes. An implant could help you become comfortably numb.

A 360 channel array. No doubt future models will come with even higher capacity.

Composed of 720 silicon nanomembrane transistors in a multiplexed 360-channel array, the newly designed ultrathin, flexible, foldable device can be positioned not only on the brain surface but also inside sulci and fissures or even between the cortical hemispheres, areas that are physically inaccessible to conventional rigid electrode arrays. Current arrays also require separate wires for each individual sensor, meaning that they can sample broad regions of the brain with low resolution or small regions with high resolution, but not both. The multiplexed nanosensors of the new device can cover a much large brain area with high resolution, while using almost ten times fewer wires.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 November 13 09:43 PM  Cyborg Tech

Abelard Lindsey said at November 14, 2011 10:52 AM:

Virtual reality gives new meaning to the expression "turn on, tune in, and drop out".

I think there is serious money to be made in this kind of technology. And, since I don't give a shit about turning much of the human race into VR addicts, I think I'm the guy to commercialize the technology and make the pile of money.

I don't give a rat's ass about society and all of the other horse shit that we're supposed to care about. Because I don't. I just want to get frigging rich. That's my ONLY purpose in life right now. Nothing else matters to me at all.

Darian Smith said at November 14, 2011 1:59 PM:

This is very exciting, the better our tools the faster we can get a deeper understanding of brain function, and improve automation with said insights.

Demolition Man said at November 15, 2011 4:01 AM:

On the other hand, pollution from common chemicals dramatically increases risk of neurological diseases.
"Exposure to a man-made chemical known as trichloroethylene, or TCE, is associated with a sixfold increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a new study published Monday in the Annals of Neurology. TCE is a common organic contaminant that pollutes groundwater, soil, and air.The study also found that exposure to another man-made chemical similar to TCE, known as perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene, or PERC, is associated with a tenfold increased risk of Parkinson's. Both chemicals are found in metal degreasers, metal cleaners, paint, spot removers, and carpet-cleaning fluids."The fact that we were able to find a six-to-tenfold increased risk in exposure I think is very meaningful," says Dr. Samuel M. Goldman, an associate professor of clinical research at The Parkinson's Institute and the lead author of the study.""

eric said at November 15, 2011 9:57 AM:

Considering most Pro Starcraft BroodWar players train for a year before considering going pro, I'd say they're your most likely candidate. Even if it doesn't start in South Korea they'll adopt it pretty fast. Their life is as close as you can get to living in a game.

Mike T said at November 15, 2011 11:19 AM:

"But of course the gamers will eventually be the biggest users."

Historically it has been the pornography industry that has first exploited new technology.

Scott said at November 15, 2011 12:43 PM:

Somewhere, Louis Wu is smiling.

mrsizer said at November 15, 2011 1:15 PM:

I was thinking more Multicolored Land with the pyschic boosters or Soul Rider with the brain reprogramming, but Ringworld with drouds works, too.

CptNerd said at November 15, 2011 6:51 PM:

One step closer to "Ghost in the Shell" cyberbrains...

M. Report said at November 15, 2011 7:17 PM:

The first SF story in this line was in A. C. Clarke's 'Tales from the White Hart'.

A wife shot her husband when she found out he would rather experience recordings
of sexual athletes going at it than go to bed with her; It made _her_ day. >:)

Voyager said at November 15, 2011 10:04 PM:

Honestly, I expect the non-invasive ones to be the ones to break out into the commercial sector. When they do, they'll be used for near everything.

Of course, then you run into the potential "He hacked my brain!" problem, but such is life.

Abelard Lindsey said at November 16, 2011 1:54 PM:

It will be the non-invasive version of this technology that will be a huge money-maker. I follow this field for investment purposes. I think this technology is wonderful and I want to make money from it anyway I can. I don't care about the social implications of this or any other technology. Social implications mean nothing to me. If I can get rich off of a particular technology, that's the only thing that matters to me.

Done Gone Galt said at November 17, 2011 5:08 PM:

Thee Matrix is coming.

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