Thursday, November 6, 2014

Neuroprosthetics or Making Stuff Work with Your Mind

Recently I came across an article in New Scientist online about progress being made in the advancing area of neuroprosthetics

Put simply, a neuroprosthetic is a device that boosts the input/output of the nervous system (electrical brain signals). These initiated and/or amplified signals help replace signals that have been short-circuited by disease or trauma. Researchers are also designing bidirectional brain-computer interfaces that link a device (e.g., robotic arm) to sensory nerves and muscles.

Surgical implants are being tested that restore functionality in patients with severe sensory or motor disabilities. External non-invasive brain simulators are even being sold that improve attention span while gaming. I might buy one to boost my attention when I have to gather all the information to do my taxes every year. A major snooze fest activity.

Some devices collect external stimuli/input and convert it to a signal the nervous system recognizes (e.g., cochlear implant or retinal prosthesis). This would give many folks with loss of sensory function or disabilities much more independence. Go science!

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