These microchips are said to be the brain-computer interface of the future

A research team has developed a network of sensors that can record brain signals and activate brain regions in a targeted manner. The special thing about it is that it’s not about one slice, but hundreds.

Research on brain implants is being conducted in many directions and by many institutions. Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is also working on a chip that could be implanted into the brain and would enable the wearer to move objects using thought control, for example. Recently, Neuralink had such a monkey running the video game Pong.

The so-called Neurograins system for a research team from Brown University in the smallest US state in Rhode Island primarily aimed to ultimately achieve a therapeutic benefit, but initially its goals fell far short of Musk’s Neuralink.

Neurotransmitters are supposed to provide a comprehensive picture of brain activity

First of all, Neurograin researchers want to create a situation in which they can receive and evaluate as many brain signals as possible from as many brain regions as possible. To do this, they disassembled the previously somewhat monoclinic construction of the corresponding electrode solutions and reduced them to the size of a grain of salt. Instead of a compact “patch” containing up to a hundred electrodes, Brown’s researchers use several hundred tiny sensors that are as small as a grain of salt and that can be distributed over the entire cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of tissue in the brain.

“One of the big challenges in the field of brain-computer interfaces is finding ways to capture as many points in the brain as possible. Until now, most brain-computer interfaces have been monolithic devices, somewhat like beds of tiny needles. The idea of ​​our team was to break this monolith into Fine sensors that can be distributed across the cerebral cortex.”
Professor Arto Normiko, Brown University, Rhode Island

These tiny electrodes collect brain signals independently of each other, amplify them and send them to a receiver unit, which is the size of a thumbprint, attached to the outside of the head. This in turn collects signals from chips that can be individually processed via network addresses and forwards them to a computer. It also wirelessly powers small, independent neurons. It uses 1 GHz transdermal communication for communication and control.

Almost done!

Please click the link in the confirmation email to complete your registration.

Would you like more information about our newsletter? Find out more now

The experiment on animals was successful, and the system is scheduled to be further miniaturized

Nervousness on the tip of the thumb. (Photo: Jihoon Lee/Brown University)

The team was able to demonstrate the function in an animal experiment. They inserted 48 neurons into mice and were able to use them to read the animal’s brain signals. Because sensors have their own network addresses, the signals captured can be assigned to the area of ​​the brain in which the sensor is located. They also succeeded in stimulating areas of the brain specifically with electrical impulses.

In a larger organism, the Neurograins system can currently operate with up to 770 sensors. Thanks to further miniaturization, it is assumed that the system will soon be able to reach several thousand such chips. This would enable a previously unknown image of the brain signals of the Neurograins user. Professor Normiko’s team sees this as the key to developing modern forms of therapy that can work with thought control or, conversely, with brain stimulation.

Objective: to help people with “devastating injuries”

“We hope that eventually we can develop a system that will enable new scientific knowledge about the brain and new treatments that can help people with devastating injuries,” said study leader Normiko.

In addition to Brown University, researchers from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, University of California, San Diego, and chip maker Qualcomm were involved in the four-year project. The team has the results of its work in the journal Science nature chest.

You may also be interested in it

See also  Paoli Tech distributes computers to all of its students

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top