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  • drdianehamilton 11:55 am on May 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brain implant, Daily News, , Guardian, , Johnny Mnemonic, Matrix, Medical device, Science   

    Brain Implants: Is the Matrix Becoming Reality? 

    Intelligence has been defined by many, yet completely understood by few.  In Jeff Hawkin’s book On Intelligence, he explained that the way computers process information is not the same way a brain may process information.  This led to his life-long desire to better understand what he referred to as real intelligence.  He explained that human intelligence is far different from artificial intelligence.

    The transfer of data from machine to man is not as easy as movies have led the public to believe. In the Matrix, megabytes of data were simply uploaded into the human brain.  This data then allowed for increased knowledge and abilities. In the past, this was just fun science fiction.

    However, now neural implants linking our brains to machines have become a reality. In a study published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, microchips were inserted into rats’ brains with wires threaded to their hippocampus. This has been a major study in the area of artificial working memory.

    Samsung has also been working on developing a technology that strategically implants electrodes into the human brain called Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs). IMDs could monitor a person’s psychological and pathological state. It may even be able to notify emergency personnel if necessary.

    Researchers are gaining new insight as to how the brain processes language through the use of a new technology that translates brain activity into words. The Guardian reported that “devices could transform the lives of thousands of people who lose the ability to speak as a result of a stroke or other medical conditions.”

    While humans have used their brains to control prosthetic robotic arms, new technology used on monkeys has focused on gaining even more dexterity down to the finer movements at the level of fingers.  Scientists hope that brain implants can eventually be of great help to people with paralysis. The Daily News reported that recent studies showed that monkeys with electrodes implanted in their brains and arms were able to grasp and move the ball despite having had their hand anaesthetised.

    While science may not be at the Matrix level yet, there have been strides made in research.  Hawkins predicted in his 2004 book, that this decade could be the time that truly intelligent devices/machines are created that may make an important difference for mankind.

    Samsung thinks up mind-reading brain implant(news.cnet.com)

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  • drdianehamilton 5:49 pm on January 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Body Worlds, , Cropreservation, Cryogenics, , , , Plastination, Science, , Ted Williams   

    CryoPreservation: Having Your Brain Preserved After You Die 

    Ted Williams help to bring to light cryogenics and the procedure of freezing a human head.  While preserving parts of us after we die may seem bazaar, there may be some things we can learn from brain preservation. 

    According to the Brain Preservation Organization, “Due to a series of recent scientific developments, human beings may soon have an inexpensive and reliable way to preserve their brains, including the molecular features that give rise to their memories and identities, in room-temperature storage after they die. This technology is called plastination (chemopreservation), or chemical fixation and embedding in plastic, and is a distant cousin of the process seen in such exhibits as Body Worlds. Today, “perfect” plastination is routinely done for very small amounts of brain tissue (one millimeter cubed), and soon it will be attempted for whole animal and human brains. Cryopreservation (involving very low temperature storage) is another, more expensive process that also deserves to be carefully evaluated for its ability to preserve the critical structures of our brains. Today, leading-edge neuroscience is identifying the synaptic structures that store and generate our unique memories and identity, and new imaging techniques are allowing us to verify when these special structures have been successfully preserved, starting with general synaptic connectivity all the way to the signal states of individual brain proteins.”

    This organization is even offering a prize of $106,000 to those teams that can actually preserve a large animal brain.  Their hope is to preserve the human wisdom and diversity that dies with us along with our brains. 

    As one might guess, not everyone is thrilled with this idea.  For those with objections to such a project, this site has created a page for overcoming objections

    Their mission is to, “promote scientific research and services development in the field of whole brain preservation for long-term static storage. Through outreach to appropriate scientific communities, online activities, presentations and articles, directed research grants, challenge prizes, and other methods, we seek to explore the scientific hypothesis of whether a reliable surgical procedure exists that is capable of preserving the precise neural circuitry of the human brain at nanometer scale.”

    For those interested in reading more about cryopreservation, chemical preservation or scanning and circuit mapping click here for more information.

     
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