The more we learn about the brain and link that knowledge to supporting technology, the more promise exists for those trapped in their skulls.

Researchers at the University of Washington  are working on an implantable electronic chip that may help establish new nerve connections in the part of the brain that controls movement. Their most recent study, to be published in the Nov. 2, 2006, edition of Nature, showed such a device can induce brain changes in monkeys lasting more than a week. Strengthening of weak connections through this mechanism may have potential in the rehabilitation of patients with brain injuries, stroke, or paralysis.  

The authors of study, titled “Long-Term Motor Cortex Plasticity Induced by an Electronic Neural Implant,” were Dr. Andrew Jackson, senior research fellow in physiology and biophysics, Dr. Jaideep Mavoori, who recently earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the UW, and Dr. Eberhard Fetz, professor of physiology and biophysics. For many years Fetz and his colleagues have studied how the brains of monkeys control their limb muscles.

This is related to my book, Cyberchild, a sci-fi thriller about a girl who literally gets infected by microbot technology. (End shameless plug.) Soon this stuff won’t be science fiction

  1. TJGeezer says:

    “strengthening weak connections” and rerouting connections around damage – that has been key to different kinds of physical therapy for a long time, but I haven’t seen the idea supported by hard physical data before. Fascinating stuff.

    Incidentally, one criticism of your “Cyberchild” book at Amazon was that it is unrealistic about the ethical problems of animal experimentation. Yet here we have solid and very promising, potential misery-reducing medical results from years of study into how the brains of monkeys control limb movement. Somebody tell the vegans nothing’s ever that simple.

  2. Mike says:

    Cyberchild? A great book!

  3. Billabong says:

    We are just a few years from being connected to computers that will allow us to do things we only dream of today.


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