Feb 12, 2017 11:57 PM EST
Harvard's New Technology That Could Revolutionize Brain Implants
The Harvard Medical School is currently testing a new technology that makes brain implants become possible without scarring the brain tissue. The technology aims to help restore the vision of blind people.
The Harvard Medical School will test a brain implant that will put data into the brain which is designed to avoid the problem. What makes this implant revolutionary is that it will penetrate the skull and rest on the surface of the brain. As of the moment, existing brain implants used in clinical trials penetrate the brain hurting the tissues which make its electrical connection to the brain less effective.
On the other hand, the new implants that will 'land' on the surface of the brain is armed with a number of microscopic coils inside the ultra-thin device. These coils can generate very powerful magnetic fields which specifically target different parts of the brain tissue underneath. These magnetic fields incite electrical activity in the targeted locations.
The implants will be tested on monkeys and will target the visual cortex of the animals in hopes to 're-create the activity that is normally triggered by signals from the eyes.' Through this stimulation, scientists hope that it will create the sense of sight even without those signals from the eyes.
Another significant characteristic of this new brain implants is that it never degrades over time. That's because tissue does not form on magnetic fields, unlike electric currents.
Bernard Casse, a researcher at PARC institute where the brain implants were invented, said that at the end of the experiments, they want to see the monkeys navigate a maze even by just identifying geometric patterns as well as light and dark.
Meanwhile, Todd Coleman, a professor at the University of California, San Diego said that the new design shows a lot of promise although it might take a long time before they can be tested on humans.
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