Hooking up your brain to a computer may seem like the first step on the road to create a hivemind (read: the Borg Collective,) but scientists in the US and China have just taken that first step.
Researchers have managed to develop a way of injecting tiny flexible circuits into the brain that can link up with neurons and monitor them.
The scientists from Harvard and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing have tested the mesh by injecting them into the brains of mice. The mesh unfurls itself to around 30 times in size and brain cells grow around the mesh.
The research, entitled Syringe-injectable electronics, is published in the journal 'Nature Nanotechnology'. The technology could have medical uses if wired up to humans -- with potential treatments for Parkinson’s and dementia.
The wires wrap themselves around the neurons and form tight connections, blurring the distinction between neural and electronic circuits. According to Charles Lieber, a nanotechnologist at Harvard University the circuit is a “hundred thousand times more flexible than other implantable electronics.”
The circuit picks up the tiny voltages created when individual neurons fire and this signal can be passed onto a computer via a connected wire. In the future this could become wireless.
According to a report in The Smithsonian, the US Air Force has funded part of the study as part of its 'Cyborgcell' programme, which focuses on small-scale electronics for the "performance enhancement" of cells.
The research could pave the way for humans to directly connect their brains to the internet via nanotechnology -- and who wouldn't want that?
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