These electrodes might at one point help coordinate prosthetic limbs
Only recently, a team of scientists working with the University of Michigan have made it public news that a new type of brain implant they have been working on for some time now is 10 times smaller than those manufactured before them.Because of this, they can potentially up the efficiency of current neural activity monitoring techniques, and, at one point in the future, they might even be able to send signals to prosthetic limbs and thus help coordinate them.
According to the specialists who looked into this issue, the idea of making electrodes bind with neurons and thus gain access to the processes taking place within the human brain is not new.
However, the electrodes designed and manufactured thus far were too big and did not really get along well with the neurons, Newswise explains.
Thus, the body's immune system more often than not attacked them, and inflammations of the brain tissue occurred on a regular basis.
“Because these devices are so small, we can combine them with emerging optical techniques to visually observe what the cells are doing in the brain while listening to their electrical signals. This will unlock new understanding of how the brain works on the cellular and network level,” specialist Takashi Kozai said.
For the time being, the researchers who developed this new type of brain implants are checking to see how a living organism's immune system responds to them.
As they explain, these electrodes will most likely have to spend years inside people's brains without negatively impacting on their physical and psychological abilities, which is why several other experiments must be carried out before a proper clinical trial can be conducted.
Still, “It's a huge step forward. This electrode is about seven microns in diameter, or 0.007 millimeters, and its closest competitor is about 25 to 100 microns,” researcher Nicholas Kotov wished to emphasize.