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Biotech Medicine Technology

Researcher Implants Laser-Activated Brain Cells 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-to-the-light dept.
destinyland writes "A Stanford researcher has spliced light-sensitive algae genes into human brain cells to fire neurons when activated by a laser. Light is shined through an implanted fiber optic cable (blue light on, yellow light off), and the procedure can target very specific deep brain structures too fragile for most surgery. 'Once the researcher attaches the other end of the cable to a laser, he or she has absolute and flawless control over that group of neurons.' Science writer Quinn Norton cites it as a first attempt at 'building useful handles on the very things that make us ourselves.'"
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Researcher Implants Laser-Activated Brain Cells

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  • Why brain cells.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @06:59PM (#28460183)
    This sounds an awful like binary.... Could this potentially be used to make bio-computers? Or at the very least Bio-Memory? Perhaps it has too many flaws to be useful, but the idea of using cells to store data is interesting to say the least.
    • So, how do they get the laser beam through the person's thick skull to shine on these light sensitive cells?
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is surgery, it's a way to manipulate cells that you can't reach.
        RTF Summary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        So, how do they get the laser beam through the person's thick skull to shine on these light sensitive cells?

        AWESOME! My major in trepanation will finally come in handy! Just let me warm up my drill and I'll be coasting through this recession on the cutting edge of science, baby!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zarzu (1581721)
        they need to open up the brain to insert the virus and it seems they install a 50 micrometer fiber optic cable that points to the specific cells right after that. and my best guess is that you have a cable coming out of your head which you then connect to the laser. the whole thing sounds pretty amazing with the whole algae and archaeon genes, very cool.
        • by X0563511 (793323)

          This is the Matrix on a small scale.

          Imagine that big plug really being a bundle of tiny fiber optic jacks...

          • ...And a working knowledge of how high-level cognitive phenomena emerge from the firings of these neurons...
          • Imagine that big plug really being a bundle of tiny fiber optic jacks...

            Gibson called them MicroSofts ... Rather apt I thought!

        • So, you get one of these cables implanted, then murder somebody. You can then claim that somebody else made you do it!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Researcher Implants Laser-Activated Brain Cells

    ... in a shark?

  • by basementman (1475159) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:00PM (#28460203) Homepage

    So I need to get tinfoil glasses now too so the government can't control my mind? How do you expect those of us that believe in conspiracy theories to see UFOs? Sounds shady.

    • So I need to get tinfoil glasses now too so the government can't control my mind? How do you expect those of us that believe in conspiracy theories to see UFOs? Sounds shady.

      Obligatory Leia quote: "I don't know where you get your delusions, laser brain."

  • If he can splice some photoelectric properties (generates small amount of electricity from lasers), we can finaly have a brain machine interface. But regardless this will make reading memory composition easier. Cyberpunk here we come!
  • Put me down for a laser stimulation implant of the nucleus accumbens [wikipedia.org] .

    Speaking of "stimulated emissions," I'll never leave the house!

    • by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:14PM (#28460397)
      Like with all drugs that activate the nucleus accumbens, you'd develop tolerance. Soon even the largest laser doses wouldn't suffice, and you'd become a laser addict, roaming the streets, rummaging through trash containers, trying to find old CD drives to get your laser fix. Is that really the kind of life you want for yourself?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bughunter (10093)

        Yea, coherent light would become a controlled substance. Wicked Lasers would be contraband. Laser junkies would be hanging around the NIF, begging for spare photons. It wouldn't be pretty.

        So, thanks for the foresight. I'll have them run a copper wire alongside my fiber, just in case.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Yuuki Dasu (1416345)

          I'll have them run a copper wire alongside my fiber, just in case.

          Congratulations, you've invented the droud [wikipedia.org]. Larry Niven would be proud.

        • Wicked Lasers should be contraband anyway. They sell overpriced, under-spec pieces of junk.
      • Like with all drugs that activate the nucleus accumbens, you'd develop tolerance. Soon even the largest laser doses wouldn't suffice, and you'd become a laser addict, roaming the streets, rummaging through trash containers, trying to find old CD drives to get your laser fix. Is that really the kind of life you want for yourself?

        Yes!

      • Could be worse. You could OD on a laser powerful enough to vaporize a hole your head!

      • by mcgrew (92797)

        There's an Isaac Asimov story with this as the theme. The problem (in the story) is, you have to have it plugged into a 110v AC outlet. It's a detective story, an addict is murdered when someone makes his electric cord so short he can't reach the kitchen or bathroom, so he starves to death as he can't bear to unplug it.

        I can't remember the story's name, but iirc the book it was in was titled Supermen.

        • by bughunter (10093)
          Precisely. Asimov's mystery (and Niven's "Tasp") were the inspiration for my OP. You win a cookie! (_)
  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:08PM (#28460309) Journal

    I have this mental image of a bunch of soldiers with sets of remotely controlled optical fibers hanging out of their head. For some reason in this image they're all kind of grey like something out of Edward Scissorhands or perhaps The Matrix, or maybe The Borg from Startrek....and the best bit is that the guy controlling them is doing it with an r/c aircraft radio. "Crush, kill, destroy, my pets!". Wait, I think someone has implanted MY brain with Hollywood crap. They did it the old fashioned way though - tv brainwashing.

    • It'd probably be cheaper to just build Killbots, and people would complain less too. Not to mention better armored.

    • by bughunter (10093)

      and the best bit is that the guy controlling them is doing it with an r/c aircraft radio.

      And the twist at the end is that the guy with the r/c controller is really a robot!

      • Bah, you missed that last 5 minutes where you find out the guy is real and the R/C controller is actually controlling HIM!
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      ""Crush, kill, destroy, my pets!". "

      If it was made by microsoft, right after that command they all would start stomping the life out of your pets....

      What would you do without mister fluffles?

    • Sounds a little like a Divine Assassin [wikipedia.org] to me.
  • Instantly flooded with posts beating that dead horse. (Dead shark?)

  • Lock phasers on the pleasure centers.

    Stand by to fire.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:12PM (#28460367) Homepage Journal

    Things you need to do with your DNI:

    1. Invoke mental imagery, preferably without interfering with normal vision.
    2. Infer mental imagery manipulation.. for example, when you hear the question "what letter do you get by turning a Z on its side?" results in a common specific quale of visual intelligence.
    3. Test and improve the rate and bandwidth.

    With such an interface you can do human computer interaction in ways that are completely unavailable to current input devices. Imagine having a 3d modeling tool where you can just think about the object you want, or how it differs from the object you're seeing. Imagine, if you can, receiving data at a higher bandwidth than video.

    • Really, the last place i want a virus is in my brain from hooking it to a computer, however if it was just an input device and could not have any feedback it might be ok.
    • by gknoy (899301)

      Even if a neural interface were only able to replace my mouse and keyboard (or multiple ones), I'd be happy. No need to worry about ergonomic "layout"s, no repetetive stresses. I'd love to see that, even if it's a ways off still.

  • The Bill Gates Borg icon should be used with this story.

    But seriously this is cool, but is an AI running on a nero-optic processor alive?

  • Some pics (Score:5, Funny)

    by aztektum (170569) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:20PM (#28460465)

    Here's a pic [blogspot.com] of the subject hooked up to the machine.

  • Is not the same a bunch of bricks than a home, even if you arrange them as in a house.
  • by physburn (1095481) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:37PM (#28460677) Homepage Journal
    Sci-fi has been having human "jacking in" to computer systems, via direct connection to the brain for a while. This technology ought to make that possible, Just how to make the brain cells actually connect themselves in some useful way to the rest of the brain, seems tricky though, and i hope these gene splice brain cells are safe against cancer etc.

    ---

    Futurology Feed [feeddistiller.com] @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • wasps that can do this to ants ?
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:46PM (#28460775) Journal

    And why the operators are called "illuminati". B-)

  • I wonder if they can turn on embedded programmed neurons so that you that you fire a laser to that person to tell them to do something, just like Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith where Palpatine give the command "Execute Order 66".

  • it brings us closer to realizing this great future:

    http://images.google.com/images?q=seven%20of%20nine [google.com]

    but hopefully not this future:

    http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Borg_Queen [memory-alpha.org]

  • now all we need is very advanced AI that is too retarded to build nucular power plants.
  • by Kid Zero (4866) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:19PM (#28461933) Homepage Journal

    everyone will become light headed.

  • Now we just need brain activated laser cells.
  • I am visualizing sharks with frigging lasers in my head . . .
  • MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
  • destinyland only posts stories from H+ magazine... they are neat but feels like its just an advertising extension ala Roland (RIP)

  • I guess that this particular neurologist likes to do it with the lights on.....

    ---

    Welders do it in all positions.

  • Spinal damage (Score:4, Interesting)

    by quantumphaze (1245466) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:51AM (#28463485)

    I wonder if this can be applied to other purposes like bypassing damaged sections of a paraplegics spinal cord.

    We would need to develop a neuron to laser device at the other end first, but the possibilities of making people walk again are worth investment.

  • Before Michael Crichton got in bed with the oil industry with "State of Fear" (with rain forest venom dart shooting environmentalists driving Priuses) he wrote some really good science fiction (like "The Andromeda Strain"). In a previous book "The Terminal Man" he wrote about a man who had electrical impulses providing him with biofeedback (which he abuses). Substitute lasers and Voila!
    It was later made into a movie. Anybody see it?

  • Before Michael Crichton got in bed with the oil industry with "State of Fear" (with rain forest venom dart shooting environmentalists driving Priuses) he wrote some really good science fiction (like "The Andromeda Strain"). In a previous book "The Terminal Man" he wrote about a man who had electrical impulses providing him with biofeedback (which he abuses). Substitute lasers and Voila!
    It was later made into a movie. Anybody see it?
    Also, there was an Arthur C. Clarke science fiction story where electrode

  • Researcher Implants Brain Cell-Activated Lasers!
    Fixed that for you.

  • The reverse of that would be so much cooler.

  • Researchers have learned how to make light-activated brain cells that can affect deep-brain structures and help us in "building useful handles on the very things that make us ourselves". And yet, I'm the only person who tagged this article "Dollhouse". Come on, people! Star Trek references are old; you have to move with the times if you want to keep your geek license!

    Light-activated brain writing -> Dollhouse. You should know this stuff.

  • The OMCLs (Orbital Mind Control Lasers) are on the board. Whatever you do, don't let the Bermudans get a hold of them.

  • Next...we will be able to use this to counter the deficiency that makes Parkinson's disease so horrible.

  • ...what does the PINK light that Valis shines on your brain do to you?

  • by JustNiz (692889)

    Blue = become alliance, Yellow = become horde

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell

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