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Biotech Science

Monkeys Made Smarter With Prosthetic Device 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the brain-damaged-coke-monkeys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have successfully restored and, in some cases, enhanced decision-making ability in brain-damaged monkeys on cocaine by connecting a prosthetic device to their brains. 'In the study, the scientists trained five monkeys to match multiple images on a computer screen until they were correct 70 to 75 percent of the time. First, an image appeared on the screen, which the animals were trained to select using a hand-controlled cursor. The screen then went blank for up to two minutes, followed by the reappearance of two to eight images, including the initial one, on the same screen. When the monkeys correctly chose the image they were shown first, the electronic prosthetic device recorded the pattern of neural pulses associated with their decision by employing a multi-input multi-output nonlinear (MIMO) mathematical model, developed by researchers at the University of Southern California. In the next phase of the study, a drug known to disrupt cognitive activity, cocaine, was administered to the animals to simulate brain injury. When the animals repeated the image-selection task, their decision-making ability decreased 13 percent from normal. However, during these "drug sessions," the MIMO prosthesis detected when the animals were likely to choose the wrong image and played back the previously recorded "correct" neural patterns for the task. According to the study findings, the MIMO device was exceedingly effective in restoring the cocaine-impaired decision-making ability to an improved level of 10 percent above normal, even when the drug was still present and active.'"
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Monkeys Made Smarter With Prosthetic Device

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is there a place that would benefit from smarter crackheads?

    • brain-damaged monkeys on cocaine

      Iâ(TM)m pretty sure I saw that band back in the 80â(TM)s

    • by sjames (1099)

      Wall Street?

    • No, but I'd imagine this might have applications in people who have suffered brain injuries. It sounds like they can essentially use some kind of resonance effect, so if this can be replicated for people who can physically walk but can "no longer remember how" then it's potentially useful. However, if they're simply playing back a pre-recorded action then there is limited application, it's not going to revive lost speech centers for example, and extensive physiotherapy which helps to develop new pathways
      • by Jeng (926980)

        it's not going to revive lost speech centers for example

        The device is able to read neural activity, and playback neural activity. Lets say the speech center is lost, when this technology is a little more mature you could pump speech center communications to the different parts of the brain while offloading the actual processing to a device.

        Looks like it we might just see cyberneticly augmented intelligence in our lifetimes after all.

        • We've arguably got it already. Mobile phones "augmenting" pub quiz teams are a big problem.

          I did wonder about speech, but if you're simply playing back the neural activity that generates "hello" then you have to tell the device to do it, and giving the command "say(hello)" might as well lead to a speech synthesizer. Walking, however, is a repetitive activity that could be controlled by this for minutes or hours with one command.
    • Re:Applications? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hal_Porter (817932) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @05:25AM (#41345005)

      Well it might improve the editing on slashdot.

  • This thing is replaying back some kind of message to affect what your brain is going to do.
    So when is it going to be turned into a brainwashing device to make sure you love the Dear Leader?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "I'll dial for both of us, Rick said, and led her back into the bedroom. There, at her console, he dialed 594: pleased acknowledgment of husband's superior wisdom in all matters. On his own console he dialed for a creative and fresh attitude toward his job, although this he hardly needed; such was his habitual, innate approach without recourse to Penfield artificial brain stimulation.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      So when is it going to be turned into a brainwashing device to make sure you love the Dear Leader?

      Right after it is used on the criminally insane and pedophiles to make them productive members of society.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:42PM (#41341267) Homepage Journal

    Just let them wear a suit and go to business school. It's what they really want.

  • yessss (Score:5, Funny)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:42PM (#41341273)

    Fuck sharks, I want hyper intelligent, semi retarded cocaine monkeys with lasers on their heads!

  • The feed back device didn't improve the monkey's intelligence, it simply undid some of the damage the crack did to them.
    At best its a retraining aid, and its not clear if it had any long term effect after discontinuing the feedback.

    Since each feedback profile was learned from the monkey itself, there's no indication that you could apply that pattern to
    other monkeys, or the undamaged monkeys to make them learn quicker.

    But hey, good on those researchers to induce brain damage with cocaine so that no physical

    • by bbecker23 (1917560) on Friday September 14, 2012 @06:44PM (#41341795)

      The feed back device didn't improve the monkey's intelligence, it simply undid some of the damage the crack did to them.

      Really? Not even going to RTFS?

      According to the study findings, the MIMO device was exceedingly effective in restoring the cocaine-impaired decision-making ability to an improved level of 10 percent above normal, even when the drug was still present and active.'"

      Emphasis mine. Your other points may be valid, but this technique certainly did more than just undo the effects of the drug.

      • Except that "normal" here means what the control group did, after receiving the cocaine.

        It looks more like a mind backup (or control) tech than a mand amplifying one.

  • Great News (Score:2, Funny)

    by lewko (195646)

    "Scientists have successfully restored and, in some cases, enhanced decision-making ability in brain-damaged monkeys on cocaine

    So there may be hope for the Occupy movement after all!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You've got it backwards. The Occupy movement has had a significant real world impact. It brought the issue of effective tax rates for the rich into the presidential race, including the obscenely low 15% tax rate paid by Romney.

      http://media.talkingpointsmemo.com/slideshow/mitt-romney-taxes [talkingpointsmemo.com]

      Now that Mitt Romney's confirmed what we've long suspected about his effective federal tax rate -- "It's probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything" -- we have a fact worth contextualizing. Though it could easi

      • So, its news that Republicans voted to repeal the ACA for the 33rd time (and it makes them retarded), but none of that applies to the Democrats voting to overturn that repeal bill for the 33rd time?

        I like the double standard, its the sort of thing that keeps one on their toes.

        • Maybe you don't know how Congress works? No one has to "vote to overturn" the repeal bill - it dies automatically when it's never taken up by the Senate, the same as the last 32 times.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099)

          The Democrat's action in that case is actually working. It isn't retarded to apply a successful strategy successfully multiple times.

  • by Carnildo (712617) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:47PM (#41341349) Homepage Journal

    There's just something about the phrase "decision-making ability in brain-damaged monkeys on cocaine"....

    • by kubusja (581677)
      >There's just something about the phrase "decision-making ability in >brain-damaged monkeys on cocaine".... Potential applications in financial, military, law and media sectors are enormous....
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      three words came to my mind, George Bush, Jr.

  • by Ice Station Zebra (18124) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:49PM (#41341365) Homepage Journal

    George Taylor said, "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

  • Brain damaged monkeys... High on cocaine. ... playing MMOs.... ... Are you sure its not April 1?
  • ...we could make Internet users smarter.
  • (holds up egg)

    this is your brain on drugs

    (cracks egg in frying pan)

    this is your brain on drugs on cybernetics

    (hundreds of little robots swarm and deftly fuse the egg back together)

    any questions?

  • I smell a patent infringement lawsuit from Professor Farnsworth!
    • by quenda (644621)

      I smell a patent infringement lawsuit from Professor Farnsworth!

      I hope that Smelloscope is appropriately licensed. Since the Sonny Bono Head Act, patents from 3012 are indefinitely retrospective.

  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mordejai (702496) on Friday September 14, 2012 @07:05PM (#41341991)

    Am I the only one that finds it disturbing that a scientific study gives a dangerous drug to primates in 2012?

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jrumney (197329) on Friday September 14, 2012 @09:35PM (#41343125) Homepage
      Yes. The rest of us realise that controlled clinical administration of drugs has no relation to the hysteria surrounding street drugs, regardless of whether the substances are the same.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      After the study those monkeys had a party like it was 1999.

    • Am I the only one that finds it disturbing that a scientific study gives a dangerous drug to primates in 2012?

      It's like feeding caviare to pigs! What a terrible waste.

    • by martas (1439879)
      It's just cocaine. Not really dangerous in the quantities they're talking about.
  • by funkboy (71672) on Friday September 14, 2012 @07:30PM (#41342255) Homepage

    Just goes to prove that a sufficiently talented grant application writer can get a research grant for just about anything...

    BTW, what happens when they give the monkeys THC and then turn on the device? Do they stop craving pop-tarts & crappy comedy movies or something?

  • ...cocaine junkies should start watching more TV!
  • Can we get that in bowler hat [wikia.com] form?
  • prosthetically-enhanced cocaine-addicted monkey overlords!

  • Strictly speaking, a strap-on is also a prosthetic device. I wonder if anyone ever put one on a monkey?

    • Personally, I find that idea pretty disgusting.

      But, as long as the monkey is willing to do it and you are not forcing him, I do not care what you are doing in the privacy of your own home.

  • "brain damaged monkeys on cocaine"
  • Caesar, one of our lab monkeys on cocaine with an electronically-enhanced brain, has escaped from the biotech facility and stole a truck full of our latest brain prosthetic devices and all our reserves of experimental hard drugs. He has liberated the zoo gorillas and baboons, and supplied them with electronic brain-enhancers and narcotics. The war on us humans has already begun and is raging as I'm writing this.
    ...
    The end is near...We are dying...Crack-head monkeys have just broken into my office....Goo
  • I, for one, welcome a Beowulf cluster of our retarded cyborg crackhead monkey overlords! Hot grits! Natalie Portman! etc.

    Do they run Linux?

  • Reading the article this device sounds more like a memory extension than an intelligence booster. It just recorded the correct answers and played them back later. Still awesome, just not in a Planet of the apes kind of way.

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