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Biotech Medicine Technology

Researcher Implants Laser-Activated Brain Cells 98

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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  • Re:First Post! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:09PM (#28460333)

    We've been over this. God is sufficient but not necessary for consciousness. It's far too early to tell either way right now. Keep working on the Hard Problem:-)

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> 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.

  • Re:So.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zarzu ( 1581721 ) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:33PM (#28460639)
    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 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 [] @ Feed Distiller []

  • 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.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.