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Medicine Science

Neurons Can Be Changed From One Type To Another, Communication Paths Rewired (harvard.edu) 31

schwit1 writes: A newly published study from Harvard biologists [here's a link to the paywalled paper's summary] shows how neurons can be dramatically changed from one type into another from within the brain and how neighboring neurons recognize the reprogrammed cells as different and adapt by changing how they communicate with them. Building on earlier work in which they disproved neurobiology dogma by "reprogramming" neurons — turning one form of neuron into another — in the brains of living animals, Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers have now shown that the networks of communication among reprogrammed neurons and their neighbors can also be changed, or "rewired."
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Neurons Can Be Changed From One Type To Another, Communication Paths Rewired

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  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Saturday November 14, 2015 @02:01PM (#50931031) Homepage Journal
    "Well, sure," said a brainwashing industry spokesman.
    • After they rewired my brain I immediately realized that this was a wonderful thing and that everyone should do it right away!!

      ("Don't be afraid of brain slugs," says man infected with brain slug._

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Actually, as strange as this sounds, I watched a documentary where they put a thing with mechanical nubs on it into people's mouths. The mechanical piece was attached to a camera (black and white only - for contrast) and the images where then displayed by manipulating the nubs which sat on the user's tongue. With some practice (just a couple of weeks, as I recall) people were able to "see" using the nerves in their tongues.

        This was somewhere around 10 years ago - when I watched it, as I recall.

    • by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @02:37PM (#50931187)

      "Well, sure," said a brainwashing industry spokesman.

      Brainwashing is such a pejorative term...
      We prefer Non-consensual Attitude Adjustment.
      You'll like that better tomorrow...

      • by Hartree ( 191324 )

        "Non-consensual Attitude Adjustment"

        I thought that was another term for rubber hose cryptography.

        • "Non-consensual Attitude Adjustment"

          I thought that was another term for rubber hose cryptography.

          For that the term "percussive data recovery" may be more accurate...
          You don't have to beat someone to change their mind, especially if you can really go in and CHANGE their mind!

    • Well, I guess if we can't figure out how to program computers to work like brains, we'll just program brains to work like computers.

  • Let me be the first to say "uh oh", not because I think it's a bad thing (I don't, I think it's an amazing discovery) but because right now some fuckface ad exec is rubbing his sweaty little hands together wondering how he can implement this to sell more fucking widgets.

    And his counterparts in the government are doing the same thing, albeit with different aims in mind.

    • Let me be the first to say "uh oh", not because I think it's a bad thing (I don't, I think it's an amazing discovery) but because right now some fuckface ad exec is rubbing his sweaty little hands together wondering how he can implement this to sell more fucking widgets.

      And his counterparts in the government are doing the same thing, albeit with different aims in mind.

      So you guys figure that these new brain cells are going to be pre-implanted with thoughts or something? I RTFA and will probably be marked as a troll for violating the Slashdot code of ethics by doing so, but seriously - making new cells, implanting them in a person, and having other cells recognize and accept them isn't at all likely to ever result in mind control.

      • So you guys figure that these new brain cells are going to be pre-implanted with thoughts or something?

        I can't speak for the others here, but I was mostly just going for some yuks. :)

        Although, to be honest, it would not surprise me in the least if some marketing weasel saw this news story and had the reaction I outlined, lol.

        "Wow, what if there was some way to use this to sell more ChocoBars? Hmmm...."

        • This is not really much to be concerned about in any way. They put a gene into the brains of mouse embryos, and got the brain cells in a specific part of the brain to develop differently than they would have normally, without the gene put in. Not a surprising finding. It is not something you could do to a person, and it isn't going to be used for anything other than research purposes. They aren't going to try and do this to people, since changing the developmental fate of neurons during development this way

  • The Cure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is the beginning of the cure for severe autism, the symptoms of a extensive brain damage and such, and of course a step towards useful machine-brain interfaces.

  • Roger Penrose conjectures that the human soul, the secret sauce that would prevent any AI from becoming fully human, resides in a quantum connection with the microtubules in neurons. How would the neuronal plasticity envisioned here impact that?

  • For decades and decades the consensus was that neurons don't change. The overwhelming MAJORITY of researchers believed that to be true. If it had mattered, government policies would have been aligned with that overwhelmingly supported belief. Because that's what all the science and scientists said was the truth.

    But it wasn't ...

    Funny thing about 'dogma', nobody realises it's dogma while it's happening.

    We the lay public, see this announcement as science progressing. Three decades ago, well we would not e

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