Neural Interfacing Essay

1123 words - 4 pages

Neural Interfacing

In the motion picture “RoboCop” scientists during a future time implanted a human head into the body of a futuristic robot creating an almost unstoppable police officer.
During 1987, when this movie was produced, the idea of man combining with machine was considered pure fantasy. However, advances in technology in the year 2000 and further studies in recent years have proven that this idea may, in time, become a reality.

On October 13th 2003, sciencedaily.com in their article, Monkeys Consciously Control A Robot Arm Using Only Brain Signals, reported that researchers of Duke University had successfully taught a monkey to manipulate a robotic arm using only her brain signals and a video display.[1] Though the theory behind the idea of somehow connecting human tissue to electronic devices is relatively simple, the processes needed to create the experiment are very complex. For years scientists have understood that the brain uses small amounts of electrical currents to stimulate specific muscle movements. Some of these scientists then asked if it was possible to create a device that can be controlled simply by reading this electric activity of the brain. Only in recent years were scientists able to place this theory into practice. This amazing scientific accomplishment was made possible by surgically implanting microelectrodes (very small sensors used to measure electric activity in living tissue) into the brains of two monkeys.[2] These microelectrodes were implanted where scientists believe is the greatest amount of complex muscle control, the frontal and parietal regions of the brain.
[3] Then different measurements of electric brain activity were recorded from the microelectrodes utilizing a scientific technique called “multi-neuron population recordings”, and sent to a computer. Using special software, loaded on the computer, the brain activity was then decoded and changed into digital information used to control the robotic arm.[4] The monkey’s ability to use the robotic arm was not instinctual immediately, rather, each monkey had to learn how to use the arm. This supports the claims of some Duke scientists who state that the ability for monkeys to learn and operate another “body part” proves how much more adaptable the brain really is.[5] Sciencedaily.com concluded its report saying that the experiments performed on these monkeys show great promise concerning the implication of this technology into humans.

Finally, Duke University stated in March 2004 that developing research has continued to prove the credibility of integrating man and machine.[6] Additional reading of the article Human Studies Show Feasibility Of Brain-machine Interfaces from sciencedaily.com opens a window for the public to view this amazing advance in technology. The first study of implanting microelectrodes into the brain of a human was completed in an attempt to relieve patients from the symptoms of tremor disorder and Parkinson’s...

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