UC Berkeley researchers are developing "Neural Dust," tiny wireless sensors for implanting in the brain, muscles, and intestines that could someday be used to control prosthetics or a "electroceuticals" to treat epilepsy or fire up the immune system. So far, they've tested a 3 millimeter long version of the device in rats.
“I think the long-term prospects for neural dust are not only within nerves and the brain, but much broader,“ says researcher Michel Maharbiz. “Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something supertiny superdeep. But now I can take a speck of nothing and park it next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data."
Maharbiz, neuroengineer Jose Carmena, and their colleagues published their latest results on "Wireless Recording in the Peripheral Nervous System with Ultrasonic Neural Dust" in the journal Neuron.
From UC Berkeley:
While the experiments so far have involved the peripheral nervous system and muscles, the neural dust motes could work equally well in the central nervous system and brain to control prosthetics, the researchers say. Today’s implantable electrodes degrade within 1 to 2 years, and all connect to wires that pass through holes in the skull. Wireless sensors – dozens to a hundred – could be sealed in, avoiding infection and unwanted movement of the electrodes.
“The original goal of the neural dust project was to imagine the next generation of brain-machine interfaces, and to make it a viable clinical technology,” said neuroscience graduate student Ryan Neely. “If a paraplegic wants to control a computer or a robotic arm, you would just implant this electrode in the brain and it would last essentially a lifetime.”
"Sprinkling of neural dust opens door to electroceuticals"
The new episode of the always-fascinating Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast is a play-through of the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials attached to the Voyager I and II space probes launched in 1977. Listen below. The Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music […]
Yale scientists have managed to restore some biological function to the brains of dead pigs killed in a slaughterhouse 4 hours before the experiment.
Well, sort of. Paleontologists have identified a 430 million-year-old fossil of a multi-tentacled sea creature as a new species and dubbed it Sollasina cthulhu after HP Lovecraft’s Great Old One. From Yale University: The new cthulhu, Sollasina, had 45 tentacle-like tube feet, which it used to crawl along the ocean floor and capture food. The […]
Seasoned chefs have a bit of a love-hate relationship with their cutlery. A really good set of knives has to prove its worth by being put through the wringer – and if they’re really good, they’ll still look great afterward. So it is with the Damasukasu Japanese 3-Piece Master Chef Hanshu Knife Set. Sitting in […]
With the intuitive software out there today, anyone can become a music producer. You’ve probably heard that from any number of laptop impresarios, but you still have to know how to use the tools – and Logic Pro X is one of the best platforms out there right now. In order to get the most […]
Believe it or not, PDF files have been the go-to format for contracts and forms of any type since 1993. And sure, they’re easily shareable – but that’s about it. When you need to edit or sign a document – and you will – that’s when frustration can set in. Luckily, there are workarounds, and […]