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Injecting Electronics into the Brain

Injecting Electronics into the Brain

Several years ago, a wireless brain sensor capable of being implanted was being tested at Brown University. A team at Harvard has been working on creating scaffolds of a mesh of nano wires sandwiched in between layers of organic polymers, allowing it to culture living cells, creating a kind of “cyborg” tissue. They have now developed a method of injecting these electronic scaffolds via syringe.

For many years, science fiction writers have postulated taking pills that contain knowledge and brain interfaces that connect our thoughts directly to machines. This less invasive technique may allow developments in these directions. But if you think twitter is obnoxious now, just wait until tweets can be sent whenever we think something.

Brown unveils novel wireless brain sensor – [brown.edu]

February 28, 2013
In a significant advance for brain-machine interfaces, engineers at Brown University have developed a novel wireless, broadband, rechargeable, fully implantable brain sensor that has performed well in animal models for more than a year. They describe the result in the Journal of Neural Engineering and at a conference this week.

Injectable electronics hold promise for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases – [harvard.edu]

It’s a notion that might have come from the pages of a science-fiction novel — an electronic device that can be injected directly into the brain, or other body parts, and treat everything from neurodegenerative disorders to paralysis.

Sounds unlikely, until you visit Charles Lieber’s lab.

Led by Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry, an international team of researchers has developed a method of fabricating nanoscale electronic scaffolds that can be injected via syringe. The scaffolds can then be connected to devices and used to monitor neural activity, stimulate tissues, or even promote regeneration of neurons. The research is described in a June 8 paper in Nature Nanotechnology.

This Injectable Brain Implant Can Record and Stimulate Individual Neurons – [singularityhub.com]

For those who need them most, brain implants have made inspiring strides in recent years. One implant eases the involuntary tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. Another allows completely paralyzed patients to manipulate robotic arms. This is amazing stuff—but it’s only a rough draft of the future.

Most implants are still sizable relative to the brain, many are rigid, and all require invasive surgery. A new approach aims to change all that by swapping out flat implants with an injectable electronic mesh.

Mesh electronics are injected through a tiny glass needle into an aqueous solution.

In a recent paper, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a team of Harvard researchers describe the creation of a flexible nanowire mesh with nanoscale electrodes or transistors placed at each wired junction. The mesh is malleable, “soft as silk,” and spacious, allowing it to naturally incorporate into the brain and invite nearby cells to organize and position themselves in close proximity.

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