Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a new technology through which they created a new brain-machine interface. This links the brain to a silicon chip that can “film” neutral electrical activity.
Earlier also, these kinds of devices were there, which are used in prosthetics and brain research. But this new device records much more information and is less invasive than current methods.
Materials science student and lead author of the paper Abdulmalik Obaid says, “Nobody has taken these 2D silicon electronics and matched them to the three-dimensional architecture of the brain before…We had to throw out what we already know about conventional chip fabrication and design new processes to bring silicon electronics into the third dimension. And we had to do it in a way that could scale up easily.”
Science Advances, a journal, reported that this novel technology consists of several fragile wires that are half the width of a human hair. These microwires are placed inside the brain of a person, and it is connected to a silicon chip that can record the electric signals passing through. It then records these signals or “films” them, and that is how the electrical activity of individual neurons is detected.
“Electrical activity is one of the highest-resolution ways of looking at brain activity. With this microwire array, we can see what’s happening on the single-neuron level.”
-Nick Melosh, co-author and materials science professor
Experiments were conducted on rat retinal cells, and it yielded great results as several signals had been able to be “filmed.” Some further investigations will show for how long can this device be kept inside the brain. What is most interesting to the researchers is how this technology will respond to the learning abilities of individuals and potential applications in prosthetics, especially for assisted speech.