Sunday, July 13, 2003

Backing up your brain

If you are just a sum of your memories, backing up your brain could be the way to eternal life.

Getting hardware and wetware to talk to each other is becoming a reality. Researchers have successfully developed the cochlear implant (a device that can restore a semblance of hearing to the severely deaf). We still have to learn a lot, but we are getting there fast

A team in Los Angeles, announced they are beginning trials with the world's first brain prosthesis, an implantable hippocampus.
Hippocamus stores new memories. When it stops functioning, new memories cannot be 'written' on to the brain. This device lets the recording begins once more.

The principle ? One set of electrodes detects the electrical activity coming in from the rest of the brain, while the other sends appropriate electrical instructions back out to the brain.

A team from Stanford University is attempting to develop an artificial synapse on a silicon chip (the junctions between nerve cells). These are more elegant ways of stimulating individual nerve cells than sending electrical impulses.

A team at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have announced the first robot controlled by a network of nerve cells in a Petri dish.
This neural network consists of a few thousand neurons from a rat brain. The neural signals are picked up by microelectrodes, amplified, digitised and sent to a computer. The computer then separates real signals from background noise and drives the robot.

Can I back up myself in 50 years ? A good chance I'd say !


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