Grow a brain!

October 2, 2011

There must be something in the water lately, because I haven’t seen so many “human brain” related stories, innovations and breakthroughs for a long time.

This week Jason Jordan of radio Perth 6PR and I chat our way through some of the new horizon research including:

1. a group of researchers at Tel Aviv University have taken the first and very very early steps towards replacing our damaged or faulty brain synaptic micro-circuitry, the stuff that stores our memories and helps pass our thoughts backwards and forwards, with a computer chip.

2. Scientists from the University of California Berkley have been able to peer inside our brain using a fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and with a lot of calculation and effort extract moving pictures that show what we are thinking, take a look:

We also took a quick look at wheelchairs that are activated by your thoughts, Nissan working on brain assisted cars that will know what you want to do and instantaneously correlate that with the car’s activity, what’s happening around the car and up ahead and check whether that’s the safest / best thing to do; and the perennial story of the death of the keyboard and mouse as we tap into our thoughts to type and navigate our way around our computers and devices.

Brain assisted devices, synthetic brains, downloading and storing our memories are tomorrow’s frontier.

The human fascination to understand and tinker with our brains has been there for millenniums. Our understanding of the brain is developing exponentially. Technology and medicine are rising to the challenge and slowly evolving research into purposeful reality. The question is, as always, what will we do if we can ultimately alter and control our brains.

My reality is that we will not automatically all become cyborgs, fused with artificial intelligence, but rather that we will harness this new knowledge (and what is yet to be discovered) to progress our well being, health and longevity.

Doctors already routinely map our brain before during and after operations and treatments. We are already replacing worn out and defective body parts with machines – cochlear implants, pacemakers, bionic eye, stints, artificial hearts, hips and limbs.

That’s not to say we can’t, and haven’t, abused what we discover, but as always these are humans using technology for evil, not technology itself (which is benign in its dormant state) doing the abusing.

Anyway have a listen and let me know your thoughts on this “brave new world”:

and listen live each Sunday at 4.40 p.m. (WST).