What are Brain Chips?
Brain chips are something in the scientific and medical community that can potentially cure life altering diseases and injuries. Many advances have been discovered so far, and it is only a matter of time until research and discoveries further the possibilities that these chips can be used for. Today these chips have been experimented by the use of animal testing, and have even shown success in human patients as well. The possibilities are limitless as to what could be done with the help of further research and experimenting, all that is needed is the knowledge about how the brain actually works. With our ability to experiment, and learn how things work, the possibilities that brain chips can be used for are endless.
How Have They Helped so Far?
As well as being able to treat some diseases that doctors have never been able to treat before, these brain chips also help another type of patient, patients suffering from paralyses. Since now, it has always been thought that if you become paralyzed, you will be that way forever, and you will never be able to do some of the same things again. In a study done by Brown University/MGH a brain-computer interface, made by Cyberkinetics, was used to help the paralyzed patient control a mouse cursor on a computer screen. A tiny silicon chip was implanted into the patients brain, and sent the brain’s signals to the computer to be decoded and therefore being able to tell the cursor where the patient wanted it to move to. The first patient to ever use this software was a 25 year old man who had become paralyzed after a knife wound in 2001. He began learning how to control the cursor, was then able to use an e-mail program, control the t.v., and even change the channel using this brain chip. After he had mastered these tasks, researchers set the device up using a robotic arm and the man was able to control it. Senior scientist on the project, founder of Cyberkinetics, and a neuroscientist at Brown University in Providence, RI, John Donoghue says, “It was exciting because he picked up on that very quickly – around ten minutes” (Young 2012).
Brain Chips and Trauma Patients
In another research study (shown in the video above), a quadriplegic patient was able to use a chip implanted in her brain to control a robotic arm. This experiment was performed again by John Donoghue and his team at Brown University alongside with Blackrock Microsystems in Utah who make the implants. “Not only can people control a computer cursor, they can control really complex devices like a robotic arm that can carry out the functions that our own arm can do,” says Donoghue (Young 2012). In this study, a chip is implanted on the surface of the brain which then as the patient wishes to move the arm, records the neuron impulses and sends them to the computer which then reads them, and moves the arm accordingly. Paralyzed patients might one day even be able to do things on their own again. In this study, the patient performed only a simple task, raising a bottle close enough to her mouth that she could drink from a straw. With advancement of this technology, paralyzed patients may be able to once again live by themselves and perform day to day activities on their own. Donoghue and his team are now working on making the chip wireless since as of now it has to be plugged into an external setup.