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article imageBrain chip helps injured rats to move

By Tim Sandle     Dec 12, 2013 in Science
With a futuristic brain patch, brain-injured rats regained the ability to reach out and grab a bit of food. This new technology might one day help people will spinal injuries.
The new technology takes the form of a computer implant. The newly created electrical device bypasses a damaged brain area and allows neurones to connect, the Daily Mail has reported. The result is the basis of a cyborg rat.
The chip, called a “Biomimetic MicroElectronic System”, mimics the cerebellum, a small region of the brain which plays an important role in motor control and movement. With the study, Smart Planet reports, the scientists had rats learn a task, pressing one of two levers to receive a sip of water. Scientists inserted a microchip into the rat’s brain, with wires threaded into their hippocampus.
The developers behind the device hope that it might ultimately lead to ways to repair damage from stroke, blast injuries and diseases such as Parkinson’s. However, not all are overjoyed by the project. Infowars notes that such devices may have sister future implications. They state:
“More terrifying is the potential for implementation of what was only a science fiction fantasy – the “Thought Police” – where the government reads people’s memories and thoughts and can then rehabilitate them through torture before they ever even commit a crime based on a statistical computer analysis showing people with certain types of thoughts are likely to commit a certain type of crime in the future.”
The next step is to design and build a device for testing on primates, with the eventual goal of taking into clinical trials with humans.
The device was developed by the University of Southern California, home of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. The findings have been published in the PNAS journal.
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