A team at Caltech is working on a MEMS-based robot probe that will be able to slowly creep electrodes into your brain to connect up to specific neurons. Creepy indeed, but with potential uses for advanced control of prosthetic limbs, Luke Skywalker-style. But the idea has greater potential for "state-of-the-art experimental techniques for electrophysiology." according to team-leader Michael Wolf. And that's just got me picturing the neural probes of The Matrix.
The device would sense its way in, using MEMS motors to carefully push in multiple electrodes into the brain and detecting electrical activity at their tips. When the system senses an activity spike, the robotic probe would adjust microscopically, and then either stay put or move on to find a better signal. The micro-mechanical part is still in development, but the team says the software side of the device (that would enable it to find the right neurons and adjust the probes locations if signals faded) is all but complete. It uses an algorithm inspired by one the US military uses to track aircraft.
It's heady stuff, but apparently a real Matrix-esque brain probe is a long way away, as even this first-gen version of direct neural interfacing is "far off" from a ready-to-insert in brain device according to Wolf. [Make via Medgadget]