With the production of portable digital computers at an all-time high, intracranial nanowires are looking like a realistic emerging technology. Since the cortical plasticity of the brain is so high, the brain can accept neuroprosthetic devices as though they were natural sensors. An uncomfortable adaptation period might come with the implant, but after a patient works through this they should be otherwise fine.
Various mind-machine interface devices have been used in experiments in the pursuit of giving sight to the blind. Other units intended to aid the disabled have been worked on since at least the 1970s. However, most devices aren’t designed to carry any additional signals. Researchers are now looking at the possibility of electroencephalographic equipment that can deliver informational and instructional content to users.
Recent commercial experiments have largely focused on using heads-up displays in goggles to beam images directly onto a user’s retina. This is not much different from the way that some virtual reality headsets work. Intracranial nanowires directly interface with a user’s neural network, meaning that they supplant natural senses.
Like many emerging technologies, intracranial nanowires have been emerging for a long time. The earliest brain-computer interfaces were constructed in 1924. Hans Berger developed electroencephalography in the early 1920s, and by 1924 Berger was the first individual to record human brain activity. He identified oscillatory activity in the brain. The 8-12 Hz alpha wave is still sometimes referred to as Berger’s wave.
He was able to insert silver wires under the scalps of test subjects. Eventually he started to use rubber bands to attach silver foil plates to the head of patients. While he was never able to directly influence human thought patterns, his research was vital in the diagnosis of certain brain disorders. Researchers are now rediscovering his work and learning about new ways to interface neural reactions with computer devices.
Motor neuroprosthetics is a rapidly emerging field that uses brain interfaces coupled with highly portable computers to restore motion to paralyzed limbs. Electronic neural networks can take the place of organic neurons in some patients. Neuroprosthetic units can also help patients to control robotic replacement limbs merely by thinking about it. Most models use clunky physical controls instead of a neural interface, so this would be a huge step forward.
Neurogaming might be a bit more interesting to those without a flare for medicine. Joysticks and controllers are starting to give way to motion capture units in some modern gaming consoles. By using brain interfaces coupled with intracranial nanowires gamers could actually feed a virtual reality environment directly to their auditory and visual receptors. This would make them truly feel like they were in another environment.
Some experiments with motion controllers wired to receive neural impulses have already been conducted, but few test subjects seem to be willing to actually make the plunge and receive neurological implants. Nevertheless, a new breed of sentient being that is neither fully organic nor machine might be coming in the decades ahead. Neural implants could potentially make it possible for people to live in cyberspace, as though it were a physical place. Could this be the next state of human evolution?
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