Brain Machine Interface via a Neurovascular Approach

Rodolfo R. Llinas and Valeri A. Makarov, NYU Medical School

The issue of brain-machine (computer) interface is, without a doubt, one of the central problems to be addressed in the next two decades when considering the role of neuroscience in modern society. Indeed, our ability to design and build new information analysis and storage systems that are sufficiently light to be easily carried by a human, will serve as a strong impetus to develop such peripherals. Ultimately, the brain-machine interface will then become the major bottleneck and stumbling block to robust and rapid communication with those devices.

So far, the interface improvements have not been as impressive as the progress in miniaturization or computational power expansion. Indeed, the limiting factor with most modern devices relates to the human interface. Buttons must be large enough to manipulate, screens wide enough to allow symbol recognition, and so on. Clearly, the only way to proceed is to establish a more direct relation between the brain and such devices, and so, the problem of the future brain-machine interface will indeed become one of the central issues of modern society. As this is being considered, another quite different revolution is being enacted by the very rapid and exciting developments of nanotechnology (n-technology). Such development deals with manufactured objects with characteristic dimensions of less than one micrometer. This issue is brought to bear here, because it is through n-technology that the brain-machine bottleneck may ultimately be resolved. Obviously, what is required is a robust and noninvasive way to both tap and address brain activity optimized for future brain-machine interaction.

Needless to say, in addition to serving as a brain-machine interface, such an approach would be extraordinarily valuable in the diagnosis and treatment of many neurological and psychiatric conditions. Here, the technology to be described will be vital in the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal brain function. Such technology would allow constant monitoring and functional imaging, as well as direct modulation of brain activity. For instance, an advanced variation of present-day deep brain stimulation will be of excellent therapeutic value. Besides, interface with "intelligent" devices would significantly improve the quality of life of disabled individuals, allowing them to be more involved in everyday activity.

The problem we consider has two main parts to be resolved: (1) hardware and (2) software. To approach these issues, we propose to develop a new technology that would allow direct interaction of a machine with the human brain and that would be secure and minimally invasive.

Brain Blaster

Brain Blaster

Have you ever been envious of people who seem to have no end of clever ideas, who are able to think quickly in any situation, or who seem to have flawless memories? Could it be that they're just born smarter or quicker than the rest of us? Or are there some secrets that they might know that we don't?

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