Micro chip concet to neurons

Matt Jones jonesmat at ohsu.edu
Thu Aug 5 12:28:32 EST 1999


In article <7oargg$2tps$1 at newssvr04-int.news.prodigy.com> DAVID M BRACEY,
FALCON143 at prodigy.net writes:
>Ok, now that micro chips can connect to neurons we will be much more
>advanced. I believe our life expectancies will double in the near future.
>The fact iss that with this tech we can send information into a cell and
>have it reproduce.
>
>Thats not all, now we have this tech not long down the road, it won't be a
>pice of gold thats computing your desktop computer, it will be several brain
>cells that were cloned and installed in a processor connected to a micro
>chip.
>
>If anyone thinks this is wrong please tell me why as I am a student I don't
>know everything yet. Also if there are any ideas or questions, please reply.
>
>Thnks,
>-Dave-
>

Yes, it is possible to interface semiconductors with neurons, to a -very-
limited extent. This does -not- mean that we can send "information" back
and forth between them. We can send electrical signals, under certain
conditions. But because we still do not know "the neural code", we don't
yet know how to send or recieve signals that are meaningful in the
context of neural information processing (with a few recent exceptions).
There are a lot of other issues too. Keeping neurons alive and healthy
outside of an animal is no trivial feat, as anyone with neuronal culture
experience will testify. As far as neural implants go, there are issues
of immunolgical rejection and toxicity, etc.

Maybe someday we'll have real biological personal computers on our desks,
but not tomorrow. Interfacing neurons and silicon is a promising area of
research for all sorts of reasons, but as with -every- other area of
scientific endeavor, it is almost always a mistake to believe what your
read in the newspapers about what scientists are doing. If you want to
understand it, and its proper implications, you should read scientific
journals.

There are respectable popular science review magazines (I DON'T mean
Popular Mechanics and its ilk, those are -not- respectable in my opinion)
that present accurate appraisals of science for the non-scientist, or for
scientists who are interested in areas outside of their main field of
research. The best one is probably Scientific American (I'm not familiar
with similar ones from Europe or Asia, but there probably are some).



Matt Jones



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