Now scientists at Harvard have announced that they can recognize the activities of the brain at a level of separate neurons, over the months at a time, with the use of a small electronic mesh that can be inserted directly into the brain. A team headed by Charles Lieber, a professor of Chemistry at Harvard, confirms that they were able to identify and record the activity of the brain of mice over eight months, which is ample volume of time to identify how the brains of animals altered as they experiment a mouse of middle age.
Figure 1: Monitor mouse brain
“This has provided us with the potential to pick distant the circuits that are engaged in basic information processing with the mind as they develop,” says Lieber.
The research group constructed the mesh out of extremely sleek silicon wires layered in a polymer with intersecting lines prepared completely of the polymer; together they create simple field-effect transistors. The mesh indeed rolls up when it is inserted in a liquid and can be withdrawn into a needle and injected. Once inserted in the brain, the mesh uncurls and rests on the top of the neurons.
Implantable electrodes are present already; doctors insert them in the brains of few Parkinson’s patients to offer intense brain stimulation that can aid controlling tremors. But such gadgets are stiff and large and tend to trouble the tissue of the brain. The brain responds to them by engulfing them in a single coating of cells that insulates them and creates transmitting and receiving electrical signals more troubling.
In comparison to this, the meshes of Lieber are flexible and soft, and the transistors they create are smaller than the cells of the brain. They did not stimulate an immune response, and they stay where they are put. Whether other implants reduce over their utility in weeks or days, the team of Harvard meshes keeps on functioning for the absolute length of the eight-month experiment.
The scientists also comprised some electrodes that could offer an electrical boost to the brain. Leiber expects that is researchers can recognize what turns wrong in the circuitry of the brain, resulting in – Parkinson at an initial stage, they could utilize little simulation to transform or at least relax the process.
Numerical analysis of the signals recorded by them revealed that they were selecting some activities for individual neurons. Such ability can offer neurologists with details of what is happening in the brain.
Conclusion – Lieber is also planning to use such gadgets in other areas of the nervous system. It seems that a mesh placed over retina may also provide some information about movements in the eye and how it connects to neurons to perform various activities. Even, placing a set of electrodes in the spinal cord may also reveal some information.