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The terminology “non-invasive” and “direct recording” have never been a happy couple in neurotechnology because it is so tough to literally touch the brain–a goopy ball of mostly water–with electrodes without inflicting potentially debilitating and paralyzing damage to the host.
Researchers from the Wadsworth Center have developed a unique thin-film electrode membrane that cleverly “sticks and grabs” to the squishy surface of the brain instead of exerting enough force to penetrate. The technology can be immediately used to improve current techniques of electrocorticography (ECoG), which is used by brain surgeons to map out functional areas in the brain to avoid during surgery. The ECoG information provides much more detailed spacial maps for the corresponding electroencephalography (EEG) recordings taken purely non-invasively through the skull.
By studying the electrical activity for specific motion, auditory responses, or visual responses during these open-brain recording sessions, the researchers hope to learn more about the language of the brain in an attempt to develop future implantable electrode devices to control integrated prosthetic systems.
There is still a long way to go with this approach, however. Even though the ECoG method is taken directly at the surface of the brain, this still represents a significant averaging of neural activity. It is yet to be determined if this level of measurement is specific enough to represent exact functional responses between the brain and the body (or external prosthetic device). But, it is certainly an important technological leap that can lead to new information on understanding brain function and how to directly communicate with our networked neurons.
“Less-Invasive Brain Interfaces” :: Technology Review by MIT :: November 21, 2008 :: [READ]
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