Tag Archives: cyborg

Researchers have just taught cyborg brains how to play Pong

An international research team has grown a brain-like organoid that is capable to play the simple video game Pong. This is the first time that such a structure (which researchers called a “cyborg brain”) is capable of performing a goal-directed task.

Pong is one of the simplest video games. You have a paddle and a ball (in the single-player version) or two paddles and a ball (in the two-player version), and you move the paddle to keep the ball in play and bounce it to the other side — much like a real ping-pong game. For most people familiar with computer games, it’s a simple and intuitive game. But for cells in a petri dish, it’s a bit of a tougher challenge.

Researchers at the biotech startup Cortical Labs took up the challenge. They created “mini-brains” (“we think it’s fair to call them cyborg brains,” the company’s chief scientific officer said in an interview) consisting of 800,000-1,000,000 living human brain cells. They then placed these cells on top of a microelectrode array that analyzes electrical changes and monitors the activity of the “brain.”

Electrical signals are also sent to the brain to tell it where the ball is located and how fast it is coming. It was taught to play the game just like humans: by playing the game repeatedly and by being offered feedback (in this case, in the form of electrical signals to electrodes).

It took about five minutes to learn the game. While the cyborg brain wasn’t quite as a human would be, it was able to learn how to play the game faster than some AIs, researchers say.

The fact that it was able to learn so quickly is a real stunner, but this is just the beginning. It’s the first time this type of brain-like structure was able to achieve something like this, and it could be a real step towards a true, advanced cyborg brain.

“Integrating neurons into digital systems to leverage their innate intelligence may enable performance infeasible with silicon alone, along with providing insight into the cellular origin of intelligence,” the researchers write in the study.

The researchers say their work can bring improvements in the design of or in therapies targeting the brain. For now, as exciting as this achievement is, it’s still hard to say what it will amount to.

The study was published in a pre-print and was not yet peer-reviewed. Journal Reference: Brett J. Kagan et al, In vitro neurons learn and exhibit sentience when embodied in a simulated game-world, biorxiv (2021). DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.02.471005.

Scientists strap controller onto jellyfish, turn it into a super-fast cyborg-jellyfish

Jellyfish never stop. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, they move through the water in search of food such as shrimp and fish larvae. They are more efficient than any other swimmer in the animal kingdom, using less energy for their size than graceful dolphins or cruising sharks. They’re not very fast, though. That had to change, some Stanford researchers thought, who literally strapped a motor on the invertebrates, turning them into fast-moving marine cyborgs.

A moon jelly with a controller attached. It swam about three times faster when the device was turned on. Credit: Science Advances.

On average, the jellyfish’s cost of transport — measured by the oxygen they use to move — is 48 percent lower than any other swimming animal. The recent biohybrid made at Stanford, however, blows everything that came before it out of the water. According to the study published in Science Advances, the swimming cyborg is 10 to 1,000 times more energy efficient than other swimming robots.

Researchers sourced moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, California, and embedded a waterproof propulsion system into their muscle tissue. The system consists of a lithium polymer battery, a microcontroller, a microprocessor, and a set of electrodes. The controller generates an electrical signal that travels through the electrodes into the jelly muscles, causing them to contract.

The components of the controller that turned jellies into cyborgs. Credit: Science Advances.

During experiments, the research team split their jellies into three groups: one swam on their own with no electronic augmentation, acting as the study’s control, one had a controller attached to the jellies that was turned off to see whether the device affected the animals’ motion in any way, and a third had the controller switched on.

Adding the controller with no electrical stimulation seems to have made little effect on the jellyfish. Those that had the controller activated increased their swimming speed nearly three times, from 0.15 to around 0.45 body diameters per second.

“Swimming speed can be enhanced nearly threefold, with only a twofold increase in metabolic expenditure of the animal and 10 mW of external power input to the microelectronics. Thus, this biohybrid robot uses 10 to 1000 times less external power per mass than other aquatic robots reported in literature. This capability can expand the performance envelope of biohybrid robots relative to natural animals for applications such as ocean monitoring,” the Stanford researchers wrote.

In the future, the researchers want to experiment further in order to increase both speed and energy efficiency.

As for the jellyfish’s health, the researchers wrote in their study that moon jellies are invertebrates with no central nervous system so they feel no pain. They note that they had taken precautions to avoid any unnecessary tissue damage to the animals. After the experiments were over, the controllers were removed and the jellies healed on their own.

Plant cyborg.

MIT designs and builds a plant-robot plantborg that can move towards light

An MIT Media Lab team build a plant-cyborg. Its name is Elowan, and it can move around.

Plant cyborg.

Image credits Harpreet Sareen, Elbert Tiao // MIT Media Labs.

For most people, the word ‘cyborg’ doesn’t bring images of plants to mind — but it does at MIT’s Media Lab. Researchers in Harpreet Sareen’s lab at MIT have combined a plant with electronics to allow it to move. The cyborg — Elowan — relies on the plant’s sensory abilities to detect light and an electric motor to follow it.

Our photosynthesizing overlords

Plants are actually really good at detecting light. Sunflowers are a great example: you can actually see them move to follow the sun on its heavenly trek. Prior research has shown that plants accomplish this through the use of several natural sensors and response systems — among others, they keep track of humidity, temperature levels, and the amount of water in the soil.

However, plant’s aren’t very good at moving to a different place even if their ‘sensor and response systems’ tell them conditions aren’t very great. The MIT team wanted to fix that. They planned to give one plant more autonomy by fitting its pot with wheels, an electric motor, and assorted electrical sensors.

The way the cyborg works is relatively simple. The sensors pick up on the electrical signals generated by the plant and generate commands for the motor and wheels based on them. The result is, in effect, a plant that can move closer to light sources. The researchers proved this by placing the cyborg between two table lamps and then turning them on or off. The plant moved itself, with no prodding, toward the light that was turned on.

While undeniably funny, the research is practical, too. Elowan could be modified in such a way as to allow it to move solar panels on a house’s roof to maximize their light exposure. Alternatively, additional sensors and controlling units would allow a similar cyborg to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels in, say, an office. With this in mind, the team plans to continue their research, including more species of plants to draw on their unique evolutionary adaptations.

Researchers fit Italian woman with futuristic, bionic hand

Almerina Mascarello lost her hand in a work accident — in July 1993, her hand was crushed by an industrial press. After almost 25 years, her luck completely changed.

An extraordinary fortunate event

 “I was flicking through a magazine on invalidity when I noticed a page asking people to undergo a test for a prosthesis. The Gemelli doctor phoned me a year later and asked me if I would like to be a guinea pig for a bionic hand“, she told ANSA.

“I said I would think about it and I said yes in May of last year. I went to Rome for the operation in June”Mascarello added.

Via Pixabay/Tumisu

The prosthetic — named LifeHand2 — was engineered by a team led by Silvestro Micera, from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne. Neurologist Paolo Maria Rossini’s team from Rome’s Policlinico Gemelli Hospital did the medical work.

How the hand works

The medical team inserted hair-thin electrodes into Almerina’s upper arm nerves. These electrodes conduct sensorial information from the hand to a computer in a backpack. The computer translates the gathered info into a language the brain can understand. Basically, the computer transmits to the upper arm nerves electrical signals, telling the brain the consistency and shape of the object.

bionic-hand

Almerina Mascarello opening a water bottle with the help of her new bionic hand. Credit: Youtube / Euronews.

A similar version of the bionic hand was priorly used by Danish patient Dennis Aabo Sorensen, who lost his hand in 2004 due to a firework explosion. His bionic hand was so sensitive that he was able to determine the consistency of different objects in 78 percent of cases. In 88 percent of cases, he could distinguish between a baseball, a glass, and a tangerine.

Credit: Youtube / Euronews.

The bionic hand is sophisticated enough to relay texture. Credit: Youtube / Euronews.

However, Mascarello’s implant and annexes were adjusted to fit into a backpack, unlike Sorensen’s. The bioengineering team’s goal is to create a hand prosthesis that has all the necessary components built in, miniaturizing the electronics as much as possible.

“We are going more and more in the direction of science fiction movies, like Luke Skywalker’s bionic hand in Star Wars – a fully controlled, fully natural, sensorized prosthesis, identical to the human hand.” lead researcher Micera told the BBC.

Sadly, Mascarello had to give up her prosthesis for further research. She felt like she was complete after 24 years, gathering joy from all the small things, like being able to tie her own shoes or dress alone. Unfortunately, only the research project is completed will she receive her own prosthetic hand.

“Now I’m eagerly awaiting them to call me and tell me it’s ready”, she stated.

cyborg locust

Cyborg locusts might one day detect explosives and diseases

cyborg locust

Credit: BARANIDHARAN RAMAN

Why build some tech from scratch when nature did all the dirty work for you over millions of years of evolution? That was the thinking behind an innovative project led by Baranidharan Raman, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science Washington University, which aims to use microchip-enabled locusts to sniff out explosives. The project received a $750,000 grant from the US Office of Naval Research and, if found suitable, swarms of locusts could start sniffing for bombs as early as two years from now.

You might not have known this, but locusts have a very keen sense of smell. Each of their antennae is littered with hundreds of thousands of chemical sensors that convert odors into electrical signals, which are then transmitted to the circuits of neurons in the brain.

Previously, Raman and colleagues devised a set of experiments to see whether locusts could be Pavlovian conditioned — namely, to associate one particular stimulus that induces a specific response with a new stimulus. Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov first demonstrated this form of conditioning in the 1890s in his famous experiments in which dogs were trained to associate the sound of a bell with food. In other words, a neutral stimulus introduced an automated response.

Using various odors, Raman coaxed his lab locusts to automatically respond to the stimuli with an average response time of 500 milliseconds. “The locusts robustly recognized and responded to the trained odor whether it was presented alone or after another odor, but their response time and behavior were less predictable when the trained odor followed a similar odor that evoked highly overlapping neural activity,” said Raman.

Now, a year later, Raman’s team wants to exploit this extraordinary sense of smell to sniff out bombs. Right now, dogs are employed throughout airports or border crossings to detect explosives, drugs or other illicit chemicals, owing to their remarkable sense of smell. But such dogs take years to train and can be in short supply. Locusts, on the other hand, could be just as good as dogs and might be bred by the thousands at a time.

“The canine olfactory system still remains the state-of-the-art sensing system for many engineering applications, including homeland security and medical diagnosis,” Raman said in a statement. “However, the difficulty and the time necessary to train and condition these animals, combined with lack of robust decoding procedures to extract the relevant chemical sending information from the biological systems, pose a significant challenge for wider application.

“We expect this work to develop and demonstrate a proof-of-concept, hybrid locust-based, chemical-sensing approach for explosive detection.”

To control the locusts, the researchers devised an interesting mind-control device. Heat generating “tattoos” would be placed on insect’s wings whose mild heat can be remotely triggered and control. This heat spurs the locusts to fly in a certain direction. Meanwhile, an on board low-power chip placed on the locust’s torso decodes any odor-related electrical signals sent by the antennae’s chemical sensors. This information is then quickly relayed to an authorized person through radio waves. A simple set of LED lights, then flashes: “red” for a bomb, “green” for all clear.

“Even the state-of-the-art miniaturised chemical-sensing devices have a handful of sensors. On the other hand, if you look at the insect antennae, where their chemical sensors are located, there are several hundreds of thousands of sensors and of a variety of types,” Raman told the BBC.

Raman estimates the first prototype might be ready for testing within a year. He also envisions his cyborg locusts sniffing all sorts of chemicals, besides bombs. For instance, these insects could be used in the medical sector to diagnose diseases. Dogs, for instance, have been shown to detect breast and lung cancers with an accuracy between 90 and 95 percent.

cyborg cockroach

Cyborg cockroaches might save human lives someday

Half cockroach, half machine, these peculiar insects were hijacked by researchers at Texas A&M University for science. Electrodes implanted in their tiny brains send electrical signals that stir the roaches left, right or makes them halt. Effectively, the researchers are controlling their bodies. This may sound despicable – it actually is in many ways – but the benefits to humanity are far reaching. The cyborgs would be our eyes and ears in places otherwise inaccessible, like disasters sites in the wake of earthquakes or other environmental calamities. Picking the cockroach brain might also help us learn more about how our own brain works. This in turn could spur the development of brain-computer interfaces or a new generation of prostheses that faithfully mimic real limbs.

cyborg cockroach

Image: Courtesy of Texas A&M Engineering

Cockroach mind control isn’t exactly a new thing. Since the 1990s, scientists have been working with Frankenstein-esque roaches, planting electrodes in their antennae and sending electrical shocks to coerce the insects in moving in a certain direction.  At Texas A&M, researchers planted the electrodes inside the ganglion itself – a cluster of neurons that control the movement of the roach’s legs. According to Professor Hong Liang, right now the cyborg roaches obey commands 60% of the time. In fact, it depends on how distracted the cockroach is. If there’s a lot of sensory input, it will tend not to obey commands. Liang says with confidence, however, that his team could reach near 100% compliance.

To turn roach into a cyborg, a candidate is first put to sleep with CO2. An acupuncture needle is then used to puncture the mini-brain and insert electrodes. Then, a sort of glue is applied to the backside to stick a chip the size of a quarter. The chip communicates with a remote control that the researchers use to control the roach, but also sends other sensory inputs depending on what kind of hardware the roach is carrying (cameras, motion etc.).

Is this unethical and inhumane, however? The roach brain is primitive compared to a human brain, and as such the way it suffers is fundamentally different from our idea of pain. When asked if it hurts the roach, Texas A&M PhD student Carlos Sanchez jokingly said ” I don’t think so. I haven’t heard any complaints from them.” On more serious note, Sanchez went on to say that the connections  between their neurons and muscles are much simpler than hours, “so they probably don’t remember pain,” speaking for NPR. He is most likely right, but I can’t help noticing how this all sounds like a guess.

cyborg cockroach

Image: Texas A&M Engineering

A while ago, an educational company called Backyard Brains came under a lot of fire. The reason: the company sold remote controlled cyborg cockroaches. For 99$, the company sends you a kit with instructions on how to convert your very own roach into a cyborg for educational purposes – actually, it’s intended for kids as young as ten years old and the project’s aim is to spark a neuroscience revolution. Animal rights activists were furious, but the founders stress that the project bears important educational benefits. Kids can learn how important the brain is, how it functions, and so on. Moreover, kids are encouraged to take care of their cyborg roaches. When no longer needed, the roaches are sent to a retirement tank the scientists call Shady Acres where disabled insects go on to live the rest of their days. “They do what they like to do: make babies, eat, and poop.”

One could argue, however, that these animals need not suffer. Each animal suffers in an unique way – sophisticated or not – but it still suffers. For instance, crabs and lobsters do feel pain when boiled alive (big surprise!). On the other hand, despite animal research is quite unfortunate, most often than not it’s essential to developing new treatments and even education. This is why cutting edge science which focused on building accurate live models in cells or even simulations is so important. When these become truly accurate, maybe as far as replicating human biological responses, then animals might finally be spared from human meddling.

Back to cockroaches, few people know how extraordinary these creatures really are. Everybody knows they can survive nuclear fallout, but lesser known is that roaches make democratic group decisions, are master ninjas and even have a personality. If you move past seeing them as gross, roaches can be damn interesting, cute even.

Photo: Georgia Tech

Robot prosthetic helps drummer play like a three-armed cyborg

Photo:  Georgia Tech

Photo: Georgia Tech

A freak accident left Jason Barnes without his left arm below the elbow – a disheartening matter by all means, made worse when considering he also used to be a drummer. The young man did not despair, however, and as an Atlanta Institute of Music and Media student he sought to fill in his missing arm as best as he could. He built his own prosthetic device shortly after the accident, and could  bang the drums by moving his elbow up and down. His prosthetic, however, was a cruel joke compared to his old hand which he used to bang his kit.

Georgia Tech Professor Gil Weinberg entered the scene and built an amazing robotic prosthetic for Barnes, one that essentially turned him into a cyborg drummer. How so? Well, his new arm primarily features two motors that control two drum sticks. While one of the sticks is controlled both physically by the musicians’ arms and electronically using electromyography (EMG) muscle sensors, the other is autonomous, listening to the rhythm played by the first stick, and improvising on the way. Yeah, a drummer who plays with three sticks, and the third stick has a mind of its own.

“Jason can pull the robotic stick away from the drum when he wants to be fully in control,” says Weinberg. “Or he can allow it to play on its own and be surprised and inspired by his own arm responding to his drumming.”

Besides allowing him to perform again on his kit, Barnes can now perform a couple of tricks that were impossible before he lost his arm, by virtue of brute machine force.

“Music is very time sensitive. You can hear the difference between two strokes, even if they are a few milliseconds apart,” said Weinberg. “If we are able to use machine learning from Jason’s muscles (and in future steps, from his brain activity) to determine when he intends to drum and have the stick hit at that moment, both arms can be synchronized.”

Because an embedded chip can control the speed of the drumsticks, the prosthesis can be programmed to play two sticks at a different rhythm. It can also move the sticks faster than humanly possible.

“I’ll bet a lot of metal drummers might be jealous of what I can do now,” he said. “Speed is good. Faster is always better.”

Backyard Brains

Is making cyborg cockroaches immoral?

Backyard Brains

(c) Backyard Brains

Through the halls of TedxDetroit last week, participants were introduced to an unfamiliar and unlikely guest – a remote controlled cyborg cockroach. RoboRoach #12 as it was called can be directed to either move left or right by transmitting electrical signals through electrodes attached to the insect’s antennae  via the Bluetooth signals emitted by a smartphone. Scientists have been doing these sorts of experiments for years now in attempt to better understand how the nervous system works and to demonstrate how it can be manipulated.

Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo – co-founders of an educational company called Backyard Brains and the keynote speakers at the Ted event where the cyborgroach was shown – have something different in mind. They want to send RoboRoaches all over the U.S. to anyone who’d be willing to experiment with them. For 99$, the company sends you a kit with instructions on how to convert your very own roach into a cyborg for educational purposes – actually, it’s intended for kids as young as ten years old and the project’s aim is to spark a neuroscience revolution.  Post-TedxDetroit, however, a lot of people, including prominent figures from the scientific community, were outraged and challenged the  ethical nature of RoboRoaches.

“They encourage amateurs to operate invasively on living organisms” and “encourage thinking of complex living organisms as mere machines or tools,” says Michael Allen Fox, a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

“It’s kind of weird to control via your smartphone a living organism,” says William Newman, a presenter at TEDx and managing principal at the Newport Consulting Group, who got to play with a RoboRoach at the conference.

How does the RoboRoach#12 and its predecessors become slaves to the flick on an iPhone touchscreen? In the instruction kit, which also ships with a live cockroach, students are guided through the whole process. First the student is instructed to anesthetize the insect by dousing it with ice water. Then the insects head is sanded with a patch of shell so that it become adhesive, otherwise the superglue and electrodes won’t stick. In the insect’s thorax a grounwire is inserted. Next, students need to be extremely careful while trimming the insect’s antennae before inserting silver electrodes into them. Finally, a circuit fixed to the cockroach’s back relays electrical signal to the electrodes, as instructed via a smartphone Bluetooth.

Gage says, however, that the cockroaches do not feel any pain through out this process, though it is questionable how certain he is of this claim. Many aren’t convinced. For instance  animal behavior scientist Jonathan Balcombe of the Humane Society University in Washington, D.C.  says“if it was discovered that a teacher was having students use magnifying glasses to burn ants and then look at their tissue, how would people react?”

That’s an interesting question, but I can also see its educational benefits of course. It teaches students how quintessential the brain is and how it governs bodily functions through electrical signals. Scientists, unfortunately, heavily rely on model animals like mice, worms, monkeys and such for their research. These animals certainly suffer, but until a surrogate model is found the potential gain convinces most policy makers that this practice needs to continue , despite the moral questions it poses. Of course, this kind of research is performed by adults, behind closed doors, in the lab – not by ten year old children. Also, what about frog dissections in biology classes? Some schools in California have banned the practice entirely, should other schools follow suit?

What happens to the roaches after they’re ‘used and abused’? Well, they go to a roach retirement home, of course. I’m not kidding. Gage says that , all students learn that they have to care for the roaches—treating wounds by “putting a little Vaseline” on them, and minimizing suffering whenever possible. When no longer needed, the roaches are sent to a retirement tank the scientists call Shady Acres where disabled insects go with their lives. “They do what they like to do: make babies, eat, and poop.”

Gage acknowledges, however, that he has indeed received a ton of hate mail. “We get a lot of e-mails telling us we’re teaching kids to be psychopaths.”

It’s worth nothing that cyber roaches are being used for some time in research. Scientists  in North Carolina are trying to determine if remote-controlled cockroaches will be the next step in emergency rescue, for instance. The researchers are now hoping that these roaches will be able to be equipped with tiny microphones and navigate their way through cramped, dark spaces in effort to find survivors in disaster situations.

So, ZME readers, what do you think? Should Cyber

Cyborg insects on the front line of future disaster response

After a devastating earthquake, most often buildings will crumble trapping people inside its ruins. Search and rescue teams work effortsly in such situation, employing both high tech solutions like heat-seeking or the simple, yet ever effective trained dogs to save people. Twenty four hours after a disaster though, the chances of a person trapped alive in the rubble to survive exponentially decrease, it’s imperative thus to get them out as soon as possible – you have to find them first. But who or what can get through those crammed spaces and signal the presence of life? Researchers from University of Michigan believe an army of cyborg insects might spearhead rescue operations in the future.

A common theme I see in spy movies, the bad sort granted, is a sort of mechanical, robot thingy insect that buzzes around, camouflaged as an unsuspected fly which actually feed back video or audio footage. The researchers at hand didn’t replicate this idea, but instead decided to harvest the energy of insects fitted with miniature technology instead of engineering them from scrap.

RELATED: Cyborg-rats with artificial cerebellums – first step ahead the age of the borg

“Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack,” said Professor Khalil Najafi, the chair of electrical and computer engineering, at University of Michigan  . “We could then send these ‘bugged’ bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go.”

Kinetic energy from a bug’s wings for example could be used to power the various life-detecting sensors mounted on them. It’s an extremely difficult task to create such a device, but the scientists managed to overcome this with great inguinity. A spiral piezoelectric generator was designed to maximize the power output by employing a compliant structure in a limited area, which  transforms the wing movements of the insect into electricity, in turn used to charge the battery.

It’s a highly interesting prospect, one which funnels hope for a more efficient life-saving process. And maybe super spy drones.

science daily

You were expecting a caption with a terminator-like rat. We couldn't find any, instead have some Jean Luc Picborg.

Cyborg-rats with artificial cerebellums – first step ahead the age of borg

Remarkably enough, scientists from Tel Aviv University in Israel, have manged to implant an artificial cerebellum in a rat’s brain, which successfully restored lost brain function. This research could provide the foundations for implementing cyborg-like functions in the human brain sometime in the distant future.

You were expecting a caption with a terminator-like rat. We couldn't find any, instead have some Jean Luc Picborg.

You were expecting a caption with a terminator-like rat. We couldn't find any, instead have some Jean Luc Picborg.

Such an advancement, could possibly one day offer the prospect of a normal life to stroke victims or other patients with other brain-related injuries or traumas. It could also maybe improve learning and memory capabilities in the old. These are all still in the realm of science fiction, though, but not for too much longer, neuroscientists hope.

Modern, high-end prosthetic limbs or ear implants communicated directly to the brain, functioning based on brain impulses. They’re truly marvelous technologies, however such devices involve only one-way communication, either from the device to the brain or vice versa.

Matti Mintz of Tel Aviv University in Israel and his colleagues have created a device that is capable of much more – a synthetic cerebellum which can receive sensory inputs from the brainstem directly. The brainstem is the posterior part of the brain, adjoining and structurally continuous with the spinal cord, that provides the main motor and sensory innervation to the face and neck via the cranial nerves.

The device developed by the Israeli scientists can interpret sensory inputs from the brainstem, and send a signal to a different region of the brainstem that prompts motor neurons to execute the appropriate movement.

“It’s proof of concept that we can record information from the brain, analyse it in a way similar to the biological network, and return it to the brain,” says Mintz, who presented the work this month at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in Cambridge, UK.

Synthesizing the brain

The team analyzed brainstem signals feeding into a real rat’s cerebellum and the output it generated in response. This information, coupled with their already complete knowledge regarding the neural architecture of the cerebellum, was used to create a digital version of the cerebellum, inside a chip which was wired to a rat’s brain using electrodes.

The chip was tested and performed remarkably. An anesthetized rat had its cerebellum disabled, before the chip was attached. While still anesthetized, scientists tried to induce a conditional motor reflex – a blink. They would spray the rat’s eye with a powder while playing a tune at the same time. This was repeated until the rat would blink only at hearing the tune alone. The scientists first tried this without the chip connected, and found the rat was unable to learn the motor reflex.

“This demonstrates how far we have come towards creating circuitry that could one day replace damaged brain areas and even enhance the power of the healthy brain,” says Francesco Sepulveda of the University of Essex in Colchester, UK, who was not involved in the research. “The circuitry mimics functionality that is very basic. Nonetheless, this is an exciting step towards enormous possibilities.”

A great challenge in face of the development of genuine cyborg-brain implants someday, however, lies in modeling larger areas of the cerebellum that can learn a sequence of movements and test the chip in a conscious animal.

“It will likely take us several decades to get there, but my bet is that specific, well-organised brain parts such as the hippocampus or the visual cortex will have synthetic correlates before the end of the century,” sais Sepulveda.

Behind today’s cyborg technology – reality more closer to fiction than you think

Biomechanics has come a long way during the past few decades, on trend with the exponential growth of CPUs and electronics, in general. Articulated limbs or artificial optic units are just a few of today’s options that individuals with various impairments and disabilities can use to make their lives closer to normal. Limitations exist of course, but they’re only imposed by technology which is constantly growing at an exponential rate.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the most exiting video game to come out in a long time, impressing through gameplay, graphics and story line. The setting of Deus Ex is that of a 2027 dystopian Earth where the world is dominated by corporations and humans are addicted to cyborg components and upgrades provided by them. The cyborgs in the video game Deus Ex, half-human/half machine, are capable of extraordinary things once with they’re new found biomechanical upgrades. But how far are we today from Deus Ex’s extraordinary cyborg concepts?

I’m pretty sure some of you will be extremely surprised by the level of technology and capabilities cybernetic modifications is at in present day. Rob Spence, a present day cyborg and filmmaker known as the Eyeborg, worked with Square Enix to shoot an incredible documentary which references today’s fast paced cyborg industry.

Left without an eye after a dreadful shotgun accident, Spence now has a biomechanical eye implant made. In the documentary, Spence, the perfect host, speaks to other extremely interesting persons who’ve had various modifications. As scientists and engineers work to bring these mechanical modifications to replace the natural missing part, whether it’s a leg, arm, eye, whatever, the temptation to actually bring enhancements and improvements is there. When confronted with the possibility of upgrading your current physical and even intellectual abilities via cybernetic implants, a lot of people might be compelled to opt for them.

The premise is there for a real Deus Ex world in the future, hopefully without the downfalls. Spence explores all these exiting concepts in his documentary, Deus Ex: The Eyeborg Documentary, which can be viewed in its entirety right below.  This is recommended viewing.

via SingularityHub