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Neural Electrode Array on Brain Model  (Source: C. Conway and J. Rogers, Beckman Institute)
Implant melts to conform to brains surface

There are a number of conditions where monitoring the brain and its functions are very important. For example, monitoring the brain of an epileptic patient allows doctors and electronic equipment see the beginning of a seizure and administer electric shocks to stop the seizure from happening.

The problem with this type of monitoring with technology today is that it requires the insertion of thin wires into the brain of a patient and the silicon circuits used to capture the signals sent from the electrodes are not flexible and won’t conform to the brain's surface.

However, a group of researchers at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has developed a new type of brain implant that melts to the brain conforming to its surface. The scientists believes that the technology could pave the road for devices that better control, monitor seizures, and transmit signals from the brain past damaged areas of the spinal cord. The study findings from the team were published in a recent issue of Nature Materials.

Dr. Walter Koroshetz said, "These implants have the potential to maximize the contact between electrodes and brain tissue, while minimizing damage to the brain. They could provide a platform for a range of devices with applications in epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, and other neurological disorders."

The implants that the team developed hold metal electrodes that are about 500 microns thick. The device has no sharp surfaces or edges and uses a material based on silk. The conforming design of the implant and the lack of sharp edges means less damage to the brain tissue and improved reception of brain signals.

Dr. Brian Lott, a study author, said, "The focus of our study was to make ultrathin arrays that conform to the complex shape of the brain, and limit the amount of tissue damage and inflammation."

The flexible electrodes in the implant also means that the implant can be stretched out to cover larger sections of the brain allowing the capture of signals from a larger section of the brain. Silk was chosen as the base for the implant because it is flexible and durable enough to survive the process that patterns the thin metal traces for electrodes on its surface.

Silk was also chosen because the material can be engineered to avoid inflammatory reactions and to dissolve at specific points be it immediately on contact with the brain or years down the road. The team used electrodes that can be printed on layers of polyamide and silk that are positioned on the brain. The implant then melts and conforms to the curved and creases of the brain providing contact for measurement of signals.

The silk-based test implants were designed and developed by the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and Tufts University. The implants have been tested in anesthetized animals so far to determine the ideal thickness for the implants. The test arrays had 30 electrodes in a 5x6 pattern on a thin layer of polyimide with and without silk base. The silk base implants were found to work the best and were able to capture stronger signals that thicker implants. The team also believes that the implants may be able to be compressed and delivered through a catheter into the brain.



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Hannibal
By nafhan on 4/19/2010 1:06:43 PM , Rating: 2
So, in the future they will be able to deliver these things through a catheter. Does that mean they currently remove the top of the skull to attach them? I think that's where they should focus their efforts!




RE: Hannibal
By MrBlastman on 4/19/2010 1:39:49 PM , Rating: 1
I'd be more interested if packets of them could be mixed into food and then injested without the victim knowing of their potential plight. Sure, a few might get chewed up, but a few might make it through.

Take it a step further and have these electrodes attuned to a particular frequency and, when the time is right, transmit a signal on that frequency that energizes the electrodes in a way that could be used to make the subjects enter a trance, or, better yet, fry them completely. With a technology like this, a spy could infiltrate the mess hall or cafeteria of a security force and then the actual squad to infiltrate the facility or compound could take out many of the opposition right from the start, whenever they wanted to without firing a single shot.


RE: Hannibal
By Yaos on 4/19/2010 1:48:47 PM , Rating: 2
This already exists, it's called poison.


RE: Hannibal
By MrBlastman on 4/19/2010 2:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
You can't tell poison to operate at the press of a button once it has been ingested. ;P


RE: Hannibal
By atlmann10 on 4/20/2010 12:52:57 AM , Rating: 3
That is an inherently wrong statement. Do you really believe there are not capsules that dissolve on demand or on a schedule. If you do the only robotic futuristic warrior every conceived mentally is the one from the terminator movie. The military is not presently working on one with developers. They also can not do anything with microwave, and those cloak able aircraft are all science fiction to.


RE: Hannibal
By MrBlastman on 4/20/2010 10:10:13 AM , Rating: 2
Elaborate on capsules that dissolve on demand. From what I know, there are timed release capsules, but there are not any that you can remotely press a button with and eject the contents.

To expound a little further, how can you deliver a large quantity of these capsules to an enemy fort?


pic
By MANOJ91 on 4/19/2010 11:57:59 AM , Rating: 1
why does the picture look like homer? even in skull format/x ray? homer got a brain implant.




RE: pic
By Etern205 on 4/19/2010 12:21:22 PM , Rating: 4
Because that is Homer...


RE: pic
By shaw on 4/19/2010 1:01:23 PM , Rating: 3
That picture of Homer is photoshoped. The real Homer has a crayon shoved up his nose.


RE: pic
By frobizzle on 4/19/2010 2:49:06 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
That picture of Homer is photoshoped. The real Homer has a crayon shoved up his nose.

Wrong. That is an unedited picture from the Simpsons. There were others with the crayon stuck in his brain but this one was never that way.


RE: pic
By saiga6360 on 4/19/2010 8:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
It melted.


Melting Implant?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/19/2010 10:11:03 AM , Rating: 5
Sounds like a Yeerk.




RE: Melting Implant?
By djain on 4/19/2010 10:25:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yeerks, wow, haven't heard about them for a while.
Created an account after years or reading just to say that.
Now if only we started morphing into Tigers....
DJ


RE: Melting Implant?
By Anoxanmore on 4/19/2010 11:40:37 AM , Rating: 2
I need to stock up on maple syrup and ginger. :)


Gotta say it
By epobirs on 4/21/2010 3:11:34 AM , Rating: 2
Melts in your brain, not in your hand!




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