The term Neurotechnology is defined in various ways, depending on the perspective of the writer. Generally speaking, neurotechnology could be seen as any artificial means to interact with the workings of the brain. This version includes pharmacological adjustment of the activity of the brain, for example drugs treating Parkinson’s Disease or senile dementia, or alcohol and nicotine,
One great area in which neurotechnology has a huge and valuable potential is overcoming the problems of paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.
The team led by Doctor Gregorie Courtine from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has recently released some good news. The test results coming back from the team’s experimental trials have given scientists and doctors hope that we will be able to see patients with these injuries on their feet again one day and not long after the injury had occurred.
The system Courtine’s team built detects the signals coming from the patients’ brain to collaborate with their limbs. With this new technology, no external machines or stimulation of the patients’ leg muscles is required to help them walk.
This is a huge breakthrough because it means that the patient can use the technology without the constant assistance and supervision of a doctor or specialist. Instead of attempting to repair the damages done to the spinal cord and pathways responsible for sending the brain signals to the limbs, these scientists have made an implant that “works as a bridge between the brain and the legs.”
This implant imitates the distinctive signals that normally start in the motor cortex of the brain and move down the spinal cord into the lumbar region. Once arrived, these signals activate the muscles in the legs, allowing an individual to walk.
Neurotechnology has certainly caught the attention of some trend leaders in the field of new technologies and future of communication and mobility such as Tesla chief executive Elon Musk. He has launched Neuralink, a start-up which aims to develop technology that connects our brains to computers. Although in early stages, the company was registered as a “medical research” firm, aiming to develop so-called “neural lace” technology which would implant tiny electrodes into the brain. The technique could be used to improve memory or give humans added artificial intelligence.
Specialists in the field envision a time when humans may be able to upload and download thoughts.
I find this new development truly amazing and it seems quite probable that this new technology will take us into a new era. I hope that this will be in the not so distant future and will bring solutions for a number of medical problems which today are still out of reach for most people.