Brain : a chip that is implantable to find the view

Health 19 July, 2017

Rice University

Published the 18.07.2017 at 13: 11


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Of american engineers from Rice university are developing an electronic chip capable of restoring sight or hearing. This ambitious project is funded by the research Agency of the u.s. department of Defense (DARPA) to the tune of 4 million dollars.

For the time being, their system FlatScope is only at the prototype stage. This chip platform, which would establish at the level of the cortex, the region layer of the brain, would have the mission of stimulating thousands, or even millions of neurons, to allow the blind to see or deaf to hear.

But to get there the researchers will develop an interface with more than a dozen of electrodes so that it is capable of receiving the light and visual information and transmit it to the brain.

A microscope implantable

In parallel, another team of Rice university is working on a microscope miniature. Integrate the FlatScope, it would allow to record brain activity, or even to stimulate it, to study more closely the functioning of this body still mysterious.

This innovation is expected to have hundreds of electrodes in order to individually activate the neurons, say the researchers. Because their ambition is high : they want to watch more than a million neurons simultaneously. This requires to make all of these neurons are visible. The idea of the researchers is to bring the neurons, bioluminescent proteins.

“The microscope that we develop records images in 3D, we can see the surface of the brain, but also a certain depth,” said Ashok Veeraraghavan one of the engineers of the laboratory. At this stage we do not yet know its limitations but we hope to see at least beyond 500 microns “. “This will allow us to study the dense layers of the cortex, where we think all the calculations are done, where neurons connect with each other,” echoed Caleb Kemere, another member of the team.

For DARPA, this work will provide valuable information on the functioning of the brain, the sight, but also hearing. Other teams funded by the agency try to explore the mechanisms of communication through, there are also systems implantable.