Brain Implants Could Give People Perfect Memories And Night Vision

Computer chips aren't just for your laptop and phone anymore. Doctors are implanting these technologies in our brains to restore sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. [Click on image to enlarge].

Soon, they could give people super senses and radically improved memory and focus.

"Brain implants today are where laser eye surgery was several decades ago," write Gary Marcus, an NYU professor of psychology, and Christof Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, in a recent essay for The Wall Street Journal.

Brain implants, also called neuroprosthetics, are used to restore hearing and vision loss, but as our technology and brain knowledge improve, the applications will become almost infinite.

They are "not risk-free and make sense only for a narrowly defined set of patients — but they are a sign of things to come," Marcus and Koch say.

Here's an overview of what brain implants do and how they might be used to create superhumans.
What Brain Implants Already Do:Restore Hearing.

More than 300,000 people already use a brain implant called a cochlear implant. This common neuroprosthetic replaces the malfunctioning ear to restore hearing for certain deaf people.

It captures sound with a microphone and then stimulates the auditory nerve through electrodes, allowing the brain to approximate hearing.

This isn't exactly like normal hearing, but it gives a deaf person the ability to perceive sound and helps them identify speech. In this video, a deaf woman hears herself laugh for the first time after her implant is turned on:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsOo3jzkhYA&feature=player_embedded
Control Tremors

Thousands of Parkinson's patients use a neuroprosthetic to lessen tremors and rigid movement.

A small electrode runs from a pacemaker-like battery pack underneath their skin (batteries need to be replaced every two to three years) through a small hole in their skull, where it stimulates pathways in the brain that help control motion. When this electrical stimulation happens, it helps reduce, and can even eliminate, Parkinson's symptoms, although it doesn't stop the disease from getting worse.

Restore Vision:

A retinal implant under development, similar to the recently approved Second Sight one.

Last year the FDA approved a retinal implant that will restore the ability to perceive shapes and motion for people blinded by advanced retinitis pigmentosa, the late stage of a genetic condition that causes a gradual vision loss in about 1 in 4,000 people in the U.S.

The device, made by Second Sight, involves 60 electrodes that make up a "retinal prosthesis." A small video camera and processing unit mounted on a set of glasses transmit data wirelessly to the electrodes in the retina.

What Brain Implants Could Do In The Future

The implants above are used to restore function lost to disease, but they could be used to enhance function, too. Eventually, neuroprosthetics will do the things of science fiction — quick learning, memory processing, language translation, night vision, and more.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/brain-implants-will-give-us-superpowers-2...

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/brain-implants-will-give-us-superpowers-2...
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/brain-implants-will-give-us-superpowers-2...

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/brain-implants-will-give-us-superpowers-2...

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