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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Can Kosher Science Bring About The Borg?

While Borg, a cybernetic organism that exists in the fantasy realm of Star Trek may be half a century away, new research in Israel may bring this technology a little bit closer to reality.

(Israel 21st Century) For a group of researchers at Hebrew University, though, one novel approach to the measurement of brain activity has suggested how one day a metal-and-plastic limb might operate just as effectively as its flesh-and-blood prototype - and, in the process, teach us more about how the brain interacts with the body. [...]

The approach involves measuring the activity of all nerve cells located at an intermediate distance (100-200 micrometers) from a recording electrode. In this way, multiple independent readings can be obtained from many adjacent points - a crucial step in the determination of highly accurate measurements. Such accuracy might allow for a future robotic limb able to precisely obey its user's neuronal commands, or a device implanted in a paralysed limb which artificially stimulates existing muscles to move in a natural manner.

Israeli scientists have already begun testing this method with monkeys, with many of the tests proving to be 90-99% successful. Although more research is needed in order to perfect this, the "cybernetic" technology should at least help patients in need of prosthetic limbs.

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