Breakthrough neuro chip can record brain activity for months at a time

bionic hybrid neuro chip android brain
Researchers at the University of Calgary have created a new bionic hybrid neuro chip, able to to record the activity in animal brain cells for a period of weeks or months — at a much higher resolution than any similar chip that has come before.

In doing so, it will help shed more light on how the brain functions, including the origins of neurological diseases and other conditions.

“We hope that this technology will really be central to any implantable device directly in the brain,” Dr. Naweed Syed, scientific director of the University of Calgary, told Digital Trends.

Syed and his fellow researchers have an impressive history when it comes to this field. Back in 2004, they were the first team in the world to develop a neuro chip that made it possible for two-way communication to occur between a brain cell and a computer chip or electronic device.

That work was extremely significant but, as with any first-generation technology, it wasn’t without its problems to be solved. These challenges included the fact that the sensitivity of the chip was very low, and that it could only record for a very short period of time, since the cells got damaged when they were communicating with the chip.

Many of these issued are greatly improved by the new model.

“Our new study is remarkable because it allows us to record signals which are 15x amplified from what anyone else has achieved before,” Syed continued. “That sensitivity means it can be used to study higher animals and mammals, such as humans. We also assimilated what mother nature does when it puts networks of brain cells together, which allowed us to have brain cells growing on the chip very happily. They’re as comfortable as they would be in an intact brain, which means we can record from weeks to months at a time.”

So what kind of applications does he have in mind for the new chip? At present, it is making it possible for researchers to study the hippocampus of mice to record spontaneously occurring seizures. This work will let scientists better understand how seizures are triggered, how they spread, their exact duration, and the impact that they have on the brain network’s connectivity.

It’s the future applications which are most exciting, however.

“One possible application would be to integrate this chip with a cochlear implant in patients who are suffering from epilepsy,” Syed said. “The moment they are about to have an electrical storm, the implant could dial their phone to let them know they are about to have a seizure. It could then give advice such as ‘sit down’ and ‘don’t drive.’ The software could also dial 911 to make emergency services aware of the incident, as well as turning on the GPS locator on the connected phone to make it easier for paramedics to find that person.”

In other cases, the researchers hope that the technology can be used to help bring about more personalized options for patients with neurological diseases.

Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Johns Hopkins’ lab-grown human retina could lead to big insights

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown human retina tissue from scratch in a lab. The work could help with the development of new therapeutics related to eye diseases.
Emerging Tech

Healthy mice born from two genetic mothers using stem cells, gene editing

Healthy mice have been born from two genetics mothers and later went on to bear healthy offspring of their own, according to a recent paper published by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (October 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Emerging Tech

For only $4,950, you can get jetpack lessons from the world’s only instructor

Have you ever dreamed of flying using a jetpack? JetPack Aviation founder -- and the world's only qualified jetpack teacher -- David Mayman is now offering a day of flight instruction.
Emerging Tech

Biologists have found a hormone that could make space farming possible

Researchers have shown how space farming may be possible. By encouraging plants to excrete a certain hormone, they’ve demonstrated that crops can thrive despite challenging conditions, such as low-nutrient soil and microgravity.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

Banksy's recent auction stunt was meant to totally destroy one of his most famous pieces of work, but a fault with the shredder has left the buyer with something almost certainly worth far more than the $1 million she bid for it.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

A Fitbit for your cat shit: Automatic litter box tracks your kitty’s health

It may look like a sci-fi teleportation chamber, but Footloose is a high-tech litter box that promises to be the most cutting-edge way for your kitty to take a dump. Here's how it works.