DARPA announces Brain modems implanted in Animals

DARPA Brain Moden Project
DARPA’s Brain Modem Project

DARPA announces Brain modems implanted in Animals

On the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) website http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2015-01-19 today there is an announcement about the successful implantation of Brain Modems into Animals. The program, Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), stands to dramatically enhance research capabilities in neurotechnology and provide a foundation for new therapies. “Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem,” said Phillip Alvelda, the NESD program manager. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”

To achieve this a tiny chip is implanted into the blood vessels in the brain of the subject. Using a ‘stentrode’ the word is a combination of the two words ‘stent’ and ‘electrode’. The article goes on to say that “Among the program’s potential applications are devices that could compensate for deficits in sight or hearing by feeding digital auditory or visual information into the brain at a resolution and experiential quality far higher than is possible with current technology.

DARPA's Stentrode
DARPA’s Stentrode

Neural interfaces currently approved for human use squeeze a tremendous amount of information through just 100 channels, with each channel aggregating signals from tens of thousands of neurons at a time. The result is noisy and imprecise. In contrast, the NESD program aims to develop systems that can communicate clearly and individually with any of up to one million neurons in a given region of the brain.” This increased bandwidth if you like will cost investment of up to $60 million in the NESD program over four years. This area of research is a part of President Obama’s brain initiative.

Generally speaking what is in society as regards to technology is about 40 years behind the military’s true capability. So we can take from this that a Brain modem has existed for some time. With Targeted Individuals being the most likely people to of received such a device implanted during a hospital visit or some other over night stay somewhere.

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