Stunning 3D ‘glass brain’ shows neurons firing off in real-time. The structure of the brain is mapped using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The user then wears cap covered with electrodes that measure differences in electric potential to record brain activity. This activity is revealed on-screen. The different colors represent the different frequencies of electrical energy in the brain, as well as the paths by which that energy moves around.
The Glass Brain can’t be used to show exactly what the user is thinking, but can paint a broad picture of brain activity. The Glass Brain is a Unity3D brain visualization that displays source activity and connectivity, inferred in real-time from high-density EEG using methods implemented in SIFT and BCILAB, developed at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego, and Syntrogi Labs.
The project was developed as a collaboration with Adam Gazzaley and the Neuroscape Lab at UC San Francisco, with contributions from NVIDIA, StudioBee, and many others.
Mullen T, Kothe C, Chi YM, Ojeda A, Kerth T, Makeig S, Cauwenberghs G, & Jung TP (2013). Real-time modeling and 3D visualization of source dynamics and connectivity using wearable EEG. 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Biology and Medicine Society., 2013, 2184-7 PMID: 24110155
A team of researchers at the Nicolelis Laboratory based in the Duke University have given rats the ability to perceive infrared light, normally invisible to them. They attached an infrared detector to the head wired to microscopic electrodes implanted in the somatosensory cortex (S1). This achievement represents the first time a brain-machine interface has augmented natural perceptual capabilities in mammals.
Interestingly, it was observed that neurons in the stimulated regions of S1 maintained their normal tactile ability to respond to whisker deflection. Therefore, two different cortical representations, became superimposed on the animal’s S1 cortex, creating a novel bimodal processing region.
Moreover, this experimental paradigm could be expanded to other stimulus such as magnetic or radio waves to be represented in brain region. Researchers hope that studying the underlying mechanisms in which the brain is creating a novel processing region would be helpful to further investigate the phenomenon of brain plasticity.
Thomson EE, Carra R, & Nicolelis MA (2013). Perceiving invisible light through a somatosensory cortical prosthesis. Nature communications, 4 PMID: 23403583
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology make glucose powered bio-electronics a reality. They have developed a fuel cell that runs on glucose for powering highly efficient brain implants of the future that can help paralyzed patients move their arms and legs again. The fuel cell strips electrons from glucose molecules to create a small electric current.
The researchers fabricated the fuel cell on a silicon chip, allowing it to be integrated with other circuits that would be needed for a brain implant. The glucose fuel cell, when combined with such ultra-low-power electronics, can enable brain implants or other implants to be completely self-powered. Thus making brain glucose as a new energy source for future medical implants.
Rapoport BI, Kedzierski JT, & Sarpeshkar R (2012). A glucose fuel cell for implantable brain-machine interfaces. PloS one, 7 (6) PMID: 22719888