Press release Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

Reading and writing the mind with brain implants

3 May 2018

Scientists are continuously improving methods to read out brain activity and adjust or control it with brain stimulation techniques. Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience believe that these advances will lead to many new possibilities to restore brain functions that got lost or impaired as a result of an accident or disease. In the more distant future, similar technologies might also be applied to the healthy brain. 

According to the researchers, it is important to start considering all the consequences of such developments for our society. They explain their position in a paper that was published on 2 May in the leading journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Technology has already reached a stage in which electrodes on electronic chips that are implanted into the brain can read the ongoing activity of specific brain areas. This technique allows, for instance, that patients with paralysis control a robotic arm or computer cursor directly with their ‘thoughts’. The reverse is also possible: with similar electronic chips, information can be directly transmitted to either the peripheral nerves or the brain. Cochlear prosthesis, for instance, use this principle to let people with impaired hearing hear again, while stimulation of deep brain areas can relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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Website Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience is an Academy research institute. It conducts basic and strategic research in the neurosciences. It examines how the human brain makes awareness, perception, movement, learning, social interaction and other cognitive functions possible. It also studies how brain disorders can disrupt these functions. 

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