Now declassified & available online! Russian Quantum Leap technology enhances RNA, DNA & health, cures diseases (e.g. diabetes, cancer 2), stops TI targeting.
By Alfred Lambremont Webre
WATCH QUANTUM LEAP PANEL INTERVIEW
Now declassified & available online! Russian Quantum Leap technology enhances RNA, DNA & health, cures diseases (e.g. diabetes, cancer 2), stops TI targeting.
By Alfred Lambremont Webre
WATCH QUANTUM LEAP PANEL INTERVIEW
Published time: June 20, 2013 16:02
There are around 377 million results on Google.com for the query “Can I live forever?” Ask that question to company’s top engineer, though, and you’re likely to hear an answer that’s much more concise.
Simply put, Google’s Ray Kurzweil says immortality is only a few years away. Digital immortality, at least.
Kurzweil, 64, was only brought on to Google late last year, but that hasn’t stopped him from making headlines already. During a conference in New York City last week, the company’s director of engineering said that the growth of biotechnology is so quickly paced that that he predicts our lives will be drastically different in just a few decades.
According to Kurzweil, humans will soon be able to upload their entire brains onto computers. After then, other advancements won’t be too far behind.
“The life expectancy was 20, 1,000 years ago,” Kurzweil said over the weekend at the Global Future 2045 World Congress in New York City, CNBC’s Cadie Thompson reported. “We doubled it in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now, probably less than 15, we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress.”
“Somewhere between 10 and 20 years, there is going to be tremendous transformation of health and medicine,” he said.
In his 2005 book “The Singularity Is Near,” Kurzweil predicted that ongoing achievements in biotechnology would mean that by the middle of the century, “humans will develop the means to instantly create new portions of ourselves, either biological or nonbiologicial,” so that people can have “a biological body at one time and not at another, then have it again, then change it.” He also said there will soon be “software-based humans” who will “live out on the Web, projecting bodies whenever they need or want them, including holographically projected bodies, foglet-projected bodies and physical bodies comprising nanobot swarms.”
Those nanobot swarms might still be a bit away, but given the vast capabilities already achieved since the publication of his book, Kurzweil said in New York last week that more and more of the human body will soon be synced up to computers, both for backing up our thoughts and to help stay in good health.
“There’s already fantastic therapies to overcome heart disease, cancer and every other neurological disease based on this idea of reprogramming the software,” Kurzweil at the conference. “These are all examples of treating biology as software. …These technologies will be a 1,000 times more powerful than they were a decade ago. …These will be 1,000 times more powerful by the end of the decade. And a million times more powerful in 20 years.”
In “The Singularity Is Near,” Kurzweil acknowledged that Moore’s Law of Computer suggests that the power of computer doubles, on average, every two years. At that rate, he wrote, “We’re going to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the biological part is not important anymore.”
“Based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we’ll be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold,” The Daily Mail quoted Kurzweil.
Kurzweil joined Google in December 2012 and is a 1999 winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. In the 1970s, Kurzweil was responsible for creating the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer.
Aug 2, 2012
Are you ready to have a microchip implanted into your brain? That might not sound very appealing to you at this point, but this is exactly what the big pharmaceutical companies and the big technology companies have planned for our future.
They are pumping millions of dollars into researching “cutting edge” technologies that will enable implantable microchips to greatly “enhance” our health and our lives. Of course nobody is going to force you to have a microchip implanted into your brain when they are first introduced. Initially, brain implants will be marketed as “revolutionary breakthroughs” that can cure chronic diseases and that can enable the disabled to live normal lives. When the “benefits” of such technology are demonstrated to the general public, soon most people will want to become “super-abled”.
Just imagine the hype that will surround these implants when people discover that you can get rid of your extra weight in a matter of days or that you can download an entire college course into your memory in just a matter of hours. The possibilities for this kind of technology are endless, and it is just a matter of time before having microchips implanted into your brain is considered to be quite common. What was once science fiction is rapidly becoming reality, and it is going to change the world forever.
But aren’t there some very serious potential downsides to having microchips implanted into our brains?
Of course there are.
Unfortunately, this technology is not as far off as you might think, and most people are not even talking about what the negative consequences might be.
According to a recent article in the Financial Times, the pharmaceutical company of the future will include a “bioelectronics” business that “treats disease through electrical signalling in the brain and elsewhere.”
Diseases such as diabetes and epilepsy and conditions such as obesity and depression will be will be treated “through electronic implants into the brain rather than pills or injections.”
These implants will send electrical signals to cells and organs that are “malfunctioning”. People will be totally “cured” without ever having to pop a pill or go under the knife.
It sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, the Financial Times says that British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is working very hard to develop these kinds of technologies. Moncef Slaoui, the head of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline, says that the “challenge is to integrate the work – in brain-computer interfaces, materials science, nanotechnology, micro-power generation – to provide therapeutic benefit.”
If a brain implant could cure a disease that you have been suffering from your whole life would you take it?
A lot of people are going to be faced with that kind of a decision in future years.
And this kind of technology is advancing very rapidly. In fact, some researchers have already had success treating certain diseases by implanting microchips into the brains of rats. The following is from a recent Mashable article….
Stroke and Parkinson’s Disease patients may benefit from a controversial experiment that implanted microchips into lab rats. Scientists say the tests produced effective results in brain damage research.
Rats showed motor function in formerly damaged gray matter after a neural microchip was implanted under the rat’s skull and electrodes were transferred to the rat’s brain. Without the microchip, rats with damaged brain tissue did not have motor function. Both strokes and Parkinson’s can cause permanent neurological damage to brain tissue, so this scientific research brings hope.
In addition, the U.S. government has been working on implantable microchips that would monitor the health of our soldiers and enhance their abilities in the field.
So this technology is definitely coming.
But it must be very complicated to get a microchip implanted into your brain, right?
Actually it is fairly simple.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the typical procedure is very quick and it often only requires just an overnight stay in the hospital….
Neural implants, also called brain implants, are medical devices designed to be placed under the skull, on the surface of the brain. Often as small as an aspirin, implants use thin metal electrodes to “listen” to brain activity and in some cases to stimulate activity in the brain. Attuned to the activity between neurons, a neural implant can essentially “listen” to your brain activity and then “talk” directly to your brain.
If that prospect makes you queasy, you may be surprised to learn that the installation of a neural implant is relatively simple and fast. Under anesthesia, an incision is made in the scalp, a hole is drilled in the skull, and the device is placed on the surface of the brain. Diagnostic communication with the device can take place wirelessly. When it is not an outpatient procedure, patients typically require only an overnight stay at the hospital.
But is it really safe to have a device implanted into your head that can “talk” directly to your brain?
Many large corporations are banking on the fact that in a world that is always hungry for new technology that most people will not be bothered by such things.
For example, Intel is working on sensors that will be implanted in the brain that will be able to directly control computers and cell phones. The following is an excerpt from a Computer World UK article….
By the year 2020, you won’t need a keyboard and mouse to control your computer, say Intel researchers. Instead, users will open documents and surf the web using nothing more than their brain waves.
Scientists at Intel’s research lab in Pittsburgh are working to find ways to read and harness human brain waves so they can be used to operate computers, television sets and cell phones. The brain waves would be harnessed with Intel-developed sensors implanted in people’s brains.
The scientists say the plan is not a scene from a sci-fi movie, Big Brother won’t be planting chips in your brain against your will. Researchers expect that consumers will want the freedom they will gain by using the implant.
Once again, this is not something that will be forced on you against your will.
These big corporations are banking on the fact that a lot of people will want to get these brain implants.
Even now, some video game makers are developing headsets that allow users to play games using their brain waves rather than a joystick or a control pad.
Other companies want to make it possible to directly connect your brain to the Internet.
IBM scientists are among those researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it.
Scientists in the field of bioinformatics have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognize facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions.
The potential “benefits” of such technology are almost beyond imagination. An article on the website of the Science Channel put it this way….
If you could pump data directly into your gray matter at, say, 50 mbps — the top speed offered by one major U.S. internet service provider — you’d be able to read a 500-page book in just under two-tenths of a second.
How would the world change if you could download a lifetime of learning directly into your brain in a matter of weeks?
The possibilities are endless.
But so is the potential for abuse.
Implantable microchips that can “talk” directly to the brain would give a tyrannical government the ultimate form of control.
If you could download thoughts and feelings directly into the brains of your citizens, you could achieve total control and never have to worry that they would turn on you.
In fact, you could potentially program these chips to make your citizens feel good all the time. You could have these chips produce a “natural high” that never ends. That would make your citizens incredibly dependent on the chips and they would never want to give them up.
This kind of technology has the potential to be one of the greatest threats to liberty and freedom in the history of mankind.
At first these implantable microchips will be sold to us as one of the greatest “breakthroughs” ever, but in the end they could end up totally enslaving us.
So I will never be taking any kind of a brain implant, and I hope that you will not either.
The government lacks a regulator who can ensure that the laws for ethical review and informed consent for research on humans with brain implants followed. The shortage means that the Government neither can satisfy the requirements of the conventions on human rights and bioethics incumbent government, a precarious situation for European citizens.Graduate Abuse can happen completely without insight with brain-machine interface and e-science.
NEW YORK — Dreams of immortality inspired the fantastical tales of Greek historian Herodotus and Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s legendary search for the fountain of youth. Nowadays, visionaries push for the technologies to transplant human brains into new bodies and download human consciousness into hologram-like avatars.
The latest science and schemes for achieving long life and the “singularity” moment of smarter-than-human intelligence came together at the Singularity Summit held here October 15-16. Some researchers explored cutting-edge, serious work about regenerating human body parts and defining the boundaries of consciousness in brain studies. Other speakers pushed visions of extending human existence in “Avatar”- style bodies — one initiative previously backed by action film star Steven Seagal — with fuzzier ideas about how to create such a world.
Above all, the summit buzzed with optimism about technology’s ability to reshape the world to exceed humanity’s wildest dreams, as well as a desire to share that vision with everyone. True believers were even offered the chance to apply for a credit card that transfers purchase rewards to the Singularity Institute.
“Humanity is about going beyond biological limitations,” said Ray Kurzweil, the inventor and futurist whose vision drives the Singularity Institute.
Rebuilding a healthy body The most immediate advances related to living longer and better may come from regenerative medicine. Pioneering physicians have already regrown the tips of people’s fingers and replaced cancer-ridden parts of human bodies with healthy new cells.
“What we’re talking about here is not necessarily increasing the quantity of life but the quality of life,” said Stephen Badylak, deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.
Success so far has come from using a special connective tissue — called the extracellular matrix (ECM) — to act as a biological scaffold for healthy cells to build upon. Badylak showed a video where his team of surgeons stripped out the cancerous lining of a patient’s esophagus like pulling out a sock, and relined the esophagus with an ECM taken from pigs. The patient remains cancer-free several years after the experimental trial.
The connective tissue of other animals doesn’t provoke a negative response in human bodies, because it lacks the foreign animal cells that would typically provoke the immune system to attack. It has served the same role as a biological foundation for so long that it represents a “medical device that’s gone through hundreds of millions of years of R&D,” Badylak said.
If work goes well, Badylak envisions someday treating stroke patients by regenerating pieces of the functioning human brain.
Live long and prosper The work of such researchers could do more than just keep humans happy and healthy. By tackling end-of-life chronic diseases such as cancer, medical advances could nearly double human life expectancy beyond almost 80 years in the U.S. to 150 years, said Sonia Arrison, a futurist at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, Calif.
Long-lived humans could lead to problems such as anger over a “longevity gap” between haves and have-nots and perhaps add to stress on food, water and energy sources. But Arrison took a more positive view of how “health begets wealth” in a talk based on her new book, “100 Plus” (Basic Books, 2011).
Having healthier people around for longer means that they can remain productive far later in life, Arrison pointed out. Many past innovators accomplished some of their greatest or most creative work relatively late in life — Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa at 51, and Benjamin Franklin conducted his kite experiment at 46.
“Innovation is a late-peak field,” Arrison told the audience gathered at the Singularity Summit.
Even religion might find a renewed role in a world where death increasingly looks far off, Arrison said. Religion remains as popular as ever despite a doubling of human life expectancy up until now, and so Arrison suggested that religions focused on providing purpose or guidance in life could do well. But religions focused on the afterlife may want to rethink their strategy.
Making ‘Avatar’ real (or not) The boldest scheme for immortality came from media mogul Dmitry Itskov, who introduced his “Project Immortality 2045: Russian Experience.” He claimed support from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Education and Science, as well as actor Seagal, to create a research center capable of giving humans life-extending bodies.
Itskov’s wildly ambitious plans include creating a humanoid avatar body within five to seven years, transplanting a human brain into a new “body B” in 10 to 15 years, digitally uploading a human brain’s consciousness in 20 to 25 years, and moving human consciousness to hologram-like bodies in 30 to 35 years.
That vision may have exceeded even the optimism of many Singularity Summit attendees, given the apparent restlessness of the crowd during Itskov’s presentation. But it did little to dampen the conference’s overall sense that humanity has a positive future within its collective grasp — even if some people still need to be convinced.
“We are storming the fricking barricades of death, both physically and intellectually, so we have to make it sexy,” said Jason Silva, a filmmaker and founding producer/host for Current TV.
By Jeremy Hsu
In the early 1990s, the IT industry got very excited about virtual reality, the idea that you could use some sort of headset display to wander around in a 3d computer-generated world. We quickly realised there are zillions of variations on this idea, and after the one that became current computer gaming (3d worlds on a 2d monitor) the biggest of the rest was augmented reality, where data and images could be superimposed on the field of view.
Now, we are seeing apps on phones and pads that claim to be augmented reality, showing where the nearest tube station is for example. To a point I guess they are, but only in as far as they can let you hold up a display in front of you and see images relevant to the location and direction. They hardly amount to a head up display, and fall a long way short of the kind of superimposition we’re been used to on sci-fi since Robocop or Terminator. It is clear that we really need a proper head-up display, one that doesn’t require you to take a gadget out and hold it up in front of you.
There are some head-up displays out there. Some make overlay displays in a small area of your field of view, often using small projectors and mirrors. Some use visors. However the video visor based displays are opaque. They are fine for watching TV or playing games while seated, but not much use for wandering around.
This will change in the next 18 months – 2 years. Semi-transparent visors will begin to appear then. The few years after that will undoubtedly see rapid development of them, eventually bringing a full hi-res 3d overlay capability. And that will surely be a major disruptive technology. Just as we are getting used to various smart phones, pads, ebbook readers and 3d TVs, they could all be absorbed into a general purpose head up display that can be used for pretty much anything.
It is hard to overstate the potential of this kind of interface once it reaches good enough quality. It allows anything from TV, games, or the web, to be blended with any real world scene or activity. This will transform how we shop, work and socialise, how we design and use buildings, and even how we use art or display ourselves. Each of these examples could easily fill a book. The whole of the world wide web was enabled by the convergence of just the computing and telecoms industries. The high quality video visor will enable convergence of the real world with the whole of the web, media, and virtual worlds, not just two industry sectors. Augmented reality will be a huge part of that, but even virtual reality and the zillions of variants can then start to be explored too.
In short, the semi-transparent video visor is the missing link. It is the biggest bottleneck now stopping the future arriving. Everything till we get that is a sideshow.
Politically planned violations of human rights goes on in all EU-nations, directed to increase state power and reduce human influence. In Sweden, the FOI (Swedish Defense Research Institution) has for decades been developing remote control systems for our neurological functions, via bio-chips injected at health care. In FOI:s annual report, they describe the project as monitoring and changing the cognitive functions of people throughout their life span, i.e. thoughts, perception and common sense.
Sweden’s most dangerous criminal organization. The FOI ruins both democracy and human rights by connecting the human brain to supercomputers.
The EU-Commission’s Ethical Council chaired by the Swedish Professor Goran Hermerén, in 2005 delivered a 30-page document in protest to the EU-Commission. They declared that this technology was a threat to both democracy and human autonomy in all EU-nations:
“Brain-computer interface, or direct brain control:the technologies involved are communication technologies: they take information from the brain and externalize it…Freedom of researchers may conflict with the obligation to safeguard the health of research subjects…the freedom to use implants in ones body, might collide with potential negative social effects…How far can such implants be a threat to human autonomy when they are implanted in our brains?…How far should we be subject to the control of such devices by other people using these devices?…The use of implants in order to have a remote control over the will of people should be strictly prohibited…To what extent will this technology be misused by the military?”
FOI Director Jan-Olof Lind,cheif of the institution founded on the raping of humans. He should be held legally responsible for crimes against human rights.
This planned population project, does not only remove human rights, but transforms us via behavioral manipulation with invasive brain technology. FOI wrote in its program: “We have unique tools and methodologies for the modeling of human behavior…The goal is to design systems able to exploit human cognitive potential (i.e. the ability to perceive, understand and organize information) throughout the course of a person’s life time…Regardless that the consequences of this for people are strong physical burden to bear, it includes as well a risk of serious injury”.
The systems function via two-way radio communication, implants and supercomputers. The EU-board wrote: “How far should we let implants get ’under our skins’?…Indeed, individuals are dispossessed of their own bodies and thereby of their own autonomy. The body ends up being under others’ control. Individuals are being modified, via various electronic devices, under skin chips and smart tags, to such an extent that they are increasingly turned into networked individuals…Does a human being cease to be such a ’being’ in cases where some parts of his or her body – particularly the brain – are substituted and/or supplemented by implants?”
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has accepted the use of humans in experimental reserach and behavioral manipulation. He has also supported FOI´s declaration of abuse of humans in the name of science.
This is a cause of both madness, and anti-social trends in our societies. The brain project has been developed in secrecy for decades; the mentally ill have been put to sleep and implanted with electrodes in their brains and hospitals are injecting brain chips into unwitting patients on a large scale.
Another view of the military conquest of the brain. The Department of Defense has taken over the Karolinska Institute´s neuroscience, and FOI-managers direct the operations. A similar relationship exists for other parts of Karolinska Institute, which is controll
The threat to human rights, freedom and a civilized society could not be more serious or totalitarian. It does not only place a person behind an iron curtain, but create a brain barrier for one’s own thoughts and personality. The project utilizes many forms of research; biological experiments, neuroscience, social engineering, personality modification etc. This is a techno-political agenda for the future that goes a step further than any traditional dictatorships ever has done. It intends to transform us into biological machinery and exploited guinea pigs. 40 years ago, the Swedish state report Choosing Future by Alva Myrdal quoted that people would have small chances of protecting their rights, regarding to the behavior technology. Said quote is from the official state report,SOU 1972:59:
“Research into brain function and behavior is designed primarily to clarify the nature and extent of the changes that can be achieved with the different methods and thus provide information on new opportunities to alleviate human suffering, and new risks of control and modification of behavior against peoples will.”
Several leading professors have suggested that antisocial trends have been spread through these military brain systems. TheEU-Ethical Council asked what danger the military constituted. In fact, they are the central factor in the game of the human brain. Fredrik Reinfeldt had even before he became Prime Minister, made up his mind to stand for the FOI’s abuse. He did the same 2007, after forming the new government; he reaffirmed his opinion concerning this matter.
I, Eric R Naeslund has written this paper and formed the accuse. Also supported a network including journalists, organizations and brain activists in a joint project to bring the issue to media attention and everybody´s knowledge.
For the last 40 years and without practically any media attention, there has been an ongoing debate within the state regarding the brain technology. A former Director General of Data Inspection, Stina Wahlstrom, took up the subject in relation to human rights in the annual book 1989-1990. She wrote:“Obviously, research must include the same ethical values that are generally the basis of law in our society…It is necessary to limit the research and this restriction is needed in a democratic society… People’s integrity has been violated which often means, unwittingly or unwillingly being forced to participate in a research project. Legislation for such coercion does not belong in a democratic society.”It was written 20 years ago, yet it has been developed as far that the 12 members of the European Ethical Council stated: “…when these implants are within our own brains.”This is a threat intended to include all of us in experimental research and behavioral manipulation.
A Prime Minister who accepts the secret brain project, has also launched a battle against people’s fundamental freedom and human rights. In Fredrik Reinfeldt’s state, it is important to repeat terms like ‘justice’ and ‘the open society’ as indoctrinated concepts, to hide the reality of building even higher walls of coercion and censorships, than any previous despot has done. Metaphorical impenetrable barbed wire fences that are – to replace freedom with control – being steadily created in more people’s brains, to replace freedom, with control. The State’s ravaging has FOI as its spearhead. Several times they declare, not only to accept destruction of humans, but also that certain research is actually based on causing harm, suffering and trauma in people. FOI’s takeover of key components of the Karolinska Institute has facilitated the professors and researchers’ projects. A neuro-professor stated in a speech, they couldn’t avoid creating diseases and death amongst those they misused. A scary reality that is not uncommon.
In order to describe the subject from an international perspective, New York Times have had the courage to challenge the U.S. government’s covert brain project. Accusing the Pentagon and the CIA of perpetrating the same systems of persecution as the Defence Departments within the EU, they published three political editorials, 50 articles and demanded better knowledge and a public debate. The first editorial was published in 1967 under the heading Push Button People. They warned of the possibility of enslaving the brain and wrote that it was likely; some nations had plans to suppress its citizens by brain technology. The second came in 1970 under the newly formed term Brain Wave. They indicated that we had to update the word ‘brain washing’ to ‘brain waving’, and assumed that Orwell’s 1984had expired and a new and worse danger was at hand. That every newborn child’s first experience of life would be neuro surgery, to be implanted with a transmitter and for their lifetime get emotions and reasons controlled by the state. The third editorial was published in August 1977 after that the New York Times during the summer published 30 revealing articles on the CIA’s brain projects. Under the heading Control CIA Not Behavior they stated that no one knows how many were injured or killed, and they demanded legal action against those involved and financial compensation for victims.
It’s a bigger nightmare here and now, since the experimental program has developed into a permanent state operation. Senator John Glenn spent his final three years in the Senate (1994-1997) trying to regulate the abuses. In his closing speech in January 1997 he called the question for one of the most important of our time. Here we stand at one of mankind’s crucial crossroads in relation to individual freedom – vs. unlimited state power to reduce man to Governmental components. Who wants to live his life with chips and manipulated perceptions? None of course! The EU Council wrote that they wanted to give people the power against the introduction of systems to reduce freedom and autonomy. This topic, more so than any other issue, is reshaping the future, the human brain and life. It must obviously come up for debate in both parliament and the media. We all have a responsibility to contribute; journalists, social activists and of course those parliamentary members whom are opposed to brain chips, behavior control, human experimentation and undemocratic ideas, must of course make themselves heard too.
or anyone who wants more information concerning the issue – there are an extensive information material both in English and Swedish – contact
In the film Amèlie, the main character is a young eccentric woman who attempts to change the lives of those around her for the better. One day Amèlie finds an old rusty tin box of childhood mementos in her apartment, hidden by a boy decades earlier. After tracking down Bretodeau, the owner, she lures him to a phone booth where he discovers the box. Upon opening the box and seeing a few marbles, a sudden flash of vivid images come flooding into his mind. Next thing you know, Bretodeau is transported to a time when he was in the schoolyard scrambling to stuff his pockets with hundreds of marbles while a teacher is yelling at him to hurry up.
We have all experienced this: a seemingly insignificant trigger, a scent, a song, or an old photograph transports us to another time and place. Now a group of neuroscientists have investigated the fascinating question: Can a few neurons trigger a full memory?
In a new study, published in Nature, a group of researchers from MIT showed for the first time that it is possible to activate a memory on demand, by stimulating only a few neurons with light, using a technique known as optogenetics. Optogenetics is a powerful technology that enables researchers to control genetically modified neurons with a brief pulse of light.
To artificially turn on a memory, researchers first set out to identify the neurons that are activated when a mouse is making a new memory. To accomplish this, they focused on a part of the brain called the hippocampus, known for its role in learning and memory, especially for discriminating places. Then they inserted a gene that codes for a light-sensitive protein into hippocampal neurons, enabling them to use light to control the neurons.
With the light-sensitive proteins in place, the researchers gave the mouse a new memory. They put the animal in an environment where it received a mild foot shock, eliciting the normal fear behavior in mice: freezing in place. The mouse learned to associate a particular environment with the shock.
Next, the researchers attempted to answer the big question: Could they artificially activate the fear memory? They directed light on the hippocampus, activating a portion of the neurons involved in the memory, and the animals showed a clear freezing response. Stimulating the neurons appears to have triggered the entire memory.
The researchers performed several key tests to confirm that it was really the original memory recalled. They tested mice with the same light-sensitive protein but without the shock; they tested mice without the light-sensitive protein; and they tested mice in a different environment not associated with fear. None of these tests yielded the freezing response, reinforcing the conclusion that the pulse of light indeed activated the old fear memory.
In 2010, optogenetics was named the scientific Method of the Year by the journal Nature Methods. The technology was introduced in 2004 by a research group at Stanford University led by Karl Deisseroth, a collaborator on this research. The critical advantage that optogenetics provides over traditional neuroscience techniques, like electrical stimulation or chemical agents, is speed and precision. Electrical stimulation and chemicals can only be used to alter neural activity in nonspecific ways and without precise timing. Light stimulation enables control over a small subset of neurons on a millisecond time scale.
Over the last several years, optogenetics has provided powerful insights into the neural underpinnings of brain disorders like depression, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Now, in the context of memory research, this study shows that it is possible to artificially stimulate a few neurons to activate an old memory, controlling an animals’ behavior without any sensory input. This is significant because it provides a new approach to understand how complex memories are formed in the first place.
Lest ye worry about implanted memories and mind control, this technology is still a long way from reaching any human brains. Nevertheless, the first small steps towards the clinical application of optogenetics have already begun. A group at Brown University, for example, is working on a wireless optical electrode that can deliver light to neurons in the human brain. Who knows, someday, instead of new technology enabling us to erase memories á la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we may actually undergo memory enhancement therapy with a brief session under the lights.
This article was first published on Scientific American. © 2012 ScientificAmerican.com. Follow Scientific American on Twitter @SciAm and @SciamBlogs. VisitScientificAmerican.com for the latest in science, health and technology news.
ScienceDaily (June 28, 2010) — By stimulating certain areas of the brain, scientists can alleviate the effects of disorders such as depression or Parkinson’s disease. That’s the good news. But because controlling that stimulation currently lacks precision, over-stimulation is a serious concern — losing some of its therapeutic benefits for the patient over time.
Now a Tel Aviv University team, part of a European consortium, is delving deep into human behavior, neurophysiology and engineering to create a chip that can help doctors wire computer applications and sensors to the brain. The chip will provide deep brain stimulation precisely where and when it’s needed.
Prof. Matti Mintz of Tel Aviv University’s Psychobiology Research Unit in its Department of Psychology is focusing on the behavioral-physiological aspects of the research. He and the rest of the international research team are working toward a chip that could help treat some diseases of the mind in just a few years. The platform, says Prof. Mintz, is flexible enough to provide a basis for a variety of clinical experiments, and tools which can be programmed for specific disorders. For example, the chip could restore lost functions of the brain after a traumatic brain injury from a car accident or stroke.
Reversing strokes, depression and aging
The team’s methodology is straightforward — they record activity using electrodes implanted in diseased areas of the brain. Based on an analysis of this activity, they develop algorithms to simulate healthy neuronal activity which are programmed into a microchip and fed back into the brain.
For now, the chip, called the Rehabilitation Nano Chip (or ReNaChip), is hooked up to tiny electrodes which are implanted in the brain. But as chips become smaller, the ReNaChip could be made small enough to be “etched” right onto the electrodes themselves.
For therapeutic purposes, though, only the electrodes will be inserted into the brain. “The chip itself can be implanted just under the skin, like pacemakers for the heart,” says Prof. Mintz, who is currently conducting experiments on animal models, “ensuring that the brain is stimulated only when it needs to be.”
One of the challenges of the proposed technology is the size of the electrodes. The researchers hope to further miniaturize deep brain electrodes while adding more sensors at the same time says Prof. Mintz. His Tel Aviv University colleague and partner Prof. Yossi Shaham-Diamond is working on this problem.
The international multidisciplinary team, includes other researchers from TAU — Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron and Dr. Mira Kalish — and partners from Austria, England and Spain, regularly converge on the TAU campus to update and integrate new components of the set-up and monitor the progress of the chip in live animals in Prof. Mintz’s lab.
A two-way conversation
The idea that a chip can interface between inputs and outputs of certain brain area is a very new concept in scientific circles, Prof. Mintz notes, although movies and TV shows about bionic humans have been part of the popular culture for decades. The researchers say that their ReNaChip could help people whose brains have deteriorated with age or been damaged by injury and disease. The chip will not only provide a bionic replacement for lost neuronal function in the brain, under ideal conditions, it could significantly rehabilitate the brain.
Currently, the researchers are attempting to rehabilitate motor-learning functions lost due to brain damage. “We are attaching the chip to the brain to stimulate relatively simple brain behaviors,” says Prof. Mintz. A controlled treatment for drug resistant epilepsy, based on the team’s technology, could be only a few years away, he says.