Monday, January 22, 2007

"Neural 'extension cord' developed for brain implants":
A "data cable" made from stretched nerve cells could someday help connect computers to the human nervous system. The modified cells should form better connections with human tissue than the metal electrodes currently used for purposes such as remotely controlling prosthetics...

"The nervous system doesn't like nasty hard metal or plastic," says Doug Smith, who is developing the cell-based cable at the University of Pennsylvania, US. Nerve tissue can develop scarring or shrink away from contact with metal and other non-biological materials, he says.

"Nerve cells will happily grow to form new connections with new nerve cells though," Smith adds, "we want to try that as an alternative to ramming something into a nerve or the brain. The idea is to make a kind of extension cord." Prototype cables developed by his team have already been shown to transmit simple signals effectively.