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BrainFacts.org

A PUBLIC INFORMATION
INITIATIVE OF:

  • Kavli
  • Gatsby
  • SfN

Brain Scans: Technologies That Peer Inside Your Head

Advances in chemistry, physics, and computer science have revolutionized neuroscience by giving scientists greater access to the living brain.

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Brain-Controlled Prosthetics

Mind over matter is no longer the stuff of science fiction alone. Brain-computer interface technology now enables severely physically disabled people to independently compose and send emails.

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Neuroscience: Informing the Next Generation of Computers

Neuroscience and technology have a symbiotic relationship. Learn how advances in neuroscience are advancing technologies and vice versa.

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Introduction

Might researchers one day design prosthetic limbs that respond to the brain’s signals? Will brain scans someday allow researchers to read a person’s thoughts? Recent advances in neuroscience are spurring the development of technology to address long-standing challenges. And the development of new technologies — such as ways to trace connections between our 100 billion nerve cells, decode activity patterns in neural circuits, and turn cells on and off with light — are guiding scientists to new understanding of the brain and nervous system. New technologies also aim to improve doctors’ abilities to diagnose neurological or psychiatric illness earlier and expand treatment options for people with brain disease or injury. For instance, therapies aimed at identifying and replacing defective genes or nerve cells are currently being tested. With each discovery, scientists uncover new details about brain function and how it differs in health and disease.

Discoveries

Illuminating the Brain

Source: Society for Neuroscience
The discovery of a protein that gives jellyfish their colorful glow revolutionized scientists' view of the nervous system, allowing them to add color to what had only been seen in black and white.

Read Montague: What We're Learning From 5,000 Brains

Source: TED
Mice, bugs and hamsters are no longer the only way to study the brain. Functional MRI (fMRI) allows scientists to map brain activity in living, breathing, decision-making human beings.

Technologies in the News

Sending Light Through the Skull to Influence Brain Activity

Source: Inside Science
Date: 18 July 2014

Genetically engineered protein responds remotely to red light in the brains of mice.


Nanoparticles May Harm the Brain

Source: Science
Date: 11 July 2014

Charged nanoparticles can carry drugs and other treatments to their destinations inside the body.


Probing Brain’s Depth, Trying to Aid Memory

Source: New York Times
Date: 9 July 2014
The Department of Defense announced a $40 million investment in direct brain recording.