back to article Boffins implant almost-cellphone in the BRAIN

It's not really a cellular phone, but a wireless sensor that Brown University researchers developed to help capture brain-waves. But since nobody else can resist the link-bait headline, why should The Register? It's pretty cool, actually: the research is designed to provide better recording of brain activity, so as to help …


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  1. Silverburn

    to help produce better computer models of the brain

    ok, so how does that work? How do you model one system onto another completely incompatible one?


    Brain - extremely slow (19-15hz), massively parallel, "analogue", self-repairing and self-adapting, poor compartmentalisation, with pattern detection bias and high error ratio

    Computer - extremely fast, not very parallel, "digital", strict compartmentalisation with bit level processing bias and low error ratio.

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      How do you model one system onto another completely incompatible one?

      I don't know. I'll have a go at figuring it out after I've taken this pen and paper business process and automated it on my PC.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      "extremely slow (19-15hz), massively parallel, "analogue", self-repairing and self-adapting, poor compartmentalisation, with pattern detection bias and high error ratio"

      Sounds like the US Army. (OK , any army.) May be you should contact the Call of Duty and ask them how they did it.

  2. Ocular Sinister
    Black Helicopters

    Two words spring to mind:

    Mirror and Black, but not necessarily in that order.

  3. Robert E A Harvey


    I reckon direct neural interfaces will stop all the KDE/Gnome version wars, the spats over Tiles, and the tedium over whether keyboards are a good thing or a waste of carrying weight.

    Wire me up, wire me up NOW!

    1. Phil W

      Re: Good.

      "Wire me up, wire me up NOW!"

      Certainly Sir.....*KZZZTT*

  4. Chairo

    tiny ?

    If the scale is right, the thing is over 5cm long. I wouldn't call that "tiny". At least not if it is meant to be implanted into the body.

    I wonder what kind of monkey they used for their experiments. King Kong? No that was an ape...

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: tiny ?

      That's what I thought. Some (unfortunate) men are not that well equipped.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The original for this tech dates from the late 1960s

    When an epileptic patient was implanted. A set of electrodes monitored his brain for the signature of a seizure.

    Controversially the electrodes could also be stimulated to selectively kill parts of the brain that were over-stimulated.

    The research appears to have worked but the huge ethical issues about this seem to have stopped further work along this line in its tracks.

    So the endurance seems much better but the ethical issues have not gone away.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: The original for this tech dates from the late 1960s

      What's slightly annoying is that the ethical concerns were that the effects *permanently* modified a patients behaviour or personality (even after refinement of the process, there was still overspill into other parts of the brain), even when the evidence was it was only temporary and only lasted as long as stimulation occured.


      The process - IMO - is sound, but it's very much a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and the overspill causes the alarming (in the publics eyes) side effects. Much more refinement and accuracy is required.

      Edit: Note - link is for TLE only.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. moonface
        Big Brother

        Re: The original for this tech dates from the late 1960s, if I can only incorporate these technologies in with those google goggles. I could roll it out to the general populace on the pretense of protecting against peodophiles and terrorists by zapping their unhealthy thoughts, when viewing young girls and guns. I could then also stimulate their emotions positively every time I appear on TV.......this time next year, I could rule the world!

    2. Steven Roper

      Re: The original for this tech dates from the late 1960s

      Michael Crichton wrote a sci-fi novel, The Terminal Man about the same time, about this very topic. In the story, a temporal-lobe epileptic was fitted with a set of brain electrodes that stimulated the pleasure centres of his brain whenever the implanted computer detected the onset of a seizure. The problems began when the patient, called Benson, started subsconsciously triggering repeated seizures to get the pleasure rush, doing it more and more often until he entered a constant fugue state - at which point he then goes on a murderous rampage.

      I remember reading this story back in the late 70s, and it had particular relevance to be because I was also diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, and I wondered then if they were going to plant electrodes into my brain too, but they never did.

      But it's weird seeing something from so long ago becoming current technology. I guess for me The Terminal Man joins Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact in the list of sci-fi books about the future, that has now passed.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Compare that to the past.

    brain chips

    Have we really come very far?

  7. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    >And, of course, once acquired, brain-waves can also be scanned for particular signals that are associated with thoughtcrimes

    Just one step away....

  8. greensun

    Animal torture for fun and profit :-(

  9. Tom 11


    That's a pretty hefty chunk of grey matter!

    1. Sarev

      Re: 5cm!!!

      Agreed! When the caption said "tiny" I assumed an error in the diagram. 5cm is huge - the average mouse brain is less than 2cm in its longest axis. There was me expecting to see a 2 x 2mm bit of silicon...

  10. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    My last excuse...

    for not answering my phone has gone.

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: My last excuse...

      Your phone is there for your convenience, not other peoples.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: My last excuse... @Crisp

        You aren't married are you...

  11. Suricou Raven Silver badge

    That thing is huge.

    Please, go easy on your EBEs.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What could go wrong?

    That is all...

  13. Dave 62
    Thumb Up

    Fuck the ethics, gimme.

  14. TeeCee Gold badge

    Wake me up....

    ......when they can get an ansible in there.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happened to

    The system that used light via optical fibres to stimulate neurons to fire?

    I can see this being useful for "locked in" patients, as well as those with high spinal injuries with little to no mobility.

    AC/DC and why isn't there a "Borg me kthx" option on the organ donor card?!

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