Brains and machines have been flirting for decades, but at several centers around the country they are now getting married. Brain surgeon and neuroscientist Edward Chang is the focus of my story about the union, just out in San Francisco magazine. Chang and his colleagues at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Center for Neural Engineering and Prosthetics (CNEP) are developing brain-computer interfaces, including one that will read words from paralyzed patients' brains and give them voice through a prosthetic device. Jan Rabaey is developing mirco-arrays that will read electrical signals from the cortex's surface and transmit signals through the skull to devices outside. Michel Maharbiz is even talking about "brain dust," networked wireless nanosensors, each the size of a dust mote, that could be distributed throughout the entire brain like artificial neurons and wirelessly communicate with computers in the outside world. “It’s still a vision for the future, but we think it could work,” he says.
Gordy Slackwrites about neuroscience, evolution, the environment, and science & religion for manypublications. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times,New Scientist, San Francisco Magazine, Salon, and The Scientist. He is the author of The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design and a School Board in Dover, PA.Slack is currently working on a book about epilepsy.
“Gordy Slack has written a lively, lucid account of a fascinating trial.” --Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker