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A pacemaker for your brain
Date:6/28/2010

n. "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.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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