Originally Published MDDI April 2002R&D DIGEST

April 1, 2002

1 Min Read
Can an Implanted Chip Record Sensations?

Originally Published MDDI April 2002

R&D DIGEST

A cybernetics professor at Reading University (UK) has become the first human to have a computer chip directly connected to his central nervous system. According to researchers, the technology could one day be used to improve the quality of life for individuals with certain forms of paralysis.

Kevin Warwick, PhD, professor in the university's department of cybernetics, underwent surgery in March to have a 5.0-cm-long computer chip, which is capable of Internet communication, implanted in his left arm. The implant is a functional computer, with a power supply, a signal processor, and a transmitter, all encased in silicon.

The chip includes a microelectrode array that contains 100 spikes with sensitive tips, with each electrode connected directly to nerve fibers. Wires lead from the array and appear through a skin puncture. These wires will be linked to an external radio transmitting/receiving device. The device will be used to link Warwick's median nerve to a computer via radio signal.

Experiments are planned for later this year to assess the chip's ability to record sensations such as movement and pain and then transmit them to an external computer. Warwick believes the computer will be capable of playing those sensations back at a later time, causing him to experience the sensation again.

Warwick believes that the project eventually could yield significant medical benefits—particularly restoring movement to individuals with spinal injuries and possibly providing an alternate sense for blind individuals, or as a method of pain relief.

Copyright ©2002 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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