A Coprocessor for the Human Brain

Optogenetic technology represents an interesting step toward a practical coprocessor for the human brain. Ed Boyden describes a method for using a virus to insert genes for light-sensitive proteins on to neurons. Once applied this would allow for control of specific activation or deactivation of those neurons using a fiber optic light source. This technology could be used for the treatment of PTSD, epilepsy, depression and other brain disorders. The implications of this ability to effect the brain with light instead of drugs is simply fascinating and sure to stir much debate. Watch for the post lecture chat at 16:53 where they talk about how Ed Boyden’s research demonstrates how to control the brain with just two colors of light like an on off switch, in other words the representation of every brain impulse as a binary code of ones and zeros. In this instance blue light represents a one and the absence of light represents a zero. Although the research is envisioned as a way of augmenting the brain for people with disabilities there are those in the singularity movement that will surely develop other uses for people that want to augment or greatly enhance other brain functions.
Read more about Ed Boyden’s research and bout Optogenetic technology also check out the Scientific American article on Optogenetics.

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