SEP 10, 2018 06:18 AM PDT

Is The Human Brain Programmable?

The brain is often referred to as a computer. Researchers have tried for years to make artificial intelligence as fast and efficient as the human brain, but so far, the brain is still winning. Unlike a computer, however, the mind isn’t something a developer can sit down and program, with lines and lines of code. The brain is much too sophisticated for that, but could we do it in the future? The field of optogenetics is booming with scientists looking for a way to switch genes in the brain on or off, to create different results. Using light-sensitive proteins that are genetically inserted into individual neurons, scientists can send signals in the form of light pulses to control those neurons. 

In one research project, light was used to make lab rats walk in circles, but it involved aiming the light at an entire area of the brain, rather than just specific cells. In April of 2018, one group of neuroscientists was able to use 3D holographic light to activate carefully chosen neurons in lab animals. Measurements showed that neural firing patterns were different as a result of the process, but it’s tough to measure how it feels to the mice. The possible applications of this could mean that by using light, the brain could be made to perceive memories, images or objects that are not actually there. 

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
DEC 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 15, 2019
Why Do Camels Have Humps?
Camels are predominantly known for the humps that appear on their backs, and believe it or not, those humps are filled with body fat. Some camels sport jus...
DEC 15, 2019
Cardiology
DEC 15, 2019
Find the Motivation to Exercise with Imagery
Those involved in professional sports have a lot on their plate. From fitting in intense regular workouts to getting adequate sleep, to eating a healthy di...
DEC 15, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 15, 2019
Is the Milky Way Too "Gassy"?
Astrophysicists have long thought that our home galaxy the Milky Way has been constantly losing mass due to the escape of hydrogen gas. However, by observi...
DEC 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 15, 2019
Everything You Didn't Know About Hyenas
The humble hyena is often depicted as dim-witted, but as the scientific facts would show, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Despite the negati...
DEC 15, 2019
Cardiology
DEC 15, 2019
Meal Timing May Influence Heart Health
New research into meal timing suggests that when we eat may influence cardiovascular health. Research up until this point has focused on what we eat and ho...
DEC 15, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 15, 2019
Sunflowers Inspire Solar Harvesting Technology
One of the most remarkable capabilities of living things is phototropism—in which living organisms track and move with light sources. The most famili...
Loading Comments...