'A device that could one day “allow the blind to see or the paralysed to feel touch” by projecting holograms onto brain cells is being developed by scientists.
By using light as a tool to alter brain function, it might be possible to mimic real sensations and perceptions, they have suggested.
Named the “holographic brain modulator”, the device is still in its very early stages, but in a new paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers outlined some promising early results.
“This is one of the first steps in a long road to develop a technology that could be a virtual brain implant with additional senses or enhanced senses,” said Dr Alan Mardinly, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who participated in the work.
The researchers hope that from their initial experiments modifying the brain cells of mice, the technology will one day have the capacity to mimic senses such as sight or touch in people who have lost them.
“The ability to talk to the brain has the incredible potential to help compensate for neurological damage caused by degenerative diseases or injury,” said Professor Ehud Isacoff, another Berkeley scientist who was not involved in the project.
“By encoding perceptions into the human cortex, you could allow the blind to see or the paralysed to feel touch.”'
Read more: Holograms projected onto brain could help replace lost senses