Star Trek Gets Closer

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Does anyone remember those old Star Treks (Original Series of course) in which Dr. McCoy expresses horror at the barbarisms of the past, when they actually cut people open instead of using tricorders to fix human health? MIT today announced a step toward "civilization"—the ability to use light to turn off brain cells, obviating the need to cut people open.

Scientists at the MIT Media Lab have invented a way to reversibly silence brain cells using pulses of yellow light, offering the prospect of controlling the haywire neuron activity that occurs in diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

Such diseases often must be treated by removing neurons that fire incorrectly. The new MIT research could lead to the development of optical brain prosthetics to control neurons, eliminating the need for irreversible surgery.

2 comments:

Knucklehead said...

What's the big deal? I've been turning off brain cells without surgery for years.

Seneca the Younger said...

Um, MHA? How does the yellow light get to the neurons? From the article it kinda sounds like they have to open the skull.