“The therapeutic potential for the device is exciting. From helping to restore sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, to reinstating sensation in patients with peripheral nerve damage and helping amputees control prosthetic limbs.
“This has great potential for neural prostheses, since it has the precision needed for the brain to interpret the pattern of activation,” says Mardinly. “If you can read and write the language of the brain, you can speak to it in its own language and it can interpret the message much better.” Mardinly is already thinking beyond therapeutic uses, towards augmenting human experience: “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.”
“We’re still a ways off before you can plan your next staycation at a 3D Shot themed resort and spa. As of now, the researchers are testing a prototype in the visual, touch and motor areas of mice brains.
“The mice are showing similar patterns of neural response correlating to sensory stimuli. The next step is training the mice so scientists can observe behavior changes that correspond to the stimulation. Studying behavioral cues is the best measure of success because you can’t ask a mouse if it’s experiencing the ripe, mushroomy taste of Limburger cheese as you flash holograms into its cortex.
“The researchers plan to scale-up the device’s capacity to interpret and create from a broader terrain of brain matter while scaling-down the device to make it portable enough to slip inside a backpack.
“They’re also working towards capturing neural patterns inside the brain with the goal of reproducing sensory experience and playing it back through holography.”