Neuro-technical interfaces to the central nervous system

Poiesis and Praxis 4 (2):95-109 (2006)
Abstract
Neuro-technical interfaces are technical devices that bridge the electronic world to neurons with the objective to establish a long term stable contact for bidirectional information exchange. What does that mean in detail and to what kind of machine and for what purpose should the central nervous system, i.e. the brain, be connected? Science fiction literature and movies offer a tremendous variety of usually uncomfortable scenarios including cyborg and robocop super-humans and mass control. Do these implants change the psyche in general and what is feasible in nowadays therapeutic and rehabilitative approaches? In this overview, the author will not answer these questions but tries to deliver an overview of the technological background, the opportunities and the limitations of neuro-technical interfaces to the central nervous system. The fundamental specifications for neuro-technical interfaces will be introduced. Different degrees of implant invasiveness will be discussed and lead to a summary of clinical systems with their application-specific complexity. Actual technological opportunities and limitations will be addressed as well as general physical limitations. Current and future scenarios of neuro-technical interfaces to the central nervous system will be presented from an engineering point of view arising some questions that might be of interest with respect to ethical and societal implications when those interfaces are transferred into clinical practice and public applications
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