Mapping The Brain’s Electric Fields With Magnetoelectric Nanoparticles
(FossBytes) Most of us know that our brain functions in a complex manner. The neurons in the brain communicate using electrical signals, and our brain has around 100 billion neurons and each communicates with millions of others. The information thus is traveled and transferred at the atomic level. We can view and maneuver the signals through implants and wiring inside the brain, but only to some extent.
A team of medical researchers at Florida International University in Miami has found another way of mapping the brain signals more accurately than ever. They injected 20 billion nanoparticles into the brains of mice, with the idea of establishing a kind of direct wireless connection to neurons. These are the ‘Magnetoelectric Nanoparticles’ ( MENs) that sneak up towards the neural networks inside the brain. The nanoparticles possess special properties. They produce electric fields in the vicinity of the individual neurons when triggered by the magnetic field externally. The MENs’ generated electric field communicates directly with the brain’s electric field.
Sakhrat Khizroev, the lead researcher told New Scientist:
WHEN MEN ARE EXPOSED TO EVEN AN EXTREMELY LOW FREQUENCY MAGNETIC FIELD, THEY GENERATE THEIR OWN LOCAL ELECTRIC FIELD AT THE SAME FREQUENCY. IN TURN, THE ELECTRIC FIELD CAN DIRECTLY COUPLE TO THE ELECTRIC CIRCUITRY OF THE NEURAL NETWORK.
This technique of getting inside and actually seeing the processes happening inside the brain would open new levels of brain-computer networking interface. The nanoparticles could be further used to deliver drugs to specific parts of the brain.
The researchers’ team showed that various antiviruses could be released inside the body through this technology. They have shown that the particles can carry anti-HIV drugs and cancer drug paclitaxel.
Khizroev suggests that doing the process in reverse would create a new way to control the machines and interact with computers. The nanoparticles would create magnetic fields in response to the brain’s own electrical signal. The computer would get our brain signals as the input parameters and then can directly simulate the targeted regions of the brain in return.