This image of a bionic implant sitting on a US cent is something that we are working on with other researchers here at the University of Utah. Bradley Greger at the University is heading up this project and our lab is optimistic that we can help with some novel ways of exploring new science that will come out of this. Graduate students Scott Lauritzen and Rebecca Parker are working on this project as it develops, but that is all I want to say about that for now.
What I can tell you about more specifically is this device seen in these images is called the Utah Electrode Array (WARNING: potentially graphic image below of an implant in a human brain). The Utah Electrode Array is a brain implant technology developed here at the University of Utah by Richard Normann. The purpose of this device, built by currently built for us by Blackrock Microsystems is to transduce signals from external devices to deliver to the brain for interpretation. Alternatively, the device can record impulses generated in the brain for delivery of neural signals to external devices. Our potential interests in this approach are manifold, but real use and implementation of these devices is some years away still.
The bionic implant is shown in the above images after having been removed from the brain tissue it was implanted in. The above images were captured with a Canon 1D Mk III and a Canon EF MP-E 65mm f/2.8 macro lens mounted to a focusing rail. Multiple images were taken at various focal planes and were subsequently focus stacked to create a digitally enhanced depth of field.
Here is the implant in a human subject. The hope is that pathological or damaged portions of the nervous system can be bypassed with these devices or used to augment existing capabilities. Stay tuned for more in the future…
Content in this entry has been published in the Salt Lake City Weekly here.