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 Science Museum shows what brains can do next

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Date posted: 28/08/2006

Today's medical technology could be used to enhance our brains to make them work quicker and better, as revealed in a new free exhibition opening at the Science Museum in the UK in October.

Visitors to the museum will be able to see how today's pioneering science works, alongside the mind boggling future possibilities and the ethical questions they raise at this exciting new interactive exhibition at Antenna, the contemporary science gallery at the Science Museum.

The exhibition, which is still to be named, will explore a variety of current and future technologies that could include artificial memory implants, advanced lie-detection tools that tap in to your consciousness, communicating with comatose patients and controlling virtual reality.

EEG (Electroencephalogram) caps allow paralysed people to interface with and communicate via a computer and can also be used to control artificial limbs.

EEG caps could allow people to control computers with their minds enabling faster reactions and better game play.

fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) could help diagnose 'consciousness' in patients who are apparently in a coma.

fMRI works by scanning the brain and linking oxygen levels in the blood to different functions within the brain.

TMS (Transcranial magnetic stimulation) could help stroke victims learn how to use their bodies again.

In healthy people, TMS might be able to improve their mental abilities.

tDCS (Transcranial direct current stimulation) could help stroke victims learn how to use their bodies again and works by passing a weak electrical current through the scalp, affecting how the brain makes new connections.

Brain implants or chips also allow paralysed people to interface with and communicate via a computer, and to control artificial or robotic limbs.

Current tests in virtual reality environments could lead to commercial virtual reality games.

We could have brain implants that let us manipulate objects with our mind, acting like electronic telekinesis - turning off the TV for example.

Chip implants could enable paralysed people to walk again, as well as replacing other lost functions by wirelessly connecting the brain's commands to the person's limbs, by-passing any damaged nerves.

Emma Hedderwick, Science Museum exhibition manager said 'Researchers have already been able to apply today's technology for an amazing range of uses to diagnose and treat many conditions that affect the brain, allowing new insight into how our brains work.

However, we could be facing a future where non-medical use causes humans to be more machine than man.

This new technology is both exciting and fascinating, but it is important to consider the ethical issues of using it to better our brains.

For example, at what point do we stop being human?'.

The exhibition will open to visitors 10th October 06.

See the full Story via external site: www.processingtalk.com



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