30 May 2009

Growing New Brain Cells Using Deep Brain Stim

Deep brain electrode stimulation can lead to a doubling of production of new brain neurons in mice. Such therapies will likely be used in humans for persons suffering from brain injury and degenerative disease. Later, it will be used in order to boost performance for persons with particularly demanding jobs.
During the study, the researcher placed electrodes inside the rodent's limbic system, a formation inside the brain, and stimulated it with low-intensity current for about an hour. Knowing that the average mouse brain produces a few thousands of new neurons each day, Stone waited for the results of the stimulation. Three to five days after the procedure was completed, he noticed that the animals' brains were producing twice or more the number of neurons they usually generate, Nature News reports.

The finds were presented on May 25, at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, in Vancouver by Paul Frankland, one of Stone's supervisors, based at the Hospital for Sick Children, in Toronto.

After the electro-stimulation therapy, they injected the mice with iododeoxyuridine, a substance that allows experts to analyze which neurons are active, and which are not. After training the animals to a simple task, Stone looked at their brains, searching for a protein called Fos. This protein is associated with learning, and takes only 90 minutes to form. He learned that the Fos levels in both natural and artificially-produced neurons were the same. “These new neurons aren't just sitting around doing nothing,” he concluded. _Softpedia
Images of "wireheads" walking around in an electric haze will colour many persons' opinion of this phenomenon a certain shade of bilirubin. But electrical stimulation apparently works through normal pathways of gene expression, like other environmental cues such as drugs, hormones, and calorie restriction.

More brain cells do not automatically make a brain smarter. But more brain cells in the right place, organised properly, certainly will. If it is too late to program a person's genes to make him smarter, who will deny him the opportunity to utilise other means to that end? We will have to find many ways of boot-strapping ourselves to the next level.

The next level is not just about living 500 vital years with an IQ of 200 or more. It is about having the wisdom and competence to make the most of that time and mental capacity. Just a small number of next levels working in small labs and workshops scattered around the globe, would be enough to cancel most of the harmful effects of the Obamas, the Putins, the Kims, and the Ahmedinejads of the world. Without such an injection of wise competence over time, humans are apt to bury themselves.

The smart-wise machine fantasy of singularitarians is no substitute for extending human potential.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Lloyd Mintern said...

Gee, can't wait for this!

Monday, 01 June, 2009  

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