Neuroengineering- Syed Basit Naqvi

Neuroengineering is a recently discovered field which involves the close association of engineered technology and gadgetry with the vast medical field of neurology. This field is still a freshly hatched chick, with research ongoing in countries like Turkey and the United States. This field mainly comprises of novel biomedical engineering technology to repair, enhance or replace the neural tissues lying within the human anatomy. 

The implications of this technology are very large, and unimaginable in some aspects. They have several important applications, which can be thought of merely as fiction by a commoner. The ones involved in the research and development sector (R&D sector) within this discipline know the vitality and understand the gravity of an out-of-the-world technology such as this. 

Paramount applications of this technology include neural imaging (making pre-existing imaging methods such as MRI, CT, PET, CAT, etc obsolete); neural networking, which is essentially an interface networking system involving neural surfaces rendered with communication electrodes and micro transistors; neural prostheses; and neural stem cell resuscitation, which may help in replacing damaged or senesced neurons with new, homologous, and highly efficient  ones.

So, why does even one want to get involved in such a field, which is incomprehensible to most people? It may be because of the implications of this technical knowledge, which may provide a Lucy to the world, or a person with an intelligence equivalent to that of Hawking. The interesting-sounding terminologies may even turn on the inner scientists of most people. The important applications are bound to evoke enthusiasm in a majority.

It is entirely possible, although seemingly fictional, to receive and to answer instant messages and emails just by the action of the neurons in your head. It is also possible to view inside one’s head using a simple set of electrodes placed strategically across the cranium, using this technology. With the aid of this technology, it is possible to restore a blind individual’s sight and a deaf one’s hearing.

The harms caused by various imaging techniques have not yet been fully discovered or investigated. The hassle-free no-incision imaging techniques may be comfortable to the patient undergoing therapy, but their harms are far from known. The region of observation inside the body brought about by the existing imaging technology is limited to the thorax, abdomen and lower regions of the body. Computerized tomography (CT) is a pre-existing technology which is only supposed to give a technical image of the ongoing activity within the neural tissue. But, the science of neural engineering can also give a clear image of the glial cells and insignificant foreign bodies embedded within the cerebrospinal fluid. In layman’s terms, a CT will provide a report on brain functionality only, whereas neural imaging technology will provide an image which covers not only the brain, but also the cells and tissues surrounding it.

The discipline of neural biomedical engineering, however, is theorized to cause less harm and aid the already existing technologies like Position and Computerized Tomography, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The technology can help form a clear image of what the part of the brain beneath the meninges looks like. Medical technology, especially the Radiology and Imaging department, will immensely benefit from such a technology. The procedures for invasive and minimally-invasive surgeries will turn over a new leaf, as the technology can project a clear image of the veins and capillaries that lie beneath the delicate tissues, such as that of the brain. The success rate for neural tumour surgeries will also increase by at least 10 per cent. 

Disorders associated with the nervous tissues, like Parkinson’s, can be transitorily overcome with the help of this science. The neural graft can be programmed to resonate at the desired frequency, which may temporarily cause relief and control to the patient. The patient shall experience no discomfort while the frequency is being omitted by the implanted microdevice.

Neurotech implanted in the brain may even lead to human enhancement, opening an all-new world that no one has ever experienced before. The intelligence will be multiplied by several folds and the responses to situations in everyday life will be indistinguishable from those of an average person. This scientific discipline will, however, prove to be most valuable to the people who have damaged neurons due to accidents or other unfortunate causes. The replication therapy and the regeneration hypothesis may aid the person in a quick recovery.

Meetings of experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and scientists studying human behaviour and anthropology have taken place on international platforms. With human psyche, psychological intelligence and quotients in mind, scientists have ambiguous opinions about the resultant demeanour of a person implanted with such a graft. The efficiency of the subject will augment, yes, but the results of such an implant within the head are far from recognized. This is the reason why there are not a lot of people volunteering to be test subjects for this world-changing technology.

The techniques for grafting and stem cell regeneration will be now inclusive of the various brain tissues. Neuroregeneration, stem cell repair, and tissue engineering, however, are disciplines which are yet to be exploited to their maximum potential and may promise a great positive outcome for all of mankind.

 

~Syed Basit Naqvi, Class-11

 

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