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Neuroprosthetics (also called neural prosthetics) is a discipline related to neuroscience and biomedical engineering. It is concerned with developing neural prostheses - devices that can replace a sensory modality that might have been damaged as a result of an injury or a disease. Examples from as early as the late 20th Century included cochlear implants that granted the user a very primitive form of hearing, and primitive visual prosthetics that granted a blind recipient abilities such as navigation without the aid of a cane and facial recognition.

Currently, neuroprosthetics has progressed to the point where the following examples are available:

  • Visual prosthetics: Artificial eyes granting near-normal vision in visible light. Low-light and near-infrared portions of the spectrum may be available at additional cost.
  • Audio prosthetics that interface with the auditory nerve granting the user near-normal range of hearing.
  • Tactile prosthetics grant a primitive sense of touch and temperature sensation. Currently, sensory feedback from pressure sensors allows for basic “yes/no” regional contact information - you can tell that someone's shaking your shoulder, or tell where someone is grabbing your arm, but you can't appreciate the sensation of a loved one running a fingertip along your 'skin' - yet. Temperature sensors only offer a relative 'hotter than/colder than' setting in specific locations of the body, such as fingertips.

Prerequisites for neuroprosthetic devices are similar to the those listed on the cybernetics main page: A brain with centers capable of processing the data in a manner it's used to, and appropriate nerves that can be utilized by the prosthetics to relay information to the brain. For example, if you were born with normal binocular vision, you cannot properly process input from more than two visual prosthetics, and those prosthetics have to be arranged relative to each other in a manner similar to your original eye placement.

neuroprosthetics.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/25 19:57 by hagalaz