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7 th EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2006 Genes, brain/mind and behaviour The Ship Who Sang: the neuro- machine interface Dr Jackie Leach Scully School of Geography,

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Presentation on theme: "7 th EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2006 Genes, brain/mind and behaviour The Ship Who Sang: the neuro- machine interface Dr Jackie Leach Scully School of Geography,"— Presentation transcript:

1 7 th EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2006 Genes, brain/mind and behaviour The Ship Who Sang: the neuro- machine interface Dr Jackie Leach Scully School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

2 2 Helva, the ship who sang “She was born a thing and as such would be condemned if she failed to pass the encephalograph test required of all newborn babies. There was always the possibility that though the limbs were twisted, the mind was not…”

3 3 Helva’s path from human to ship “…to become an encapsulated brain, a guiding mechanism that would live in a metal shell for several centuries.” “…instead of kicking feet, Helva’s neural responses started her wheels; instead of grabbing with hands, she manipulated mechanical extensions.” “When she woke, she was the ship.”

4 4 Neuro-machine interfaces: clinical  Cardiovascular pacemakers  Spinal cord stimulation (chronic pain)  Vagus nerve or deep brain stimulation (epilepsy, drug-resistant severe depression)  Cochlear, auditory brainstem implants

5 5 Cochlear implant Microphone in postaural hearing aid Sound processor worn externally converts to digital information and transmits via headpiece to implant Implant converts digital information to electronic signals, sends to electrode array in inner ear Electrode array transfers signal to auditory nerve

6 6 Neuro-machine interfaces: experimental   Cortical and ocular implants   Artificial hippocampus

7 7 Artificial hippocampus Berger et al, 2003 In vitro Based on mathematical model of functional hippocampus Aim to treat memory loss from hippocampal damage due to stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer’s

8 8 Neuro-machine interfaces: experimental   Cortical and ocular implants   Artificial hippocampus   Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) to control external device, motor stimulation of limbs

9 9 Brain-computer interface in tetraplegic patient

10 10 Microelectrode array 100 microelectrode array developed by Cyberkinetics Inc for use in BrainGate™ Neural Interface System

11 11 Ethical questions   Cost to individual, healthcare services   Fair access (also global?)   Informed consent   Safety   short and long term side effects   reversibility

12 12 Ethical questions  Therapy/enhancement  Alteration of identity/personality/free will?   alteration of experience of human body   ontological consequences

13 13 Manipulating form and function If body lacks particular function:  Provide extrinsic device  Hearing aids, prosthetic limbs  Exploit natural plasticity  Sign languages, use of dysplasic limbs

14 14 Alison Lapper, artist About once a week, a group of us would be taken to be kitted out with artificial arms and legs. It was all very admirable but the final results were ridiculous. It was virtually impossible to use them. During a typical mealtime [you might see] some of us chasing the same bit of food round and round the plate without ever getting hold of it; others succeeding in grabbing a piece of something but then whacking themselves in the chin or eye...By the time I was 7 or 8, the authorities had accepted that the experiment wasn‘t working and gave up asking us to use artificial arms. Instead a knife and spoon were strapped directly to my stumps.“

15 15 Corporeal schema and objects “If I am in the habit of driving a car, I enter a narrow opening and see that I can‘t get through, without comparing the width of the opening with that of the wings,just as I go through a doorway without checking the width...against my body. The car has ceased to be an object...” Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, 1962:

16 16 Corporeal schema and objects “The blind man‘s stick has ceased to be an object for him, and is no longer perceived for itself; its point has become an area of sensitivity, extending the scope and active radius of touch, and providing a parallel to sight. In the exploration of things, the length of the stick does not enter expressly as a middle term: the blind man is, rather, aware of it through the position of objects than of the position of objects through it...To get used to a stick, is to be transplanted into it, or conversely, to incorporate it into the bulk of our own bodies.” Phenomenology of Perception, 1962:

17 17 Thinking body/embodied mind   Phenomenology   Body and its actions as basis of human thought   Thinking body exists prior to language, representation, self consciousness   Cognitive science/neuropsychology   Reality shaped by patterns of bodily movement, spatial/temporal orientation, interactions with objects   Body experience  development of abstract thought   ?Different body experiences  different modes of thought?

18 18 Cyborg/fyborg Haraway’s essay now struck me as a straightforward description of my life. I experienced joint kinship with machines and animals, feeling oddly affectionate towards my robot vacuum cleaner…The computer invaded the sacred domain of my body, yet to my own astonishment we learned to work together as a total system, mutually changing each other in the process…I altered its software; it repatterned the dendrites in my auditory cortex. Haraway’s essay now struck me as a straightforward description of my life. I experienced joint kinship with machines and animals, feeling oddly affectionate towards my robot vacuum cleaner…The computer invaded the sacred domain of my body, yet to my own astonishment we learned to work together as a total system, mutually changing each other in the process…I altered its software; it repatterned the dendrites in my auditory cortex.


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