by Brooks Hays
Austin, Texas (UPI) Feb 15, 2017
Medical engineers at the University of Texas have developed a promising new type of ultra-flexible brain probe. The nanoelectronic thread, or NET, probe can deliver more reliable neural readings without triggering scar formation.
The NET probe is 1,000 times more flexible than previous brain reading technologies. Its flexibility allows the probe to make more reliable and accurate recordings of electrical activity in individual neurons.
Because the probe's unique material does not induce scar tissue formation, it can be used to observe brain activity for longer periods of time.
Other brain-reading technologies present a variety of problems. Some are too big and stiff, causing tissue damage. Others are less accurate and less precise. Most can record electric signals from an individual neuron for no more than a few days before the device's connection becomes degraded.
The new probe is only a fraction of the size of a neuron or blood capillary.
"What we did in our research is prove that we can suppress tissue reaction while maintaining a stable recording," Chong Xie, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Texas, said in a news release. "In our case, because the electrodes are very, very flexible, we don't see any sign of brain damage -- neurons stayed alive even in contact with the NET probes, glial cells remained inactive and the vasculature didn't become leaky."
Typically, tissue begins to scar when it comes in contact with a foreign body. Experiments with mice showed the NET probes doesn't induce scarring.
"The most surprising part of our work is that the living brain tissue, the biological system, really doesn't mind having an artificial device around for months," added Lan Luan, a research scientist at Texas' Cockrell School of Engineering.
Researchers described their new probe in the journal Science Advances. They hope the technology will help them accurately record brain activity for longer periods of time.
Space Medicine Technology and Systems
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|