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Restoration of neurological functions by neuroprosthetic technologies: future prospects and trends towards micro-, nano-, and biohybrid systems

  • Thomas StieglitzEmail author
Part of the Acta Neurochirurgica Supplements book series (NEUROCHIRURGICA, volume 97/1)

Summary

Today applications of neural prostheses that successfully help patients to increase their activities of daily living and participate in social life again are quite simple implants that yield definite tissue response and are well recognized as foreign body. Latest developments in genetic engineering, nanotechnologies and materials sciences have paved the way to new scenarios towards highly complex systems to interface the human nervous system. Combinations of neural cells with microimplants promise stable biohybrid interfaces. Nanotechnology opens the door to macromolecular landscapes on implants that mimic the biologic topology and surface interaction of biologic cells. Computer sciences dream of technical cognitive systems that act and react due to knowledge-based conclusion mechanisms to a changing or adaptive environment. Different sciences start to interact and discuss the synergies when methods and paradigms from biology, computer sciences and engineering, neurosciences, psychology will be combined. They envision the era of “converging technologies” to completely change the understanding of science and postulate a new vision of humans. In this chapter, these research lines will be discussed on some examples as well as the societal implications and ethical questions that arise from these new opportunities.

Keywords

Neural implants cognitive technical systems converging technologies biohybrid systems microsystem neural prostheses nanotechnology 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Biomedical Microtechnology, Department of Microsystems EngineeringUniversity of Freiburg-IMTEKFreiburgGermany

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