THE TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: PARAPALEGIC WALKS WITH AID OF ENHANCED ...

November 1, 2015 By Joseph P. Farrell

Not all the developments we cover under the heading of "the transhumanist scrapbook" portend bad things, though it is possible, I suppose, to read into them developments of capabilities that are not benign. But this one, on its surface, promises something truly significant for those who have suffered life-debilitating injuries to their spine, and who have ended up unable to walk. Consider this story from RT shared by Mr. J.D.:

Paralyzed man walks in 1st-ever proof direct brain control possible

The essence of the experiment is in itself both breathtaking and highly suggestive;

A proof-of-concept study has just achieved monumental success: researchers in California got a paralyzed man’s legs to move, proving it’s possible to stimulate certain brain centers and make them work again.

They achieved this by using an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine, fashioned with wires. One end was connected to the brain centers in question. At the other, the signals sent by the brain arrived at electrodes attached to the paralyzed muscles. The result was an astounding success and is only the beginning of further research into brain control.

With the aid of the system, the man – a paraplegic with a spinal cord injury – was able to walk nearly four meters.

This proves that it’s not the years spent paralyzed that matters most, but the brainwaves still exerted by the brain, even when the connection to the limbs has been severed.

"Even after years of paralysis the brain can still generate robust brainwaves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking. We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury. This non-invasive system for leg muscle stimulation is a promising method and is an advance of our current brain-controlled systems that use virtual reality or a robotic exoskeleton,” Dr. An Do, one of the lead researchers on the study from University of California in Irving, said.

Now let's indulge for a moment in our high octane speculation trademark. We've all encountered those stories concerning advances in 3D printing of organic tissue, as well as stories of advances in nanotechnology.
It thus becomes possible to envision the day when these technologies might be harnessed to produce "alternative" nerve connections - to literally grow them - inside the human body to connect directly to the brain, and to restore normal limb functionality in the case of traumatic spinal injuries. The fact that this current experiment was able to identify and successfully utilize those centers of the brain to control walking, demonstrate just how far neuroscience has come in understanding and mapping brain functions.
One can go further: with the advent of such technologies, it even becomes possible to envision the day of their utilization to repair the spinal cord itself, to engineer therapies based on these technologies.
We're along way from such capabilties of course, but the fact that this experiment was successfully performed, is a major step - quite literally - in that direction.
See you on the flip side...