[ RadSafe ] Brains, Bioengineering, Etc.

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Thu Dec 20 17:52:25 CST 2012

Hi, Joseph.

"Retarded" isn't used much anymore, not merely for Political Correctness
reasons (though that is part of it), but also because it isn't very
useful.  Back when it was used a lot of very different conditions got
lumped into one word, and all treated pretty much the same, which was
usually warehousing.  It is now realized that there are many causes
(trauma, genetic, prenatal conditions, abuse, chemical imbalances,
allergies, and others), and that the best treatment is at least as

Still, your underlying question is valid.  I believe we are at the very
beginning of new age, where the electronic/designed biologic replacement
and repair parts have a profound effect on society.  I believe it is
only a matter of time before direct I/O between electronics and the
brain passes such work-arounds as keyboards monitors.  At some point at
least some brain/mental issues will be addressable with technology.  I
predict there will be people who hold very different positions, all the
way from "it is not moral to use implants to change the way a person
thinks, even if they want it" to "It is not moral to withhold this
technology form anyone whose life it will improve."  

I've even done some work on a science fiction story, in which the main
character, who suffers from a degenerative condition, has been living
more and more in virtual reality, and storing memories and personality
traits "off-board" as his brain deteriorates.  The tension of the story
comes when his body dies, but what remains of him in his brain
prosthetics wants to continue on, using the identity he had when his
body was alive. And things happen. 

In any event, an interesting topic, but definitely non-rad.     

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of
JPreisig at aol.com
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:04 PM
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Brains, Bioengineering, Etc.

Dear Radsafe:
     Hey All.  Hope you all are well.
     What follows is probably off-topic from radiation  safety.  Oh
     Gene therapy is being used to bring eyesight back  to people who
have been blind for a long time.
     Computer chips/mini computers are being installed  in peoples'
brains to limit the strength and duration of Epilepsy and other seizure
events.  Also, some people  have working dogs who can sense when
seizures are coming --- the dogs go for help, or do whatever  they are
trained to do.
    People are getting cochlear implants to restore lost  hearing.
People are also doing other things to give people their hearing back ---
some sort of thing with sensing vibrations off of jawbones or other head
parts.  It apparently works.
    At places like Johns Hopkins, UPenn etc. scientists and  engineers
are installing receivers and/or transmitters at the back of eyeballs to
restore or possibly restore eyesight.  I guess the blind person could be
fitted with CCD (Charge Coupled Device) or mini-camera systems to allow
the person to see.
Guess the blind person would also have to wear a power supply somewhere
on his person.
    What's next???  Well, here's one idea for the  future...Maybe soon.

Mentally retarded people might
someday be helped by placing a computer chip in their brain or placing a
transmitter/receiver in their brain which could transmit to a working
memory/computer system carried by such a person in a suitcase or
whatever.  It seems retarded person's motor controls work just  fine.  I
don't know how good a brain's memory works in retarded people --- maybe
a memory section would be  needed in any computer assist device.  Then,
of course, a working Central Processing Unit (CPU) would have to be
carried along by the patient, to do actual thinking work.  Perhaps the
CPU could be toggled on or off, depending on the needs of the patient.
Sure this all probably  all a ways off and would require considerable
engineering and development effort.  It's worth a  try???  
Best wishes to my friends
Patty P. and  Helaine R. who work with special education children
    Regards,   Joseph R. (Joe) Preisig
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