Synthetic Neurobiology

Boyden, E. S. (2007) "Synthetic Neurobiology." Ed Boyden's Blog. Technology Review. 10/9/07. (

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When you program a computer, you don’t have to steer individual electrons around manually; if you did, the complexity of performing even the simplest calculation would be daunting. It’s clear that building or fixing a complex thing requires a layer of abstraction, so you can solve the specific problem at hand while ignoring the underlying complexity. Problems of the brain must also be addressed at appropriate levels of abstraction. During the last week of September, I participated in a neurotechnology panel at MIT. One theme quietly emerged: different neurological and psychiatric problems demand neural control technologies that operate over different spatial and temporal scales. Critical design choices must be made: do you go for an invasive, spatially focal neural stimulator or for a noninvasive but spatially cruder one? …