View Full Version : The brain, electric impulses and computer code .....

05-01-2009, 05:55 PM
Does the brain translate knowledge and other commands it gives through electric impulses? If so, then do those impulses have a wavelength on which they are translated?

What i am getting at, is that, in theory, if the brain is like a computer and it translates information that way is it possible to take those impulses and break them down into a corresponding computer code? Basically, i am wondering if there is a theory that says the human brain can be connected to a computer, translating all of that information into a series of computer codes, encoding those things on a chip?

Like i said, i know nothing about how the brain worls but i was just thinking about this and wondering. Also, if you know the range or wavelength or whatever that the info is translated could you then code information and use that wavelength to translate information to someone along those lines, kind of like a direct to brain download or transfer of information.

05-01-2009, 06:14 PM
You might want to PM Neurofizz

05-01-2009, 06:15 PM
While the brain does produce the local electric field that can be grossly measured as having wavelengths, the way neurons communication impulses is fundamentally different to the way wire conduct electricity. The neurons use a charge difference of irons across a semipermiable membrane, paired with very complex types of carriers at the synapses between neurons.

05-01-2009, 06:20 PM
So, then, theoretically one would have to be able to synthesize both the charge and the complex carrier that delivers the info between the synapses .....

05-01-2009, 07:25 PM
Google 'neurotransmitter' and you'll start to get an idea of the complexity of the process

05-01-2009, 07:34 PM
Thanks, i took a look at it on Wikipedia and it had great information there. If i'd know the term neurotransmitter i could have saved the trouble of this post and googled right away.

Interesting info there on how different neurotransmitters effect different things within ourselves such as nausea and short term memory and cogintion and other things.

05-01-2009, 07:36 PM
The transmitters and the receptor are crazy-complicated, and we understand only a small fraction of it at this point--and none of that could be directly transcribed in a way I could imagine.

Kitty Pryde
05-01-2009, 07:53 PM
Scientists are doing better and better lately at translating electrical impulses emitted by the brain into concrete information. Most of this work is being done with an eye towards helping disabled people do stuff and/or design really fresh video games. I usually see stuff about it on a blog called MedGadget (http://www.medgadget.com).

I want to say that I recently saw an article about a big brain mapping initiative. That would be one of the early early early steps towards using a computer to simulate a human brain. Don't know where I saw it. sciencedaily has really good articles about science that an average person can understand. Here's their neuroscience news (http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/mind_brain/neuroscience/)page. I find it helpful to look at what cutting-edge sort of stuff people are doing in the field and where that research might lead.

05-01-2009, 08:03 PM
The thing is that what the brain emmits can be broadly registered as electricity. But it does not work in reverse. Electical fields are generated basically as a side product of underlying chemical/charge processes.

Kitty Pryde
05-01-2009, 08:27 PM
Oh, sticking information INTO the brain. I didn't read the end of the OP that closely. Well, there has been a teensy bit of that going on.

Deep brain stimulator to fix Parkinsons disease tremors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_brain_stimulator#Parkinson.27s_disease). It's used for other stuff too, like depression and preventing seizures.

Cochlear implants to send impulses directly to the auditory nerves of deaf people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant). This technology actually works decently well, well enough for some people with CIs to use a telephone.

Directly stimulating the visual cortex of blind peeps to simulate sight (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_prosthetic). This technology isn't really useful yet, but it's getting there slowly!

Anyways, my point is that we can't feed information to the brain in the form of electrical impulses very well yet (except for cochlear implants, which are pretty awesome), but we are getting closer all the time. And we can in limited ways use electricity to tell the brain things. And obviously it's science fiction, so extrapolating is what we do! Wikipedia has a neat section on brain-computer interface (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-computer_interface).

Barb D
05-01-2009, 08:51 PM
FWIW, I have a neuro-stimulator implant in my head. The electrical impulses are supposed to interrupt pain signals on their way to the brain.


Roger J Carlson
05-01-2009, 09:31 PM
Well, current science doesn't allow any of these possibilities.

However, if you are writing Science Fiction, you should know that this has been done many times.

In "Mindstar Rising", Peter Hamilton has his villians writing false information into someone's mind with the use of lasers (via the optic nerve). They did the same thing in Babylon 5 and one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies (I can't remember which).

In one of Poul Anderson's later novels (The Boat of a Million Years, maybe?) he has humans writing their minds into self-contained computers so they live forever. Heinlein had a couple of his super-computers written into biological bodies.

I'm sure the folks in the SF board here can come up with many more examples.

So if this idea is central to your story (that is, that's what the story is about), you'll have to come up with something really new. On the other hand, if it's a side issue to the story, you can do some hand-waving -- just have a machine that does it and get on with the story. You don't have to explain the mechanics because it's a fairly accepted trope.