Paul Lachine

El hombre, las máquinas y lo que hay entre ambos

TÜBINGEN, ALEMANIA ­– Actualmente estamos tan rodeados de dispositivos que a veces resulta difícil distinguir la frontera entre los aparatos y las personas. Desde las computadoras y escáneres hasta los aparatos móviles, un número creciente de seres humanos pasan mucha parte de sus vidas concientes interactuando con el mundo a través de la electrónica; la única barrera entre el cerebro y las máquinas son los sentidos de la vista, el oído y el tacto, mediante los cuales los humanos y los aparatos se comunican. No obstante, si se eliminan de la ecuación esos sentidos, los aparatos electrónicos pueden convertirse en nuestros ojos y oídos, e incluso nuestros brazos y piernas, para percibir el mundo que nos rodea e interactuar con él a través de software y hardware.

Esta no es una simple predicción. Las interfaces entre cerebro y máquina ya están bien establecidas clínicamente, por ejemplo, para restablecer el oído mediante implantes cocleares. Igualmente, es posible tratar a los pacientes con enfermedad de Parkinson en etapa terminal con estimulación cerebral profunda. Los experimentos que actualmente se llevan a cabo sobre prótesis neuronales indican un enorme potencial a futuro de intervenciones similares, ya sean implantes de retina o de células madre para los ciegos o dispositivos de registro de la actividad cerebral para controlar las prótesis.

Las interfaces cerebro-máquina no invasivas basadas en registros de encefalogramas han restablecido las capacidades de comunicación de pacientes paralíticos. Ciertas investigaciones en animales y algunos estudios en seres humanos indican que un control total de miembros artificiales en tiempo real podría ofrecer a los pacientes paralíticos la oportunidad de agarrar o incluso de ponerse de pie y caminar con piernas artificiales controladas por el cerebro, aunque probablemente con medios invasivos, como el implante directo de electrodos en el cerebro.

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