Secret life of implants

15.06.17: A WOMAN had her first pain-free day in eight years yesterday when a new 'soft' chip implant eased her agony.

The chip, which is part silicon and part human brain cells, has been implanted into the base of Diana Holdstock's brain. It is able to monitor the level of various chemicals in her body and pump out the drugs she needs.

Holdstock was badly injured in a car crash in June 2009, but now she is looking forward to a life without pain. "I feel a bit like an android," she says, "but it's marvellous."

Researchers at De Montfort University in Leicester believe the chip will pave the way for a neuronal supercomputer.

"Brain cells are much better than silicon chips at doing logically fuzzy things, such as speech and pattern recognition," says Professor Susan Bayliss.

"The soft chip can take into account changes in Diana's daily rhythms and hormonal cycles and give her just enough painkillers to keep her comfortable." JB

  • A California man has regained his sight after part of his brain was replaced with silicon-based neurons.
  • Tom Keirney, 35, had been blinded by a bullet that passed through the back of his head, damaging the visual cortex. Three months ago, scientists inserted a dense matrix of artificial neurons, which has now connected to the remaining tissue in the cortex.

    At first Keirney could only make out shadows, but he can now identify shapes and colours and is gaining more clarity every day. RC