Can do This Alone, But We’re Better Together
Adding hotness to neuroplasticity in general, recent research from Switzerland’s EPFL indicates that sticking some technology in a severed spinal cord prompts independent coordination of appropriate motor function without direct input from the brain – kinda like octopi-tentacle distributed sensory-control thingys. And, after the spinal cord is stimulated back into wakefulness and starts doing its own thing, over time it gets back in touch with the brain and begins restoring normal function. It’s super exciting stuff, and seems indicative of a native capability, or intelligence in the spinal cord.
Obviously this makes zombies seem a lot more doable and calls into question the effectiveness of the “You just gotta destroy the brain“ contingency, but of equal importance is the possibility of novel treatments for those with traumatic spinal injuries. The research and results are limited to rats for now, but we all know rats are the farm team for a sizable chunk of human medical preventives, procedures, and therapies, so odds are good.
On Re-Routing Neuro-Traffic in General…
Neuroplasticity took a big leap into the public mind, ah-ha-ha, with the 2007 publication of Doidge’s excellent The Brain that Changes Itself (at Anthrobotic’s Amazon). A lot of great research has since come to the fore, and we’ve learned that chordate nervous systems in particular, if properly stimulated, have a fantastic ability to change, regrow, adapt, and repair themselves in ways long believed impossible.
Both popular and scientific belief on neurological damage has long held that the bulk of the brain cells you have upon neuro-maturity, or whatever it’s called, are all you will ever have, and therefore most damage is irreversible. Otherwise stated, whether from disease or injury or Las Vegas, it just can’t be undone – and as smart as you are is as smart as you ever can be.
Well, actually, nope.
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