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OK, here's a *loooooong* overdue update!
I promised a series of blog posts on The State of the Art in brain interfaces, but got slightly sidetracked on the way. One result is that I was asked by Baen Books to write a non-fiction article to tie-in with the release of the Anne McCaffrey "Brainships" series (The Ship Who Sang and others). My favorite of that series has always been The Ship Who Searched (Anne McCaffrey & Mercedes Lackey) in which the protagonist - Hypatia Cade contracts an alien plague and loses all motor and sensory communication between brain and body. Since this is the Brainships Universe, she enters a "shell" which provides full life support as well as brain-to-machine interfacing which allows her to become the "Brain" of a Brainship... with a starship for her body.
Imagine my delight to find that February 2013 was the re-release date for The Ship Who Searched, and that my article "On the Road to the Brainships: A Look at the Current Science of Interfacing the Brain" would appear on the Baen website this same month. The article is here: http://www.baen.com/brainships.asp. I'll leave you alone to go read that right now (grin!).
OK, so you came back without reading, eh?
Well then, I'll summarize for you in order that I might convince you to read. On the Road to the Brainships starts with a definition of implants and interfaces to the brain. From types of interfaces, we move on to examples of "Input Interfaces" (bioelectronic support for sensory inputs), "output interfaces" (bionic limbs) and "Internal Interfaces" (prosthetics for use within the brain). Following sections detail how, why (and when we interface to the brain, explore some alternatives, and of course, discuss brain interfaces in science fiction.
For some real-life Science Fiction-turned-Science Fact, let me point you to the excellent work of Dr. Andrew Schwartz at the University of Pittsburgh - Principal Investigator on one of the Real-Life "Bionics" projects! (http://motorlab.neurobio.pitt.edu/multimedia.php). I highly recommend you download and watch "Breakthrough - 60 Minutes Episode". It's about 13 minutes, and well worth the time. You will be utterly amazed!