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The Neuro Revolution Will Not Be Televised

But there will be images—magnetic resonance images, for example

2 min read

The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World

By Zack Lynch with Byron Laursen; St. Martin’s Press, 2009; 256 pp.; $25.99; ISBN 978-031-237-862-2

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Two scientists in white lab coats look at a mannequin head that’s wearing a pair of black glasses with wires sticking out from several places. One of the scientists holds up a small vial of blue liquid to the wire above the bridge of the nose. A vial of purple liquid sits on the table.

Richard Costanzo [left] and Daniel Coelho [right] demonstrate the external components of their olfactory prosthetic. In a complete system, after the sensor detects an odor, the transmitter would send a signal to a stimulator implanted in the brain.

DeAudrea 'Sha' Aguado

Richard Costanzo stands beside a mannequin head sporting spectacles decked with electronics and holds a vial of blue liquid up to a tiny sensor. An LED glows blue, and Costanzo’s phone displays the word “Windex.” Then he waves a vial of purple liquid and gets a purple light along with the message “Listerine.”

“There won’t be Scotch tape on the final model,” says Costanzo, as he rearranges the gear in his lab at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), in Richmond. The prototype is a partial demonstration of a concept that he’s been working on for decades: a neuroprosthetic for smell. The mannequin represents someone who has lost their sense of smell to COVID-19, brain injury, or some other medical condition. It is also intended to show off the sensor, which is the same type used for commercial electronic noses, or e-noses. In the final product, the sensor won’t light up an LED but will instead send a signal to the user’s brain.

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