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Connecting additional hardware with defunct tail

  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
  [vote for,
against]

Humans may still have necessary nervous system that connects with defunct tail. Apes/Monkeys can fully control their tails just like legs.

Here is an opportunity to interface extra hardware (like artificial arm/leg or any other machine) with brain. Interface such a device with brain which will automatically be able to work with it.

VJW, Jan 23 2012

Wikipedia: Barrel Cortex http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Barrel_cortex
Studies in rats show the method by which brain-organ mappings are developmentally formed, using a phenomena called "experience-dependent plasticity" [zen_tom, Jan 23 2012]

[link]






       World seems to have forgotten the fact that our brain might have an area which can connect to an additional device. It may be worth exploring.
VJW, Jan 23 2012
  

       //World seems to have forgotten the fact that our brain might have an are which connect to an additional device. It may be worth exploring.//   

       World forgotten no such thing. World has plenty of memory - VJW just need research.   

       The problem is that independent of the distant nodes of the CNS, there needs to be a matching bunch of control nodes in the brain onto which can be mapped the sensory and motor functions. Experiments on the brains of rats (I think it was rats) who's whiskers were left intact, compared to those whose whiskers had been removed at birth showed structural differences in the brain that could be linked to the early development of brain-organ mappings that were directly linked to associations formed in early life. Put simply, control/sensory formations in the brain develop in tandem with their early developmental use. i.e. No tail, no development of the virtual cluster of tail-sensory/control cells in the brain.   

       Having said that, it's also been shown for stroke patients who suffer destruction to specific parts of their brains (e.g. speech centres, motor centres etc) can sometimes "rewire" their brains and develop a different area of their brains to take over a function that had previously been housed in a part of the brain destroyed by their stroke. So while it is much more effective to build these structures during early infancy, it's not unknown for adults to do the same thing. What this shows is that the premise on which the idea is built, that there needs to be some hardwired interface on which we can patch some new functionality, is flawed; and that the whole thing is a lot more self-organising than that - it's also quite amazing.
zen_tom, Jan 23 2012
  

       What [zen tom] said. Brain wiring is quite plastic within the lifetime of an individual, and probably immensely plastic on an evolutionary timescale, so I'd be surprised if we have any tail-operating cortex which just needs connecting up.   

       But [+] because I like it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 23 2012
  

       One of my friend was born with a tail. It was removed at birth surgically. This happens once in 1000 births, it seems. So, if people are born with tails, may be some or many if not all of them may still carry brains capability, IMO.
VJW, Jan 23 2012
  

       Sure, some people are born with vestigial tails. Some people are born with a vestigial appendix and vestigial molars, too; approximately all of us are, in fact. The key word is 'vestigial': don't need it, can't use it for anything, and we're generally better off without it. I'm going to focus my cybernetic daydreams on bits of the human body that actually serve a useful purpose before I go sticking advanced technology where the sun don't shine.
Alterother, Jan 23 2012
  

       //Very few apes have fully prehensile tails// for the same reason that very few apes have fully functioning wings.
spidermother, Jan 23 2012
  

       //structural differences in the brain that could be linked to the early development of brain-organ mappings that were directly linked to associations formed in early life// (and other similar comments)   

       So, hook up the extra hardware at birth, and maybe the brain-hardware mapping will form at the same time as the more "natural" mappings?
Wrongfellow, Jan 24 2012
  

       That would be the natural conclusion - the tricky part being finding willing mothers who are happy for their unborn children to undergo unnecessary experimental surgery. Ideally, you need some form of underground/island laboratory (optionally disguised as a volcano) from which you could practice all manner of abominationry away from the prying eyes of the medical community, the shortsighted fools.
zen_tom, Jan 24 2012
  

       //Apes/Monkeys can fully control their tails just like legs.//   

       See any Dicovery/Animal Planet Episode on Monkeys. They use it for balancing and hanging to tree branches.   

       I persoanlly know some people who can move their ears, little bit. Which means, with training, it may be possible to control tails, in case of us humans, if we had had those.
VJW, Jan 24 2012
  

       It may not directly follow - consider the genetic ability to roll one's tongue - you either have it, or you don't. And no manner of learning will allow someone who can't roll their tongue to change that. What if the remnants of a tail follow a similar model, or indeed have been bred out altogether?
zen_tom, Jan 24 2012
  

       //Apes/Monkeys can fully control their tails just like legs.//   

       My objection to that statement, which I may have expressed a little cryptically above, is that apes don't have tails.
spidermother, Jan 24 2012
  

       I'm worried about this 'extra hardware' of yours, VJW. Assuming for the moment that we do still have some functioning tail control wetware, I would guess it is mostly configured for waggling something from side to side. I'm struggling to think of any useful hardware, other than a large, heraldic flag, that this functionality might be applied to. A flag would be good though.
DrBob, Jan 24 2012
  

       I'm so excited I'm stimulating my coccyx.
rcarty, Jan 24 2012
  

       A flag is a good enough application for me. But it may be possible to train the brain more to do more than that. Remember, monekys use it for complex act of balancing while jumping. They hang to tree branches using those tails. This suggests far more sophistication.
VJW, Jan 24 2012
  

       I can staple a flag to a ski slalom pole and ram it down the back of my trousers. I don't need a wetware link and reconfigured neural network to make it waggle back and forth. Really, wouldn't it be better to integrate _useful_ technology into our bodies, possibly via a more practical conduit?
Alterother, Jan 24 2012
  

       //the tricky part being finding willing mothers who are happy for their unborn children to undergo unnecessary experimental surgery//   

       See "The Ship Who Sang" by Anne McCaffrey.   

       Admittedly the surgery involved was a bit more invasive than we're talking about here.
Wrongfellow, Jan 24 2012
  

       //more practical//

What's practical got to do with it?
DrBob, Jan 24 2012
  

       Okay, more convenient, then.   

       "Uh-oh, this thingy is broken. Hey, you've got that new cybernetic integrated multi-tool, right?"   

       "Uh, yeah. Just give me a moment to take off my pants..."
Alterother, Jan 24 2012
  

       Honestly, if you're going to repurpose a chunk of brain to provide all that new tactile sensitivity and dexterity, why graft a tail on? Mightn't there be something already down there that would benefit from augmentation?
mouseposture, Jan 24 2012
  
      
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