Nerve Redirection is Real, what about Nerve Mapping?

So I was doing some reading. Found this.

Thought that’s neat. But not really revolutionary in my opinion. I’m sure it is for someone with a prosthetic limb, but I’m more interested in the possibility of creating new nerves. More to the point, the challenge of the whole brain body map thing. The “data” in your brain that maps nerves to parts of your body. So you can know from birth when someone pokes you with a needle where you’re being poked, not needing to learn that that sensation is coming from a certain location on your skin.

Anyone else looked into this, have research to share by chance? I’m thinking both about sensing nerves and controlling nerves. That is, feeling and moving muscles, that are recognized by your brain as something unique.

I do recognize this is probably beyond current science, but thought I’d ask in case someone else knows something I don’t. You know, because I don’t know everything.


  • most major nerves like your Elmers nerve are already known and so are their functions if that's what you are asking

  • Yeah. This is well known. What are you looking to do?

  • Look up a dermatome map.

  • I've heard of people taking nerve growth hormone to increase magnet implant effectiveness but I don't know if it's entirely possible to map out entirely new nerve tracks for things like say, a new limb like a tail, or for cyborg integration.

  • Well, one person read the whole post... thanks for that response Radon86. That’s pretty much what I thought.

  • Ah. It's not that people didn't read. It's that the verb mapping doesn't mean to create. It's means to explore preexisting structures. That's cool though.

  • Sorry if it wasn’t clear. I meant I was interested in the possibility of creating new nerves, particularly the challenge of getting the brain to recognize them as a unique nerve in the “nerve map” thing. I sort of figured that, if desired, one could somehow add a branch to an existing nerve that went somewhere else, but the brain wouldn’t identify it as something else.

    I wonder though, ever cross your fingers and run another finger back and forth across them, it feels odd right? (It doesn’t to me anymore because I’ve come to expect what happens.) You’re expecting a sensation gliding across a finger laterally to continue to the next when it actually jumps back to the previous finger since they’re crossed.

    If you took a section of skin nerves from, let’s use your back as an example( more specifically vertically along your spine just because it helps the example), and put them somewhere else, would you eventually get used to that feeling being somewhere else and not still feel like it’s physically between the nerves that are on either side of your back?

    No need to answer definitively. I don’t expect anyone to necessarily know. Just provoking thoughts.

  • edited September 2017

    I honestly feel like the biggest problem with trying to graft new nerves into your body for any reason, like say a new arm for an amputee, would be rejection. There are some small advancements (kid was on the news a few months ago, I think, for world's first successful full hand transplant). I mean, even if we could find a way to 3d print entire complex multicellular systems like organs or limbs with stem cells or the like, rejection is always a looming fear and heavy anti rejection meds are standard fare.

  • edited September 2017

    Kid's name was Zion Harvey btw. Here is the first article I found after googling him.

  • edited September 2017

    Rejection should not be an issue provided that it's an autograft, i.e. from the same person, as Jupiter mentioned. Location of the said tissue is of no concern to the immune system.

    That said though, that's not quite how the nervous system is organized. Each receptor corresponds to a first order sensory neuron that synapses with a second order neuron in the spinal cord, which then goes all the way up the spinal cord into the thalamus where it then synapses with other neurons (well, simplistically speaking, since it can also branch off to the cerebellum and such depending on what sense we are talking about). So say you want an extra finger and you want an extra neuron to go onto that fingertip, you'll need more than just an extra neuron implanted in the spinal cord: you'll also need an extra second order neuron within the spinal cord that can carry the signal up to the brain. And that's not accounting for the fact that vibration, fine touch and proprioception use a different spinal cord tract (which is a bundle of second order neurons) than pain and temperature.

  • PS: on second thought, maybe not exactly a sensory neuron per receptor but even then branching off would involve a sensory neuron growing a new branch off its dendrites.

  • edited September 2017

    Very interesting, I didn't know any of that. I guess I lack the knowledge relevant to the conversation. I was going off the assumption that rejection was still a major issue because most limb/organ replacements/transplants I know about have been donor transplants from the deceased (like with Zion Harvey). From my understanding stem cells and adult stem cells (like the skin gun uses) don't reject because a sort of 'biological reprogramming' occurs where the cells conform to the host's genetics. I figured though that we are currently not far enough advanced to synthesize full organ/limb/large tissue structures, and instead have to use donor parts. Last I heard there were some breakthroughs with a protein that synthesizes connective tissue in the spine for a potential head transplant, as well as some exciting stem cell stuff (like experimental cataract surgery), repurposing other forms of cellular material (spinach leaves to human heart tissue), and large experimental synthesized tissue grafts that have a high failure rate. Oh, and harvesting existing organ/tissue systems from animal donors like some experimental animal organ in human host stuff. As far as nerves go I'd assume animal/human donor tissue/whole nerves is currently the most realistic option, with the potential for genetic rejection, the needs for anti rejection meds and the lot. (That is if you're talking about adding a limb or something and not just re-routing or re purposing existing nerves.)

    DISCLAMER: this is just what I've heard, but I could be totally off. I can Google and provide sources for some of the specific stuff I mentioned, but you could probably find it on your own. I'm not a biologist so take what I say with a grain of sand.

  • Yeah, that's actually the current problem: we don't have the tech to use cells from the patient to grow organs / body parts to be transplanted into the patient. Hence why we had to use allografts (ie donor organs) and thus rejections. Autografts (ie parts from the same person cut off and transplanted into another part of the body) do not cause rejections. Quite a lot of routine surgeries rely on that fact actually: taking the toe out to reconstruct a destroyed thumb; taking out the saphenous vein from the leg to do coronary bypass; taking out the palmaris longus from the arm to repair the Achilles tendon; etc.

  • On the topic of autografts, I’ve heard that when temporarily removing bones, like a section of skull bone to allow brain tissue swelling to... well to swell without killing itself, they may implant said bone in another location, like the abdomen, so the body’s blood supply and immune system can help to preserve the bone tissue and (where applicable) bone marrow.

    On the topic of my original question, seems it’s a bit beyond current medical science. So we hypothetically have the ability to read someone’s mind. Just not the data to translate the neural activity into say, words, or images. And the equipment to do so is large and requires a room dedicated to it, but we’re getting there. Adding senses to the brain is apparently more complicated.

  • Some of the stuff being discussed in this thread I think is inevitable path for biohacking. I was the guy who did the nerve growth factor injections. The thing is.. I do a lot of procedures and I'm totally unwilling to access the brain. I think what we need to first do is access the PNS.
    Something I'd like to try is growing a culture of neural stem cell from the nasal passage. A friend was talking about some techniques by which some cells can be "reversed" back to earlier states such as the stem cell stage. Either way, the point would be growing neurons directly onto a a substrate that incorporates the electrodes.

    The thing is.. I'm making it sound easy and it's not. There are many tissues that we haven't been able to grow in cultures. I don't even know enough to say whether this approach is realistic. Second, we need to be able to guide the growth of preexisting pathways to the allograft.
    Third.. even if we are successful at this.. is neuroplasticity enough to actually make anything meaningful out of this new structure? I don't know.

    I mean, despite how much work I do with magnets.. I overall don't see them as an end. I'm primarily interested because it's an education in biocompatibility. I see it as a good step one. My goal is to identify 4 or 5 coatings that can be done in a small lab or at the very least done inexpensively by someone in the community. From there.. I think we really need to work on power sources next. Then, we need to work on stimulators/recievers.. it's pretty much after we master this stuff that it'd be fruitful to worry about this kind of stuff.

    I'm certainly not trying to say don't work on it now. This stuff is awesome. I'm just not personally at that place yet. I've always wanted to decellularize a rats brain and then repopulate it with my own cells and implant it.. then see if I can get it to interface with my PNS. What would happen? I have no idea. But it'd be a fun project.

  • @Cassox they have what you are talking about it's called an in vitro MEA

  • edited October 2017

    Re: stem cells

    The team from forever labs ( takes stem cells from the spine and cryogenically stores them for future use. I've spoken with them before and they're pretty approachable, I bet they'd be willing to provide the stem cells immediately after the service if you wanted them.

  • Oh totally. But there are a number of short comings with MEA. The primary being glial scarring. If we're serious about having implants that interface with the nervous system and last even as long as two years we have a lot to work on.

  • edited October 2017

    And also, as I've mentioned, even nerves from the PNS will have to connect to the interneurons in the CNS (ie spinal cord etc) correctly. There's no guarantee that can be done with what we know so far.

    Ie we kind of have to experiment with that first. :tongue:

    Edit: Actually, you mentioned that already. NVM.

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