To most of us, zapping neurons with electricity to artificially “incept” memories, sensation, and movement still sounds crazy. But in some brain labs, that technology is beginning to feel old school. As a new review in Nature Biotechnology concludes: get off the throne, electrodes, there are plenty of other neural probes in town. They dance to the tune of light or chemicals, and in some cases, they’re bilingual.

Here’s a brief tour into the wild west of neural implants. Some require genetic engineering, and because of that have only been proven in experimental animals. But if history is any indication, brain-manipulation technologies don’t tend to stay in the lab. Watch out, you may see some trickling down into potential human use in the next few years.

What Makes a Good Implant, Anyway?

To be fair, electrodes are by far the most mature brain-interfacing technology. After all, our neurons mostly chit-chat…
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