Electric sensors using nanotechnology that could not only read information from our brains, but also write information to it are being developed by Japanese scientists.
Dr Keiichi Torimitsu of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) says the technology could have real practical applications in helping sufferers from Parkinson's disease or stroke.
"Establishing connections between the brain and electrical instruments is important for understanding how the brain works and for controlling neural activity," Discovery News quoted Torimitsu as saying.
"To develop some kind of devices or interfaces with the brain that would make it possible to transmit our information, sending it through the telecommunication pathways to another person or device such as a computer - that is the goal."
The brain-reading device would incorporate a nano-sized electrode coated with a membrane that would mimic the receptor proteins found on the outside of brain cells.
There is electrical activity when the receptors and neurotransmitters interact, and the nanoelectrode would be able to pick up that activity, which could then be read by external equipment.
Torimitsu also hopes the device would not just be a bystander but be able to interact in the connections between the neurons, known as synapses.
Professor Gordon Wallace, of the University of Wollongong's Intelligent Polymer Research Institute in Australia, is working with Torimitsu's team on the device.
He said: "People are starting to realize all around the world that there are lots of tools that we can use that we already have at our disposal to make this field progress very quickly."
The work was presented by Torimitsu, the head of NTT's molecular and bioscience group, to this week's International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN) in Sydney.