Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities

© 1999 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 1999 Kinesthetic Outmessaging

Direct stimulation of kinesthetic sensory neural channels for outmessaging may prove disorienting, disturbing, confusing, or even nauseogenic to the user, as for example a periodic manipulation of the vestibular ganglion (creating synthetic vertigo), muscular stretch receptors (creating "phantom limb" effects), or reflex arcs (e.g., sneezing, knee jerks, lactation, pupillary dilation, or orgasm). Patients might be slightly more comfortable if nanorobots generate a genuine sensory stimulus which can then be detected as a true sensory reading. Examples might include the creation of patterned nervous tics by triggering small-muscle spasms in the face or limbs (twitches), temporally-structured subvocal hiccups by stimulating and inhibiting the phrenic nerve causing tiny spasms in the diaphragm muscle, or periodic blepharospasms (winking) by stimulating the orbicularis palpebrarum muscle (ring muscle) of the eye.

Selective activation of motor neurons controlling the ~400 skeletal muscles in the human body can produce involuntary macroscopic limb motion. To take a familiar example, properly positioned neurostimulatory nanorobots may trigger in sequence the extensor indicis and the flexor indicis muscles, causing the second and third phalanges of the index finger first to extend, then to retract; or trigger the extensor minimi digiti and the flexor brevis minimi digiti muscles, causing the second and third phalanges of the little finger to extend, then the first phalanx of the little finger to flex; or trigger the extensor pollicis brevis and the flexor pollicis brevis muscles, causing the base of the first phalanx of the thumb to extend, then retract. These artificially induced finger movements may be directly interpreted as messages by a trained user at a 1-10 bit/sec transfer rate, or else the patient may grasp a handheld device that translates the controlled sequence of forced gripping motions into a correct alphanumeric or voiced message.


Last updated on 19 February 2003