Implanted electrodes can help people with paralysis communicate

A groundbreaking research team including a Brown University scientist has achieved a new milestone in developing technology to let people with paralysis type using only brain control.

The method, involving implanted electrodes and a computer, is a significant improvement over other systems, such as those that rely on the blink of an eye.

Although the sample was small — just three individuals, including one volunteer enrolled by the Providence VA Medical Center – the scientists said the results were unambiguous.

Steering A Turtle With Your Thoughts

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a brain-computer interface (BCI) that can control a turtle using human thought.
They chose a turtle because of its cognitive abilities as well as its ability to distinguish different wavelengths of light. Specifically, turtles can recognize a white light source as an open space and so move toward it. They also show specific avoidance behavior to things that might obstruct their view. Turtles also move toward and away from obstacles in their environment in a predictable manner.
The entire human-turtle setup is as follows: A head-mounted display (HMD) is combined with a BCI to immerse the human user in the turtle’s environment. The human operator wears the BCI-HMD system, while the turtle has a ‘cyborg system’—consisting of a camera, Wi-Fi transceiver, computer control module, and battery—all mounted on the turtle’s upper shell. Also included on the turtle’s shell is a black semi-cylinder with a slit, which forms the ‘stimulation device.’ This can be turned ±36 degrees via the BCI.
The human operator receives images from the camera mounted on the turtle. These real-time video images allow the human operator to decide where the turtle should move. The human provides thought commands that are recognized by the wearable BCI system as electroencephalography signals.
The BCI can distinguish between three mental states: left, right, and idle. The left and right commands activate the turtle’s stimulation device via Wi-Fi, turning it so that it obstructs the turtle’s view. This invokes its natural instinct to move toward light and change its direction. Finally, the human acquires updated visual feedback from the camera mounted on the shell and in this way continues to remotely navigate the turtle’s trajectory.
The researchers demonstrates the animal guiding BCI in a variety of environments, with turtles moving indoors and outdoors on many different surfaces, like gravel and grass, and tackling a range of obstacles, such as shallow water and trees.
This technology could be developed to integrate positioning systems and improved augmented and virtual reality techniques, enabling various applications, including devices for military reconnaissance and surveillance.

One Thousand Minds Connected LIVE

In Theaters Mar 28


One Thousand Minds Connected LIVE

Cinema audiences will help make neuroscience history: for the first time, one thousand human minds will be simultaneously connected via cloud technology while they watch MindGamers. An image of that mass mind-state will be broadcast to cinemas across the nation as audiences in two locations participate by wearing a cognition headband.

Headlined by Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and Tom Payne (The Walking Dead), the film follows a group of brilliant young students who create a wireless neural network with the potential to link every mind on Earth via a quantum computer. But they soon discover that that their innovation is part of a more sinister experiment.

This once-in-a-lifetime event will open with introductory talks from leaders in the fields of technology, neuroscience and the collective consciousness. Following the immersive feature film, MindGamers, the event will conclude with a LIVE Q&A and reveal the world’s first image of collective human cognition… created simultaneously by the audience.

This Neural Probe Is So Thin, The Brain Doesn’t Know It’s There

Wiring our brains up to computers could have a host of exciting applications – from controlling robotic prosthetics with our minds to restoring sight by feeding camera feeds directly into the vision center of our brains.

Most brain-computer interface research to date has been conducted using electroencephalography (EEG) where electrodes are placed on the scalp to monitor the brain’s electrical activity. Achieving very high quality signals, however, requires a more invasive approach.

Integrating electronics with living tissue is complicated, though. Probes that are directly inserted into the gray matter have been around for decades, but while they are capable of highly accurate recording, the signals tend to degrade rapidly due to the buildup of scar tissue. Electrocorticography (ECoG), which uses electrodes placed beneath the skull but on top of the gray matter, has emerged as a popular compromise, as it achieves higher-accuracy recordings with a lower risk of scar formation.

But now researchers from the University of Texas have created new probes that are so thin and flexible, they don’t elicit scar tissue buildup. Unlike conventional probes, which are much larger and stiffer, they don’t cause significant damage to the brain tissue when implanted, and they are also able to comply with the natural movements of the brain.

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DARPA: We’re on cusp of merging human and machine

Instead of carrying a smartphone in your pocket or holding it in your hand to make a call or set up restaurant reservations online or search for information, what if you didn’t need the actual device at all?

Maybe you simply could say or think, “Call Mom,” or “Open my Uber app and get me a ride home,” and it would happen because you have a neural interface connecting with a system in the cloud.

With these powerful implantable devices and chips, researchers could help people with paralysis move and feel again by allowing them to control a prosthetic limb with their thoughts.

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Advances in Artificial Intelligence Will Help Machines Understand Human Thoughts using Brain Computer Interface

“With Brain Computer Interface (BCI), Artificial Intelligence can power future machines to understand human thoughts and emotions, even without physical or vocal communication. Instead of simply mimicking the human brain structurally, Artificial Intelligence will be able to impart human-like intelligence to machines.”

Leveraging convergent ideas with technologies, Artificial Intelligence can open up new horizons in groundbreaking applications. Moving beyond syntactical understanding of human words, future applications will understand the semantics hidden in human language, and observe, understand, and detect objects accurately in their surroundings, making them more responsive.

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Virtual Reality Could Aid in Stroke Recovery

When people think of virtual reality, it’s inevitable that they think of the gaming ramifications. Why not? We’re seeing some of the coolest game experiences in the world coming out on a daily basis in this new VR renaissance but if you think that VR is just games, you’re wrong. Researchers are excited about the potential for virtual reality to play a significant role in helping patients recover after loss of mobility due to a stroke.

According to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2013, virtual reality hands that are controlled by a user’s thoughts could aid in the recovery, and enable patients to use their hands and arms.

According to Alexander Doud, M.D., lead author of the study, “Using a brain-computer interface, we’ve created an environment where people who may be too physically impaired to move can practice mental imagery to help regain use of their arms and hands.”

The brain-computer interface that occurs with the VR technology is able to determine if regions of the brain are being activated, which is expected to help in recovery.

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Typing via Brain Computer Interface

A clinical research publication led by Stanford University investigators has demonstrated that a brain-to-computer hookup can enable people with paralysis to type via direct brain control at the highest speeds and accuracy levels reported to date.

Brain-computer interface advance allows paralyzed people to type almost as fast as some smartphone users

Typing with your mind. You are paralyzed. But now, tiny electrodes have been surgically implanted in your brain to record signals from your motor cortex, the brain region controlling muscle movement. As you think of mousing over to a letter (or clicking to choose it), those electrical brain signals are transmitted via a cable to a computer (replacing your spinal cord and muscles). There, advanced algorithms decode the complex electrical brain signals, converting them instantly into screen actions.

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