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 Mind Machine Interface Infancy

This story is from the category The Brain
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Date posted: 24/06/2004

Earlier this month, a news story broke. At the VWN, we usually ignore news more than a certain number of days old, as its no longer 'current. This, however, is too signigicant to ignore.

9th of June, 2004, news was published online of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, USA using an ECoG grid on human subjects. ECoG is an anacronym for electrocorticographic, and literally means attaching electrodes directly to the surface of the brain to monitor and affect data.

Four adult epilepsy sufferes volunteered for the treatmenty, which involved grids of ECoG tranceivers being directly attached to the outer layers of their brains, through the skull.

The research was carried out to find the area of the brain responsible for triggering epileptic seisures, but it also had another purpose. Signals from the brain could be transmitted directly to the computer via the ECoG probes, and this was utilised, to have the patients play a game.

Nothing complex here, just a simple slide the cursor between the targets exercise. The only caveat: Do it ENTIRELY by thought.

The ratio of success was impressive, and the ECoG interface was remarkably easy for the patients to learn - after all, it really was just an extension of their own brains. It took less than an hour to master it, as opposed to weeks with EEG systems (these sit on top of the skull), and had amazingly high bandwidth and signal resolution.

Having electrodes implanted directly in the brain is risky, in this case, as there are physical wires leading out which could get infected - and infected brain tissue is NOT nice - however that could conceivably be replaced by Wi-Fi transmitters without problem.

This research is very early stages, but proves conclusively, beyond the remaining shadows of doubt, that direct neuralprosthesis is feasable.

The researchers will study ECoG systems in monkeys for the next few years to determine any detrimental effects before considing permanant implantation in humans.

See the full Story via external site: news-info.wustl.edu

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