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BrainGate: Video Introductions

An ABC news broadcast soundbite concerning the BrainGate was released in early 2007. Sometimes the accents do get a bit thick, and the sound quality is often less than stellar, but still this three and a half minute report delivers a good background introduction to the original BrainGate. The clip covers its usage in bringing the very basics of interaction back to those without the use of their limbs.

Most of the capabilities - and particularly the external unit sizes - have altered since the model this film portrays first entered clinical trials. Even in 2007, superior BrainGate models were undergoing testing.

BrainGate itself was one of the first BMI interfaces - Brain Machine Integration. However, its method of operation, involving drilling through the skull into the brain, does present several problems:

  1. The electrode array can only be used on sites that are on the surface of the brain. To go any deeper, means drilling a hole through the brain, destroying neurons in the process.
  2. The hole in the skull cannot seal properly, as cables run out of the BrainGate, through the scalp for processing. This creates a continued infection risk - hence the sterilisation chamber fastened onto the cranium.
  3. The patient's immune system has to be suppressed due to the wires continually pressing through the scalp.
  4. Over time, scar tissue forms around the implant site from implantation trauma. Eventually - within six months - the scar tissue becomes thick enough to block the brain's electrical signals, and the BrainGate must be surgically repositioned.
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Untitled Document .