Sunday, June 23, 2013

BCI: Brain-Computer Interface

It may happen sooner than later, the ability to learn to move one's limbs just by thinking. Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated that small electrodes placed on or inside the brain allow patients to interact with computers or control robotic limbs simply by thinking about how to execute those actions. When humans use brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, the brain acts much like it does when completing simple motor skills such as kicking a ball, typing, or waving a hand. So learning to control a robotic arm or a prosthetic limb could become second nature for people who are paralyzed. According to the researchers, “The majority of subjects who attempt to learn control of a brain–computer interface (BCI) can do so with adequate training. Much like learning to type or ride a bicycle, BCI users report transitioning from a deliberate, cognitively focused mindset to near automatic control as training progresses.” Potentially, this technology could improve communication and daily life for a person who is paralyzed or has lost the ability to speak from a stroke or neurodegenerative disease.

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