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Posted: 3/10/2006 9:19:33 PM EDT
www.newscientist.com/channel/info-tech/dn8826.html



'Mental typewriter' controlled by thought alone

* 18:35 09 March 2006
* NewScientist.com news service
* Will Knight

A computer controlled by the power of thought alone has been demonstrated at a major trade fair in Germany.

The device could provide a way for paralysed patients to operate computers, or for amputees to operate electronically controlled artificial limbs. But it also has non-medical applications, such as in the computer games and entertainment industries.

The Berlin Brain-Computer Interface (BBCI) – dubbed the "mental typewriter" – was created by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin and Charité, the medical school of Berlin Humboldt University in Germany. It was shown off at the CeBit electronics fair in Hanover, Germany.

The machine makes it possible to type messages onto a computer screen by mentally controlling the movement of a cursor. A user must wear a cap containing electrodes that measure electrical activity inside the brain, known as an electroencephalogram (EEG) signal, and imagine moving their left or right arm in order to manoeuvre the cursor around.

"It's a very strange sensation," says Gabriel Curio at Charité. "And you can understand from the crowds watching that the potential is huge."
Learning algorithms

Curio says users can operate the device just 20 minutes after going through 150 cursor moves in their minds. This is because the device rapidly learns to recognise activity in the area of a person's motor cortex, the area of the brain associated with movement. "The trick is the machine-learning algorithms developed at the Fraunhofer Institute," Curio says.

John Chapin, an expert in using implanted electrodes to control computers, agrees EEG sensing technology is advancing rapidly. "There's been a lot of progress on the non-invasive side in recent years," he told New Scientist.

The German researchers hope to develop a commercial version of the device as an aid for paralysed patients and amputees.

Chapin adds that brain-computer interfaces could have a range of uses beyond the medical. "Signals from the brain give you a fraction of a second advantage," he says. The device could make a novel game controller and be used in other ways. The researchers have even begun testing the machine as a driving aid, as it can sense a sudden reaction and control a vehicle's brakes before even the driver can.

The next stage is to develop a cap that does not have to be attached directly to the scalp. This should make the device easier to use and cause less skin irritation for the wearer.



The possibilities in this kind of technology are staggering. Just thought I'd share.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 11:00:18 PM EDT
Mayo clinic, right here in the good old USofA beat them to it by about two years, albiet accidentally. It had something to do with brain implants for people suffering from seizures, and somehow one of them figured out how they could use the implant to move a cursor on a screen. I don't remember the details. Someone else can look them up.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 11:03:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Big_Louie:
Mayo clinic, right here in the good old USofA beat them to it by about two years, albiet accidentally. It had something to do with brain implants for people suffering from seizures, and somehow one of them figured out how they could use the implant to move a cursor on a screen. I don't remember the details. Someone else can look them up.



You're right. Just about two years ago - BrainGate:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/10/20/explorers.braingate/
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 11:37:16 PM EDT
Firefox
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 11:38:51 PM EDT
Thats BADASS.

Course, this means my tinfoil hat, instead of blocking the waves, would be sending them out!
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 11:57:26 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 22bad:
Firefox



I thought that too
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 12:32:58 AM EDT

Originally Posted By MuRDoC:

Originally Posted By 22bad:
Firefox



I thought that too



'Remember: you have to think in RUSSIAN'....
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 7:30:09 AM EDT
There are actually a number of projects in various places around the world to develop either "thinking caps" or ways to connect the human nervous system more perminantly to a computer.

Tomorrow is my day off, I'll bookmark this and round up some of the old links, I have been keeping track (or rather trying to keep track) of stuff like this on another website.
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 12:28:02 PM EDT

Originally Posted By bastiat:

Originally Posted By Big_Louie:
Mayo clinic, right here in the good old USofA beat them to it by about two years, albiet accidentally. It had something to do with brain implants for people suffering from seizures, and somehow one of them figured out how they could use the implant to move a cursor on a screen. I don't remember the details. Someone else can look them up.



You're right. Just about two years ago - BrainGate:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/10/20/explorers.braingate/



Psh. They've been doing this for a long time. I worked on a project for a company that was doing this sort of stuff in 98-99, and I wasn't the first on the project. Although, they were using implants when I was working on it.

www.neuralsignals.com
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 12:28:47 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 12:29:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/11/2006 12:30:16 PM EDT by distributor_of_pain]
Well they finally did it!

Say goodbye to the polygraph tests of old...

Welcome in the new info extractor!
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:40:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:
The USAF can control a fighter with a rats brain in a petrie dish…



Uh no they cant.

Its was not the USAF doing it; and its not a rat brain, its rat brain tissue; and its not a fighter but a video game of a fighter; and the purpose of the experiment was to to see how brain tissue reacted to having metal electrodes implatned into it, and how well nerve signals could be translated by electronics.
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:44:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:
The USAF can control a fighter with a rats brain in a petrie dish…



Hahaha, that is ridiculous, I must see a link, man.
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:46:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By zer04evr:

Originally Posted By vito113:
The USAF can control a fighter with a rats brain in a petrie dish…



Hahaha, that is ridiculous, I must see a link, man.



www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030428082503.htm
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:48:49 PM EDT
www.nytimes.com/2003/05/15/technology/circuits/15next.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5040&en=a76871e7511f31f9&ex=1053662400&partner=MOREOVER


May 15, 2003
Wired to the Brain of a Rat, a Robot Takes On the World
By ANNE EISENBERG


HE nerve center of a conventional robot is a microprocessor of silicon and metal. But for a robot under development at Georgia Tech, commands are relayed by 2,000 or so cells from a rat's brain.

A group led by a university researcher has created a part mechanical, part biological robot that operates on the basis of the neural activity of rat brain cells grown in a dish. The neural signals are analyzed by a computer that looks for patterns emitted by the brain cells and then translates those patterns into robotic movement. If the neurons fire a certain way, for example, the robot's right wheel rotates once.

The leader of the group, Steve M. Potter, a professor in the Laboratory for Neuroengineering at Georgia Tech, calls his creation a Hybrot, short for hybrid robot.

"It's very much a symbiosis," he said, "a digital computer and a living neural network working together."

Dr. Potter has been building the system of hardware, software, incubators and rat neurons that constitute the Hybrot since 1993, when he was a postdoctoral student at the California Institute of Technology. He and his group have not only introduced the neurons to the world outside their dish; the team has also closely monitored minute changes that take place in the shape and connections of the neurons as they are stimulated, using techniques like time-lapse photography and laser imaging.

Dr. Potter hopes that close observation of how brain cells behave as they are exposed to a world of sensation will help researchers understand the way small groups of neurons go about learning. "If the network begins to get better at a job," he said, "we will watch what changed within the network to allow it to do that."

Dr. Jonathan Wolpaw, laboratory chief and professor of neuroscience at the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York at Albany, said that Dr. Potter's research could yield a simple system for exploring the capacity of neurons and circuits to change based on incoming activity.

"These changes could be analogues of what happens in learning," Dr. Wolpaw said. "You are dealing with neurons, the same tissue as in a brain," although in a different setting and with different circuitry. "Some things presumably are in common, for example, the neuron's capacity for plasticity," he said.

In Dr. Potter's hybrid system, the layer of rat neurons is grown over an array of electrodes that pick up the neurons' electrical activity. A computer analyzes the activity of the several thousand brain cells in real time to detect spikes produced by neurons firing near an electrode.

A silver three-wheeled model of the robot is commercially available through the Swiss robotics maker K-Team (www.k-team.com) for about $3,000 and is about the size of a hockey puck. It trundles along at a top speed of one meter per second.

"We assign a direction of movement, say, a step forward, that is automatically triggered by a pattern of spikes," said Thomas DeMarse, a former member of Dr. Potter's group who is an assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida. "Twenty of these patterns, for instance, means 20 rotations of the wheel."

As the robot moves, it functions as a sensory system, delivering feedback to the neurons through the electrodes. For example, Mr. DeMarse said, the robot has sensors for light and feeds electrical signals proportional to the light back to the electrodes. "We return information to the dish on the intensity of light as the robot gets closer and the light gets brighter."

The researchers monitor the activity of the neurons for new signals and new connections. Dr. Potter said that the feedback mechanism was crucial to the functioning of the neural network. In traditional, isolated cultured networks, he said, in which neurons are not connected to a body, the activity patterns of the neurons are largely pathological. "They behave in an aberrant way," he said. "It's a symptom of sensory deprivation, because the neurons are not receiving the input they usually get."

He decided to provide a body for the neurons early in his research, first in computer simulation and then in reality, so that neurons would have feedback. In that way, if the cells learned, he and his group might observe the changes that came about in the network. "People say learning is a change in behavior that comes from experience," he said. "For a cultured network to learn, it must first be able to behave."

There is an analogy to the human nervous system in the feedback loop developed by Dr. Potter, said Nicholas Hatsopoulos, an assistant professor in the department of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Hatsopoulos also works on brain-machine interfaces, including ways that brain signals may one day be used to move prosthetic devices.

"Potter's device has sensors that pick up information, and then the signals go back to the dish and stimulate the cells," he said. Similarly, he said, "signals out of the brain control the arm, but there are also sensors in the muscles and skin that send information back, too."

Such feedback loops are necessary to basic research in brain-machine interactions, he said. Researchers need not only to record signals that drive a device but also take signals from sensors and stimulate the nervous system. "Closing the loop will be a key issue in moving this field to the next level, for the feedback presumably helps learning," he said.

Miguel A. L. Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University, has identified signals generated by a monkey's brain as it gets ready to move, and then used the signals to move a robotic arm. "We are discovering that when animals learn to operate a robotic device, the operation changes the sensory and motor maps of the animal," he said. "Steve is looking for the same thing at the cellular level."

Dr. Potter has not yet demonstrated learning in his network but said he might be able to do so within six months. In experiments, Dr. Potter said he hoped to observe the Hybrot following an object at a certain distance.

"The next step is to watch it to see if it becomes better at following this object," he said. "That would become exciting."

Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:49:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

Originally Posted By zer04evr:

Originally Posted By vito113:
The USAF can control a fighter with a rats brain in a petrie dish…



Hahaha, that is ridiculous, I must see a link, man.



www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030428082503.htm



That is so freeking cool.
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:50:08 PM EDT
"I know Kung Fu..." - Neo
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:51:51 PM EDT
dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20041018/brain.html

Brain in a Dish Flies Plane
By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Oct. 22, 2004 — A University of Florida scientist has created a living "brain" of cultured rat cells that now controls an F-22 fighter jet flight simulator.

Scientists say the research could lead to tiny, brain-controlled prosthetic devices and unmanned airplanes flown by living computers.

And if scientists can decipher the ground rules of how such neural networks function, the research also may result in novel computing systems that could tackle dangerous search-and-rescue jobs and perform bomb damage assessment without endangering humans.

“ The end result is a neural network that can fly the plane to produce relatively stable straight and level flight. ”

Additionally, the interaction of the cells within the lab-assembled brain also may allow scientists to better understand how the human brain works. The data may one day enable researchers to determine causes and possible non-invasive cures for neural disorders, such as epilepsy.

For the recent project, Thomas DeMarse, a University of Florida professor of biomedical engineering, placed an electrode grid at the bottom of a glass dish and then covered the grid with rat neurons. The cells initially resembled individual grains of sand in liquid, but they soon extended microscopic lines toward each other, gradually forming a neural network — a brain — that DeMarse says is a "living computational device."

The brain then communicates with the flight simulator through a desktop computer.

"We grow approximately 25,000 cells on a 60-channel multi-electrode array, which permits us to measure the signals produced by the activity each neuron produces as it transmits information across this network of living neurons," DeMarse told Discovery News. "Using these same channels (electrodes) we can also stimulate activity at each of the 60 locations (electrodes) in the network. Together, we have a bidirectional interface to the neural network where we can input information via stimulation. The network processes the information, and we can listen to the network's response."

The brain can learn, just as a human brain learns, he said. When the system is first engaged, the neurons don't know how to control the airplane; they don't have any experience.

But, he said, "Over time, these stimulations modify the network's response such that the neurons slowly (over the course of 15 minutes) learn to control the aircraft. The end result is a neural network that can fly the plane to produce relatively stable straight and level flight."

At present, the brain can control the pitch and roll of the F-22 in various virtual weather conditions, ranging from hurricane-force winds to clear blue skies.

Not Science Fiction
This brain-controlled plane may sound like science fiction, but it is grounded in work that has been taking place for more than a decade. A breakthrough occurred in 1993, when a team of scientists created a Hybrot, which is short for "hybrid robot."

The robot consisted of hardware, computer software, rat neurons, and incubators for those neurons. The computer, programmed to respond to the neuron impulses, controlled a wheel underneath a machine that resembled a child's toy robot.

Last year, U.S. and Australian researchers used a similar neuron-controlled robotic device to produce a "semi-living artist." In this case, the neurons were hooked up to a drawing arm outfitted with different colored markers. The robot managed to draw decipherable pictures — albeit it bad ones that resembled child scribbles — but that technology led to today's fighter plane simulator success.

Steven Potter, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech who directed the living artist project, believes DeMarse's work is important, and that such studies could lead to a variety of engineering and neurobiology research goals.

"A lot of people have been interested in what changes in the brains of animals and people when they are learning things," Potter said. "We're interested in getting down into the network and cellular mechanisms, which is hard to do in living animals. And the engineering goal would be to get ideas from this system about how brains compute and process information."

Though the "brain" can successfully control a flight simulation program, more elaborate applications are a long way off, DeMarse said.

"We're just starting out. But using this model will help us understand the crucial bit of information between inputs and the stuff that comes out," he said. "And you can imagine the more you learn about that, the more you can harness the computation of these neurons into a wide range of applications."
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:53:54 PM EDT
www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996574

Brain prosthesis passes live tissue test

18:13 25 October 04

NewScientist.com news service


The world’s first brain prosthesis has passed the first stages of live testing.

The microchip, designed to model a part of the brain called the hippocampus, has been used successfully to replace a neural circuit in slices of rat brain tissue kept alive in a dish. The prosthesis will soon be ready for testing in animals.

The device could ultimately be used to replace damaged brain tissue which may have been destroyed in an accident, during a stroke, or by neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is the first attempt to replace central brain regions dealing with cognitive functions such as learning or speech.

To achieve their result, Theodore Berger and his colleagues at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, US, had to develop a system that would “read” real neural signals from healthy tissue, process them just as the lost brain tissue should, and pass on the resulting signals to the next brain area.

The brain region they are trying to replace is the hippocampus, which is vital for forming memories. The hippocampus has a well-understood three-part circuit. It also has a regular repeating structure, so elements of all three parts of the hippocampal circuit can be kept in a fully functional state, even in small slices in a culture dish.


Mathematical mimicry

In previous work, Berger’s team had recorded exactly what biological signals were being produced in the central part of the hippocampal circuit and had made a mathematical model to mimic its activity. They then programmed the model onto a microchip, roughly 2 millimetres square.

Now the team has tested whether its chip can work like the real thing. They cut out the central part of the circuit in real rat brain slices and used a grid of miniature electrodes to feed signals in and out of their microchip. “We asked if output from an intact slice was the same as from a slice with the substituted chip,” says Berger. “The answer was yes. It works really well.”

The signals produced by the intact brain slice and the prosthetic hippocampus matched in shape, timing and statistics, the team revealed at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego on Sunday.

“It proves you can take out a piece of a central brain region - a piece with real clinical interest - replace it with a chip, and get it to operate as it did before,” said Berger.


Long-range connections

The team are now working towards testing their prosthetic device on a live rat, which they expect to do within three years. They are also developing a mathematical model of primate hippocampal activity, so that they can eventually move on to testing the device in monkeys.

Guenter Gross, at the University of North Texas in Denton, is impressed with the approach, but adds “the problem will be how to make the long-range connections". Even if the device can replace the local connections, he suggests, the hippocampus makes connections to many different brain regions. “There are intricate, complicated connections formed during development that cannot be replaced,” he says.

Another problem is that when a region of the brain is damaged, immune cells and brain cells called glia migrate into the damaged site. They will affect any attempt to bypass or replace the damaged tissue, says Gross.

However, Berger says the team are developing special electrodes coated with proteins that should mimic healthy tissue and repel the unwanted cells. There’s no reason why this approach couldn’t be used to replace any region of the brain, says Berger. “We see this as a very general approach.”
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:55:59 PM EDT
When I die, assuming it's from heart attack like all the men in my family, I want to have my brain cut out and put into a computer that will operate one of those robotic mule things from the other thread.

Link Posted: 3/11/2006 6:03:53 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 6:41:47 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4262&print=true

Monkey's brain signals control 'third arm'
12:58 13 October 2003
NewScientist.com news service
Duncan Graham-Rowe
Monkeys can control a robot arm as naturally as their own limbs using only brain signals, a pioneering experiment has shown. The macaque monkeys could reach and grasp with the same precision as their own hand.

"It's just as if they have a representation of a third arm," says project leader Miguel Nicolelis, at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Experts believe the experiment's success bodes well for future devices for humans that are controlled solely by thought.

One such type of device is a neurally-controlled prosthetic - a brain-controlled false limb. Nicolelis says his team's work is important because it has shown that prosthetics can only deliver precision movements if multiple parts of the brain are monitored and visual feedback is provided.

Gerald Loeb, a biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, says the new experiment already has some parallels in everyday life. For example, he says, when you drive a car it becomes an extension of your body.

But Nicolelis says the monkeys appeared to be treating the robot arm as their limb, not an extension. "The properties of the robot were being assimilated as if they were a property of the animal's own body."

Arm waving
The core of the new work is the neuronal model created by the researchers. This translates the brain signals from the monkey into movements of the robot arm. It was developed by monitoring normal brain and muscle activity as the monkey moved its own arms.

The task involved using a joystick to move a cursor on a computer screen. While the monkey was doing this, readings were taken from a few hundred neurons in the frontal and parietal regions of the brain. The activation of the biceps and wrist muscles was monitored, as was the velocity of the arms and the force of the grip.

Once the neuronal model had developed an accurate level of prediction the researchers switched the control of the cursor from the joystick to the robotic arm, which in turn was controlled by the monkey's brain signals. At first the monkeys continued moving their own arms whilst carrying out the task, but in time they learned this was no longer necessary and stopped doing so (see Flash animation.

For Nicolelis, the end goal is to help people with paralysis by bypassing brain lesions or damaged parts of the spine. Initially patients would control robotic aids, such as a mechanical arm attached to a wheelchair.

But eventually the signals could be used to stimulate the nerves controlling a patient's own muscles. Nicolelis and his team have already begun to testing this approach on people, but he says it is too early to discuss this research.

Journal reference: Public Library of Sciences Biology (Vol.1, Issue 2, p.1).



Monkeys Treat Robot Arm as Their Own
Rather than simply manipulating device, their brain incorporates it as a normal appendage

[Betterhumans] | 05.10.2005 @04:00 PM

Miguel Nicolelis and colleagues are working to develop brain-linked prosthetic devices
Monkeys that control a robotic arm with their brain don't just learn to use it; their brain treats it as a normal appendage.

The finding is important for understanding the brain's ability to adapt and for the potential success of brain-linked devices.

The research stems from work led by Miguel Nicolelis at the Duke University Center for Neuroengineering in Durham, North Carolina in which monkeys manipulated a brain-linked robotic arm with thought alone.

For the new study, Mikhail Lebedev in Nicolelis's laboratory analyzed a mass of brain data that emerged from experiments that the researchers conducted in 2003.

"After these experiments, a major question remained about how the animals' brains adapted," says Nicolelis. "Mikhail analyzed very carefully what happens functionally to the brain cells and the brain cell ensembles in multiple brain areas during this transition," he continues. "And basically we were able to show clearly that a large percentage of the neurons become more 'entrained'—that is, their firing becomes more correlated to the operation of the robot arm than to the animal's own arm."

Tools are a part of you

Nicolelis says that the analysis showed that some brain cells formerly used for control of arms with which the monkeys were born shifted to control the robotic arm.

"So, our hypothesis is that the adaptation of brain structures allows the expansion of capability to use an artificial appendage with no loss of function, because the animal can flip back and forth between using the two," says Nicolelis. "Depending on the goal, the animal could use its own arm or the robotic arm, and in some cases both."

Furthermore, says Nicolelis, the researchers are suggesting that a fundamental trait of higher primates such as apes and humans is the ability to incorporate tools into the structure of the brain. In fact, says Nicolelis, the researchers propose that it's not only the brain that's adaptable, but the concept of self, which extends to the tools people use.

"Everything from cars to clothing that we use in our lives becomes incorporated into our sense of self," says Nicolelis. "So, our species is capable of 'evolving' the perception of what we are."



Besides being an important proposition for theories of mind, this also means that brain-linked devices should be incorporated as a natural extension of the brain.

Such devices will be more successful if they can better mimic the real thing, says Nicolelis, and his laboratory is working to this end.

"In our new experiments, the idea is that by using vision and touch, we're actually going to create inside the brains of these animal a vivid perceptual image of what it is to have a third arm," he says.

The research is reported in Journal of Neuroscience.

Copyright © 2005 Betterhumans



Link Posted: 3/11/2006 6:06:49 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Red_Beard:
When I die, assuming it's from heart attack like all the men in my family, I want to have my brain cut out and put into a computer that will operate one of those robotic mule things from the other thread.




Just have them inject you with windex when you feel the 'big one' coming.
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 6:07:54 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/11/2006 6:09:02 PM EDT by Red_Beard]

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4262&print=true

Monkey's brain signals control 'third arm'




My brain signals control my third leg.

Link Posted: 3/11/2006 6:08:32 PM EDT

Originally Posted By bastiat:

Originally Posted By Red_Beard:
When I die, assuming it's from heart attack like all the men in my family, I want to have my brain cut out and put into a computer that will operate one of those robotic mule things from the other thread.




Just have them inject you with windex when you feel the 'big one' coming.



Why windex?
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:02:47 AM EDT
I'll bite.

Why Windex?
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:13:07 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Red_Beard:
My brain signals control my third leg.




My third leg has a mind of its' own......and it's one hundred percent pure evil.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:15:27 AM EDT
Old news, British have this too or so someone who worked in that field told me. I believed him, then and now even more so. He mentioned they where thinking about releasing it to the public in two years...


It would suck to have your brain hacked into O_o.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:19:24 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ICEAGE:
Old news, British have this too or so someone who worked in that field told me. I believed him, then and now even more so. He mentioned they where thinking about releasing it to the public in two years...


It would suck to have your brain hacked into O_o.



So far it only works one way.

Although its probably only a matter of time before two way communication is possible.

The Internet is so filthy already that direct brain access to it may already be unsafe, even before we have tried.

Try the Ghost in the Shell movies and books to see some of the ways this has already been contemplated.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:31:31 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 6:37:11 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
These ones dont require surgery:
www.betterhumans.com/News/news.aspx?articleID=2004-12-06-3

Thinking Cap Lets Users Move
Noninvasive brain-computer interface allows paralyzed people to direct cursor in step towards less risky neural prosthetics
By Liz Brown
Betterhumans Staff
12/6/2004 4:56 PM

Credit: Jonathan Wolpaw et al/PNAS
Just a thought: A noninvasive brain-computer interface has allowed users to move a computer cursor, shown above, with thought alone in a step towards less risky mind-controlled prosthetics

A new noninvasive brain-computer interface has enabled paralyzed people to move a cursor across a computer screen just by thinking about it, a step towards developing noninvasive brain-controlled artificial limbs for people with disabilities.

In the past, scientists believed that only invasive brain-computer interfaces in which electrodes are implanted directly into the brain could allow the multidimensional movement needed to operate a robotic arm or limb.

Jonathan Wolpaw and Dennis McFarland at the Wadsworth Center in Albany, New York have now shown that electrodes attached to the scalp are as effective as some internally implanted electrodes

Mind reading

Brain activity produces electrical signals that can be detected on the scalp, from the cortical surface or within the brain. Using carefully designed algorithms, brain-computer interfaces—also known as neural interfaces—can translate these signals for the outside world.

Invasive neural interfaces, which have largely been tested in primates, carry several risks. Brain surgery is necessary to implant the electrodes and recipients risk infection and brain damage.

Noninvasive techniques promise to be less risky. Without direct contact to neurons, however, noninvasive interfaces are likely to offer less refined control.

Electrode hat

For the study, the researchers tested their approach on four people, two who were paralyzed from the waist down and two who had no disabilities.

Each participant was asked to face a computer screen while wearing a cap of electrodes that had 64 channels attached to brainwave locations across the scalp.

On the screen was a cursor that the users were asked to manipulate towards a target just by thinking about it.

An adaptive computer program analyzed the users' brain signals, selected those they were best able to control and translated them into movement on screen.

High accuracy

Over the course of the study, the participants steadily improved their control over the cursor. By the end, the participants could hit the target with the cursor within 10 seconds on average 82% of the time.

Participants with paralysis performed better on the tests, scoring 89% and 92% compared to 70% and 78% for the two people without paralysis.

The researchers believe this could be due to increased motivation or injury-associated brain changes.

With further studies, the researchers hope that their noninvasive technique will allow people to control three-dimensional movement.

The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (read abstract).



and also:

www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,66259,00.html

Patients Put on Thinking Caps

By Kristen Philipkoski Kristen Philipkoski | Also by this reporter
2005-01-17 17:59:00.0

SAN FRANCISCO -- Any geek worthy of the moniker has dreamed of connecting his or her brain directly to a computer for blissful freedom from keyboard and mouse. For quadriplegics, that ability would give life a whole new dimension.

If people with physical handicaps could control a computer by just thinking, they could also operate light switches, television, even a robotic arm -- something the 160,000 people in the United States who can't move their arms and legs would surely welcome.

Work in that brain-computer interface, or BCI, technology has ramped up considerably in the past five years. More than half of the scientific papers on the topic were published in just the past two years. Also, by connecting their patients' brains directly to a computer, researchers have seen improvement in patients' ability to control a cursor.

Cyberkinetics is leading research on BCIs in the private sector. Last year the company enrolled its first patient, Matthew Nagle, in a clinical trial to test its BrainGate system. From his wheelchair, Nagle can now open e-mail, change TV channels, turn on lights, play video games like Tetris and even move a robotic hand, just by thinking.

"Not bad, man, not bad at all," Nagle says in a video as he uses BrainGate to control a hand for the first time since he was stabbed in the neck during a fight at Wessagussett Beach in Weymouth, Massachusetts. The stab wound severed his spine and left him paralyzed and on a respirator.

The device, which is implanted underneath the skull in the motor cortex, consists of a computer chip that is essentially a 2-mm-by-2-mm array that consists of 100 electrodes. Surgeons attached the electrode array like Velcro to neurons in Nagle's motor cortex, which is located in the brain just above the right ear. The array is attached by a wire to a plug that protrudes from the top of Nagle's head.

The electrodes transmit information from 50 to 150 neurons through a fiber-optic cable to a device about the size of a VHS tape that digitizes the signals. Another cable runs from the digitizer to a computer that translates the signal.


Video

Watch Cyberkinetics' BrainGate in action. (23 MB, requires Windows Media Player)The Matrix-like device protruding from Nagle's head seems little price to pay for the new abilities he's gained thanks to BrainGate.

But other researchers are working on simpler, noninvasive BCIs. Jonathan Wolpaw, a professor at the Wadsworth Center in New York, published a paper in December 2004 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that his noninvasive electroencephalogram, or EEG, cap could pick up brain signals at least as well as Cyberkinetics' invasive technology.

Both patients and their doctors would prefer not to open the skull to implant a BCI, but it's not yet clear whether a BCI sitting outside the head will be as good at picking up brain waves as an implanted device. Experts generally thought the answer was no until Wolpaw published his results.

"It's clear that noninvasive methods can be a lot better than most people gave them credit for," he said. "How much better they can get and how much better invasive methods can get is all up in the air."

This is an important question for patients balancing the potential to greatly expand their physical abilities with the possibility of infection or even brain damage.

"Noninvasive would be important to me," wrote Steven Edwards, who lost use of his arms and legs after a car accident in 1996, in an e-mail. "I would not want something implanted into my brain unless it significantly enhanced the experience (think virtual reality) or allowed me to be more efficient (think a 3-D card allowing me to do large amounts of trig in my head nearly instantaneously)."

External BCIs might also have their own advantages, because they can retrieve signals from many points in the brain rather than just a specific site.

"Implanted electrodes are very specific, so they can record activity relative to the intended muscle or motor movements, and that has its uses," said Charles Anderson, a researcher at Colorado State University. "We're hoping to identify a higher level of cognitive activity like different mental tasks. That would take too many implants."

While Cyberkinetics may not be able to satisfy Edwards, at least in the near term, the company is planning other next-generation technologies, said CEO Tim Surgenor in an interview during the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Nagle can already control a robot hand, and Surgenor says he can imagine the possibilities if technicians could calibrate the motion with more precision: from pouring a cup of coffee to swinging a tennis racket or writing a letter. And eventually, researchers hope to implant electrical probes directly into muscles, so patients can use the system to control their own limbs.

Such technologies are decades off, but in the meantime, Surgenor said, the company is developing a brain-controlled wireless handheld. Such devices would be a good fit with its technology, since handhelds often rely on left, right, up and down commands.

Cyberkinetics needs four more patients to complete enrollment in its Food and Drug Administration-approved BrainGate clinical trial. The company is also seeking FDA approval for a study testing BrainGate on patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (often called Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS). They hope to enroll one patient by the end of this year.

Another private company, Neural Signals, has developed a BCI that employs a small screw inserted 2 mm beneath the skull. The $50,000 device (including about $30,000 for surgery) is FDA-approved. The best candidates for the device are patients who are "locked-in" and have no movement at all, such as people with ALS. The device allows patients to move a cursor and turn a switch on and off.

The market for a convenient, reliable BCI is estimated at about $2 billion, Surgenor said. But before companies can pursue that market, researchers must first make the bulky equipment smaller, more accurate and more automated, so patients can turn on and calibrate the systems themselves. Cyberkinetics has already outlined plans for a prototype that would be implanted behind the ear, much like a cochlear implant, and attach to external equipment via a magnet, so patients would not have a device protruding through their skin. Cyberkinetics wouldn't estimate how much its BCI will cost, but Wolpaw said his noninvasive system would likely cost around $10,000.



Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:21:18 PM EDT
Chip ramps up neuron-to-computer communication
Web Links
NACHIP Project
Structural and biological physics, University of Padua

A specialised microchip that could communicate with thousands of individual brain cells has been developed by European scientists.

The device will help researchers examine the workings of interconnected brain cells, and might one day enable them to develop computers that use live neurons for memory.

The computer chip is capable of receiving signals from more than 16,000 mammalian brain cells, and sending messages back to several hundred cells. Previous neuron-computer interfaces have either connected to far fewer individual neurons, or to groups of neurons clumped together.

A team from Italy and Germany worked with the mobile chip maker Infineon to squeeze 16,384 transistors and hundreds of capacitors onto an experimental microchip just 1mm squared. When surrounded by neurons the transistors receive signals from the cells, while the capacitors send signals to them.

Each transistor on the chip picks up the miniscule change in electric charge prompted when a neuron fires. The change occurs due to the transfer of charged sodium ions, which move in and out of the cells through special pores. Conversely, applying a charge to each capacitor alters the movement of sodium ions, causing a neuron to react.

The researchers began experimenting with snail brain cells before moving on to rat neurons. "It is harder using mammal neurons, because they are smaller and more complex," Stefano Vassanellia molecular biologist with the University of Padua in Italy told New Scientist.

The researchers took a twin-track approach to developing the system, he says: "We improved the chip, and also the biology." The team had to tinker with the neurons themselves to increase the strength of the connection between cells and the chip.

Pore connection
Firstly, the researchers genetically modified the neurons to add more pores. Secondly, they added proteins to the chip that glue neurons together in the brain, and which also attract the sodium pores. Applying this neural glue meant that the extra sodium channels collected around the transistor and capacitor connections. This improved its chance of translating the movement of ions into electrical signals on the chip.

Having boosted the electrical connection between the cells and chip, the researchers hope to be able to extend the chips influence further. "It should be possible to make the signals from the chip cause a neuron to alter its membrane and take up a new gene, or something that switches one off," says Vassanelli. "Now the chip has been developed, we plan to use it to try and switch genes on and off."

A compound that would turn off a gene, or the DNA for a new one, could be added to the dish containing the wired-up neurons. Using the chip, it would be possible to control exactly which neurons took them up, and which did not.

Having this level of control over many thousands of connected neurons would provide new insights and make new applications possible, Vassanelli says. "It would definitely improve our ability to experiment and understand the workings of neurons, and this development could also provide a whole new way to store computer memory, using live neurons," he says.

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Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:33:12 PM EDT
I've been looking forward to this kind of tech for years. Someday I'll be in a position to steal it and develop my powered armor suit and go on a rampage through Tokyo.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:36:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
Chip ramps up neuron-to-computer communication
Web Links
NACHIP Project
Structural and biological physics, University of Padua

Having this level of control over many thousands of connected neurons would provide new insights and make new applications possible, Vassanelli says. "It would definitely improve our ability to experiment and understand the workings of neurons, and this development could also provide a whole new way to store computer memory, using live neurons," he says.

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I don't wanna have to feed my computer.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:44:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By JSteensen:

I don't wanna have to feed my computer.


Purnia computer chow. Chow-chow-chow!

Or white mice. Either way.

Funny thing is though, if computers become quasi-organic couldn't we then actually CATCH a computer virus? Imagine having to explain to your boss that you can't come in because you have a nasty "backdoor trojan".
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:48:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Echo_Hotel:

Originally Posted By JSteensen:

I don't wanna have to feed my computer.


Purnia computer chow. Chow-chow-chow!

Or white mice. Either way.

Funny thing is though, if computers become quasi-organic couldn't we then actually CATCH a computer virus? Imagine having to explain to your boss that you can't come in because you have a nasty "backdoor trojan".



eww, nasty...
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