Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Device Will Enter Human Mind in Less Than a Decade

With the introduction of electrodes into the skull of patients, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, have created a method that can write words using only his brain waves. The experiments were performed in patients who already have electrodes in the brain to monitor his epilepsy. More details after the jump.

The readings were taken with electrocorticography (ECoG), while patients were shown a series of letters or numbers and data are recorded. Once the calibration data taken, the patients believed in a letter or number and your brain waves are "transferred" to the screen. The theory is that this technique will allow paralyzed people to communicate or Lou Gehrig's disease, among others.

The scientist leading the project, Dr. Jerry Shih, says the program is capable of reaching almost 100% fidelity. Although, apparently, the results are far less invasive methods, Shih believes that ECoG has advantages because the skull and the scalp distort the information coming from the brain, so that the new system could be faster and adjusted. Shih also said that with EEG, "accuracy is not very big and takes a long time to learn the computer system of an individual individual signals and interpret them correctly.

The research is still in its infancy and has to overcome numerous obstacles. The initial study was conducted with only two patients, but have already reached six to plan a larger study to ensure that the technique is universally applicable. That yes, Shih system requires a craniotomy, a very delicate operation, and a device that interprets, properly calibrated for each individual.

EEG-based interfaces, on the other hand, although slower and less accurate, do not require such an operation. Thus, at least in terms of market adoption, the implant is a distinct disadvantage. Most people will prefer a loss of speed in exchange for avoiding a dangerous process.

For the moment, Shih is working to ensure the effectiveness of the method. Believes could serve to control prosthesis well as for writing. It also could be prepared with pictures instead of letters. Imagine an object and its image or name appear on the screen.

The device could be ready in about 5 or 10 years.


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