While I am riveted to the news coming out of the Middle East and Wisconsin right now, I have to balance that with some less rage-inducing news and “Brain Computer Interface” (or BCI) research is just what I need. I know I’m not the only one ready to swap this meat-body in for titanium! So where are we in terms of turning this sci-fi dream into reality? Read for yourself… I, for one, am pretty damn excited! [EDIT: Seconds after posting, a new article “Scientists Steer Car With the Power of Thought” hit the news! Also, a cool video I forgot about – at the end of the post]
How to Leave Your Body
“By clarifying how the normal brain produces a sense of ownership of the body, we can learn to project ownership onto artificial bodies and simulated virtual ones, and even make two people have the experience of swapping bodies with one another,” says Dr Ehrsson.
Mind Over Matter: EECoG May Finally Allow Enduring Control of a Prosthetic or a Paralyzed Arm by Thought Alone
“Moran has just completed a set of experiments with MD/PhD student Adam Rouse to define the minimum spacing between the EECoG electrodes that preserves the independence of control channels. Together with Justin Williams at the University of Wisconsin, he has built a 32-channel EECoG grid small enough to fit within the boundaries of the sensorimotor cortex of the brain….
“Eventually,” he says, “we’ll have a little piece of Saran Wrap with telemetry. We’ll drill a small hole in the skull, pop the bone out, drop the device in, replace the bone, sew up the scalp and you’ll have what amounts to Bluetooth in your head that translates your thoughts into actions….My passion is for paralyzed individuals,” he says, “but you can see down the road that a lot of people will want one of these devices.””
YOU BET YOUR ASS I DO! I mean, paralyzed individuals first of course, but when this hits the market SIGN ME UP!
Complementary to that research is this:
Brain-Machine Interfaces Make Gains by Learning About Their Users, Letting Them Rest, and Allowing for Multitasking
“It will be a while before this cutting-edge technology makes the move from lab to production line, but Millán’s prototypes are the first working models of their kind to use probability theory to make BCIs easier to use over time. His next step is to combine this new level of sophistication with Shared Control in an ongoing effort to take BCI to the next level, necessary for widespread use”
This one’s not really about BCI, but I think it’s fascinating. We have so much more to learn about how the brain operates. And kudos for the researcher who didn’t just dismiss what he saw as a “fluke” because it went against conventional wisdom. THAT is science: Conventional Wisdom of How Neurons Operate Challenged: Axons Can Work in Reverse
“The axons are talking to each other, but it’s a complete mystery as to how it works,” Spruston said. “The next big question is: how widespread is this behavior? Is this an oddity or does in happen in lots of neurons? We don’t think it’s rare, so it’s important for us to understand under what conditions it occurs and how this happens.”
Of course all this makes me think of Stelarc, who has been on the frontier for years now. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, look him up! Here is an article by him and here is his site.
Stelarc writing "evolution" with 3 arms
Thank you once again, Science Daily, for giving me hope that the future is not just war and climate disaster… but maybe a sci-fi geek’s dream come true as well.
Wow, Science, I am afraid to update just yet in case you have more awesome in store for me today!
Scientists Steer Car With the Power of Thought
“”In our test runs, a driver equipped with EEG sensors was able to control the car with no problem — there was only a slight delay between the envisaged commands and the response of the car,” said Prof. Raúl Rojas”
And this is older, but it is so cool to actually see the guy controlling the image on screen with his thoughts after just a minute or two of practice: