How we are Building the interface (Press Releases)

 

The Brain Machine Interfaces Program at  the DARPA Defense Science Office represents a major DSO thrust area that will comprise a multidisciplinary, multipronged approach with far reaching impact. The program will create new technologies for augmenting human performance through the ability to noninvasively access codes in the brain in real time and integrate them into peripheral device or system operations.

 

Miguel A.L. Nicolelis at Duke University has developed Hybrid Brain-Machine Technology for Real-Time Control of a Robotic Arm Completed three of the major objectives of  DARPA-ONR project by demonstrating the feasibility of using brain derived signals to control the 3D movements of robotic device.

 

Cyberkinetics (Foxborough, MA) is a leader in the rapidly emerging field of brain computer interfaces. Cyberkinetics’ technology allows for the creation of direct, reliable and bi-directional interfaces between the brain, nervous system and a computer. The development of safe, robust implants for recording from, and or stimulating, the brain surface will open the potential to study other complex signals from the brain. Cyberkinetics technology platform, called BrainGate™, may allow breakthrough applications which leverage the translation of thought into direct computer control. Such applications may include novel communications interfaces for motor impaired patients, as well as the monitoring and treatment of certain diseases which manifest themselves in patterns of brain activity, such as epilepsy and depression. 

 

  • BrainGate: First Clinical Trials Planned for 2004 Cyberkinetics’ lead product effort is the BrainGate Neural Interface Device. Based on ten years of development at Brown University, the BrainGate device is intended to provide severely disabled patients with a permanent, direct and reliable interface to a personal computer. Pending continued preclinical research success and regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration, the Company intends to initiate a pilot clinical trial in 2004. Plans for this trial involve implantation of a BrainGate device in up to five severely disabled patients. The implant will allow signals from the motor cortex to be collected, processed and analyzed, eventually producing an interface with a personal computer. In this way, BrainGate should afford these patients the opportunity to use the computer as a gateway to communicate and control simple devices in their immediate environment.

 

 

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program was established at Princeton University in 1979 by Robert G. Jahn, then Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to pursue rigorous scientific study of the interaction of human consciousness with sensitive physical devices, systems, and processes common to contemporary engineering practice. Since that time, an interdisciplinary staff of engineers, physicists, psychologists, and humanists has been conducting a comprehensive agenda of experiments and developing complementary theoretical models to enable better understanding of the role of consciousness in the establishment of physical reality.

Kensall Wise, now a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, has perfected an electronic probe that can be implanted deep into brain tissue and used to send information to, and receive information from the brain. Microelectronics.

 

MIT's Robert S. Langer’s work is at the interface of biotechnology and materials science. He has begun crafting a polymer that conducts electricity. When placed between two ends of a severed nerve, the polymer provides a trellis for nerve tissue to grow along and can carry the neuron's connective electrical impulses.

Using the speed of microprocessors to crunch differential equations, Eve Marder, a neurobiologist at Brandeis University, has developed a computer program called the dynamic clamp that can translate neuron-speak in real time.  Electrical impulses are transmitted to the computer through probes inserted into the neuron. The neuron reacts as if it were communicating with another neuron, not a computer.

Scientists from Emory University implanted a chip in the brain of a paralyzed stroke victim that allows him to use his brainpower to move a cursor across a computer screen. Emory University neuroscientist Philip R. Kennedy, M.D., and Emory neurosurgeon Roy E. Bakay, M.D., have developed an electrode brain implant that is allowing speech-impaired patients to communicate through a computer.  See: brain implants.

Bionics often refers to the replacement of living parts with cybernetic ones, but more broadly it also means engineering better artificial systems through biological principles. As an example we are able to send video images to light-sensitive areas on an electronic chip. The chip turns the light into electric signals that are sent to the retina. The brain takes it from there. Cochlear implants have returned at least partial hearing to profoundly deaf persons. These devices, surgically embedded in the inner ear, use several electrodes to stimulate the auditory nerve.

Neural Net Computation Neural circuits in the human brain and electronic circuits in computers work in very different ways. As a result, computers can make many more computations per minute than a person, but they fall way behind in solving complex, undefined problems. Now scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs have developed an electronic circuit that more closely mimics the circuitry of the brain. Conventional electronic circuits are either distinctly analog or digital. Analog circuits record data by linear, constant physical changes in something like an electric charge. Digital ones process data in the form of discrete, numerical values that don't have to go up and down sequentially. But brains combine both types. The new circuit combines analog and digital feedback systems, so it functions more like a neural circuit in the brain. Neural net computers are being used to model the stock market and the weather. Neural Network links: PNLL Neural Network Information

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation places the mind in a state that can be called the new temple of worship. In Philadelphia, a researcher discovers areas of the brain that are activated during meditation. And, in Canada, a neuroscientist fits people with magnetized helmets that produce "spiritual" experiences for the secular.  Michael Persinger, a professor of neuroscience at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, has been conducting experiments that fit a set of magnets to a helmet-like device. Persinger runs what amounts to a weak electromagnetic signal around the skulls of volunteers. Four in five people, he said, report a "mystical experience.

What to expect from the Interface