In recent work, scientists created a BCI that collects information from hundreds of thousands of brain cells at once. In other new work, researchers have used electrodes that do not penetrate the brain to record brain activity that can control a BCI. Swedish scientists have greatly refined a prosthetic hand. And other scientists have trained a monkey to use a robotic arm controlled by its own thoughts.
The first brain-controlled movement came several years ago, with patients moving objects in virtual reality. Now four groups of scientists have built upon the earlier studies to bring the field closer to prosthetic devices controlled by thought. "We are rapidly approaching a milestone," says Andrew Schwartz, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurobiology, referring to his work with a new anthropomorphic robotic arm.
Neuronal activity measurements are used to control BCIs. They are recorded either from individual brain cells (called single-unit recording) or from the scalp using electroencephalography (EEG). The recorded brain signals are then used to control a physical or virtual device that carries out a task according to the user's intent.
Both methods have their advantages and drawbacks. Recording from inside the brain requires that electrodes be surgically implanted, carrying the risk of infection. Neural scarring around the electrodes can also build up over time and cloud the data used to control the device. EEG measurements, on the othe
Contact: Leah Ariniello
Society for Neuroscience