28 April 2021
For the first time scientists have wirelessly connected a human brain to a computer. Researchers with the BrainGate Consortium have established a connection between a human brain and a computer, capable of transmitting signals with “single-neuron resolution and in full broadband fidelity”.
Coming on the heels of the Neuralink announcement earlier this month—complete with video showing a monkey playing Pong with its mind, thanks to a wireless brain implant—researchers with the BrainGate Consortium have successfully demonstrated a high-bandwidth wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) in two tetraplegic human subjects. The researchers described their work in a recent paper published in the journal IEEE Transactions in Biomedical Engineering.
BCIs interact with brain cells, recording the electrical activity of neurons and translating those signals into action. Such systems generally involve electrode sensors to record neuronal activity, a chipset to transmit the signals, and computer algorithms to translate the signals. BCIs can be external, similar to medical EEGs in that the electrodes are placed onto the scalp or forehead with a wearable cap; or they can be implanted directly into the brain. The former are less invasive but can be less accurate because there is more noise interfering with the signals; the latter require brain surgery, which can be risky.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reports:
The new study marks another significant advance by researchers with the BrainGate consortium, an interdisciplinary group of researchers from Brown, Stanford and Case Western Reserve universities, as well as the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2012, the team published landmark research in which clinical trial participants were able, for the first time, to operate multidimensional robotic prosthetics using a BCI. That work has been followed by a steady stream of refinements to the system, as well as new clinical breakthroughs that have enabled people to type on computers, use tablet apps and even move their own paralyzed limbs.
“The evolution of intracortical BCIs from requiring a wire cable to instead using a miniature wireless transmitter is a major step toward functional use of fully implanted, high-performance neural interfaces,” said study co-author Sharlene Flesher, who was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford and is now a hardware engineer at Apple. “As the field heads toward reducing transmitted bandwidth while preserving the accuracy of assistive device control, this study may be one of few that captures the full breadth of cortical signals for extended periods of time, including during practical BCI use.”
— BrainGate Team (@BrainGateTeam) April 2, 2021
In an important step toward a fully implantable intracortical brain-computer interface system, BrainGate researchers demonstrated the first human use of a wireless transmitter capable of delivering high-bandwidth neural signals.https://t.co/kDlLgOv2Nn#NeuroTech #BrainTech #BCI
— NeuroTechX (@NeuroTechX) April 9, 2021
High-bandwidth wireless BCI demonstrated in humans for first time. BrainGate device complements Neuralink's successful test of wireless BCI in monkey. https://t.co/VpHvZzICRq
— Jennifer Ouellette (@JenLucPiquant) April 28, 2021
— charlesazorn (@charlesazorn) April 2, 2021
Brain Gate – Breakthrough in Brain-To-Computer Interfaces
Thought control of robotic arms using the BrainGate system
Providing a Sense of Touch through a Brain-Machine Interface
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