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Human Brain Connected Wirelessly To Computer For First Time Ever

by : Cameron Frew on : 03 Apr 2021 11:05
Human Brain Wirelessly Connected To Computer For First Time EverPexels/Wallpaper Flare

Scientists have wirelessly connected a human brain to a computer for the first time in history. 

The technological advance comes months after Elon Musk unveiled a working prototype of his Neuralink brain chip; only instead of a person, it was implanted in a pig named Gertrude.

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Here, the whizzes at Brown University in Rhode Island have established a connection between a human brain and a computer, capable of transmitting signals with ‘single-neuron resolution and in full broadband fidelity.’

Amid emerging interest in brain-computer interfaces (BCI), the study saw two clinical trial participants with paralysis (two men aged 35 and 63, who’d earlier endured spinal chord injuries) using the BrainGate system with a wireless transmitter to point, click and type on a standard tablet computer, as per a press release.

Published in the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering journal, the system works using a small transmitter weighing just more than 40g. Instead of cables, a unit is placed on top of a user’s head where it ‘connects to an electrode array within the brain’s motor cortex using the same port used by wired systems.’

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Incredibly, the participants managed to achieve the same level of accuracy and typing speed using the BrainGate tech, said to capable of using the BCI for up to 24 hours – even while they were sleeping, so the researchers could continue probing the data.

BrainGate/Brown University BrainGate/Brown University

John Simeral, an assistant professor of engineering at Brown University and lead author on the study, said: ‘The signals are recorded and transmitted with appropriately similar fidelity, which means we can use the same decoding algorithms we used with wired equipment.’

He added: ‘The only difference is that people no longer need to be physically tethered to our equipment, which opens up new possibilities in terms of how the system can be used.’

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Leigh Hochberg, an engineering professor at the university and leader of the trial, said: ‘With this system, we’re able to look at brain activity, at home, over long periods in a way that was nearly impossible before. This will help us to design decoding algorithms that provide for the seamless, intuitive, reliable restoration of communication and mobility for people with paralysis.’

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Science, Now, Technology

Credits

ScienceDaily and 1 other
  1. ScienceDaily

    BrainGate: High-bandwidth wireless brain-computer interface for humans

  2. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering

    Home Use of a Percutaneous Wireless Intracortical Brain-Computer Interface by Individuals With Tetraplegia