Neuroscientists from the University of Washington have decoded brain signals in real-time and with astounding accuracy, as revealed in a recent study published in PLOS Computational Biology. Researchers attached electrodes to the temporal lobes of seven epilepsy patients for roughly one week. The implants were part of a program that aimed to locate the sources of these patients’ seizures, but while the electrodes were active, the patients also participated in this brain-wave study.
The participants viewed a series of houses and faces that appeared on a screen for 400 milliseconds at a time, and were instructed to look for the upside-down building. An algorithm tracked the brain waves of their temporal lobes. (Temporal lobes in our brain deal in sensory input.) By the end of each session, the program was able to pinpoint, in real time and with roughly 96 percent accuracy, what images the patients were observing. Within 20 milliseconds of actual perception, the program was capable of determining the exact objects patient was seeing, be it a house, a face or a gray screen.
“Clinically, you could think of our result as a proof of concept toward building a communication mechanism for patients who are paralyzed or have had a stroke and are completely locked-in,” UW computational neuroscientist Rajesh Rao said.
At about the same time, Russian scientists from the Moscow-based company Neurobotics created and tested technology that allows to do the household chores with the help of the power of thought. The project “Smart Home” introduced technology that allows a person to turn the lights, TV set or a tea kettle on and off, using only the power of thought.
According to the official representative of the organization Christine Utkina, the technology works on the principle of neurointerface.
Researchers call the process brain-computer interface. The principle is rather straightforward: electromagnetic sensor reads and amplifies brain waves and then a special devise converts those signals into commands to operate various Smart Home gadgets or robots. This technology will be particularly useful to people with disabilities and patients who are recovering from injury, enabling them to operate electric wheelchairs and other electronic rehabilitation equipment.
The Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta ran an article about the Neurobotics reserch. Read it here, in Russian. It is titled “Московские ученые вскипятили чайник силой мысли” (Moscow Scientists boiled a tea cattle using power of thoughts.)