Linking Computers and Brain Signals… for Science

This is the prototype of the electrodes used in this research.

Quite a few science fiction authors have imagined a future where we all have tiny mind-controlling microchips implanted in our brains. While we’re not on our way to becoming half-machine cyborg drones (at least not yet), scientists have figured out a practical way to use tiny electrodes to measure and interpret brain signals.

Several Universities and research centers around the United States are currently in the process of developing technology that allows human brain signals to wirelessly perform simple tasks. We’ve already seen the beginning stages of this research — turning on a TV or spelling simple words with the power of thought. Researchers are hoping to take this technology a step further, and give amputees or paralyzed patients the ability to move prosthetic limbs.

“Ultimately, we’re going for something that patients could use to carry out daily tasks: pulling zippers, buttoning buttons, tying shoes and things like that,” says neurobiologist Andrew Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh.

The breakthrough in this research was when it was discovered that the brain sends off electrical signals before the body even performs an action. Hopefully, this will result in more advanced prosthetic limbs – without the danger of us becoming a race of half-android zombies.

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