Now, mind control over computers a reality
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Now, mind control over computers a reality

Friday, 29 October 2010, 06:58 Hrs   |    1 Comments
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California: In what could open up the world for people suffering from neurological disorders, scientists have developed a new machine that allows such individuals to play computer games using just the power of their thoughts.

Developed by researchers at the University of California and California Institute of Technology, the device has enabled people to move a cursor around a screen and also fade and brighten images using just their brain.

The instructions, the researchers said, are enough to play a simple computer game and could eventually allow locked-in syndrome and other brain damaged patients to communicate with the outside world.

Our research showed that 'individuals can rapidly, consciously, and voluntarily control neurons deep inside their head', lead researcher professor Christof Koch of California Institute of Technology was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.

For their work, the researchers recruited 12 epilepsy patients who because of their illness had sensors embedded into their brain to monitor nerve activity.

They then set about training the volunteers to 'exert conscious control' on individual nerve endings or neurons within the brain so that they could be switched on and off using just their thoughts.

By picking up these 'thoughts' using the sensors they could be converted into commands for a computer screen. The scientists looked at the medial temporal lobe - a region on the left hand side of the brain that plays a major role in human memory and emotion.

Prior to recording the activity, the volunteers were interviewed to find their interests and 100 images created around them.

These were then tested to find the four that showed the strongest correlation response in the brain. These could then be used to control the movement of a cursor or to fade in and out different images.

They also made the participants think of one image, while looking at another to see how the thoughts in the brain competed. It was found that people were able to exhibit conscious control over their unconscious thoughts.

"The patients clearly found this task to be incredibly fun as they started to feel that they control things in the environment purely with their thought, said Moran Cerf, who was also part of the research.

"They were highly enthusiastic to try new things and see the boundaries of 'thoughts' that still allow them to activate things in the environment." The research is published in Nature.
Source: PTI
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Reader's comments(1)
This new machine Developed by researchers at the University of California and California Institute of Technology will open up new way to people suffering from neurological disorders to play computer games using just the power of their thoughts. A marvelous innovation is indeed.
A brain–computer interface (BCI) sometimes called a direct neural interface or a brain machine interface is a direct communication pathway between a brain and an external device. BCIs are often aimed at assisting augmenting or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions.
Research on BCIs began in the 1970s at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) under a grant from the National Science Foundation, followed by a contract from DARPA. The papers published after this research also mark the first appearance of the expression brain computer interface in scientific literature.
The field of BCI has since advanced mostly toward neuroprosthetics applications that aim at restoring damaged hearing, sight and movement. Thanks to the remarkable cortical plasticity of the brain signals from implanted prostheses can, after adaptation be handled by the brain like natural sensor or effector channels. Following years of animal experimentation the first neuroprosthetic devices implanted in humans appeared in the mid-nineties.
Ethical considerations
There has not been a vigorous debate about the ethical implications of BCIs even though there are several commercially available systems such as brain pacemakers used to treat neurological conditions and could theoretically be used to modify other behaviours.
Important topics in the neuroethical debate are: 1) obtaining informed consent from people who have difficulty communicating 2) risk/benefit analysis 3) shared responsibility of BCI teams (e.g. how to ensure that responsible group decisions can be made) 4) the consequences of BCI technology for the quality of life of patients and their families 5) side-effects (e.g. neurofeedback of sensorimotor rhythm training is reported to affect sleep quality) 6) personal responsibility and its possible constraints (e.g. who is responsible for erroneous actions with a neuroprosthesis) 7) issues concerning personality and personhood and its possible alteration, 8) therapeutic applications and their possible exceedance 9) questions of research ethics that arise when progressing from animal experimentation to application in human subjects, 10) mind-reading and privacy 11) mind-control 12) selective enhancement and social stratification and 13) communication to the media.
Emory University neuroscience professor Michael Crutcher has expressed concern about BCIs specifically ear and eye implants: "If only the rich can afford it, it puts everyone else at a disadvantage." Clausen concluded in 2009 that “BCIs pose ethical challenges but these are conceptually similar to those that bioethicists have addressed for other realms of therapy”. Moreover, he suggests that bioethics is well prepared to deal with the issues that arise with BCI technologies. Haselager and colleagues pointed out that expectations of BCI efficacy and value play a great role in ethical analysis and the way BCI scientists should approach media. Furthermore standard protocols can be implemented to ensure ethically sound informed-consent procedures with locked in patients.
Researchers are well aware that sound ethical guidelines, appropriately moderated enthusiasm in media coverage and education about BCI systems will be of utmost importance for the societal acceptance of this technology. Thus recently more effort is made inside the BCI community to initiate the development of ethical guidelines for BCI research, development and dissemination.
BCI based toys
Recently a number of companies have scaled back medical grade EEG technology (and in one case, NeuroSky rebuilt the technology from the ground up) to create inexpensive BCIs. This technology has been built into toys and gaming devices some of these toys have been extremely commercially successful like the NeuroSky and Mattel MindFlex.
• In 2007 NeuroSky released the first affordable consumer based EEG along with the game NeuroBoy. This was also the first large scale EEG device to use dry sensor technology.
• In 2008 OCZ Technology developed device for use in video games relying primarily on electromyography.
• In 2008 the Final Fantasy developer Square Enix announced that it was partnering with NeuroSky to create a game Judecca.
• In 2009 Mattel partnered with NeuroSky to release the Mindflex, a game that used an EEG to steer a ball through an obstacle course. By far the best selling consumer based EEG to date. ,
• In 2009 Uncle Milton Industries partnered with NeuroSky to release the Star Wars Force Trainer, a game designed to create the illusion of possessing the force.
• In 2009 Emotiv released the EPOC a 14 channel EEG device. The EPOC is the first commercial BCI to not use dry sensor technology requiring users to apply a saline solution on the sensors.
• In 2010 NeuroSky added blink an electromyography function to the MindSet (Source: Wikipedia).

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP)

Posted by:Dr.A.Jagadeesh - 29 Oct, 2010