Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University in Illinois have applied cryptanalysis methods dating from the second World War to decode motor neuron activity, and interpret brain data to predict the direction in which monkeys will move their arms.
As the monkeys performed tasks in which they had to reach to a target that appeared at different points around a central starting point, electrodes recorded elevations of electrical activity corresponding with the movement of their arms. The researchers sought the statistical structures of movements to consistently and mathematically map those patterns to the monkeys' arm movements, using insights about language structure used to decrypt the Enigma code.
"The algorithm tries a range of possible decoders until we get something where the output looks like typical movements," says University of Pennsylvania professor Konrad Kording.
The researchers see potential for using this cryptanalysis technique to enable brain-computer interfaces to achieve literal mind-reading.
From University of Pennsylvania
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