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Brain-Computer Interface Lets Paralyzed People Control Tablet Devices


A patient performs a search with his gaze.

People who lose the capacity to speak may be able to continue to communicate via a brain-computer interface.

Credit: Nuyujukian P, et al.

A brain-computer interface (BCI) has enabled three people suffering from tetraplegia (paralysis that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso) to control a commercial tablet computer with their thoughts, suggesting people who cannot speak may be able to continue to communicate with the technology.

The BrainGate BCI translates participants' brain activity into commands via microelectrode arrays implanted into the brain region governing hand movement; this allowed users to train the system to interpret neural impulses for such movements as onscreen actions.

BrainGate decoded brain activity associated with users' intent to move their hands and passed the information to a Bluetooth interface paired to an off-the-shelf tablet. Users could then "point and click" the tablet's cursor by attempting to make a related hand movement.

The subjects each performed seven tasks on three different days, and completed all tasks within 15 to 30 minutes.

From Discover
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