Brain computer interface
It may sound like science fiction, but the development of a second generation brain computer interface (BCI) that can read the minds of people with paralysis in order to control a robotic arm, or even their own arm, is the focus of a major Wyss Center-led project.
The next step in BCI development
The next big step in this ambitious project is to create a wireless neural communication link between the brain and arm that will replace cables and enable full time BCI use. The aim now is to accelerate the development of an implantable neurocommunicator (Neurocomm) that can control robotic prostheses or the paralyzed arm, and help restore independence for people with severe paralysis, neurological disease or limb loss.
The work builds on previous successful tests in which a tiny microelectrode array was placed just into the surface of the cerebral cortex (the outer gray matter of the brain) of patients with severe paralysis to allow their thoughts to control computer cursors and robot arms, and more recently their own arm, showing that a tiny patch of the cerebral cortex is able to provide sophisticated command signals. Until now however, the connection between the brain, the computer and the arm has been via cables.
“We are now working to miniaturize the implant and to equip it with a wifi connection so that it can be entirely wireless and under the skin.”
Professor John Donoghue
Director of the Wyss Center