Sunday, October 10, 2004


New news story about BrainGate (it's about time this got some media attention).

Basically it started when researchers taught a monkey to play a simple video game where it moved a joystick to put a cursor inside a box and then received sugar water (or whatever it was) as a reward. They then shoved a microchip into the motor cortex of the happy little monkey's brain. The chip is a load of sensors attached to a computer. The computer matches the brainwave patters received by the sensors on the chip to what the monkey is doing with the joystick.

They then turn the joystick off and used the matched data from the sensors to allow the monkey to control the cursor without the game receiving movement data from the joystick, but instead from the monkey's brain. Now you might have expected the the monkey would still need to move his arm to control the game, but the clever little fellow was quite happy to play the game without moving and simply by thinking about moving the joystick. Witch the computer understood and so relayed that to the game.

I think this technology has limitless potential and it's all very exciting. Exoskeletons for people who have paralysed bits of their bodies. Fully functional replacement limbs. Creation of artificial lungs that are just like the real things. Or even allowing people to control complex machinery more intuitively, like a fighter jet or digging equipment.