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Could help paralyzed individuals control prosthetic limbs and communicate

Touchpad technology has become a way of life for many who use laptops and other devices with this capability, but a new study led by a University of California researcher may replace the touchpad with "thoughtpad" technology

The study was led by Itzhak Fried, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, and was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). This research found that humans can control complex visual images with their mind on a computer screen.

This type of research was based on the development of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which allow humans to manipulate computers with their thoughts. In this particular study, the participants were 12 people with epilepsy because they already had fine wires implanted in their brains. These wires are used to record seizure activity, but for the sake of this study, Itzhak and his team inserted the wires into the medial temporal lobe, which is a region of the brain responsible for memory and recognition of complex images. 

The 12 participants were asked to look at a computer screen with two images on it, and select one to concentrate on. Recordings from their brains were transferred to the computer, and as the participants concentrated on one image, the other faded away. This process only required four brain cells in the temporal lobe, and brain recordings were updated every one-tenth of one second. 

"This is a novel and elegant use of a brain-computer interface to explore how the brain directs attention and makes choices," said Debra Babcock, M.D., Ph.D., program director at NINDS. 

In total, the group discarded images using their thoughts about 900 times. Out of the 900 times, participants were able to successfully discard the image opposite of their concentration 70 percent of the time. Many were successful upon their first attempt when looking at pictures of familiar celebrity faces such as Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson

"The subjects were able to use their thoughts to override the images they saw on the computer screen," said Fried. 

Fried and his team see this type of progress in the development of BCIs as a step toward technology that can assist paralyzed humans communicate or control prosthetic limbs

Eventually, this sort of technology could be applied to devices like computers and cell phones as well.

This study was published in Nature.

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70% of the time it works every time.
By therealnickdanger on 10/28/2010 10:00:31 AM , Rating: 2
Thought-controlled PCs would be amazing, no way around it. The potential for multitasking and creative design would literally be open byond anything we have see so far. I have to wonder, though, given how often men think about sex, just what the repercussions would be. :)

RE: 70% of the time it works every time.
By Anoxanmore on 10/28/2010 10:24:02 AM , Rating: 3
Well if we can turn those impulses into actual holograms... it could make for one heck of a fantasy land induced from your own mind.

Plus, I could fly, which would be awesome.

By aharris on 10/28/2010 12:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
I bet the porn industry is already on it.

RE: 70% of the time it works every time.
By AstroGuardian on 10/28/2010 10:26:02 AM , Rating: 5
They haven't even made up a good Touchpad yet.

By plewis00 on 10/28/2010 11:41:41 AM , Rating: 2
As much as I hate to admit it, the MacBook Pro glass touchpad is pretty unmatched in performance, texture and design. I think even non-Apple fans such as myself will reluctantly admit that.

By solarrocker on 10/28/2010 10:33:50 AM , Rating: 2
given how often men think about sex, just what the repercussions would be.

Boobies, lots and lots of photo shopped boobies!...

By cokbun on 10/28/2010 11:57:29 AM , Rating: 2
when you think about sex your cursor will grow longer and harder

RE: 70% of the time it works every time.
By gvaley on 10/28/2010 2:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
The repercussions would be that everyone will know that women, too, think about sex all the time :-)

By morphologia on 10/28/2010 3:07:27 PM , Rating: 4
O.o Scandalous!! Turning our stereotypes on their heads!!

For it to be worth anything, first they've got to get past the need to implant wires in your head. I ain't havin' no wires in my head. What if someone drags their feet on the carpet and zaps me? Will I have a stroke?

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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