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
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
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). This research found that
humans can control complex visual images with their mind on a
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
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.
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.
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
subjects were able to use their thoughts to override the images they
saw on the computer screen," said 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
this sort of technology could be applied to devices like computers
and cell phones as well.
study was published in Nature.