University of Pittsburgh

We don’t understand yet the brain coding for force

From For Brain-Computer Interfaces to Be Useful, They’ll Need to Be Wireless – MIT Technology Review

Today’s brain-computer interfaces involve electrodes or chips that are placed in or on the brain and communicate with an external computer. These electrodes collect brain signals and then send them to the computer, where special software analyzes them and translates them into commands. These commands are relayed to a machine, like a robotic arm, that carries out the desired action.

The embedded chips, which are about the size of a pea, attach to so-called pedestals that sit on top of the patient’s head and connect to a computer via a cable. The robotic limb also attaches to the computer. This clunky set-up means patients can’t yet use these interfaces in their homes.

In order to get there, Schwartz said, researchers need to size down the computer so it’s portable, build a robotic arm that can attach to a wheelchair, and make the entire interface wireless so that the heavy pedestals can be removed from a person’s head.

The above quote is interesting, especially because the research is ready to be tested but there’s no funding. However, the real value is in the video embedded in the page, where Andrew Schwartz, distinguished professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh, explains what’s the research frontier for neural interfaces.