March 1, 2011

Punk rock skeleton demos mind control system

Who says punk is dead? In the video above, a skeleton with a mohawk is helping to visualise how a new neural implant device reads brain signals and interprets them to control a prosthetic arm. The yellow spikes radiating from the skeleton's head represent the firing of motor neurons in the brain. Each neuron is tuned to recognise a different direction in space, so as the arm moves, the spikes change to reflect the changing direction. By adding together the output of all the neurons, the direction of the arm's movement - represented by the blue arrow - can be predicted.
Mind control devices are quite the rage these days, with systems designed to control everything from iPad apps, to prosthetic limbs, to cars. This system, developed by Daniel Moran of Washington University in St. Louis uses a grid of disc-shaped electrodes, inserted between the brain and the skull, to read electrical activity in the brain. It's more precise than electrodes placed outside of the skull, and less invasive than probes inserted into the brain itself.
With further refinements, the system could give amputees better control over prosthetic limbs without overly invasive surgical implants.

Original article from New Scientists magazine

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