Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Brain Control

An article by Erico Guizzo, called "Monkeys Control Computer With Thought" in the July 2009 IEEE Spectrum online, describes the work of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The work of Jose Carmena and his students, published in PLos Biology, shows how "a monkey’s brain is able to develop a motor memory for controlling a virtual device in a manner similar to the way it creates such a memory for the animal’s body." Lena Ting, a professor of biomedical engineering at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, says that the findings may "... change the whole way that people have thought about how to approach brain-machine interfaces." "Previous research," she explains, "tried to use the parts of the brain that operate real limbs to control an artificial one. The Berkeley study suggests that an artificial arm may not need to rely on brain signals related to the natural arm; the brain can assimilate the artificial device as if it were a new part of the body."

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