Daily Archives: September 29, 2020
A new type of brain implant allows a paralyzed person to learn how to control a computer cursor with their mind. This kind of technology could be revolutionary for people with very limited mobility as it could open up computer-based communication and give them more freedom in every day life.
So-called ‘brain-computer interfaces’ have been developed for this purpose before, but a key problem with them was that the user had to retrain on a daily basis, making progress difficult. Brain-computer interface implants work by a user thinking about moving the cursor on a screen in different directions by imagining they are moving their arm and neck in a specific way. Electrical impulses picked up by the brain implant allow the cursor to move. A computer algorithm then ‘learns’ how the brain signals correlate to the cursor movements and adjusts them giving the implant user control.
“This is akin to relearning how to move your arm every day,” explained Karunesh Ganguly, an associate professor in neurology at the University of California San Francisco, who led the current research.
Previous implants have had “technical issues related to having small wires in the brain that are not stable over time,” he added.