UCLA / Caltech researchers help patients move mouse cursors with their brains

It’s certainly not a revolutionary new concept — whiz kids have been tinkering with brain-controlled interfaces for years on end — but a collaboration between UCLA scientists and colleagues from the California Institute of Technology has taken the idea one leap closer to commercialization. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at UCLA, kept a close watch (via embedded electrodes) on how a dozen humans reacted to certain images, and eventually, Fried and co. were able to show that Earthlings can “regulate the activity of their neurons to intentionally alter the outcome of stimulation.” In other words, they were able to move a mouse cursor with just their mind, and brighten a test image with a 70 percent success rate. By honing the process of controlling what actions occur when focused on a given subject (or input peripheral), it opens up the possibility for paralyzed individuals to not only check their email, but also control prosthetic limbs. It’s hard to say when this stuff will be put to good use outside of a hospital, but the video after the break definitely makes us long for “sooner” rather than “later.”

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