Researchers at the University of California have made progress in the utilization of brain-controlled interfaces (BCIs) by getting subjects to picture what they wanted.
In a study partly funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U of C researchers found that it took only a handful of cells for patients with epilepsy to choose between two photographs overlaid on a computer screen. using simply their minds.
70% of the time, the patients were able to cause one of the images to disappear and one to become clear, based on which one they chose to focus on. Many subjects were able to accomplish this not only on their first try, but after only a few minutes.
While previous research has shown that things such as moving a cursor on-screen could be accomplished by thought and with only a few brain cells involved in the activity, the prediction was that it would take far more in order to affect pictures.
But delving into the mechanics of the mind revealed that only four brain cells needed to be used in order to not only recognize, but control the appearance of photos with familiar objects or people in them. Using a computer monitor that updated every 1/10th of a second and with wires connected directly to the temporal lobes of their patients, researchers watched as not only were images selected quickly, but with a minimum of effort.
While this isn't the iThought of the future, since most people don't want their temporal lobe connected directly to their electronics, it is a promising step forward in the world of brain, rather than finger controlled devices.
Who'd have thought?