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Test subjects with electrode implants use mind control to move a cursor

Dana Wollman, @danawollman
April 8, 2011
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As trippy as mind-control still seems to us, we've already seen it implemented in everything from wheelchairs to pricey gaming (and car driving!) headsets. But the problem is that they measure brain activity outside the skull -- you know, the thing we've evolved to shield the murky goings-on in our minds from prying EEG sensors.

Now, though, a team of Washington University researchers appears to have happened upon a more effective -- albeit, invasive -- approach. The researchers got some brave specimens to move a mouse cursor by implanting plastic pads containing electrodes underneath their skulls, with the sensors sitting on the surface of the brain. That, they say, gives them access to more telling, high-frequency waves that say a lot more about cognitive intentions. In the end, the subjects moved the cursors by thinking one of these sounds: "ee," "ah," "oo," and "eh." Brain-computer interfaces ain't new, of course, but the scientists say the subjects with electrode implants had more success than people wearing electrode-studded EEG caps, which could translate to less frustration for people with severe disabilities.



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