Scientists have come up with a potential breakthrough for people with paralysis as they recently demonstrated the first human use of a wireless brain-computer interface.
While current BCI’s are used with cables, the new system – dubbed as BrainGate – replaces the cords with a minute transmitter atop a user’s head. Then, the unit connects to an electrode array implanted in the motor cortex of the brain.
A clinical trial involved two participants with paralysis who were able to use the system successfully to point, click, and type on a tablet computer. Both achieved similar typing speeds as well as point-and-click accuracy as those accomplished by wired systems.
The device was functionally equivalent to wired BCIs but without the restriction of cables, according to the study’s lead author John Simera.
Researchers say it is the first time a device has transmitted the full spectrum of signals recorded by a sensor in the brain’s motor cortex. The participants were also able to use the system in their homes cable-free for up to 24 hours.
The BrainGate clinical trials, led by Leigh Hochberg, have allowed researchers to understand how neural signals evolve over time. They will now use the insights to develop the next generation of neurotechnologies leading to fully-implanted BCIs.
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