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Brain-Controlled Devices May Help Transcend Paralysis and Speech Problems February 12, 2010

Posted by intebic in Uncategorized.
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The vast popularity of the movie Avatar underscores the increasingly tangible future possibility of transcending paralysis by technological means. A recent article on CNN’s web site presented a sweeping review of current technological research and development of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) for a wide range of uses, from video games and advanced military equipment to enabling a paralyzed spinal cord injury patient to walk again and allowing traumatic brain injury patients to transcend speech problems with electronic telepathic brain implants.

The electrical power produced by the human brain is “strong enough to move robots, wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs with the help of an external processor,” the CNN article reported. BCI technology takes two distinct forms invasive and noninvasive. The invasive forms of BCI involve implanting electrodes into the brain, and the noninvasive methods employ electrodes on the scalp.

Many researchers focus on neuroprosthetics. Melody Moore Jackson, the director of Georgia Tech University’s BrainLab, helped to construct the Aware Chair, a smart wheelchair that is controlled by a patient’s brain activity. Other researchers are developing robots that respond to mental commands to assist paralyzed people around the house.

CNN reported that the Pentagon’s technology research division, DARPA, is currently working on a research initiative that would allow soldiers to communicate secretly with one another via electronic telepathy implants. The implications of this research hold promise for traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury victims with speech and communication difficulties.

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