Brainwave reads mind via sensor

Brainwave reads mind via sensor
Steve Bush US medical researchers are reporting a 95 per cent success rate in detecting a person’s thoughts to yes-no questions. The research is part of work to advance the man-machine interface and to aid individuals who are severely handicapped. The US team, from the New York State Department of Health, has trained people to modify their brainwaves in response to verbal questions with yes-no answers. These waves are picked up using an array of sensors on the subject’s scalp and are processed to identify the changes. “Users can also achieve independent control of two different mu rhythm channels and use that to move a cursor in two dimensions,” stated team leader Dr Jonathan Wolpaw in a report on the work. Two types of brainwave – mu and beta waves – are produced and cause voltage changes of “tens of microvolts” on the scalp. “In our standard protocol, people with or without motor disabilities learn to control mu or beta rhythm amplitude,” said Wolpaw. Other researchers have shown that patients who are totally paralysed can operate a simple word processing program. In these experiments, slowly changing potentials over the brain’s central cortex were used. A joint effort is under way to combine these slow time-domain signals with the mu and beta frequency-domain signals to improve performance. Future work will attempt to identify which waves are most easily controlled, improving the way the signals are sensed and processed, as well as to understand the way the mind and the electronic system interact.


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