Reading Brain Signals Makes Communication Possible for Everyone

An advance in technology is making it possible for people who are physically disabled and have issues with movements to express what they think and what they feel by using electrodes to read their brain signals. A group of electrodes is put in the person's brain and these electrodes are able to interpret signals in the part of the brain that allows people to move their arms and hands to do things like operate a computer mouse.

Algorithms are created which allow these signals to be translated into the ability to choose letters for communications. Paul Nuyujukian, who is involved in the research at a well-known university in California, believes that this technology will help those with physical disabilities that affect their movements to type fast enough to carry on a normal conversation.

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When researchers worked with monkeys with this new technology, the monkeys had the ability to type news articles from a major newspaper and sections of one of Shakespeare's tragedies as fast as 12 words every minute. The newer technology with better algorithms could triple the rate at which these monkeys could transcribe data of any kind. The speed at which these animals can type may not be possible for humans with specific disabilities, though.

Previous studies on this type of communication for those with physical limitations focused on tracking eye movements. The problem with this type of software is that some people's eyelids droop and tracking isn't possible and also it can be too exhausting for certain individuals with disabilities. The ability to interpret brain signals is something that makes communication available for almost any individual with a disability. More information can be found about this research in an article in Proceedings of the IEEE.


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