The Brain Gate Neural Interface System is grounded on Cybernetics podium technology to sense, transmit, analyse and apply the language of neurons. The System consists of a sensor that is entrenched on the motor cortex of the brain and examines brain signals. The principle behind the Brain Gate system is that, signals are generated in the motor cortex and they cannot be sent directly to the arms, hands and legs due to spinal cord injury, stroke or other condition. The brain signals are construed and translated into cursor movements, offering the user a substitute pathway via the Brain Gate System to control a computer simply by thinking, in the same way as individuals who have the ability to move a computer mouse using their hands.
Since coming of new technologies, computers are becoming more intelligent than they were in the past. Man and machine interface has been one of the growing fields of research and development in the recent years. Most of the effort has been dedicated to the design of user friendly or ergonomic systems by means of innovative interfaces such as voice recognition, virtual reality. A brain computer interface, sometimes called direct neural interface or brain machine interface is a direct communication pathway between human or animal brain and an external device. Brain computer interface is a staple of science fiction writing. Over the past 15 years, productive brain computer interface research program have arisen. Present day brain computer interfaces determine the intent of the user from a variety of different electrophysiological signals. These signals include slow cortical potentials, P300 potentials or beta rhythms recorded from the scalp. They are translated in real time into commands that operate a computer display or any other device. In one way brain computer interface, computer either accepts commands from brain or sends signals to it. In two way brain computer interface, brains and external devices exchange information in both directions.
With assistive technologies computers adapt and change to user?s needs, from uniquely designed hardware peripherals to innovative softwares. Some scientists claim that it will not take long before computers become more intelligent than humans and humans can take advantage of these machines. A repercussion of this would be a world where humans and machines are getting melt with each other. An example of this is the BRAINGATE system which is a clinical trial ?to turn thoughts into action?.
Many different disorders can disrupt the neuro muscular channels through which the brain communicates with and controls its external environment. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), brainstem stoke, brain or spinal cord injury and numerous other diseases impair the neural pathways that control the muscles or impair the muscles themselves. Those most severely affected may lose all voluntary muscles control, unable to communicate in any way. In the absence of methods for repairing the damage done by these disorders, a variety of methods for monitoring brain activity might serve as a BCI. BrainGate is a brain inplant system developed by biotech computer cyberkinetics in 2003 in conjunction with the department of neuro science at Brown University. The BrainGate system is a boon to the paralyzed. It is a mind-to-movement system that allows a quadriplegic man to control a computer using his thoughts. It is based on cyberkinetics platform technology to sense, transmit, analyse and apply the language of neurons.
The BrainGate technology platform was designed to take advantage of the fact that many patients with motor impairment have an intact brain that can produce movement commands. This allows BrainGate system to create output signal directly from the brain, bypassing the route through the nerves to the muscles that cannot be used in paralyzed people.
BrainGate is a culmination of ten years of research by Dr. John Donoghue who is the chairman of the neuroscience department at Brown University and chief scientific officer for cyberkinetics. Dr. Gerhard Freighs helped him by experimenting on monkeys to control the cursor by thoughts alone. These researches cofounded cyberkinetcs, Inc.in. The company bears all the expenses required for the study. According to the Cyberkinetics website three patients have been implanted with the BrainGate system. The company has confirmed that one patient (Matthew Nagle) has a spinal cord injury while another has advanced ALS.
The implant, BrainGate, allowed Matthew Nagle, a 25 year old Massachusetts man who has been paralyzed from the neck down since 2001, because of a severe spinal cord injury, to control a cursor on a screen and to open and close the hand on a prosthetic limb just by thinking about the actions.
After few minutes spent calibrating the inplant, Mr. Matthew Nagle could read emails and plays the computer game Pong. He was able to draw circular shapes using a paint program and could also change channel and turn up the volume on a television, even while talking to people around him. After several months he could also operate simple robotic devices such as prosthetic hand, which he used to grasp and move objects. With practice the user can refine movements using signals from only a sample of cells.
BrainGate is currently recruiting patients with a range of neuromuscular and neuro degenerative conditions for pilot clinical trials being conducted under an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) in the United States. Cyberkinetics hopes to refine the BrainGate in the next two years to develop a wireless devise that is completely implantable and doesn?t have a plug, making it safer and less visible. And once the basics of brain mapping are worked out, there is potential for a wide variety of further applications.
The system is designed to restore functionality for a limited, immobile group of severely motor-impair individuals. It is expected that people using this system will employ a personal computer as a gateway to a range of self directed activities. These activities extend beyond typical computer functions.
Cyberkinetics is further developing the BrainGate system to provide limb movement to people with severe motor disabilities. The goal of this program would be to allow these individuals to one day use their arms and hands again. In addition Cyberkinetics is also developing products to allow for robotic control such as a thought controlled wheel chair.
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