Thursday, February 15, 2018

Advances in Brain-Machine Interfaces

On one end, we are discussing how AI will advance in the future and how many of current jobs will be wiped out by its onslaught. On the other end, we are making much progress in developing brain -machine interfaces which will help in curing many neuron related diseases partially or fully.

See the excerpt below from WSJ,

"Nancy Smith, who was injured in a car accident seven years ago... only able to move her shoulder and head. Neurosurgeons and neuroscientists in California implanted a tiny “bed of nails” array of electrodes in the region of her cortex that encodes her intention to grasp a cup or to press piano keys. Algorithms decode her neural signals and pass instruction to a musical synthesizer, so that she can play music with her mind"

"Bill Kochevar was... paralyzed below the shoulders following a bike accident many years ago. A Cleveland-based team of doctors and neuroscientists placed electrodes into his left motor cortex; these read out the electrical tremors of about 100 neurons, decoding the patient’s intention and then electrically stimulating muscles in his arm and hand to enable him to reach and to grasp. Such functional electrical stimulation is akin to “writing” the nervous system, giving instructions that mimic, however crudely, what occurs naturally. Functional stimulation lets Mr. Kochevar eat and drink by himself. There are more than 50 such patients with listening devices installed in their brains."

"When we move in the world, our bodies receive massive feedback from sensors in our limbs that signal their location in space and from touch sensors in the skin. Neuroscientists are seeking to replace these signals in patients who don’t feel their limbs by electrically stimulating their somatosensory cortex using implanted electrodes."

It is expected that future research for brain-machine interfaces will help in treating OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Treatment resistant depression, Essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, Epilepsy, Stroke recovery, blindness and other neuron related diseases.


1. To Keep Up With AI, We’ll Need High-Tech Brains - WSJ

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