Harnessing brain signals to control keyboards, robots or prosthetic devices is an active area of medical research. Now a rare peek at a human brain hooked up to a computer shows that the two can adapt to each other quickly, and possibly to the brain’s benefit.
Researchers at the University of Washington looked at signals on the brain’s surface while using imagined movements to control a cursor. The results, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that watching a cursor respond to one’s thoughts prompts brain signals to become stronger than those generated in day-to-day life.
„Bodybuilders get muscles that are larger than normal by lifting weights,“ said lead author Kai Miller, a UW doctoral student in physics, neuroscience and medicine. „We get brain activity that’s larger than normal by interacting with brain-computer interfaces. By using these interfaces, patients create super-active populations of brain cells.“