Brain-controlled Cursor Image 2
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Brain-controlled Cursor (Image 2)

February 7, 2011
Image shows brain activity after about 10 minutes of training, when a subject could hit a target with 94 percent accuracy. The signal was stronger than in an earlier trial, and even stronger than when the subject actually performed the imagined movement. The trial was part of research at the University of Washington into harnessing brain signals to control keyboards, robots or prosthetic devices.

Hooking a human brain up to a computer, researchers looked at signals on the human brain's surface while using imagined movements to control a cursor. The results showed 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 Kai Miller, lead author of the published study and 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."

The finding holds promise for rehabilitating patients after stroke or other neurological damage, and suggests that a human brain could quickly become adept at manipulating an external device such as a computer interface or a prosthetic limb. To learn more, see UW news story "Brain-controlled cursor doubles as a neural workout." [Research funded in part by the National Science Foundation.] (Date of Image: 2009). [Image 2 of 2 related images. Back to Image 1.]

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