Closing the Human/Computer loop.

Strapping electrodes to the inside of the skulls of epileptics (as oppose to the outside, a la EEG, where the signals must pass through the bone of the skull) Scientists were able to get amazingly specific data about where certain thoughts happen. Even more interestingly though, is that they were seemingly able to allow direct communication between the minds of the patients and a computer interface.

“They then asked the patients to play a simple, one-dimensional computer game involving moving a cursor up or down towards one of two targets. They were asked to imagine various movements or imagine saying the word “move,” but not to actually perform them with their hands or speak any words by mouth. When they saw the cursor in the video game, they then controlled it with their brains.”

And they actually did pretty well, with one guy scoring 32/33 targets in the simple game. When they tried a two dimensional game the subjects fared less well, but it would only be assumed that there would be some kind of learning curve, and the article claims that the learning speed compared to similar tests on EEG is equivalent to a Wright brother plane and an F-16 fighter jet.

The potential of something like this for anyone, but especially for those with little or no motor control, is amazing. We can imagine games where avatars are controled by direct thought, creating a situation where only visuals limit the seeming reality of the fiction. How could one be more intimate with a character than to actually inhabit their mind? And if a disabled person, never able to move even a finger, could play the same game, with the same control?

I’ve been speaking of Transhumanism a lot lately, and the movement from the limitations of the body is even more important for those with bodies that malfunction. This study seems to point to real advance in that area.

Unfortunately, only monkeys will be able to enjoy the technology for now (there were human subjects used, but now they will only have new monkeys). Damn greedy apes.

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