Brain Computer Interface Presentation Notes from SXSWi 2010

#braincomputerinterface
Presenter: Christie Nicholson
  • monkeys learn that their brains are controlling an external device
  • matt nagle is a brain gate pioneer user
    • paralyzed from the neck down
    • can play a computer game
    • chip implanted
  • ultimate hope is that a quadrapalegic can pick up a glass
    • this requires a closed loop feedback
  • types
    • non-invasive
      • EEG: electroen
        • showed 60 minutes clip where they can recognize a letter on screen
    • partially invasive
      • ECoG: electrocorticography
        • open up the skull. put in a flat reader that lays over the brain.
    • invasive
      • Introcortical electrode
        • a one millemeter chip implanted inside brain
  • machine to brain
    • rat brain
      • artificial hippocampus
      • responsible for storing memories
      • they have been able to create a computer chip that can replace the biological organ
      • Ted Berger and Samuel Deadwyler
      • DARPA is a big fan, they think this may be possible to upload coded instructions for flying an F-15
    • silent talk: darpa project to allow soldiers to communicate using EEG to replace vocalized commands. 
    • another darpa project: simulate a one million neuron brain for control an ape type robot
    • darpa project: identify processes for encoding and decoding short term and long term memory, identify neural pathways -- they really want to understand memory and the system of memory paths / neural paths in the brain.
    • military currently monitoring EEG, even during desk work, to see when people are overwhelmed and shift work around - to maintain high efficiency and effectiveness
  • interview... charlie rose and miguel nicolelis
    • miguel - co-director at duke university of a brain computer interface group
  • timeframe of this stuff... now (already demonstrating much of it) through five years (expect radical improvements).
  • optogenetics: karl deisseroth’s lab at stanford: new technique to control the brain the light.
    • you take a gene from pond scum, put that gene into a virus, put the virus into a mouse’s brain, the brain cells will develop the ability to respond to blue and green light.
      • hope that this will help depression, narcolepsy
      • this is very focused, and very powerful
    • blue brain: reverse engineering a map of the brain
      • henry markham, lausanne switzerland
      • project to map the brain, like the genome project, except for neurons
      • they have mapped 10 million neuron mouse brain
      • now they want to map the 100 billion neuron human brain, trillions of synapses
    • moore’s law: predicted that the number of transitors on a chip would double per year, ending by 2013 or so (Will: they have been predicting this for 15 years...)
      • neural firing patterns in rats as they run through mazes change with context. put a rat in a maze one day, they think about it that night, but the following day the neural pattern changes.
      • singularity by 2045?
      • cartoon: “i was wondering when you’d notice a lot more steps” - google this. ape on lower step, human on higher step, many higher steps up.
    • discussion...
      • functional magnetic resonance imaging: FMRI helps tell people where in the brain people are experiencing emotion and how.
      • would people ever communicate without language - communicate in the thoughts and feelings and images themselves
        • there are researchers looking into this
      • p300 threshold - it’s the brainwave that they observe to detect recognition
      • does it make sense to use current computer architectures to simulate the human brain, or are there other architects that would be more effective?
        • there is no consensus now, but people are thinking about.
      • the game brain waves, what is it, how does it work
        • it’s an EEG that is measuring the calmness of your brain. it’s very general, but it is actually using brainwaves. great training for meditation, ADHD
      • ethical: it disturbs me greatly that so much of this is dedicated to warfare, to putting people in battle. why are all of the applications military in nature? why not apply them in the same way to stop these altercations in the first place, to improve education (e.g. see which students are doing well or not)
        • darpa is thinking 20-40 years ahead. they did bring us the internet.
        • NIH does fund this stuff for medical research, for ADHD, narcolepsy, quadrapalegics.
      • is there anyone working on commercializing this stuff? when can i throw away my mouse?
        • people are working on it, this stuff is still progressing. there is no stopping it.
        • there is good research being done at higher up facilities.
      • what are religious groups saying about this?
        • no really sure.
        • there is the potential for a “god spot” in the brain, which religious groups might argue is evidence that it was designed in. it could be used either to encourage or dampen the religiousosity of a person.
        • open eeg project: open source project to develop eeg, to democratize the technology. http://openeeg.sourceforge.net/doc/ 
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