September 27, 2012 12:09
Professor Zheng Syaosyan who led the team neurocomputing interfaces in Zhejiang University (East China), in late February announced success in creating interfaces such as brain-computer. They allow you to control electronics directly to "the power of thought."
Small sensors implanted in the brain of a monkey, help not only to control the mechanical arm as their own, and move individual "fingers" (which previously could not be achieved), take, for example, any items.
The group is working with Professor Zheng five monkey named Jianhui. In the first stage researchers recorded electrical signals corresponding to each movement of the animal, thus forming a kind of dictionary that associates with "the idea of motion," and do these movements. Sensor for information retrieval are formed into a grid of 200 tiny electrodes. Each electrode picks up a signal generated by only one neuron monkey brain.
Then these data are transmitted to a computer, dealing a detailed analysis of neural activity. Comparing the overall pattern of activation with the known, the computer decides that it has to make a manipulator, which signals are sent to the output.
During the experiments, Jianhui gesticulated with his own limbs, while the mechanical arm, located two feet from Jianhui, repeating the same movements. For correct execution of a task monkey received encouragement — in her mouth a tube running down a drink.
According to Professor Zheng, for a more accurate interpretation of movements of each monkey and human hands is necessary to analyze the operations at least 10 thousand motor (effector) neurons that control these actions (if not hundreds of thousands), so there is still a lot of work for a full explanation This brain activity. Yet even 200 electrodes enough to read the key data, accurate interpretation of motion and control monkeys mechanical arm. Which can not fail to inspire.
"This is a new achievement in the field of construction of brain-computer interface, not only gives us hope for the development of full-time artificial limbs, but also helps to begin to decipher the so-called brain code, to create models of biological feedback" — said Professor Zheng. In the future, these technologies will be useful as the disabled, that is, patients with severe motor disabilities, as well as a computer operator, working in difficult conditions, and even to gamers who want to get their hands on an unusual interface.
Of course, by themselves, such studies are not new. Well-known achievements of American and Japanese groups that worked with the animals, and people — the clinic's patients who studied manage prosthetic "power of thought." In the mid-1990s, by the means of transmitting information from person to a computer, it was possible to restore some degree of function of damaged hearing, sight and lost motor skills. However, Zheng says that so far no one has been able to master the fine motor skills and interpret the movement of individual fingers.
In Russia, the studies on the creation of brain-computer interfaces are active in more than one group. Occasional demonstrations real systems. See it Anyone can, for example, at the annual Science Festival in Moscow State University. There the development of biological scientists typically faculty (Group Alexander Kaplan).
But the question of how realistic the use of these devices for the rehabilitation of the disabled, there is no single answer. The fact that the developers have to rely on a standard healthy body (interpreted whose response electronics for quite a force.) And each patient requires a highly personal approach and is likely to reconfigure the interface. How to cope with all these difficulties, it is not clear.