Brain Waves Bypass Limbs To Accomplish Tasks

May 16, 2016

Brilliant minds trapped in bodies that don't work are finding their way out with the help of an EEG brain headset like this one.

Brain caps have been around for decades but are now being refined to allow people to do more complex tasks. Take for example Rosemary Johnson who, before a devastating car accident, was a violinist with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra. Science Alert reports she is now able to compose music with a computer that can read her mind.

In another case South Korean scientists are combining the brain cap with an exoskeleton to help paralyzed people walk.

CBS News reports an Ohio quadriplegic became the first person to use his mind to pick up and hold a spoon using his own brain power. Now Ian Burkhart can swipe a credit card, pick up a bottle and play a guitar video game. Doctors at Ohio State University implanted a chip in his brain and when connected through a computer to a sleeve on his arm he learned to focus his thoughts. Read about it in the journal Nature.

University of Dayton researchers are up to eleven tasks the mind can do using a robotic arm including a game of tick tack toe and the beginnings of playing the piano. Vision Lab Director Vijayan Asari says, "The sequence of actions will be identified by us, so that if the person is wearing the headset he or she will be thinking about an activity, we then go back to the machine and then find out what kind of actions will be incorporated there and automatically the system will do that job."

EEG headsets aren't only for the disabled. In April, 2016 University of Florida students competed in a drone flying contest using only the headsets to think about where the UAVs should go. The U.S. military is also looking for brain-control applications.