Mind Over Matter

In recent years, developments in brain computer interface technology have been turning science fiction into science fact. Some unbelievable achievements have been made, including giving locked-in syndrome suffers a means to communicate, allowing amputees to feel their prosthetic limbs and restoring sight to the blind. And in 2013, Harvard researchers made a rat’s tail wiggle with only the power of their minds! The brain computer interface is revolutionising medicine, technology and even gaming. But some of the current research may make people feel a little uneasy….

The brain computer interface (BCI) is a system that allows a computer to read human brain activity and interpret the signal, as well as inputting new signals back into the brain. Essentially, the BCI allows computers to read your mind. Well, sort of. The Brain-computer interface has had an incredible impact on the quality of life for suffers of paralysis, Amyotrophic lateral schlerosis (ALS), myopathy, spino-cerebellar ataxia (SCA), cerebal palsy, and is even now being adapted to help autistic children train their minds and improve concentration. BCI can allow patients with limited mobility to control motorised wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs, and communicate with the world. It has also been used to identify signs of life in patients with no means to communicate. More recently, it has been applied to a far wider range of uses, including video games and fashion.

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