SXSW 2010: Is The Brain The Ultimate Computer Interface?

Saturday, March 13 9:30am
Christie Nicholson, Scientific American

Session Description

Will we be able to jack into the brain and upload helicopter instructions, like in The Matrix? We already have the technology to control a prosthetic arm or Twitter with thoughts alone. Dishes of neurons can control a robot. And scientists have created a working artificial memory chip in rats.


VIDEO: Andrew Schwartz Lab, University of Pittsburgh

They were able to infuse channels into a monkey’s brain to have it move a robotic arm/hand. At first the monkey would stumble trying to discover how to move the arm. But as they slowly got it to work they would just concentrate a little bit harder to finish the movement desired.

VIDEO: Matt Nagle, Beain Gate pioneer user

Matt was paralyzed from the neck down, and with a 1″ x 1″ computer chip located right behind the skull he was able to control computer games such as pong with his brain, dots on the screen, and the ability to open and close a synthetic hand.

Non Invasive, EEG: electroencephalography

This method is less accurate but it is just transistors you wear and no surgery is needed.

Partially Invasive, ECoG: Electrocorticography

This method sits on the brain, but does not go into it.

Invasive, Intracortical Electrode

This method goes 1mm into the brain matter, and as it sits there the brain matter actually grows around it, implanting more neurons, and making it more effective.

Rat Brain, Artifical Hippocampus

With rats they have been able to completely turn off their brains and use only a computer chip to control their movements to have them press a lever.


They’re requesting (and probably getting) funding for telepathic shoulders who will be able to communicate using EEG to other shoulders on the field.

VIDEO: Charlie rose & Miguel Nicolelis, Duke University, founder of DARPA

VIDEO: Optogenetics, controlling the brain with light, Karl Deisseroth’s Lab at Stanford University

Discovered from pond scum. The genes in it can be injected into rats and blue/yellow lights then interact with these rats.

Blue Brain, reverse engineering a map of the brain.
Henry Markham, Lausanne Switzerland

Posted in Geeky, SXSW 2010.

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