On the tail of the recent story of the first bionic hand with sensory perception comes yet another first for bionic limbs. Researchers at Brown University have successfully created the first wireless long-term brain-computer interface. The new BCI is rechargeable as well as implantable, as it has already been implanted successfully in pigs and moneys for over a year. These developments have paved the way for human subjects to be implanted sooner than later.
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Rather than large, clunky units tethered to a stationary terminal, the wireless technology lifts many of the limitations on the mobility of their test subjects, and the different kinds of tests conducted by the researcher to determine the efficiency of these digital brains.
The freer movement of the patients allows for richer data transmitting wirelessly from the device. This means that the test subject’s brain activity can be analyzed at any given moment, for example during social interaction with another creature or person.
The chip runs on a li-ion battery and sits inside a titanium casing embedded in the subject’s motor cortex, the part of the cerebral cortex responsible for controlling all voluntary movements. And wireless advancements have not at slowed down the process from its original wired in method, as the brain data collected by the electrodes within the chip are then transmitted at a relatively speedy 24mbps.
This new BCI is a big step for neuroscience that will hopefully lead to more advanced solutions for neurological diseases. Researchers at Brown hope to use the BCI technology to develop a different version of the device that will help them better understand Parkinson’s disease.