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Thousands of people around the world suffer from paralysis rendering them dependent on others to perform even the most basic task But that could be changed through the latest achievements in BRAIN COMPUTER INTERFACE, which could help them regain a portion of the lost independence

What is BCI?
The term BCI refers to the direct interaction of the healthy brain and a computer this doesn't require any motor outputs from the user. People with living, healthy brains can control a computer using only their thoughts Studies have already shown that monkeys can control a computer with electrodes implanted in their brain. Last year, four people, two of them, partly paralyzed wheel-chair users were able to move a computer cursor while wearing a cap with 64 electrodes wired to pick up the brain waves Usually the brain is connected to a external computer system through a chip composed of electrodes. Now, it is possible to implant this chip into the brains motor cortex this allows scientists to record the electrical activity of the neurons firing and use computers to convert the signals into actions by applying signal processing algorithms. Intense efforts and research in this field over the past decade have recently resulted in human BCI implantation, which is the greatest news for all of us especially for those who have been resigned to spend their lives in wheel-chairs

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Matthew Naggle's achievement is a historic one, and is in the same league as conquering Mount Everest or putting a human being on the moon. He is the first paralyzed person to have operated a prosthetic arm using just his mind On July 4 2001, Naggle became paralyzed from the neck downwards after being assaulted by a person wielding a knife. He was confined to his wheel chair and was unable to breathe without a respirator. A former star foot-ball player at high school, Naggle was now left seemingly powerless and immobile. Fortunately, there was a scientist and a new device to help him overcome his disabilities. The scientist was professor John Donoghue, who chaired the dept. of neuron science at BROWN university in rhode island, and the device was Braingate On June 22 and 2004 Donoghue's team implanted a small chip into Naggle's brain. It consisted of nearly 100 hair-width electrodes implemented a millimeter deep into the part of the motor cortex of his brain that controls movement. The implanted sensor picked up the electric signals that Command the limbs of the body to move. In the case of healthy man, these signals would have been forwarded to the special cord. But as Naggle's spinal cord was damaged, the signals were collected and sent through wires and fiber-optic cable to hardware and software that translated them into computer-driven movements. The implanted device enabled Naggle to do things like check his e-mails, turn the TV on/off, draw a crude circle on the screen, play the game pong, and control a prosthetic arm- with just his thoughts. Of course, he needed months of training to perform these tasks but his achievement under lines the staggering potential of BCI technologies.

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Braingate, a neural interface device, is a proprietary brain computer interface that consists of an internal neural signal sensor and external processors that convert neural signals into an output signal under the user's control. He sensor consists of a tiny chip.(smaller than a baby aspirin) with 100 electrode Sensor-each thinner then a hair-that detect brain cell electrical activity. The Braingate technology platform was designed to take advantage of the fact that many patients with motor impairment have an intact brain that can produce movement commands. This allows the Braingate system to create an output signal directly from the brain, bypassing the route through the nerves to the muscles that cannot be used by people suffering from paralysis. The chip is implanted on the surface of the brain in the motar cortex area that controls movement. In the pilot version of the device a cable connects the sensor to an external signal processor in a cart that contains computers. The computers translate brain activity and generate a communication output using custom decoding software. The Braingate system has been specifically designed for clinical use in humans. Currently, five quadriplegic patients are enrolled in a pilot clinical trail, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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---->Many people might wonder how an external device like an artificial arm gets signal from the brain. Well, in a healthy person, the message from the brain first moves down to the spinal cord and from there, to the muscles of the limbs that need to be moved. ---->The brain chip can listen to the electrical impulses produced by the neurons. Placed into the brain itself, the electrode arrays of these chips coming to direct contact with live neurons, and so can sense single neuron impulses. ----> Current methods of direct neuron sensing being tested in humans use arrays of as many as 100 micro-electrodes, recording the electrical activities of up to 96 different neurons or small group’s neurons at a time.

Brain cells can be enticed into forming uniform functioning patterns using a nano-engineering trick. The technique could allow the development of sophisticated biological sensors that use functioning brain cells, the researchers say. This type of

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device would identify a compound - a deadly nerve agent or poison, for example - by measuring its effect on a functioning network of neurons. A team led by Yael Hanein of Tel Aviv University in Israel used 100micrometre-wide bundles of nano tubes to coax rat neurons into forming regular patterns on a sheet of quartz. The neurons cannot stick to the quartz surface but do bind to the nanotube dots, in clusters of about between 20 and 100. Once attached, these neuron bundles are just the right distance from one another to stretch out projections called axons and dendrites to make links with other clusters nearby.

Electrical activity
Axons and dendrites carry electrical signals between neurons. The electrical activity of the neural network can easily be measured because carbon nano tubes conduct electricity and so can function as electrodes. Existing methods for growing networks of neurons cannot produce such neat patterns and clean links between cells. This is because neurons are normally deposited on surfaces that do not prevent them from growing out of ordered clusters onto projections, which makes for a messier network. This is not a problem for Hanein's group. "There is no chance of the cells migrating outside of there," she says.

Uniform networks
The process makes it possible to create more uniform neural networks, Hanein says. In experiments they last longer than other artificial networks, surviving for up to 11 weeks. This could be crucial for building biosensors using the cells, she claims."It is clear they grow very nicely and cleanly," says Leslie Smith, a neural computing researcher at the University of Stirling in the UK.

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Smith says finding ways to connect to individual neurons in similar arrangements would be even more useful. "That's the holy grail," he told New Scientist. "The best labs can only really put an electrode near a neuron of interest. Finding a way to connect directly and non-invasively is much harder."

A specialised microchip that could communicate with thousands of individual brain cells has been developed by European scientists.The device will help researchers examine the workings of interconnected brain cells, and might one day enable them to develop computers that use live neurons for memory.

The computer chip is capable of receiving signals from more than 16,000 mammalian brain cells, and sending messages back to several hundred cells. Previous neuron-computer interfaces have either connected to far fewer individual neurons, or to groups of neurons clumped together. A team from Italy and Germany worked with the mobile chip maker Infineon to squeeze 16,384 transistors and hundreds of capacitors onto an experimental microchip just 1mm squared. When surrounded by neurons the transistors receive signals from the cells, while the capacitors send signals to them. Each transistor on the chip picks up the miniscule change in electric charge prompted when a neuron fires. The change occurs due to the transfer of

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charged sodium ions, which move in and out of the cells through special pores. Conversely, applying a charge to each capacitor alters the movement of sodium ions, causing a neuron to react. The researchers began experimenting with snail brain cells before moving on to rat neurons. "It is harder using mammal neurons, because they are smaller and more complex," Stefano Vassanellia molecular biologist with the University of Padua in Italy told New Scientist. The researchers took a twintrack approach to developing the system, he says: "We improved the chip, and also the biology." The team had to tinker with the neurons themselves to increase the strength of the connection between cells and the chip.

Pore connection
Firstly, the researchers genetically modified the neurons to add more pores. Secondly, they added proteins to the chip that glue neurons together in the brain, and which also attract the sodium pores. Applying this neural glue meant that the extra sodium channels collected around the transistor and capacitor connections. This improved its chance of translating the movement of ions into electrical signals on the chip. Having boosted the electrical connection between the cells and chip, the researchers hope to be able to extend the chips influence further. "It should be possible to make the signals from the chip cause a neuron to alter its membrane and take up a new gene, or something that switches one off," says Vassanelli. "Now the chip has been developed, we plan to use it to try and switch genes on and off." A compound that would turn off a gene, or the DNA for a new one, could be added to the dish containing the wired-up neurons. Using the chip, it would be possible to control exactly which neurons took them up, and which did not. Having this level of control over many thousands of connected neurons would provide new insights and make new applications possible, Vassanelli says. "It would definitely improve our ability to experiment and understand the workings of neurons, and this development could also provide a whole new way to store computer memory, using live neurons," he says.

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For all its potential, Braingate is far from perfect. Reading brain signals is not an easy task as even a simple movement, such as raising a hand, requires electrical signals from many reasons of the brain. Implanted electrodes pickup just a tiny fraction of the signals from neurons that fire. It is difficult for the computer to convert these signals-resulting in the cursor jiggling and making it difficult to select icons on the screen with accuracy. Donoghue and his team hope to smooth things out using software.

Other Braingate shortcomings include:
-->Size: Braingate right now has a bulky look with cables and processors. The device has to be less bulky to make the technology mainstream. Cyberkinetics is developing a prototype of a device that would fit behind the ear of the patient, much like the cochlear implant, and connect via a magnet to the computer equipment, thus eliminating the need to cross the skin. This will lead to a wireless Braingate, giving the patient greater freedom. -->Calibration: In its current form, it is essential to recalibrate the device before each use by the patient. The team is working on automated calibration to allow greater independent to the user. -->Muscle connection: Today a direct connection from the computer to a muscle is not possible. But researchers believe that they will be able to achieve coordinated muscle movement. In theory, electrodes and wires

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could connect muscles to the functioning brain; thus bypassing the damaged spinal cord.

Notable through his efforts are, Donoghue is not the only person involved in this field. The following efforts can be considered as turning point in the history of BCI: -->In 1996, Emory University scientists Philip Kennedy and Roy Bakay received FDA approval to implant two electrodes in the brain of the patients named Johnny Ray, who could then use his thoughts to direct a computer cursor. The implants were pieces of glass shaped like cones into which gold electrical contacts where glued. Of course, this was an important step forward. But the Brown scientists argued that implanting two electrodes is far less effective than implanting an array of 100. With only two electrodes, a patient is limited to perform only simple tasks. In 2000, Miguel Nicolelis of duke university grabbed the attention the world by performing multi-electrode implants that allowed monkeys to grasp with a robotic arm using brain signals the is used to remotely control another robot arm 950kms away in a different lab. Human trails are set to begin in the near future. In 2004, Jonathan Wolpaw and Dennis Mcfarland of the New York state department of health created an EEG skullcap that allows the patients to move the cursor up and down and from side to side thought the use of thought. The cap's biggest advantage was that it 10 Email:

Visit: eliminated the need for an invasive surgical procedure and the risks associated with it. The problem with this device is its low signal-tonoise ratio, which limits its use to controlling a cursor. It is difficult to perform more complex tasks like controlled muscle movement. In 2004, Andrew Schwartz, a scientist in the University of Pittsburgh, inserted a multi-electrode implanted into a monkey's brain. This enabled the monkey to use a robotic arm to feed itself. The catch is that this procedure requires a brain surgery for implant and has not yet been tested on a human subject. Of all these, Donoghue's group is the only one to have formed a company that aims to bring a functional product to the market.

Brain chip's technology has come a long way in the last decade. The primary goal of this technology and devices like Braingate is to help those are who are paralyzed to perform routine activities that are part of normal human existence. It is also a platform for the development of a wide range of other assisting devices. Researchers claim that the brain chip can be used to replace the memory center in patients affected by strokes, epilepsy disease. Normal humans may also be able to utilize brain chip technology to enhance their relationship with the digital world. The recent emergence of quantum computing research could potentially revolutionize the speed, accuracy and efficiency of computer technology. This advancement could also help transmit the electric signals of the brain more accurately and boost brain chip technology. By enhancing the computer components of 'thought in action', information from electrical signals could be targeted more precisely and accurately, resulting in more complete mappings of brain activity predicts a student group at Brown University dedicated for the BCI. However, several critical issues would have to be resolved for this to become a reality.

It's finally seemed that brain chip technology would help the paralyzed persons in all the ways but it need more research in this field to construct total brain chips and use of technology efficiently, but you need to reconstruct everything that’s going in our head.

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