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Device Reads Messages From Surface of the Brain

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the I-want-to-know-what-you're-thinking dept.

Biotech 156

Al writes "Technology Review has a story about a start-up company that has developed a more-accurate and less-invasive way to read a patient's thoughts. Neurolutions, based in St Louis, has developed a small implanted device that translates signals recorded from the surface of the brain into computer commands. The device, which is less invasive than implants and more accurate than scalp electrodes, uses a grid of electrodes placed directly on the surface of the brain to monitor electrical activity. This technology is currently used to find the origin of seizures in patients with uncontrolled epilepsy before surgery. But the company says it could also help paralyzed patients control a computer and perhaps prosthetic limbs using their thoughts. Tests involving more than 20 patients have shown that people can quickly learn to move a cursor on a computer screen using their brain activity."

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Killer App (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203249)

If they get a cursor to follow my eyes i'll wield the scalpel myself!

Re:Killer App (2, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203547)

"Focus-follows-brain" will hopefully be followed by "do what I meant, not what I said" ;)

Re:Killer App (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203649)

"Focus-follows-brain" will hopefully be followed by "do what I meant, not what I said"

or the your mouse pointer crashing through the side of your monitor as you try and catch a glimpse of the new post-doc . . .

Re:Killer App (4, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203621)

If they get a cursor to follow my eyes i'll wield the scalpel myself!

I hope you don't twitch under extreme pain. Could end up in some kind of endlessly recursive feedback loop. Which would hurt. Muchly.

Re:Killer App (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204525)

You know, this makes sense to me. The same way we can control a car by having the brain control the limbs which drive it, it would be possible to develop new pathways that would make the devices attached to the electrode network actually act just like limbs. Only thing need would be some kind of feedback system to instruct the brain that something is ok or not such as if we clicked on pr0n when we shouldn't be.

Looking forward to using an extra 5% of my under-used brain. The only problem is that electrode on the brain thing. Doesn't that require a craniotomy? That seems rather invasive to me.

Re:Killer App (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204247)

Wii remote+Knife+Glue+Eye.
Do it.

Re:Killer App (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204373)

If computers can be controlled by thoughts, why is a cursor needed at all?

Surely it's possible to interact with the controls directly through thought.

Re:Killer App (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204667)

I'm pretty sure people are working on cursors that follow your eyes, but the crazy bastards I heard about were just using cameras pointed at the eyes.

Re:Killer App (1)

realnrh (1298639) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205481)

Is THIS [drmcninja.com] what you want to do with your eyes?

Re:Killer App (2, Informative)

physburn (1095481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205779)

Except your eyes don't sit staring at one spot even when you think your staring at one spot, your eyes continuously flicker around and scan the general direction your looking at in order to build up a image of the world. I think there has already been several machines that read where your looking from the reflection off your eyes, with middling results. In general people just can't hold the stare, even if the machine can average out the microscans of the eyes.

Re:Killer App (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28206127)

I think the real problem would be reading. Just look where your cursor is while you are reading this. I suspect it's not right in front of your eyes, as it would block the text.

Get the message (2, Insightful)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203251)

For a lot of Internet uses it'd just read a one word message.

"Vacant".

Re:Get the message (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205567)

Fucking Slashdot, I can't see the header of any messages in this or several other threads. Some work. What the fuck????

Re:Get the message (2, Informative)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205599)

Fucking Slashdot, all the green-background headers are invisible, due to being white-background for all parts except the initial "curve at top left". Any orange (yro.slashdot.org) or purple (games.slashdot.org) pages show up just fine. This has been happening for over a week, now, on Firefox 3.0.10 on Windows XP. The "workaround" is to highlight the header, so I can see what the text says... Or, Ctrl+A to mark the whole page, and read in inverse. Yay!!!

Re:Get the message (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205731)

Works fine for me and I'm also using Firefox 3.0.10 on XP

Re:Get the message (1)

miruku (642921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205769)

getting this also. happens for some articles, not for others.

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.10) Gecko/2009042316 Firefox/3.0.10

Cool (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203273)

More stories like this please.

Re:Cool (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204089)

Don't worry, this is Slashdot. It'll be reposted once this month, again 5 months from now, and again 3 years from now :)

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204121)

You mean like these?

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/08/07/21/1926251/NIA-Brain-Computer-Interface-Mind-Control-Gaming

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/08/06/27/2343259/OCZs-Brain-Wave-Interface-Headband-Reviewed

BTW, I own one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826100006&Tpk=ocz%20nia

It works.

Re:Cool (4, Informative)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204827)

Offtopic: You know ~ is already in use to elongate words. Or make them sound more musical.
ex. Hi~
Hm~~~~~

The origin is Japanese where a double vowel word like konpyuutaa is written as konpyu~ta~ (written in japanese character of course). Written to drag it out you would write one really long tilde but since the advent of computers generally people use a chain of them together. Also of note that you might be interested in from japanese culture. Japanese people often end sentences with a ;; or even shorter ; to represent a type of sadness or confusion( ;_; is a sad emoticon in japan and ^^;; is confusion (sweat drops)), this is possible since the semicolon doesn't exist in Japanese. As well some people use ^ at the end of a line for happiness (from ^_^). And // for.... ughh or you are an idiot (from -_-//). There are other various sentence endings that take part of the emoticon and attach it to the end to refer to different things. And japan has hundreds of different kaomoji(emoticons) unlike the 10 we might use. And so you don't need to ask, there isn't to my knowledge a line ending for sarcasm. I think it'd defeat the purpose of being sarcastic anyways :P

Re:Cool (1)

DeadMonkey321 (1462227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204903)

Agreed. Except I can't help but feel they conflict themselves when they say "less invasive" and "applied directly to the surface of your brain". Is there any non-invasive way to touch your brain?

Re:Cool (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205031)

Probes on the surface of the brain would be less invasive than probes that have to go into the brain tissue. "Less invasive" could also mean that less skull bone has to be cut/removed in order to carry out the procedure and/or to continue using the device.

Input device (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203281)

When this becomes a standard human input device...I don't want it. How will you explain when your browser suddenly navigates to your favourite porn site.

Explanation is by Associative Reasoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203435)

I do this all the time.

When someone finds my porn stash, I immediatly "investigate" this hack attempt to use my disk space and network bandwidth, only to find my favorite trojan in a hidden directory and an open telnet to port 616. "Looky there, those bastards" I say.

When someone finds a porn sight, I just tell them I was looking for information on Dr. Laura's college years when it hijacked me to these pictures of Mr. Schlessinger posing naked to a friend. Then there's always Renee Zellwegger I could blame for being impotent.

"Hey, these are my anatomy pictures from the CDC: I was looking for disease dispersal documents, not ladies and gents with active noticeable Herpes"

"You shouldn't look into tattling to someone on my studies just because you can't accept these facts with your childish reasoning. If these bother you, then don't interrupt someone else or trying to give false explanations on their use; they're not yours to discuss."

"Those are my Psychology-class cue cards on the humanistic approach to sexual fads; I know their cartoons, but that is to prove the relation of technology as did people dream in Black and White images before there were Color Televisions. My thesis is on compeling the brain to dream in cartoon imagery. Leave my stash of Hash alone and Magic Mushrooms alone, please."

Re:Input device (1)

vaporland (713337) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205315)

That depends on what part of your body you connect it to...

Re:Input device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28205723)

You won't have to explain, your missus will be able to read your thoughts!

Re:Input device (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205915)

When this becomes a standard human input device...I don't want it.

Surely this is a human output device, at this point? Once it becomes a human input device, I think you will want it even less.

Re:Input device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28206077)

When this becomes a standard human input device...I don't want it. How will you explain when your browser suddenly navigates to your favourite porn site.

Especially if it happens every 6 seconds...

I gotta get this question off my mind. Please help (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203283)

I've always wanted to ejaculate on a woman's period in a petri dish, wait 3 days, then install the fertilized egg into a chicken egg to keep it under a lamp for 4 months. Will it grow? Inquiring minds would like to know. Also of note, when I get realy randy I would dig a hole in the ground out beyond a line of trees and drop a couple cumwads and burry it: anyone ever see any of those walking tree men, or dendrites as they call them? I can almost swear that these new saplings have ears, maybe from me, and they can't be trusted to keep secrets (as I swore I wouldn't write any of this on slashdot, yet I did!)!

Other uses can't be far (2, Insightful)

piojo (995934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203315)

We can already let blind people see by connecting cameras to their tongues. If this sort of technique becomes easier/safer, it could be used for any sort of human/machine interface. Prosthetic limbs are only the beginning...

I hope this does not have nasty side effects like increased chances of tumors...

Re:Other uses can't be far (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204885)

"connecting cameras to their tongues" WTF?

Scientist1: We've developed a new technique to send camera data directly to the human brain.
Scientist2: Brilliant! Blind people around the world will be singing songs of your greatness.
Scientist1: Of course there will be some difficulty mounting it to their tongue...
Scientist2: O________o..... I didn't know you were THAT kind of scientist... though I should have been tipped off when I heard you were getting sharks for some new experiment.

Re:Other uses can't be far (3, Informative)

dissy (172727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205339)

"connecting cameras to their tongues" WTF?

The original ScienceNews article from 2001 is now subscriber only:

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/1946/title/The_Seeing_Tongue [sciencenews.org]

But you can read a copy of it at:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_9_160/ai_78681631/ [findarticles.com]

Nothing new, but is it efficient? (3, Interesting)

Co0Ps (1539395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203323)

Non invasive brain interfaces is nothing new. Here's a video of a HL2 mod where you're using your mind to pick up objects and throw them at other players [youtube.com] . The question is if the mind reading is accurate enough to actually control a mouse pointer efficiently or reliably start macros (voice recognition style).

Re:Nothing new, but is it efficient? (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203357)

It's hardly "non-invasive".. they have to open your skull to implant it.

Re:Nothing new, but is it efficient? (1)

Co0Ps (1539395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203377)

Ah.. I read "less invasive" as "non invasive".

Re:Nothing new, but is it efficient? (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203457)

Ya, I think the biggest problem is that the researchers are still in the "look, we can interface!" stage of development.. next comes the "yes, but how good can we make it?" stage, this is the stage that cochlear implants is up to.. until DNI gets to that we'll continue to see "move the cursor" bullshit.

Re:Nothing new, but is it efficient? (2, Funny)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204793)

Don't worry about Lamarr, she's been debeaked and is completely harmless!

Re:Nothing new, but is it efficient? (4, Informative)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203441)

The signals in that video are recorded from the scalp. Basically when you filter the electrical signals from the brain through the skull you lose a lot of spatial resolution. Given that spatial maps are one important way the brain encodes information having the electrodes actually on the surface of the brain makes a huge difference in the amount of information you have access to.

That said, this is not really a new technology, merely a new application of electrocorticography [wikipedia.org] . Non-invasive it is not, since it involves opening up the skull. It's only "less invasive" compared with poking an electrode deep into the brain.

Re:Nothing new, but is it efficient? (0)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203791)

Non-invasive it is not, since it involves opening up the skull.

Whine, whine, whine.

Clearly the real question is, can we combine this brain reading tech with a Reprap v5, to produce monsters from the id? ;)

Re:Nothing new, but is it efficient? (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203837)

"non-invasive" is a very relative term here considering you still have to crack open a patient's skull to get the electrode array in. It is, however, less invasive than the electrodes used for deep brain stimulation that are implanted in the grey matter itself. I wonder how long these arrays last before they succumb to biofouling [wikipedia.org] and scar tissue formation.

How much... (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203399)

How much longer till we can figure out how our brain "codes" things then exploit it for our own benefit? Just think about it, custom-made drugs to make it seem like you are flying, fighting a dragon, more epic than any video game imaginable, all while being perfectly controlled with little to no side effects. Or take a pill and have the entire library of congress memorized. I wonder how much longer this will take.

Re:How much... (2, Informative)

Co0Ps (1539395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203503)

As we have yet to have identified exactly how single neurons work, I doubt that the point where we can begin to reverse engineer the brain will be soon. And when we do I doubt that affecting the brains experiences or information will be done with drugs, as drugs can only target large regions. Maybe by hooking electronics directly onto the nerve system (matrix style)?

Re:How much... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204987)

Do we actually have to identify how the brain works for such uses, however? Note that so far research has been less in trying to interpret signals from the brain, or feeding it immediately recognizable signals. Rather, you're supposed to use the flexibility of your brain to deal with unfamiliar signals. In other words, train the brain to deal with information fed in the format that our existing systems can easily produce.

Re:How much... (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203671)

How much longer till we can figure out how our brain "codes" things then exploit it for our own benefit?

We have already begun to do this. For example, understanding the binocular cues for depth perception have given us 3D movies that provide us with the illusion of depth. Providing input to the the brain directly may eventually be more efficient than presenting sensory information through our sensory apparatus, but probably not for a long time. For providing fictional experiences I think it's still going to be more practical to use the eyes and the ears compared with the auditory and visual cortices for quite a while.

Re:How much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203767)

+1 Looking Forward To

Re:How much... (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203959)

I'm impressed that you came up with a list of applications and NONE of them included any combination of "sex" or "supermodels".

Re:How much... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204071)

Or slip a pill on that hot blond girl's drink and activate her brain implants to think I am a mix of James Bond+Sean Connery+Denzel Washington+Brad Pitt, and that she MUST do anything to copulate with me RIGHT AWAY... Or better than a pill: get some malicious (no pun intended) code through an open bluetooth or WiFi connection port on her brain implant's communication interface and make her get obsessed with me... endless possibilities...

Re:How much... (4, Interesting)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204625)

The way the brain works makes such experiences nearly impossible to encode and certainly impossible with drugs, as another poster pointed out. If we take "drugs" to include "nanomachines targeting the brain and disguised as a pill" then we enter the realm of the merely highly improbable. The machines would have to collectively be smart enough to override signals from and to the body while simultaneously generating the desired experience.

Another possibility would be a single device at the top of the spinal column and networked with lots of processing power, like a wireless Matrix or the Vertebrane system [marshallbrain.com] from Manna. This too requires advanced nanotech to implant, as it must splice every nerve in the spinal column plus the optic and aural nerves, and so is also highly improbable to occur at all, and certainly not for nearly a hundred years unless the Singularity frea--er, folks are right.

Given all that, the experiences you speak of (flying, fighting a dragon) could happen, but doing the "I know kung-fu!" thing is impossible due to the nature of consciousness. If you want to learn something, you're going to have to spend the time to learn it. Reshaping synapse connections and brainwave patterns to implant memories requires godlike knowledge of the individual's brain state and history. Let's not forget that we are messy meat machines (if machines we are) whose sense of self and memory is only infinitesimally less mysterious now as it has always been. Faking an external world and letting the brain experience it, hard as it is, is orders of magnitude simpler than fabricating a past experience, especially an intellectual one such as memorizing the LOC, out of whole cloth.

Sorry I'm such a party pooper =(

Re:How much... (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204635)

Strange Days, dude. I suppose it will be up to the CIA to get the squid to send. Then the technology will leak same as LSD.

Re:How much... (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204771)

Just think about it, custom-made drugs to make it seem like you are flying, fighting a dragon, more epic than any video game imaginable, all while being perfectly controlled with little to no side effects.

There are a lot of drugs out there that don't get a user physically addicted, but the user instead develops a psychological addiction. The high they get is so good that, compared to normal life, they think they can't be happy without it.

We already have clinics up and running for curing internet addiction, and we just have LCDs & CRTs. When we develop total-immersion technology, why would people bother ever returning to their cold, lonely, boring real lives, except when they run out of money to fuel their digital lives?

For an example (yeah, I know it's fictional, but still), look at Cypher from The Matrix. The fake digital world was so much better than the real world, he sold out his crewmates in order to forget the real world even existed.

Re:How much... (1)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204869)

For an example (yeah, I know it's fictional, but still)

But still, it's fictional. Using a fictional character as anecdotal evidence to prove a point is three steps and a light breeze away from crazy. Don't do it.

That said, I agree with you. I think Scott Adams said "the holodeck will be mankind's last invention".

Re:How much... (1)

randyleepublic (1286320) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205245)

Dude, don't you know? We are all playing that game right now. Hello? More epic indeed...

Re:How much... (1)

realnrh (1298639) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205603)

He wants the cheat codes. Remember, in this game you have to unlock them by putting enough points into medical research.

legacy code (1)

benjamin.haley (1085479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205361)

biology is ripe with code/hardware that has been running for billions of years, (eg ribosomes). I imagine that maintaining backwards compatibility will be something of an issue.

ohh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203525)

I WOULD HAVE to say that ALL METHODS OF thought READING are INVASIVE.

Re:ohh (4, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203749)

I WOULD HAVE to say that ALL METHODS OF thought READING are INVASIVE.

I liked the other thing you were going to say much better.

Re:ohh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203929)

No you didn't... you're just saying that!

"More-accurate and less-invasive"? Not so much... (5, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203571)

Technology Review has a story about a start-up company that has developed a more-accurate and less-invasive way to read a patients thoughts.

"More-accurate and less-invasive" is misleading, since the thing that it is "more accurate" than is not the same thing it is "less invasive" than. It is more accurate than the minimally-invasive electrodes-on-the-scalp method, and less-invasive than the more accurate electrodes-implanted-into-the-brain method.

It is, likewise, less accurate than the electrodes-in-the-brain method, and more invasive than the electrodes-on-the-scalp method, so it would be as accurate (and as hyperbolic, in the opposite direction) as TFS to call it a "less-accurate and more-invasive" method as it was to call it a "more-accurate and less-invasive" method (simply switching which existing method it was compared to for accuracy and which it was compared to for invasiveness.)

It would be most accurate (and not at all hyperbolic) to call it a method which is intermediate between two existing methods in terms of both accuracy and invasiveness.

Re:"More-accurate and less-invasive"? Not so much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204067)

Thanks Sheldon!

Re:"More-accurate and less-invasive"? Not so much. (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204185)

I also had trouble parsing this:

a small implanted device that ... is less invasive than implants

Re:"More-accurate and less-invasive"? Not so much. (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204995)

I also had trouble parsing this:

a small implanted device that ... is less invasive than implants

That's because the summary was poor. What they meant was "a small device implanted on the surface of the brain that ... is less invasive than devices implanted deep in the brain".

Re:"More-accurate and less-invasive"? Not so much. (1)

d'baba (1134261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204355)

Dead on! Buy this dragon a beer.

Hyperbole isn't always a bad thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204411)

I think the use of positive hyperbole in TFS is justified in cases like these, where we're discussing an almost-universally good thing.

Nobody's going to use this device in instances where a conventional EEG would be sufficiently accurate (well, I hope), but they might use it if EEG is too inaccurate and but conventional implants would be overkill. What they've done is given neurologists a choice, which is something that's generally accepted as being a good thing (in the absence of other factors).

The equivalent car metaphor for your comment would be calling hybrids more pollutive that solar cars and less powerful than gasoline.

old...again... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203577)

Old. Google up "Brain gate". Hell, even wired.com has had articles on this.

And it is a bit misleading to say that moving a cursor accross a computer screen is the equivanlent to reading someones thoughts.

To Implant or not to implant... (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203601)

Quote:

developed a small implanted device that translates signals recorded from the surface of the brain into computer commands. The device, which is less invasive than implants

How's that again?

I suppose I could break down read TFA.....

Re:To Implant or not to implant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203683)

I was about to say this exact thing. An implant that's less invasive than implants! Fabulous! What will they think of next?

Re:To Implant or not to implant... (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203955)

Are they saying that electrodes implanted in your brain are less invasive then silicone implanted in your chest? What about a game controller integrated into breast implants -- man, you'd never be able to get me off of Mario Kart if I had some of those to play with!

who writes, verifies, and tests the code for this? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203635)

The potential abuses of this sort of device are many.

* Policeman A to Policeman B: "Check this out! Just as fun as a Tazer, but no physical contact required!" (Points government-issued remote control at random passerby and presses button)

* Prosecutor in courtroom to policeman on the witness stand: "And what was it about Mr. Jones which caused you to arrest him?" Policeman: "My government-issued Thought Interceptor Display showed me that he was *thinking* about robbing a bank. And, he also thought about the Pope, the damn, stinking Catholic -- everybody knows what *they* are like!"

* Supervisor at work, viewing a screen while speaking to his/her subordinate: "So, Bill, what do you *really* think of my new policies?"

* NSA/DIA/FBI/TLA agent to terrified detainee: "Mr. Jones, you were the only one who had access to those classified documents whose movements are unaccounted for. The contents of those documents are now in the hands of the . Who have you been talking to?"

Detainee: "Nobody... no-one.... I didn't do anything, I didn't... oh, my God! My neural interface unit must have been scanned!"

Agent: "A likely story. Take him away!"

* Smiling man with a laptop stands near the polls. A voter comes out and is given a media exit interview, and says (twitching), "Yes... Candidate-Johnson-is-the-best-candidate. I-love-candidate-Johnson. Johnson-has-the-welfare-of-the-people-in-mind-at-all-times."

* Doctor to patient who is physically restrained, but continues to writhe madly: "Mr. Smith, I can't find any biological reason for these spasm. Have you installed the latest code patch flash into your Model 43 Neural Interface Unit?"

Yeah, it's mostly tin-foil-hat tallk, but still possible.

Actually, I think the last scenario is the most likely. Who would you trust to write and verify correct code for a device which interfaced directly to your brain?

Old News (1)

schrodingers_rabbit (1565471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203693)

Technology the already exists, and has for a relatively long time, can be used to let some paralyzed patients communicate through computers. The subject of one study by Brown University and Massachussets General Hospital in 2006, Matthew Nagle, preformed all the functions listed in the article. I'm waiting for the mind-control implants
... for the world is hollow and...brZAP...I...ZAP....give up....

does this have any interrogation use? (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203883)

does this have any interrogation use?

Re:does this have any interrogation use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204181)

does this have any interrogation use?

Doubtless.

Don't worry about it. By the end of the year healthcare reform will be in place and the VC for this work will vanish. Even "less invasive" brain surgery is and will remain very expensive The rationing necessary to fix the only remaining nominally free market healthcare system on Earth will obviate most forms of brain surgery (for most people.)

Stem cell research will have the same fate, ironically.

Re:does this have any interrogation use? (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204357)

Damn You,

Now my Cheney Corp Stock is worthless. The CEO was all over the national news promoting it before the IPO. I was banking on the big future demand for waterboarding and electroshock I haven't had such bad news since they asked for my AIG bonuses back. Well I still got my futures in Mustard Gas and shares in Blackwater.

Groundbreaking news! (5, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203915)

Neurolutions, based in St Louis has developed a small implanted device that translates signals recorded from the surface of the brain into computer commands. The device, which is less invasive than implants and more accurate that scalp electrodes, uses a grid of electrodes placed directly on the surface of the brain to monitor electrical activity

Awesome! They developed an implant which is less invasive than implants!

Next up, a duck that quacks louder than a duck!

Re:Groundbreaking news! (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204113)

Thankfully I'm not the only person to have noticed that... I was beginning to lose faith in humanity, scrolling through the comments and not seeing anything about an implant less invasive than an implant...

Caps (1)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203933)

This makes me think of the capped people in the Tripods trilogy.

In the books, aliens had taken over earth and used these caps that melded a mesh into the head that would render people docile and subservient so they could be used as slaves.

Re:Caps (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205473)

these caps that melded a mesh into the head that would render people docile and subservient so they could be used as slaves.

So the aliens invented government entitlement programs?

since it's an implant, it should stimulate as well (1)

karl3 (1521571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203997)

i'm getting this as soon as they add drug simulation functionality.

Re:since it's an implant, it should stimulate as w (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204759)

And you would get just as addicted as you would with real drugs. It might not have the ongoing costs that drugs can have but it'd create all sorts of problems - potentially.

Is this really a good idea? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204007)

What in all your reading of The Terminal Man [wikipedia.org] , has ever given you the slightest impression that this device is a good idea?

Ok Unrelated but (1, Offtopic)

thammoud (193905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204059)

Am I the only one see truncated green border around the posts? I see this on my MAC and Linux machines. It started happening about a week ago.

Re:Ok Unrelated but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204097)

I'm getting that, as well as the green bar with each user's post title becoming invisible, so I have to highlight the text to make it readable. It's kind of obnoxious.

Re:Ok Unrelated but (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204227)

Getting it here on XP + Firefox. Yeah, about a week.

Re:Ok Unrelated but (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204313)

No, but using FF 3 on Linux, there is no background for the titles.

Makes it damned hard to see what the post is about without highlighting the header with a click-drag with the mouse.

(sigh)

Wouldn't it be nice if Slashdot editors used the O/S that they promote?

Re:Ok Unrelated but (1)

jlf278 (1022347) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204505)

Yeah, I have the same issue at work with XP and explorer. I have to highlight the green banner area to see what the text is. Fine on my windows xp at home with every major web app.

Re:Ok Unrelated but (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205037)

I see this on my MAC

you read slashdot on your lipstick [wikipedia.org] ? what's it run, netbsd?

Re:Ok Unrelated but (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205393)

Every looks fine to me... Looks like they stylishly rounded just one corner of the box.

Title headers are perfect.

I'm running Debian Lenny with Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.0.9) Gecko/2009050519 Iceweasel/3.0.9 (Debian-3.0.9-1) and it looks exactly the same in Konqueror in KDE 4.2

Perhaps you are the victim of yet more dodgy Ubuntu packaging?

how is this less invasive? (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204129)

The device, which is less invasive than implants and more accurate that scalp electrodes, uses a grid of electrodes placed directly on the surface of the brain to monitor electrical activity.

How is having to put an entire grid of electrodes on the surface of the brain less invasive than an implant?

"Less Invasive"? (4, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204217)

Laying an electrocorticogram array (that's what they're using -- it's not new) on the surface of the brain requires removing a section of the scalp, skull and dura mater. There's nothing about it that's not invasive as well as dangerous. Single cortical or deep electrodes can be put in through very small drilled holes. The former requires a full neurosurgical suite/team. The latter can be done in a clinic visit if localization isn't critical, or else in a CT or MR scanner with no more invasive electrode technology than the clinic version. The draw back to implanted electrodes is that inserting them into proximity of the neurons of interest can cause them to die off immediately, and will cause them to die off eventually.

Both are unnecessary for the application. In 1994 a researcher working at Radford University with Karl Pribram developed an EEG analysis program that could recognize various shapes, sizes and colors (various combinations thereof) of objects both seen and only internally visualized, with a 95% accuracy. Such accuracy among the many permutations of possible signals could very easily translate into control signals sent to another device. Fully designed but not built around this technology was such a control device intended to run an 8 stepper motor robotic arm using a standard parallel printer port. Since it rests on the scalp, an EEG electrode such as we used here is not invasive in the least. Well, the sticky glue electrode paste necessary to keep the electrode on and conducting for several hours tend to pull out hair, but that's annoying and slightly painful, but not invasive.

The surface of the brain is pretty damned invasive (1)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204299)

I mean, really.

Re:The surface of the brain is pretty damned invas (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204493)

There's nothing wrong with this. Just ask the Borg.

Confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204307)

Don't let your mind wander during setup, or you'll end up having to think of your grandmother riding a unicycle in order to shut down your computer.

I tried this once (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204361)

I tried this device one time. The only message it could read from the surface of my brain was "Squiggle"

Damn self-repair mechanisms (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204363)

As I understand it, the main problem with implants that receive signals is that a layer of defensive glial cells forms around electrodes left in the brain. These cells act as electrical insulators and decrease the strength of the signal that can be picked up. How does this grid system mitigate this problem?

You'd think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204707)

that with the state the American economy is in, we could afford a native English speaker to write these summaries.

Neurolutions, based in St Louis has developed a small implanted device that translates signals recorded from the surface of the brain into computer commands. The device, which is less invasive than implants ...

Real question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204975)

Will it work with my Atari 2600? I have a lot of mindlink games I want to play!

Well, you know what I think about that (0)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205407)


.

We ain't there yet! (1)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205593)

Seriously, folks. When are you ever going to learn. Seems like every week I read one of these stories about computers reading thoughts...

There's a major misconception about what these technologies do. It **IS** thought control, but that isn't the same thing as reading thoughts. No one is amazed if I move a cursor by pushing my finger against a joystick. These new brain interfaces are just a new kind of joystick with a different physical interface technology. Similar interface technologies have been demonstrated with galvanic skin response, but no one would argue that we're reading your thoughts through wires attached to your fingers...

This isn't to say the technologies aren't cool and advanced. They can allow hands-free control for situations where an operator needs both hands or where an individual may not have use of their hands due to various handicaps. However, these technologies can in no way read thoughts for one very simple reason. Before we can build a technology to read thoughts, we first have to understand how thoughts are represented, organized, and integrated into conscious 'streams' in the brain. We ain't there yet!

Conspiracy theory... (1)

h4rdc0d3 (724980) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205775)

We Slashdot readers better be careful. If they ever decide to embed this technology into tin foil, we're all in trouble.

Finally... (1)

defireman (1365467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28206083)

i'm going to become rich and famous after i invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet A means to accomplish a device to stab people over the internet.
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