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A Better Thought-Controlled Computer Cursor

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the you-know-what-you-want-to-do dept.

Biotech 34

An anonymous reader writes "Stanford researchers have developed a new algorithm (Abstract only) that significantly improves the control and performance of neural prosthetics — brain-controlled computer interfaces for individuals suffering from spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative disease to aid interaction with computers, drive electronic wheelchairs, and control robotic arms and legs. With this algorithm, monkeys implanted with multielectrode arrays in motor regions of their brain controlled a computer cursor more quickly and accurately than ever before, including navigation around obstacles. Further, the system maintained this high performance across 4 years, demonstrating long-term reliability. These improvements in performance and robustness are crucial for clinically-useful neural prosthetics, and pave the way for success in clinical trails."

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34 comments

I HAVE SEEN THE PERCURSOR !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42025511)

And it has shown me that there is a better way !!

So now (0)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025553)

If the monkey thinks in circles, then the cursor moves in circles, rounds obstacles, and goes fast.

Terrific!

Does he have a db25 plug on his head?

Re:So now (2)

commlinx (1068272) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025591)

Does he have a db25 plug on his head?

It's probably wireless and I'm also guessing the test device was probably a Blue monkey [wikipedia.org] over Bluetooth.

Re:So now (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42031665)

Does he have a db25 plug on his head?

It's probably wireless and I'm also guessing the test device was probably a Blue monkey [wikipedia.org] over Bluetooth.

Good idea. It was probably the cats with wires to their heads that inspired PETA.

Yes! (-1, Troll)

Psychotria (953670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025583)

Using this algorithm, we demonstrate repeatable high performance for years after implantation in two monkeys, thereby increasing the clinical viability of neural prostheses

Two monkeys! Read that again. Slowly. Sound it out. T W O. Tee Double You Oh. Ok, that doesn't make sense. Just read it as two monkeys. Or, is that two monkey. But in case you missed it 2 monkeys have been implanted and this increases the viability. Such a sample size is incredible, really. This is shattering. Just think what a million monkeys could do! Probably write some arbitrary text... such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. Just the thought is humbling.

Re:Yes! (0)

Psychotria (953670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025613)

Using this algorithm, we demonstrate repeatable high performance for years after implantation in two monkeys, thereby increasing the clinical viability of neural prostheses

Two monkeys! Read that again. Slowly. Sound it out. T W O. Tee Double You Oh. Ok, that doesn't make sense. Just read it as two monkeys. Or, is that two monkey. But in case you missed it 2 monkeys have been implanted and this increases the viability. Such a sample size is incredible, really. This is shattering. Just think what a million monkeys could do! Probably write some arbitrary text... such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. Just the thought is humbling.

Before some idiot monkey savant comes along and says that would require infinite time, just remember that the researchers implanted stuff into the monkeys, thus reducing the time required. Additionally, the researchers demonstrators demonstrated their expectationally high performance when it comes to implanting stuff into the monkeys. They did it for years before their willies fell off. Dedication. That's what's missing from most of the youth of today: dedication. I commend these researchers. Not only did they keep repeating the impregnation procedure, but they did it for years!

Re:Yes! (0, Offtopic)

Psychotria (953670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025665)

Using this algorithm, we demonstrate repeatable high performance for years after implantation in two monkeys, thereby increasing the clinical viability of neural prostheses

Two monkeys! Read that again. Slowly. Sound it out. T W O. Tee Double You Oh. Ok, that doesn't make sense. Just read it as two monkeys. Or, is that two monkey. But in case you missed it 2 monkeys have been implanted and this increases the viability. Such a sample size is incredible, really. This is shattering. Just think what a million monkeys could do! Probably write some arbitrary text... such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. Just the thought is humbling.

Before some idiot monkey savant comes along and says that would require infinite time, just remember that the researchers implanted stuff into the monkeys, thus reducing the time required. Additionally, the researchers demonstrators demonstrated their expectationally high performance when it comes to implanting stuff into the monkeys. They did it for years before their willies fell off. Dedication. That's what's missing from most of the youth of today: dedication. I commend these researchers. Not only did they keep repeating the impregnation procedure, but they did it for years!

Shit. I am logged in. Ok, which monkey has the cookie? C'mon. Own up... I will free willie if you do. Willie for cookie. Please?

Re:Yes! (3, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025627)

two monkeys over 4 years.

Yea I want a larger testing samples and longer time frame for my brain implants.

I do not want to have to upgrade my implant every 20 years let alone 5

Re:Yes! (2)

Tagged_84 (1144281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025737)

Consider just how far we've come since 1992, by 2034 we'd be edging very close to nanobot level technology and our understanding of neuroscience can't be overstated enough judging by the last decade of progress. With this kind of early cross over between tech and medicine it's unavoidable to think you could do without a single upgrade.

The only nueroprosthetics that comes to mind where this might not be the case are cochlear implants.

Re:Yes! (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026099)

We haven't actually come very far.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain%E2%80%93computer_interface#Prominent_research_successes [wikipedia.org]

If it takes 10-20 years to get this improvement it's not what I call rapid progress.

In 1947 Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. 1953 first supersonic fighters (USSR and USA). In 1961 Yuri Gagarin orbited the planet. In 1969 the USA landed people on the moon AND got them back safely. In 1969 we got Concorde and the 747 jumbo jet. That's rapid progress.

With the current rate of BCI progress most of us will be either dead or too old by the time practical and safe ones hit the market.

FWIW we don't seem to be making that much progress on the aerospace front either - where are those prototype space stations with artificial gravity?

Maybe all the geniuses in the current generations are busy making iphone apps or legally swindling people in finance.

Re:Yes! (2)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026717)

We haven't actually come very far. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain%E2%80%93computer_interface#Prominent_research_successes [wikipedia.org]

If it takes 10-20 years to get this improvement it's not what I call rapid progress.

In 1947 Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. 1953 first supersonic fighters (USSR and USA). In 1961 Yuri Gagarin orbited the planet. In 1969 the USA landed people on the moon AND got them back safely. In 1969 we got Concorde and the 747 jumbo jet. That's rapid progress.

And to continue your analogy, that rapid progress in transportation technology is what allowed us to fulfill everyone's dream of flying cars and Moon vacations by the year 2000. Right?

It's also what made space transportation so very "practical and safe", as exemplified by Challenger and Columbia.

Some technologies progress by slow, incremental refinement. Some progress by leaps and bounds. Some progress by one-off stunts, done once (or a few times) and then not repeated for decades.

I don't pretend to understand all the factors that determine these paths. But I'm pretty sure that our heedless, exponential advances in computation (and "iPhone apps") have a lot to do with the fiery explosions and mass casualties we don't get when a new game turns out to have a flaw. You can push harder when the risk is lower.

For medical technology, lives are very much at risk, and so we take the slow, carefully-policed path. It's frustrating for those of us who await the final product, but how many people are you willing to maim or kill in order to speed things up?

Re:Yes! (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42029087)

From the 1980s (space shuttle etc) onwards there wasn't much of progress in aerospace. Much of it was basically reruns with some newer tech. Billions were spent on the space shuttle[1] and ISS.

As I already said:

FWIW we don't seem to be making that much progress on the aerospace front either - where are those prototype space stations with artificial gravity?

You may also notice that modern passenger jets generally are flying slower than the old passenger jets. But a lot more efficiently of course (there still is some progress).

[1] The space shuttle did have a feature that cheaper launch tech didn't have - it could bring big stuff back down intact from orbit. But was it worth the cost?

Re:Yes! (2)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42029203)

It's also what made space transportation so very "practical and safe", as exemplified by Challenger and Columbia.

On the other hand - if you look at fatalities per mile traveled - space travel is the safest mode of travel there is.

What? Airlines use that math all the time, so it *must* be valid!

Re:Yes! (1)

Tagged_84 (1144281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027455)

That's only BCI, I did state neuroscience progress. You really can't concentrate on such a specific field to come up with possible trends in the overall field. It'll be like concentrating on the airplane engine in your examples rather than the field of aeronautics.

Maybe it's because I've been researching this daily for the past few months (must get a job....), but if you look beyond wikipedia and at the release of studies related to neuroscience it's actually scary to me how fast we're progressing. It's mostly thanks to computing too with even the simulations of neural networks helping to reveal new details on the structure and function of our brains.

Re:Yes! (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42029183)

With this kind of early cross over between tech and medicine it's unavoidable to think you could do without a single upgrade.

PLUS carriers will be offering upgrades at a discount with a 2 year neuromuscular connectivity contract!

Re:Yes! (4, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025777)

two monkeys over 4 years.

Yea I want a larger testing samples and longer time frame for my brain implants.

I do not want to have to upgrade my implant every 20 years let alone 5

There is a problem with this. You don't want to wait 20 years if the technology is available now and you really need it (as in quadriplegic). So you will have to settle with two or three years in animal tests and with tissue samples showing no measurable damage to the brain tissue.

Worst of cases, if you are quadriplegic and using this technology, probably the independence gained with it would be worth one operation every five years.

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026185)

Well worse case, a bunch of quadriplegics die.
At least this is not general population device, so only a small amount of people will be using it. And they do not have very long live expectancies anyways.

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027639)

The brain treats these implants as foreign bodies. The Microglia, which are like the macrophages of the brain tend to cluster around these devices and act as tiny capacitors and dampen the signal. It's really hard to make them work for longer than about 6 months, let alone 5 years!

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42036979)

Then we need something to break up the glial tissue.

10 ccs of Neuropozyne, STAT

Re:Yes! (1)

Psychotria (953670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025883)

I am honoured that I have been moderated as a troll, but this isn't really a troll. Troll comments are much more subtle. I guess nearly everyone has forgotten what an internet troll really is, so it's no surprise really.

Emacs cursor control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42025785)

Emacs cursor control
Actually we are stoping using mice and starting to use gestures instead
Not sure if gestures are good for cursor control

I thought you were talking about ... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025835)

When you said thought controlled computer I thought you were talking about Nate Silver's brain. But who knows which part thinks and which part is the computer?. Just the cursor. meh!

Nate Silver jokes:

Schrodinger's cat experiment is over. Nate Silver can tell if the cat is alive or dead without taking a look.

When Nate Silver's code throws an exception, he catches it before the debugger does.

Nate Silver's compiler does not show him error messages. It files an RFD to change the C++ standards to comply with his way of writing code.

Re:I thought you were talking about ... (0)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025843)

The famous Einstein quote, "God does not play dice" is incompletely reported. The full quote is: "God does not play dice with Nate Silver".

late 80's, early 90's (2)

james_van (2241758) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025861)

i swear i read an article in discover magazine (i know, a magazine, it was that long ago) about some researcher that had hooked up electrodes to a patient and taught them how to control a mouse cursor, and later and electric wheelchair with their mind. it became and autonomic function, just like moving your arm (i hate the term "thought controlled", you dont really "think" about moving, its subconscious function) and it was done using a basic EEG(?). am i imagining this, or does anyone else remember this as well? its quite possible that this is a completely incorrect memory thought, i was a kid at the time and i read a lot of sci-fi, so its very possible my memories of real-sci have mixed with my memories of sci-fi

Re:late 80's, early 90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026845)

EEG BCI is indeed an

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain%E2%80%93computer_interface#EEG

Re:late 80's, early 90's (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027011)

Yes, they've been doing this for a long time now. Only since then they've been trying to improve its responsiveness and accuracy.

Yay (2)

Lord Grey (463613) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025875)

Stephen Hawking is probably jumping up and down for joy now.

Errr, wait....

Re:Yay (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year and a half ago | (#42034241)

Stephen Hawking is probably jumping up and down for joy now.

Errr, wait....

According to the article, he's just not thinking hard enough.

Shenoy Lab at Stanford. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42025995)

Disney movies are shown to the monkeys so they don't get depressed. Unless things have changed over the past few years, the data sets are awful and the code is a mess; take these results with a grain of salt.

They may call it a cursor... (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025999)

They may call it a cursor but this is evil bioengineering where they turn monkeys into mice!

Cursors are only the beginning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42039111)

Just wait till the little buggers learn cryokinesis. They'll make a mess of your spaceship.

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