STROUD, England Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems Inc. has reported the latest findings with respect to its BrainGate neural interface system in two poster presentations at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C.
The BrianGate is an implantable microelectrode array that combined with a digital signal processing system has allowed individuals to exercise control over electronic systems through the power of thought. The company has demonstrated the use of BrainGate to allow an individual to control a television simply by thinking.
The recent poster presentations include detailed discussions of the scientific, mathematical and practical observations related to the first of two participants, each with quadriplegia, using their own thoughts and the BrainGate System to control a computer in an ongoing pilot study of the system.
The BrainGate sensor is a silicon chip with one hundred electrodes designed to detect the electrical activity of neurons. The sensor is implanted on the surface of the area of the brain responsible for movement, the motor cortex. A small wire connects the sensor to a “pedestal” connector that is attached to the skull. An external cable connects the pedestal to a cart containing computers, signal processors and monitors.
“We are extremely excited to report that preliminary observations in our second participant confirm that the BrainGate System can detect neural activity in the motor cortex and that this activity can be modulated by a person with a spinal cord injury,” said John Donoghue, founder and chief scientific officer of Cyberkinetics (Foxborough, Mass.) and chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at Brown University, in a statement. “Both participants have been able to use the BrainGate System to control a computer interface. These findings support the continued development of the BrainGate System toward our ultimate goal of creating a safe, useful, thought-controllable operating system for people with disabilities to control a wide range of devices and, hopefully at some point, the person's own limbs.”
The poster entitled, “BrainGate Neuromotor Prosthesis: Nature and Use of Neural Control Signals,” included detailed analysis of neural signals from the first participant in the BrainGate pilot clinical trial. The results presented included the finding that many neural (brain) signals, including signal patterns related to shoulder, arm, wrist and hand movement, can be detected, transmitted, and analyzed by the BrainGate System. The participant demonstrated the ability to control these signals and results indicated that the use of certain techniques can improve the level of control. Finally, the poster showed that a specific type of signal called a Local Field Potential appears to contain important information about intended movement including the ability to predict the participant's “intention” to move moments before movement begins, the company said.
The poster covered a second participant in the BrainGate pilot trial for whom neural activity was detected in the motor cortex approximately six months after implantation. This activity could be controlled by the second participant and used to control a computer interface, the company said.
The poster entitled “Advances Towards a Practical Brain Interface for Paralyzed Humans: BrainGate” includes data related to the development of software to automate the operation of the BrainGate System.
Cyberkinetics has been included on two iterations of the EE Times Silicon 60 list of emerging companies.