Researchers have recorded the brain signals responsible for movement outside the brain and used them to reconstruct hand movement in three dimensions. Writing in The Journal of Neuroscience, a team of researchers describe how they used non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) sensors on the scalp to record the brain signals involved as volunteers moved their hands to press buttons. After decoding the information involved in the button-pressing, the researchers were able to identify which signals were connected to which types of movements. The researchers say that in the lab, experimenters wearing an EEG sensor cap are now being trained to move a cursor on a computer screen via thought alone.
Several previous studies into neural interfaces have required implanted sensors, making the non-invasive nature of this work especially appealing. "Our results showed that electrical brain activity acquired from the scalp surface carries enough information to reconstruct continuous, unconstrained hand movements," said José Contreras-Vidal, one of the authors of the paper. We'll talk with him about the project.
Produced by Flora Lichtman, Correspondent and Managing Editor, Video