BRAIN COMPUTER INTERFACE: TRANSFORMING MENTAL HANDWRITING TO TEXT ON SCREEN
Next-Gen Brain Interface Computer Changes the Writing Mechanism
Brain-computer interfaces monitor brain activity, extract information from it, and transform those data into outputs that replace, repair, augment, supplement, or improve human activities.
BCIs may be used to replace lost functions such as speech and movement. They may regain control of the body by activating neurons or muscles that move the hand, for example. BCIs have also been used to improve capabilities, such as training individuals to increase the functionality of impaired gripping pathways. BCIs can also improve function, such as alerting a drowsy driver to get out of the car. Finally, a BCI may be used to complement the body’s normal outputs, such as a third hand.
BCIs employ a variety of ways to monitor brain activity. Electrical signals are monitored using electrodes implanted invasively within or on the surface of the cortex, or noninvasively on the surface of the head, in the majority of BCIs. Some BCIs are based on non-invasive metabolic activity measurements, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Mental Handwriting to Text on Screen
Scientists are looking at a variety of methods enabling people with impairments to communicate with their minds. The newest and quickest reverts to a time-honored method of self-expression: handwriting.
Researchers have identified the brain activity involved with trying to create letters by hand for the first time. The researchers utilized an algorithm to recognize letters as he tried to write them while working with a paralyzed volunteer who had sensors implanted in his brain. The text was then shown on a screen in real-time by the system.
According to study co-author Krishna Shenoy, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Stanford University who co-supervised the work with Jaimie Henderson, a Stanford neurosurgeon, the technology could allow people with paralysis to type quickly without using their fingers with further development.
According to Shenoy and his colleagues, the research participant wrote 90 characters per minute while trying handwriting, which is more than quadruple the previous benchmark for typing with such a “brain-computer interface.”
According to Jose Carmena, a brain engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research, this technique and others like it have the potential to benefit people with a wide range of impairments. “It’s a significant advancement in the field,” he adds, despite the preliminary findings.
According to Carmena, brain-computer connections turn thinking into action. “This document is a wonderful example: the interface decodes the written concept and generates the action.”
Communication That is Fuelled by Thought
When a person’s capacity to move is taken away due to an accident or sickness, the brain’s neuronal activity for walking, getting a cup of coffee or uttering a phrase remains. Researchers can use this exercise to aid patients who have lost abilities due to paralysis or amputation.
The need varies depending on the type of impairment. Some persons who have injured their hands can still use a PC with speech recognition software and other programs. Other techniques to assist people to communicate have been developed by scientists for persons who have trouble speaking.
Shenoy’s team has spent the last several years decoding the brain activity involved with a speech with the aim of replicating it. They’ve also created a method for individuals with implanted sensors to move a pointer on a screen by using their thoughts linked with attempted arm motions. People could type around 40 characters per minute by pointing at and pressing on letters in this fashion, breaking the previous speed record for writing with a brain-computer interface (BCI).
No one, on the other hand, had glanced at the handwriting. Frank Willett, a neuroscientist in Shenoy’s lab, wondered if the brain impulses elicited by placing pen to paper might be harnessed. “We want to discover new ways for individuals to communicate more quickly,” he says. He was also enticed by the prospect of trying something new.
The researchers worked with a participant in the BrainGate2 clinical study, which is evaluating the safety of BCIs that transmit data directly from the brain to a computer. (Leigh Hochberg, a neurosurgeon, and neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brown University, and the Providence VA Medical Centre, is the trial’s director.) Henderson inserted two small sensors into the region of the brain that regulates the hand and arm, allowing the individual to operate a robotic arm or a cursor on a computer screen by moving their own paralyzed arm.
The subject, who was 65 years old at the time of the study, was paralyzed from the neck down due to a spinal cord injury. A machine learning system detected the patterns his brain created with each letter using data picked up by the sensors from sensory cells as the guy envisioned writing. The guy could replicate phrases and answer questions at a rate comparable to someone his age writing on a smartphone using this technique.
According to Willett, this so-called “Brain-to-Text” BCI is so quick because each letter evokes a different activity pattern, making it incredibly straightforward for the algorithm to identify one from another.
A New System has Been Implemented
Shenoy’s team plans to employ attempted handwriting for text input as part of a larger system that incorporates point-and-click navigation similar to that seen on today’s smartphones, as well as attempted voice decoding. He explains, “Having those two or three modes and flipping between them is what we do naturally.”
The team will then work with a person who is unable to talk, such as somebody with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative brain condition that causes loss of mobility and voice, according to Shenoy.
Henderson says that the new method might benefit those who are paralyzed due to a variety of illnesses. Among them is Jean-Dominique Bauby, the writer of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, who suffered from a brain stem stroke. Henderson writes, “He was able to create this emotional and beautiful novel by meticulously picking characters one at a time, utilizing eye movement.” “Try imagining what he’d have done with Frank’s writing interface!” exclaims the narrator.
In patients with chronic paralysis or in the LIS, BCI has proven to be effective for communication. BCI enables users to convey their purpose directly without the need for a motor periphery. Because of the introduction of non-visual BCI, patients who have lost control of their eye movement effect on disease progression or damage can now benefit from this technology. Normative studies are needed to establish the predictive usefulness of ERP or mental imagery categorization for BCI usage before the suggested hierarchical methodology to cognitive processing may be used for DOC patients.