Updated: Jan 11
Brain-Computer Interference is an important component of the development of new neurotechnologies. The research that began BCI technologies started in the 1970s in California. However, it has had a larger impact in the 21st century, when technological inventions have increased exponentially.
Through this article, one will learn about the research been done on BCI technology and the impact it has had on neurobiology and neurological disorders.
BCI technology has been around for the last 50 years and a lot of gradual improvement has been made over time. The field of neurology has shifted from a simple machine that would detect brain activity, similar to an electroencephalogram, to making brain-computer communication a reality.
In the late 1970s, researchers and scientists began to investigate the possibility for the brain to communicate with a computer. At the time, there were too many research gaps and technological limitations for large advancements to be made. However, they were able to develop a sensitive EEG machine that would detect brain activity accurately and faster. Over time, changes were made to this technology and it went from a simple mechanism to detailed and sophisticated brain-computer-led applications. This shift occurred within 20 years of the development of BCI.
Within the last two decades, BCI research has been centered around its applicability to patients with LIS, locked-in syndrome. These patients are unable to move and articulate their faces, therefore they have a loss of verbal communication with those around them. However, the applicability of BCI technology allows these patients to communicate what they think and what they want to say. This shift has allowed the improvement of many lives. Starting in 2010, after a lot of research, BCI moved to at-home use. LIS patients could now consistently communicate with others. Therefore, though it's original goal wasn't medical, once the 21st century approached, BCI was able to be applied into the medical field.
At the same time, BCI has also had non-medical applications in the technological and gaming industry. The use of the brain to play a stimulation has also created a lot of training capabilities for people. Though not as impacting, BCI has a multi-field influence.
Current Research on BCI
BCI will continue to advance and adapt to the technological improvements of the time. Current research presents the goal of creating neurograins that will receive electrical signals and will transmit information wirelessly. These BCI advancements will connect the brain to a computer without the need for any "keyboards" or a "control mouse." With these advancements, BCI will take an entirely different perspective and wires will no longer be in use. Brown University, as of 2021, is leading a vast amount of research towards BCI and EEG advancements to help the neurological and computer science fields.
Impact on Neurobiological Advancements
BCI has had a large impact since its early days. Advancements over time have allowed the implementation of BCI as more than just a simple scan or communicator machine.
Brain-Computer Interference has mainly left an impact on paralyzed and tetraplegic patients. This technology can be used on patients who have severe muscle degradation, including Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. However, the largest influence has been made on patients with Locked-In Disorder. Through BCI, they have been able to recover their ability to communicate their thoughts with those around them.
BCI has helped understand LID patients by comprehending the emotional and psychological impact a patient suffers from having such a communication-less disorder. Therefore, with BCI, patients have not only recovered communication, but also been able to bounce back from major depressive episodes, and negative emotions caused by the inability to communicate with others.
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Works Cited: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2010.00198/full#h5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6396873/ https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12152-019-09409-4 https://hal.inria.fr/hal- 01656743/document#:~:text=Then%2C%20in%201973%2C%20a%20seminal,Interface%E2%80%9D%20(Vidal%201973). https://spectrum.ieee.org/braincomputer-interface-smashes-previous-record-for-typing-speed https://www.brown.edu/news/2021-08-12/neurograins https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843196/ Image Credits: https://spectrum.ieee.org/braincomputer-interface-smashes-previous-record-for-typing-speed
About the Author
Raquel Paz Bergia
Leader of The Hope Project & International Growth Ambassador (Madrid, Spain)
Raquel Paz Bergia is a writer from Spain who developed an interest in Neurology at an early age. Over the last few years, she has surrounded her studies around Cognitive Biomedical Engineering. She has a passion for learning and researching degenerative diseases and their impact on the community.