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Harnessing The Brain Power

The military is also interested in this type of technology that can be used to optimize the performance of the army by way of monitoring the brain activity of the soldiers in the field to find out when the soldiers were in peak performance.

By using technology that leverages the power of the brain, a patient who suffered paralysis one day be able to “think” his legs to move.

Researchers at the Computational Neuroscience University of California has developed a technology for the first time allow doctors and scientists to isolate and non-invasive measure of brain electrical activity in people who are moving.

This technology is a key component of a type of brain computer interface that will allow robotic exoskeleton controlled by the mind of the patient to move the patient’s limb, said Daniel Ferris is a professor in the School of Kinesiology University of Michigan and author of a paper describing the research.

“Of course it will not happen immediately, but one step towards a situation where it may be done is the ability to record brain waves when a person is moving,” said Joe Gwin who is first author of the paper, a graduate researcher and doctoral student at the School of Kinesiology The Mechanics and Engineering. Similarly, as quoted from Physorg on Tuesday (11.02.10).

With this technology, scientists can show parts of the brain are activated and precisely when the parts are activated when the subject is moving in a natural environment. For example, when we walk, the signals coming from certain parts of the brain that serves as a message is sent from the brain to the muscles. If scientists know where the brain impulses occur, they can use location information to develop various applications. Previously scientists were only able to measure brain electrical activity in patients who did not move.

Ferris likens the isolation of the electrical activity of the brain is like putting a microphone in the middle of a symphony to discern only certain instruments in certain areas, such as the first chair oboe, or violin. Properly in an orchestra, there are many sources of noise in the brain that produces excessive electrical activity, or noise. Even the electrode itself produces noise or noise as it moves in relation to the source.

The researchers identified the brain activity to be measured by attaching many sensors to a subject who was walking or running on a treadmill. Then they used magnetic resonance imaging in the head to find out from the electrical activity of the brain where it originates. In this way, scientists can localize sources of brain activity that we want to know and ignore the other activity if it does not come from the brain.

Ferris also has a position in biomedical engineering said there were a bunch of reasons scientists can do this type of measurement is now when it is not possible a few years ago. Colleagues at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience find computational tool to perform non-invasive measurements on the people, and without the tool of measurement becomes impossible to do. Both groups of researchers then attempted to try to measure the front and on subjects who were walking or running.

Moreover, the electrode is more sensitive and has a better signal to noise ratio, he said.

The military is also interested in this type of technology that can be used to optimize the performance of the army by way of monitoring the brain activity of the soldiers in the field to find out when the soldiers were in peak performance. The technology could also help the military understand how information can best be handled by the soldiers.

In fact, industry or any organization interested in understanding how the brain and body interact, can benefit by knowing how the brain functions during a specified activity.

“We can imagine the brain of patients with different types of neurological disorders, and we might be able to target the rehabilitation of the group of patients who showed similar symptoms,” said Gwin. “If we can imagine the brain is currently undergoing some rehabilitation, we can design treatments that better.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers.

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