Today’s Solutions: May 24, 2022

Neuroscientists from Stanford University have just made history by successfully converting brain activity related to handwriting into actual text in real-time. The team, working together with the BrainGate consortium, achieved the feat thanks to a new brain-computer interface (BCI) that could revolutionize current technologies that enable people with disabilities to communicate.

The process involved two implanted arrays of electrodes with the capacity to monitor the electrical activity of approximately 200 neurons in the brain’s motor cortex — the region controlling hand movement. Even when a patient cannot move their limbs due to a spinal cord injury, the motor cortex still registers the same signals that it did before.

As part of the study, published in the journal Nature, the scientists implanted the electrodes into the brain of a 65-year-old quadriplegic male volunteer who had previously suffered a spinal cord injury. The participant was asked to imagine writing on a paper all 26 letters of the alphabet in lower case as well as a few symbols.

An algorithm in the computer established which patterns of brain activity corresponded to which letter and symbol, enabling it to identify the characters and display them on the screen. In this way, the man was able to type out complete sentences at a rate of about 90 characters per minute, breaking previous versions of the system.

The scientists are now working to test the technology with a volunteer who is not only paralyzed but has also lost the ability to speak. The team hopes that in the near future, similar BCI technology could welcome people suffering from motor impairments into the world of modern communications, including texting and mailing.

Image source: HHMI Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

How the Belize Barrier Reef is coming back to life

When Hurricane Iris hit Belize in 2001, it ravaged almost all of the country’s coral reefs. The devastation signaled bad news not only for the surrounding marine life but also for the local communities who ... Read More

Redwoods grow new leaves to adapt to drought

We’re doing a lot to adapt to climate change, from creating tree cities and sponge cities to speeding up the schedule for renewable energy. As it turns out, though, humans aren’t the only ones getting ... Read More

OnePower: bringing minigrids and power to Lesotho

A key aspect of helping the developing world is not only ensuring that they have sufficient power and infrastructure to run key facilities like schools and hospitals. It is also important to ensure that their ... Read More

Active UK professional footballer comes out as gay—the first in 30 years

Earlier this month, 17-year-old Jake Daniels, a forward for Blackpool FC in England’s second tier, came out publicly as gay in a statement released by the club. According to the British LGBTQ advocacy group Stonewall, ... Read More

Flow batteries could help with renewable energy storage

The generation of renewable energy from sources like wind and solar is one thing, but there are many other factors to consider when delivering renewable energy to consumers. A big one is the issue of ... Read More

Don’t let ADHD prevent you from meditating. Here are 8 tips for mindful...

We’ve written quite often about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, but we also recognize that it is sometimes a difficult practice to get into. Meditation is an active process that trains the brain to ... Read More