Robotic instruments have been assisting clinical staff and engineers alike for many years, with prosthetic robotic arms, which allow people who have lost a limb to regain freedom of movement, currently in development. Brain-computer interface (BCI), a collaboration between the brain and a device, enables signals from the brain to direct some external activity, such as control of a cursor or a prosthetic limb has garnered much interest in robotic prosthetics. However, to-date BCIs successful in controlling robotic arms have needed highly invasive brain implants and surgeries. Now, a study led by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University develops a non-invasive, mind-controlled robotic arm capable of continuously track and follow a computer cursor. The team states being able to non-invasively control robotic devices using only thoughts will have broad applications, in particular benefiting the lives of paralyzed patients and those with movement disorders. The opensource study is published in the journal Science Robotics.
Previous studies show a grand challenge in BCI research is to develop less invasive or even totally non-invasive technology enabling paralyzed patients to control their environment or robotic limbs using only their own thoughts. Such non-invasive BCI technology would bring such much-needed technology to numerous patients and the general population. However, BCIs adopting non-invasive external sensing, rather than brain implants have led to less precise control in the past. The current study uses novel sensing and machine learning techniques to access signals deep within the brain, achieving a high resolution of control, non-invasively over a robotic arm.
The current study utilizes non-invasive neuroimaging and a novel continuous pursuit paradigm to overcome EEG signals leading to significantly improved EEG-based neural decoding and facilitating real-time continuous robotic device control. The technology was tested in 68 able-bodied patients, using up to 10 sessions for each subject, including virtual device control and controlling of a robotic arm for the continuous pursuit of a cursor on a computer screen.
Results show the non-invasive BCI successfully decoded neural signals, allowing participants to control a robotic arm in real-time, instructing it to continuously and smoothly follow the movements of a cursor on a screen. Data findings show the new technique enhances BCI learning by nearly 60% for traditional center-out tasks and enhances continuous tracking of a computer cursor by over 500%. The team states their new framework addresses and improves BCI by increasing user engagement and training, as well as the spatial resolution of non-invasive neural data through EEG source imaging.
The team surmise they have developed a successful, non-invasively
controlled, high-resolution robotic device using only thoughts. For the future, the researcher state their technology is directly applicable to patients and now plans to conduct clinical trials.
Source: Carnegie Mellon University
Get Healthinnovations delivered to your inbox:
Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.
Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.
Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.
Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.
Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.
An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.