There is a new machine that can help individuals that have lost the ability to speak talk again.
The Brain-Computer Interface system reads electric currents created by nerve cells talking to each other in the brain. It allows users to control a computer and communicate through e-mail, other computer-based communication systems, or synthetic speech. A multisite clinical trial for BCI is planned to begin by the end of this summer. It’s hoped that BCI will be made widely available for in-home use by people unable to communicate by other means as a result of disease or injury.
Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is under development by researchers at the Wadsworth Center, an arm of the New York State Department of Health, in Albany, N.Y. The BCI system is made up of a small laptop computer, an amplifier, a 20-inch monitor and a cap fitted with electrodes . This brain connect up syste “reads” the electric impulses or currents created by nerve cell activity in thedifferent oarts of the brain. The user can control the computer and communicate through e-mail, other computer-based communication systems or synthetic speech.
It has potential for use by people affected by spinal cord injuries, stroke or other diseases, Wolf and the four other people currently testing the system all have ALS. The BCI system is calibrated to the individual, and its use in anyone with advanced ALS requires a caregiver or someone else who can first put the cap containing the electrodes on the user’s head, and then start the system. From there, the user can control everything using brain signals instead of muscles, up to and including shutting down the computer.
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