Major Milestone: Highest-Accuracy, Brain-Controlled Typing for People with Paralysis
Stanford University researchers have demonstrated that a brain-to-computer hookup can enable people with paralysis to type via direct brain control at the highest speeds and accuracy levels reported to date. Their study involved three participants with severe limb weakness; each had one or two small electrode arrays placed in their brains to record signals from the motor cortex, a region controlling muscle movement. These signals were transmitted to a computer via a cable and translated by algorithms into point-and-click commands guiding a cursor to characters on an onscreen keyboard. Each participant, after minimal training, mastered the technique sufficiently to outperform the results of any previous test of brain-computer interfaces for enhancing communication by people with similarly impaired movement. The participants achieved these typing rates without the use of automatic word-completion assistance common in electronic keyboarding applications, which likely would have boosted their performance.