Published April 21, 2009
A doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is developing a way for those whose brain function normal, but bodies don't work can communicate better.
Using an electrode-studded cap wired to a computer, Adam Wilson can update a Twitter status by just thinking about it, Wisconsin Technology Network reported.
The electrodes detect the brain's thoughts and translates them into physical actions, such as a cursor motion on a computer screen.
"We started thinking that moving a cursor on a screen is a good scientific exercise," Justin Williams, a UW-Madison assistant professor of biomedical engineering and Wilson's adviser, told Wisconsin Technology Network. "But when we talk to people who have locked-in syndrome or a spinal-cord injury, their No. 1 concern is communication."
Researchers say the new technology could help people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), brain-stem stroke or high spinal cord injury.
Wilson compares the technology to texting.
"You have to press a button four times to get the character you want," Wilson says of the technology. "So this is kind of a slow process at first."