University of Washington neuroscientists and their colleagues have developed a system that uses electrodes implanted in the human brain’s temporal lobe to decode brain signals at nearly the speed of perception.
“Clinically, you could think of our result as a proof of concept toward building a communication mechanism for patients who are paralyzed or have had a stroke and are completely locked-in,” Rajesh Rao, a UW professor who directs the Center for Sensorimotor Engineering, said in a news release.
The study was published Jan. 28 in PLOS Computational Biology.
Rao and his colleagues inserted the electrodes into the brains of epilepsy patients undergoing care at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. The patients’ seizures couldn’t be relieved by medication alone, so they were given the implants temporarily in an attempt to locate the seizures’ focal points.
“They were going to get the electrodes no matter what,” said Jeff Ojemann, a neurosurgeon at UW Medicine. “We were just giving them additional tasks to do during their hospital stay while they are otherwise just waiting around.”