This blog post is adapted from a research paper I wrote during my time at university, where I explored the various applications of Brain-Computer Interfaces for people with neurological disabilities.
Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are devices that can revolutionize the way we communicate with our brains. Essentially, BCIs are computer-based systems that decode encoded brain signals and translate them into code that a computer can understand.
BCIs are currently being developed to help people with neurological disorders and nerve damage, and they could potentially allow for the “merging of AI” and humans, creating an “AI-human hybrid.”
The history of BCIs dates back to the 1970s when researchers first began developing this technology. UCLA Professor Jacques Vidal is thought to be the inventor of the BCI, and his research started with basic EEG signal experiments. It took many years of trials on non-human primates to test these devices and ensure their safety before the first clinical trial in a human took place.
One of the very first trials was in a person with ALS, who demonstrated the use of an implanted BCI to create their own neural signals in “binary fashion.” This study led to the conclusion that BCIs may eventually be able to “control muscle stimulators and restore movement in paralyzed limbs.”
BCI technology has been studied and demonstrated for many different applications over the years. It has been determined that BCI devices have promising futures of improving the lives of humans with problems such as ALS, cerebral palsy, brainstem stroke, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophies, or chronic peripheral neuropathies.
More recent research from UCLA shows that BCIs may be able to suppress or cure mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the more significant applications of BCIs is the restoration of movement in a paralyzed human.
The future of BCI technology is bright as not only do they show promising medical capabilities, but also the ability to improve the human brain’s memory and much more. Research shows that BCIs will be able to improve the episodic memory of the human brain, as well as allow for memory boosts.
Humans currently use relatively inefficient methods of communication such as talking, writing and typing. However, with the use of BCIs, humans may be able to achieve communication via telepathy. This would mean that humans would communicate invisibly, directly from one mind to the other using words or even complex thoughts.
The potential of BCIs is remarkable when reviewing the clinical applications, as well as its ability to achieve high-speed data transfer within the human brain. The use of BCIs has allowed for a paralyzed human to have partial restoration of arm movement, and this technology may eventually be able to “control muscle stimulators and restore movement in paralyzed limbs.”
Companies like Neuralink are bringing about many promising applications in the medical field and the future of science as a whole. BCI technology has the potential to become a large part of the future of humanity, allowing us to merge with AI and communicate in ways we never thought possible.