This game might look simple but considering the player is a monkey using only his mind, all is not as it might first appear. A chip implanted in the primate’s brain senses where it wants to move the cursor, and the grey dot on-screen moves accordingly, chasing the coloured target. The performance is facilitated by a clever new algorithm, which like a cheat code typed into a video game, makes the job far easier. Fusing information about both cursor position and velocity, and simultaneously interpreting signals from several neurons [nerve cells] rather than just one, it gives improved clarity and reliability compared to former models. What’s more, the chip is still working four years after it was implanted. Intercepting the brain waves of paralysed people in the same way could provide a new lease on life, allowing them not only to manipulate computer programs, but also to control robotic limbs.
Written by Anthony Lewis
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.