It may still sound futuristic, but the era of mind-controlled machines is here. An electrode is implanted in or sits on top of the brain, and records patterns of neurons firing; this pattern is then translated, via an algorithm, into computer language.
Quadriplegics use the technology to control their wheelchair, a robotic hand, even write tweets.
Nearly all research has focused on tapping into the motor cortex, the area responsible for movement. But recently scientists have been able to control a computer cursor by analyzing signals from the brain area that controls speech. The research appears in The Journal of Neural Engineering.
So far researchers have mapped out the brain patterns for these sounds:
oo, as in few
e, as in see
a, as in say
a, as in hat
So it might be possible for a disabled person to move a cursor on a screen with their motor cortex, and say or think the word “click” to select a link. Amazingly, scientists are able to distinguish between spoken and imagined sounds. The potential is that one day we might be able to reveal internal dialogue. And restore speech to the speechless.