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Discovery

Technology May Soon Turn Thoughts Into Action

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University of Michigan engineering researcher Brent Gillespie uses a prototype of a device.

In tests at the University of Maryland, University of Michigan engineering researcher Brent Gillespie uses a prototype of a device that provides feedback to the wearer's arm while objects are moved with a prosthetic 'hand,' a gripper. The prototype, which incorporates noninvasive monitoring of electrical activity and blood-oxygen levels in the brain, may be incorporated into next-generation prosthetic arms.

Credit: J. Contreras-Vidal/University of Maryland


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University of Maryland Professor Josť 'Pepe' Contreras-Vidal wears his non-invasive Brain Cap.

University of Maryland Associate Professor of Kinesiology Josť 'Pepe' Contreras-Vidal wears his Brain Cap, a non-invasive, sensor-lined cap with neural interface software that soon could be used to control computers, robotic prosthetic limbs, motorized wheelchairs and even digital avatars. There are other brain computer interface technologies under development, but Contreras-Vidal notes that these competing technologies are either very invasive, requiring electrodes to be implanted directly in the brain, or, if noninvasive, require much more training to use than does UMD's EEG-based, brain cap technology.

Credit: John Consoli, University of Maryland


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Signals can be used to study the cortical dynamics of walking and develop brain-machine interfaces.

During research at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore, Alessandro Presacco, a graduate researcher in UMD's Neural Engineering and Smart Prosthetics Lab, gets hooked up to take data similar to that used to reconstruct the complex 3-D movements of the ankle, knee and hip joints during treadmill walking. Presacco, Contreras-Vidal and co-authors write that their Journal of Neurophysiology study indicated "that EEG signals can be used to study the cortical dynamics of walking and to develop brain-machine interfaces aimed at restoring human gait function."

Credit: J. Contreras-Vidal/University of Maryland


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University of Maryland's Brain Cap headset being adjusted for testing.

University of Maryland's brain cap technology. Alessandro Presacco, a graduate researcher in UMD's Neural Engineering and Smart Prosthetics Lab, adjusts a version of Brain Cap headset worn by Steve Graff, a bioengineering doctoral student. Looking on is lab director and Brain Cap creator Josť 'Pepe' Contreras-Vidal.

Credit: John Consoli, University of Maryland


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