Twelve years ago, neurologists at Duke University pioneered brain-machine interface by measuring electrical neural activity in animals while they produced motor tasks. After feeding the neural data through computers, researchers were able to extract basic motor commands conveyed by these neuronal electrical storms. This research is proving revolutionary. The Duke researchers have recently found: “That monkeys can use brain activity to control a virtual avatar arm or hand that explores the texture of what appear to be visually identical objects in a virtual world.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Imagine lounging on a beach while having the experience of climbing hills of red dust on the surface of Mars. In this future world, says Duke University neurologist Miguel Nicolelis, we will be able to do things just by thinking. What’s more, our out-of-body experiences will feel completely real thanks to a complex brain-machine interface. When we move through the virtual worlds of the future, the interface will send our brain’s own electrical signals to its other parts responsible for tactile sensation, thus giving our “real” body the sensation of truly doing what our mind is experiencing.