Feeds

Brainscan breakthrough: Working robot limbs come closer

Brains in jars controlling cyber colossi, too, of course

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Canadian brain boffins are chuffed to announce a new breakthrough in the tricky business of machine mind-reading: they have developed a method of working out from brain scans what physical action a person is about to carry out – before he or she can actually do it.

"This is a considerable step forward in our understanding of how the human brain plans actions," says Jason Gallivan, PhD student at Western Ontario uni's Centre for Brain and Mind, who was heavily involved in the new research.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Gallivan and his fellow boffins scanned the bonces of test subjects as they performed a range of hand movements. The team found that by using the signals from many brain regions, they could predict which action a subject would perform seconds before he or she did so.

"Being able to predict a human's desired movements using brain signals takes us one step closer to using those signals to control prosthetic limbs," notes Gallivan.

In this context it may be worth noting that US military boffins are trying at the moment to produce a mind-to-limb interface with Billy-the-Kid style latency of under 10 milliseconds: if connected to a sufficiently speedy arm this would let cyber-limbed troops beat normal un-augmented fleshies to the trigger in most cases (as normal human reaction time is around 200-250 milliseconds).

Gallivan and his colleagues' new fMRI technique might allow a robotically-enhanced gunman – or of course a disembodied brain in a bubbling jar controlling a powerful robotic colossus of some sort – to act before it had even realised it was going to, by the look of things.

The new Canadian research is published here in the Journal of Neuroscience. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.