With dementia rates rising rapidly, there is a growing need for a new generation of brain-computer interfaces.
One solution is the use of computers to perform tasks like taking notes or playing games.
But researchers from the University of Sydney have developed a way to tap into a computer’s electrical signals and create a virtual environment that mimics a human brain.
The researchers say this is a promising step towards a future where computers will be used for all sorts of tasks and not just to read and write.
The new technique involves using a specially designed robot head to take control of the user’s head movements and control the computer.
The robot head then uses its own artificial intelligence to interpret the brain signals and make a decision.
The team says the approach can be used to develop a virtual “brain” for people who have Alzheimer’s.
“It allows us to do tasks like transcribing, and it allows us in a very simple way to see the brain activity and the signals coming from the brain,” Dr Simon McQuaid, one of the lead authors of the study, said.
The technique has the potential to dramatically reduce the need for expensive, invasive technologies such as electrode implants and the use on a person with Alzheimer.
“These technologies are very invasive, invasive and very expensive, so it’s important to make sure we can use these technologies for a purpose other than just making the brain work better,” he said.
Dr McQuay said the team is currently working on developing a computer-based prosthetic head that mimicks the human brain in order to see if the technique can be scaled to people.
“I think there is enormous potential in the brain to be used in a completely different way,” he added.
“We’re exploring this with the aim of creating a prosthetic that’s as close to the brain as possible.”
The research was published in the journal Neuron.
The project was funded by the Australian Research Council and the Australian Government’s Alzheimer’s Research Program.