Researchers have recently used ultrasound images to predict monkey eye or hand movements – information that can create commands for a computer cursor or artificial arm.
Science has said that the most advanced mind control devices being tested in humans rely on small wires that are inserted into the brain.
If this approach can be developed, it may provide people with paralysis with a new way to control prostheses without the equipment entering the brain.
According to neuroscientist Krishna Shenoy from Stanford University, this research will put ultrasound on the map as a “brain-machine interface device.” Shenoy, who was not part of this new work as well, said he is putting this device to the amazing machine.
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(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
FMRI scan during working memory tasks. Working memory functions usually reflect activity in the bilateral and anterior frontal cortex as well as in parts of the advanced bilateral parietal cortex. The identified segments showed significantly different activity between an individual performing a 1-Back function compared to a 2-Back function.
Ultrasound action and fMRI
For a long time now, doctors have been using sound waves with frequencies outside the range of human hearing to produce images of the tissues.
A device also known as a transducer inserts ultrasonic pings into the body, kicking back to specify the boundaries between different liquids and nappies.
About 10 years ago, scientists discovered a method for modifying ultrasound for brain images. This method, also known as action ultrasound. It uses a wide, flat sound plane rather than a thin beam to capture a large space faster than with a traditional ultrasound device.
Similar to magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI imaging, functional ultrasound measures changes in blood flow, occurring when neurons are active and dissipating energy.
However, it produces images with better resolution compared to fMRI and does not require participants to lie in a large scanner.
According to the California Institute of Technology or Caltech neuroscientist Richard Anderson, the procedure still requires removal of a small piece of skull, although it is unlike applied electrodes that are reading the electrical activity of neurons directly does not interfere with the opening of the brain’s protective membrane.
Natural activity appeared
Anderson, who is a co-author of this new research, explained that ultrasound can read action from regions deep in the brain by penetrating the material.
However, Caltech biochemical engineer Mikhail Shapiro and co – author Andersen said that measuring cloud activity from a distance means sacrificing a certain speed and accuracy.
The co-author added that, in contrast to electron readings, action ultrasound provides a less direct signal and therefore, there was a question as to the level of information or ultrasound images in reality.
Moreover, as noted in their study published in Neuron (One-test decoding of movement resolutions using neuroimaging action ultrasound), the images could show neural activity as the brain prepared for movement. However, the question now is whether that signal contained sufficient detail to decode the intended movement computer.
To answer the question, the authors of the study applied small ultrasound transducers around the shape and size of a domino to two rhesus macaque monkey skulls.
Using ultrasound data action on the monkey brain
A pair of previous studies have used action ultrasound data on the monkey brain for reconstruction of what the animals saw or their eye movements.
Nonetheless, that required average signals through long periods or multiple shifts. In this new study, the study’s analysts collected enough data to make predictions in every run of the test, every time the monkey planned to move.
Monash University neurologist Maureen Hagan, who studied how the brain sustains movements, said that’s an important feature.
A robotic arm user would want to think about the movement they intended just once for the arm to move, for example. Hagan said no one would want subjects to have to put a lot of effort or expectation into decoding their intentions.
The main next step, Shenoy explained, is to use real-time computer prediction to guide a cursor or robot hand.
Related information about fMRI can be seen on the NIBIB gov YouTube video below:
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