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Computers Understanding Thought

Gary John Ramah ramah at icarus.lis.pitt.edu
Fri Nov 25 12:55:53 EST 1994


In article 94Nov25093737 at acs.bu.edu, dorman at acs.bu.edu (Clark Dorman) writes:
> 
> In article <3b4qec$7r5 at lyra.csx.cam.ac.uk> 92tad at eng.cam.ac.uk (T.A. Donaldson) writes:
> 
> >   I have heard about an experiment in which a computer was able to pick up
> >and understand the THOUGHTS Yes or No, and also move a cursor around the
> >screen by picking up thoughts.
> >
> >   I understand that this was done by using SQUIDS (superconducting quantum
> >interference devices), and have found a lot of articles on the technical side
> >of setting up SQUIDS (see IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity
> >1993), which suggest that this is possible.
> >
> >   However, I have not found any article in which the meaning of the neural
> >data collected was succesfully understood by computer.
> >
> >   Does anyone know of the research I am talking about and could tell me what
> >journal articles apply? Anyone got any related information?
> >
> >   Tom Donaldson 
> >
> 
> In the Health/Science section of the Boston Globe, on Monday, August 16, 1993,
> there was an article about several researchers do work on this area.  Not
> exactly a peer-reviewed journal. 
> 
> The systems have been used to do several things, including such publicity
> stunts as steering a boat.  Most of the systems use scalp electrodes rather
> than SQUIDs.
> 
> People mentioned in the article:  
> 
> 	Andrew Junker, from Yellow Springs, Ohio, engineer. (boat steering)
> 
> 	Dr. Jonathan Wolpaw, neurologist, and Dennis McFarland, psychologist,
> 	  at NY State Health department (cursor moving)
> 
> 	Grant McMillan, director of brain-actuated research program at Wright
> 	  Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio (missile selection, radar mode, etc.)
> 
> 	Eric Sutter, scientist at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research (disabled
> 	  computer interface)
> 	
> 	Dr. Emanuel Donchin, psychology prof at U. of Illinois (letter typing)
> 
> You might try searching on the people above, especially Donchin.  
> 
> Personally, I am _extremely_ skeptical that what is happening is based upon
> brain patterns.  Because they are using scalp electrodes in most cases (where
> the equipment is even mentioned), the noise from muscles can easily swamp the
> brain waves.  If you look at scalp recording in other fields, they usually
> have to average over many operations to determine the underlying brain
> activity.  Most of these people are probably fooling themselves into thinking
> that they are getting brain waves, when what is really happening is that the
> subjects are learning to contract various muscles in the scalp.  Just as you
> can learn to wiggle your ears by simply practicing in front of a mirror, you
> can learn to move your other muscles. 
> 
> I think that the systems, even if based on muscle contractions, can be very
> useful for the disabled.  A combination system, based on visual tracking, with
> cues from scalp recording, could be more useful than the systems that are
> based purely on visual tracking now.  
> 
> Even if the researchers _are_ getting brain measurements, don't expect any
> sort of decoding of the brain activity that will give any content.  Examine
> the PET, MRI, and CAT scanning literature.  The researchers in those fields
> are still working on determining where activity occurs, and in what order,
> when different tasks are being done.  
> 
> Clark Dorman
> Cognitive and Neural Systems
> Boston University
> 
> 

Also include Joachim Kalcher in Medical Informatics at Graz U. of Technology Austria. 
He works with Wolpaw's group.  They are primarly focusing on brain activity that proceeds muscle movement.  Training a neural network to classify differences between left and right hand finger movements.

Donchin's group mostly look at P-300 oddball activity.  The subject watches a matrix of letters and when their choice appears a large P-300 is illicited.  Subject is able to type out sentances using this method.  Approx 3 letters a minute!

McMillian's group uses a light that flashes at a constant rate (approx 13Hz).  the spontaneous EEG is then thresholded at that frequency.  Above the threshold a flight simulator rolls right, below the threshold it rolls left.







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