Brain Computer Interface Challenges

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The Brain Computer Interface (BCI) allows users to control computers and other devices, using their thoughts. BCIs record brain activity and translate it into commands to operate the device. They give feedback to the user, so that they can correct any inputs which caused errors.

Currently, the most common methods of building BCIs involve the use of electrodes attached to the body or head to record signals that originate from the brain. These digital signals are analyzed to extract relevant signal features that best match the intended use of the user. These features may include EEG or ECoG response intensities and latencies, the power within specific EEG or ECoG frequency bands or firing rates of individual cortical neurons.

Our survey shows that the public is enthusiastic about the prospect of making use of BCI technology in a variety of ways. It is clear however that BCI researchers should address the numerous issues that have been raised by the public as well as their own experts in order to ensure the proper development of this emerging technology.

The most significant challenge that remains is improving the reliability of BCI. A BCI must be as reliable in real life as muscle-based actions. This requires a lot of CNS plasticity that allows the BCI to be able to identify and generate the intended commands. The cost of invasive BCIs is another major issue. This includes initial and ongoing implantation as well in the cost of technical support. If these costs cannot be significantly reduced the commercial viability of a BCI will be limited to those with severe disabilities.

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