Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Teenager moves video icons by imagination

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. boy has become the first teenager to play a two-dimensional video game using only the signals from his brain to make movements.

Washington University researchers say the unidentified 14-year-old St. Louis boy's achievement might lead to creation of biomedical devices that can control artificial limbs, enabling the movement of a prosthesis by just thinking about it.

Researchers placed a grid on the boy's brain to record brain surface signals -- an interface technique that uses electrocorticographic activity. Engineers programmed the video game -- Space Invaders -- to interface with the brain-machine interface system.

Researchers said the youth, who suffers from epilepsy, mastered the first two levels of the game rapidly, learning nearly instantaneously. He was then presented with a more challenging version and he again mastered two levels quickly, merely by thinking about his movements.

The study was led by Dr. Eric Leuthardt, assistant professor of neurological surgery, and Daniel Moran, assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

The research involved neurosurgery, neurology, neuroscience, engineering, and computer science, Leuthardt said, adding, "The end result is something we can really be proud of."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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