Brain-to-Brain Interfaces

In Glogpedia

by Redjinova
Last updated 4 years ago

Scientific Biographies

Toggle fullscreen Print glog
Brain-to-Brain Interfaces

Your text here

Neuroscientists are now able to record the electrical signals produced by the brain with the purpose of extracting the kind of motor commands that the brain is about to produce, and, finally, those commands are communicated to machines that can understand them and aid movement facilitation in the human body.

The central goal of Dr. Nicolelis' research is to help paraplegics and others suffering from severe spinal-cord injuries to control machines with their thoughs with the ultimate objective to improve their ability to get around by controlling the leg movements of their exoskeletons.Furthermore, it was realized (as the BMI field became more and more popular) that there existed a possibility of establishing a bidirectional dialogue between brains and artificial devices thus a new goal was devised.



Sixty years ago, the simple mention of the possibility of two brains interacting in a way that would allow one to influence the neuronal mechanisms of the other would have tickled even the most-open minded of scientists. Today, in 2015, Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, lead author of the publication of the research being presented and professor of neurobiology at Duke University, would be proud to prove those scientists wrong. Indeed, in his laboratory at Duke University, Dr. Nicolelis has made a breakthrough in brain-to-brain interface research. Brain-to-brain interface or brain-machine interface (BMIs) is defined as the direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. In his breakthrough efforts, Dr. Nicoleli has successfully experimented with lab rodents (namely rats and monkeys).


Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of Neuroscience, Neurobiology, Bio-Medical Engineering, and Psychology at Duke University. He is the founder of the Walk Again Project, an international consortium of scientists and engineers dedicated to the development of an exoskeleton device to assist severly paralyzed patients in regaining full-body mobility. He also founded the Duke University Center for Neuro-Engineering of which he is the scientific director. Dr. Nicolelis is a member of the French and Brazilian Academies of Science holds three U.S. patents and has been published in Nature, Science, and Scientific American.

biography of Dr. Miguel Nicolelis

Brain-toBrain Computer Interface: Brain-computer interface (BCI) is a collaboration between a brain and a device that enables signals from the brain to direct some external activity, such as control of a cursor or a prosthetic limb.Electroencephalography (EEG): the record of the electrical activity of the brain typically by means od electrodes on the scalp. Cortical Eletrical Microstimulation: Simple tactile messages were delivered directly into the brains of monkeys so every time one monkey used its brain activity to move a virtual hand to scan the surface of a virtual sphere, an electrical wave would be delivered to the animal's primary somatosensory cortex.Artificial Skin: Type of artificial tactile sensor distributed across key locations of the exoskeleton's legs and feet to detect the device's movements and contact with the ground. Decoder Rat: Rat to which experimental cues are givenDecoder Rat: Rat which receives coding cues from decoder rat

In 1999, the first experimental demonstrations of a brain-machine interface animals was executed; rats learned to use the combined eletrical activity of a handful of cortical neurons to move a robotic arm in order to obtain a water reward. Meanwhile, scientists in Germany discovered that completely paralyzed patients could learn to use brain-derived signals to write messages on a computer screen. In subsequent years, further animal experiments with BMIs indicated that monkeys were able to learn how to employ the combined electrical activity of hundreds of their cortical neurons to move multiple degree-of-freedom robotic arms. They were evn able to move entire humanoid robots, and even avatar bodies without needing to move their own bodies.

Related Video

Early Steps

Your text here

Brain-to-Brain Interfaces(When Reality Meets Science-Fiction)

Brain-to-brain interfaces may sound fictitious to many but they are very much under development. As a matter of fact, experiments on rats and monkeys were so successful that trials were run on human subjects, sucessfully so, in fact, since a paraplegic neuroscientist paralyzed from the mid-chest down was abled to demonstrate that a brain-controlled exoskeleton could be used to initiate movement in paralyzed body parts.

Key Terms



Vasthi Jean-Michel

Brain-to-brain interfaces are made possibles because of brain cell communication which take place through a process known as synaptic transmission during which chemical signals are passed between cells resulting in electrical spikes in the receiving cell.Cells communicate in a network therefore brain acitvity produces a synchronised pulse of electrical acitivity referred to as a brain wave that change according to the cognitive processes taht the brain is currently undergoing and are characterised by the time-frequency pattern of the up and down states.Brain waves are detected using a technique called EEG or Electroencephalography which is the record of the electrical activity of the brain typically by means of of electrodes on the scalp. Once recorded, the electrical acitvity is interpreted using a computer softwareRAT EXPERIMENTSPairs of rats were trained to solve a simple problem: to press the correct lever when an indicator light above the lever switched on, which rewarded the rats with a sip of water.One of the two rodents was designated as the encoder animal who received a visual cue that showed it which lever to press in exchange for a water reward. Once the lever was pressed, a sample of its brain activity that coded its behavioral decision was translated into a pattern of electrical stimulation that was delivered directly in to the brain of the second rat, the decoder animal.The decoder rat had the same types of levers in its chambers but it did not receive any cue telling to press or not to press the lever in order to obtain a reward. So to press the correct lever, the decoder rat had to rely on the encoder rat who would be providing cues trransmitted via brain-to-brain interface.The communication provided by the brain-to-brain interface was two-way so the encoder rat would not receive a full reward if the decoder rat made a wrong choice thus leading to the establishment of behavioral collection between the pair of rats.Follow-up experiments werer conducted as follows Rats were divided into decoding and encoding groups and were taight to distinguish between a narrow or wide opening using their whiskers; if the opening was narrow, they were taught to nose-poke a water port on the left side of the chamber to receive a reward and for a wide opening, they had to poke a port on the right side. Decoders were trained to associate stimulation pulses with the left reward poke as the correct choice and an absence of pulses with the right reward poke as correct.One rat was placed in Brazil at the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal while the decoder one was place in Durham, N.C. The two rats could still work together even with the signals being transmtted via the internet.


In 2013, eight patients suffering from complete and incomplete spinal-cord lesions started training in order to achieve proficiency in controlling a brain-controlled robotic exoskeleton. Four months later, all eight were capable of commanding their exoskeleton with their brain activity alone and all had regained the sensation of walking in a laboratory setting.

Recent Discoveries

How Brain Activity is

& Rat Expeiments



    There are no comments for this Glog.