It may not be about black triangles being piloted by psychic vampire reptilians from Atlantis, but to those of us with friends or relatives that
have ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), or other degenerative nervous or muscle diseases, this is some pretty exciting stuff
. I apologize if there is
already a thread on this, but the search engine showed no results in the last six months.
Most of us know someone who is gravely paralyzed, either through disease or nerve damage. Such patients might only have control of one muscle in their
body, such as Stephen Hawking's finger, or perhaps in others an eyelid. Some don't even have that much control, not a single muscle responding to
their brain activity. Sometime in the very near future, my aunt, recently diagnosed with ALS, will be one of these locked-in patients.
Previous to this development, 95% of most patients with advance warning opted against life support, because the life of a locked-in patient was
thought to be too horrible to consider.
That was the case, but German neuroscientist Niels Birbaumer
has developed a Thought Translation Device
that is allowing people in this condition, to browse the internet, write emails, and
more recently, teleconferencing
from Psychology Today
Niels Birbaumer, Ph.D., of the University of Tübingen calls his machine a Thought Translation Device, or TTD. It is attuned to a low-frequency brain
wave called the slow cortical potential, which people can produce at will. By controlling their thoughts, patients can answer yes-or-no questions,
spell out sentences or even surf the Internet.
(source article: Psychology Today - July 24, 2003
The TTD allows for locked-in patients to communicate with the outside world, greatly enhancing their quality of life, earning Birbaumer the $1.5
Leibniz Prize (Germany's equivalent to the Novel Prize). Perhaps it will soon even develop to the point where patients can play computer games by
thought alone, which would probably earn an E3 prize as well.
The technical specs
Thought Translation Device are interesting as well. Considering the military applications of this technology, we can expect more funding for such a
I have emailed Birbaumer requesting information on how a patient can be signed up for research on this. If I receive any replies, I will post them