JENNA: Hey, guys. JADEN: Hey, guys. Live from UW. Brainworks. BEN: Brainworks. ELIJAH: Brainworks. JENNA: Brainworks. ELIJAH: The show. JENNA: Where we. JADEN: Learn about. BEN: The brain. NOGGIN: With me, Noggin the brain. ERIC CHUDLER: Did you know that brains and
computers can talk to each other? In this episode of Brainworks, we’re going
to learn about brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs. [MUSIC PLAYING] ERIC CHUDLER: Welcome to Brainworks. My name’s Eric Chudler. I’m a neuroscientist in the Department of
Bioengineering at the University of Washington. I’m also the executive director of the Center
for Neurotechnology. What all that means is I’m really interested
in learning about the brain. Hi, Jenna. Hey, Ben. Hey, Eric. Uh, what are you doing? ERIC CHUDLER: Trying to catch this cockroach. Got it. Ew. ELIJAH: Hey, guys, need some help? ERIC CHUDLER: Hey, Elijah. Hey, Jaden. JADEN: What kind of an experiment could you
do with a cockroach? ERIC CHUDLER: Well, this cockroach will help
me demonstrate some things about how the nervous system works. In fact, I’m trying to find out the next great
idea about brain-computer interfaces. Hey, maybe you guys can help. JADEN: Yeah, we’d love to help. BEN: What is BCI? ELIJAH: Is that where you control things with
your mind? JENNA: Or you know, we could not do an experiment
with a giant bug. ERIC CHUDLER: Well, you see, every time you
want to move your arm, your brain has to send an electrical signal down to your spinal cord. And then another electrical signal is sent
down to the muscle of your arm. And that’s how your arm moves. And also, every time something touches your
skin, it works in the reverse way, in that electrical signals are sent from the skin
to the spinal cord and up to the brain to tell you that something has touched your skin. So both your brain and machines, really, use
electrical signals. So maybe you guys can help me with a new experiment? BEN: Yeah, sure. JADEN: Yeah, of course. ERIC CHUDLER: So why don’t you grab some lab
coats and some goggles and we’ll get started? [MUSIC PLAYING] ERIC CHUDLER: OK, first what we need to do
is get a cockroach leg. So I’ve got a cockroach over here and what
I’m going to do is I’m just going to take one of its back legs, snip it off, place it
on this little board here. JENNA: I’m going to vomit. ERIC CHUDLER: Oh, don’t worry, the cockroach
is asleep and the leg will grow back. He’ll be fine. So now what we’re going to do is we take these
pins and we just pin it into the leg. One goes here and one goes over here. And now what we can do is we turn on the little
box here. And you hear that popcorn sound? ELIJAH: Yeah. ERIC CHUDLER: That’s the actual electrical
activity that’s traveling in the cockroach leg nerve. And over here on this monitor here, we can
see what those action potentials really look like. Who wants to give it a try to see how that
cockroach leg will respond to someone touching it? JADEN: I’ll try. ERIC CHUDLER: All right, come on over here,
Jaden. So here’s a little probe here. And as she touches the cockroach leg, listen
to see if that activity changes the sound. JENNA: How is the leg still sending signals? Like the cockroach is dead, right? ERIC CHUDLER: Yeah, well the cockroach isn’t
dead. The cockroach is recovering. But the nerve inside the leg still work and
they’ll work for a long time. Nerves inside that leg, they’re just waiting
to be stimulated. So if I tap on it, those are electrical signals
that are traveling up the leg. And if it had a brain, it would know that
its leg was being touched. BEN: So does that mean our minds are electricity? ERIC CHUDLER: Well yeah, in fact, whenever
we think of something, our brains make electrical signals. We’re going to try to use an electrical signal
to move the leg. We’re going to send a song from my phone. So from the phone, we’re going to go to a
speaker. And then from this speaker, we’re going to
go to the leg. And I’ll show you how this works. So Ben, go ahead and connect these two pins
to two of the metal pins here. So now we have to find a song. All right, so we’ve got some music there. So you can hear the music. And now we’re going to turn this one on. And you see the leg move? [MUSIC PLAYING] What we were doing there is using this device,
which sends electricity out to a part of the body, in this case a cockroach leg, right? And so we’re using electrical signals to make
a body part move. OK? And so just like your brain sent a signal
down to your arm to move, we’re using an artificial electrical signal to make a body part move. And that’s part of a brain computer interface,
or BCI. JADEN: Does that mean you can send electrical
signals to something other than something that’s inside your body? ERIC CHUDLER: Ah, that’s a great question. And in fact, I’ve got another experiment we
can do to show how you can use your brain to control a machine. So let’s get that setup. [MUSIC PLAYING] NOGGIN: How much does a human spinal cord
weigh? 10 grams, 35 grams, or 46 grams. Stay tuned to find out the answer. [MUSIC PLAYING] ANNOUNCER: Additional program support provided
by The Dana Foundation, your gateway to responsible information about the brain. More at dana.org. [MUSIC PLAYING] NOGGIN: How much does human spinal cord weigh? 10 grams, 35 grams, or 46 grams? The answer is 35 grams. [MUSIC PLAYING] Before the break, we saw how an electrical
signal can go from an artificial device to a nerve. Now let’s check out what else the human brain
is capable of. [MUSIC PLAYING] ERIC CHUDLER: So in this experiment, what
we’re demonstrating is how Ben’s brain can send an electrical signal down to his spinal
cord, and another electrical signal can be sent to a muscle in his arm. And that electrical signal that the muscle
makes is sent to this device, which is then sent to this gripper. All right, Ben, go ahead and make a muscle. Good. And let go. And make a muscle. And let go. Jaden, why don’t you try giving him the ball. See if you can pick it up. JADEN: OK, grab it. And let go. Again. And let go. ERIC CHUDLER: So do you think you have pretty
good control? BEN: Yeah. ERIC CHUDLER: Yeah. And how about make your fingers move individually. So why do you think that’s not working? Why isn’t that making the gripper move either? Look when I move his arm like that, why doesn’t
that cause the gripper to move? JADEN: Because it’s not his forearm. It’s just his elbow. ERIC CHUDLER: That’s right, and because his
muscles aren’t being contracted. So go ahead, you make a muscle and see what
happens. When he makes a muscle, that causes electrical
signals in the muscles to be sent to this little computer here that are then sent to
this gripper. So this shows you can use electrical signals
that the body generates itself to make a device like this artificial hand to move. JADEN: Does it work on any part of the body? ELIJAH: How about the face? ERIC CHUDLER: Yeah, we can give that a try. Who wants to give it a try? Go ahead, make a funny face and let’s try
to get that to move. And then relax. And make a face. And there you go. Any muscle that generates electrical activity
can make things happen in the outside world. BEN: Yo, I want to try again if that’s OK. ERIC CHUDLER: Yeah, sure. Hold on. And Jenna, you can just take those off. It’s like a little Band-Aid. And we’ll connect Ben back. And there you go. You’re all connected. And see, he’s controlling the lights too. JENNA: Do you think it could be wireless somehow? JADEN: Do you think I could control somebody
else’s body with my body? ELIJAH: If you can move it from a body to
a machine, can’t you move it from a machine to a body? ERIC CHUDLER: Yeah, those are all great questions
and it’s going to take a bit more sophisticated equipment than what we have right here but
I’ve got a brain surgeon friend and a neuroethicist who can answer some of those questions. So let’s go talk to him, come on. JADEN: OK. BEN: Oh, guys, I’m still here. I’m still strapped to the device. Guys? Eric? Anyone? [MUSIC PLAYING] NOGGIN: How many nerve endings are in a hand,
1,300 per square inch, 75 per square inch, or 400 per square inch? Stay tuned to find out the answer. ANNOUNCER: Additional program support provided
by The Dana Foundation, your gateway to responsible information about the brain. More at dana.org. [MUSIC PLAYING] NOGGIN: How many nerve endings are in a hand,
1,300 per square inch, 75 per square inch, or 400 per square inch? The answer is 1,300 per square inch. That’s a lot of nerve endings for one little
hand. [MUSIC PLAYING] JADEN: Hi, Dr. Ojemann. JEFFREY OJEMANN: Hi, how are you doing? JADEN: I’m good, how about you? JEFFREY OJEMANN: Good, come on in. JADEN: Eric sent us to come talk to you. JENNA: What do all these posters mean? ELIJAH: Is that a human skull? What are those wires for? JEFFREY OJEMANN: You guys have a lot of questions. Why don’t you come sit down? BEN: Yeah, gee, thanks, guys. JENNA: So what is this place? JEFFREY OJEMANN: Well, this is the grid lab. And one of the things we do is look at the
signals that come from the human brain in patients who have wires that are put in, study
where their seizures come from. ELIJAH: Eric said that you put electrodes
right on people’s brains and zap them. That sounds dangerous. JEFFREY OJEMANN: We do have patients who have
wires that are put on their brain as part of a surgery. JENNA: So how do people tell you what they
feel if they’re knocked out during brain surgery? JEFFREY OJEMANN: They’re knocked out for when
we put the wires in, which are thin wires like this that go on the surface of the brain. And then we can both record from these pads
but also put a little bit of current in there after the surgery. So they’re awake and the brain doesn’t have
any pain fibers on it, so usually they just feel a buzz or a tingle. ELIJAH: What’s that hand for? JEFFREY OJEMANN: So one of the things that
we want to know is how does the brain take in information. We can study how sensory areas work by looking
at what’s called a rubber hand illusion, because the hand is rubber. And the illusion is that if I touch this hand
while I’m touching your hand, and your hand is hidden, you’ll start to think that this
is your actual hand. And you’ll have a hard time convincing yourself
that your real hand is back under the covers. And that’s because the brain puts together
where it sees you’re being touched with where it feels you’re being touched. And so one of the things we want to learn
is how does the brain put all that information together. And that can be really useful if you had an
artificial hand because we want that to feel as natural as possible. ELIJAH: Interesting. BEN: What else is brain mapping able to do
to help people? JEFFREY OJEMANN: It’s been used for trying
to recreate vision. So if you put a small amount of current on
the vision parts of the brain, which are in the back part, you can make little bright
lights. And if you make the current small enough,
you could make part of a scene visible to somebody who’s blind. But there’s a ton of the brain that we don’t
understand what happens when you stimulate because a lot of times you put current there,
nothing happens. But then if you ask somebody to do something,
like talk, then it might be able to stop it. So it’s much harder to map because we don’t
even know what questions to ask. JENNA: So if we’re going to come up with the
next big thing for BCI, we have to see it in action, right? JEFFREY OJEMANN: Yeah, I think that’s a great
idea. What you should do is go next door to where
my engineering colleagues are and they can show you what we’re doing. JADEN: Great. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BEN: Thank you. JADEN: We heard that some researchers were
using BCI to play some sort of game here in the computer science and engineering building. ELIJAH: So we figured if you could use a BCI
to play a game, you could use it for so much other stuff. So we’re down here at the lab of Dr. Rajesh
Rao to visit one of his students, Jenny Cronin. JADEN: Let’s check it out. Jenny? JENNY CRONIN: Yeah. JADEN: Hi, Doctor Ojemann sent us. JENNY CRONIN: Hi, I’m Jenny. JADEN: I’m Jaden. JENNY CRONIN: Nice to meet you. Jenny. ELIJAH: I’m Elijah. JENNY CRONIN: Nice to meet you, Elijah. Ah, so what do you want to ask me about? ELIJAH: So Dr. Ojemann showed us how you can
put electrodes right on the brain and read it. How is that different from what you do here? JENNY CRONIN: Yeah, so what Dr. Ojemann was
showing you is called ECoG, or electrocorticography. And the electrodes sit right on top of the
surface of the brain. But here, we work with EEG, or electroencephalogry. And those electrodes sit on top of your skull. So right on top of your skin here, and you
don’t need surgery for it, which means that anybody, including one of you two can try
it. So does one of you want to give it a try? JADEN: Yeah, I do. JENNY CRONIN: OK, so you’re going to pull
it on over your ears. It’s a little bit like headphones. There you go. How’s that? Is that comfortable? OK, next we’re going to tighten these electrodes
a little bit. So these are called dry electrodes. So Elijah, you can do this. You put it right here. You can kind of twist these just to move Jaden’s
hair out of the way because we want to get some contact with her skin. It’ll make it easier to record the signal. Awesome. Can you feel that on your skin? JADEN: Yeah. JENNY CRONIN: Yeah. OK, all right. So Jaden, why don’t you sit down here and
we’ll try this experiment. OK, we have to clip these to your ears. And the experiment we’re going to run is called
a SSVEP experiment, or steady state visually evoked potential. So these two cups here have LED lights on
them. So they’re going to flash at a certain frequency,
which is like a rhythm that they flash at. And our occipital lobe, which is the back
of our head, is the part of our brain that processes all the visual information that
comes in. ELIJAH: So can you, like, read Jaden’s mind
with that? JENNY CRONIN: No, we can’t exactly read someone’s
mind. Our technology is not at that point at all. But what we can do is get an idea of what
we think is happening in the brain. Elijah, do you want to come over here? You can see it. Take a minute to run. What you’re going to see up here is a cursor. And it’s going to move to the left if you
look at this light. Or it’ll move to the right if you look at
this slide on the right. ELIJAH: Since it’s wireless, that means it’s
Bluetooth. Can it get interrupted? JENNY CRONIN: Yeah, that’s a great question. So Bluetooth could get interrupted. You could have a problem with just the computer
connecting to Bluetooth, just like any Bluetooth device can have that issue. There’s also some concern that whether it’s
maliciously or just unintentionally, a Bluetooth signal from a neural device could be interrupted. And it’s causing a problem to the user, which
would be a bad thing. So there’s people in the ethics community
here at University of Washington and elsewhere that are looking into that and doing research
on how we protect people who are using brain-computer interface. OK, so this is going to connect to the EEG
headset. And then you’re going to see a cursor come
up here in a moment. For yes, you can look to the left, or the
left LED here. And the cursor should move to the left. So if you look here. And then next would be no. So you want to look towards the no LED, which
is this one on the right. And the cursor should move to the right. And Elijah, you can see those purple bars
are moving up and down depending on what the program and the analysis thinks that– what
light Jaden is looking at. So we’ll look to the left again on the next
one. And then here on the left side of the screen,
that’s the actual brain recording. So those are the brain signals. You can see some noise in them and that’s
natural. It’s just because we’re recording from through
the skull, through the skin, through her hair. So you get noise in the signal. It’s this top one there that says [? OZI,
?] that’s where the occipital lobe in the back of your head where all your visual information
is processed. That’s the one we’re actually using or this
program is using to determine if Jaden’s looking at the LED that’s flashing at the no frequency
or the LED that’s flashing at this frequency that we set to yes. ELIJAH: So what kind of information are you
getting from this? JENNY CRONIN: You can imagine that someone,
especially down the road if we get better at using EEG signals, someone could use this
to answer questions or to move a cursor on a screen towards one flashing light frequency
or towards another one to answer yes/no questions. If you’re doing something like imagined motor
movements, so there’s other brain signals we can look at as well. There’s some that occur if you’re surprised
about something or if something flashes on the screen that you’re interested in. And we can use this to help people that have
some kind of neurodegenerative problem or have had an accident and are paralyzed. We can use it to help them communicate. All right, so that ends it. I think that does eight trials. And then it’s recorded all the data so we
could look at it again if we wanted to, we could open it up in a different software program. Or we can leave it just like this and you’ve
just interacted with that computer just by looking at these lights and the recording
signals from your brain. OK, let’s take this off. ELIJAH: That was awesome. I can’t believe you were able to make that
cursor move is your mind. So cool. JADEN: That was really fun. Thanks for letting us try it out. I think we have another idea to bring back
to the rest of the team. JENNY CRONIN: Awesome. JADEN: Thank you so much. [MUSIC PLAYING] BEN: We know that brain-computer interfaces
can help people who’ve been seriously injured. People who’ve lost an arm can actually get
a robotic replacement. JENNA: Electricity can help in other ways. We’re here at the AMP lab to talk to someone
who uses electrical stimulation to treat their injuries. BEN: Thanks for having us, Dr. Moritz. So what is the AMP lab? CHET MORITZ: Well, amp stands for amplify
movement and performance. One of the things we do here is to use electrical
stimulation to help people with spinal cord injury learn how to use their hands again,
or even walk again after they’ve had an injury. JENNA: So just shocking people helps them? CHET MORITZ: It’s more complicated than just
shocking, but we do use electrical stimulation, which is the language of the nervous system,
to help amplify the activity in the spinal cord below the injury. And that helps people practice using their
hands or standing and walking. And it turns out, after a lot of practice,
they actually recover the ability to do that on their own, even when the stimulator is
no longer used. BEN: So you guys are still trying to figure
all this out? CHET MORITZ: We are. We don’t know exactly how it works yet but
we’re seeing some really compelling evidence that even after the stimulator turns off,
people remain better or even healed. And so that tells us that there’s plasticity
or learning happening in the brain and the spinal cord after injury. JENNA: So what does this feel like for the
patient? CHET MORITZ: That’s a really good question. We actually have a participant here today
if you’d like to ask her. JENNA: Sure, let’s do it. JESSIE: Five years ago I was injured in a
car accident. I had to drive a wheelchair with my chin because
my hands wouldn’t work. Slowly, over time, some of my function came
back because I have what’s called an incomplete injury, which means the spinal cord was not
severed. So some function can come back over about
a year to maybe 15 months. So I spent that next year trying to get better
and better. And I did a little bit. But I still have a lot of I guess dysfunction
in my legs and in my hands. But I work every day to continue growing the
strength that I do have to make sure that I can be as functional as possible in my daily
life. BEN: So what are you doing here at the AMP
lab? JESSIE: So this is a study that’s going to
focus on improving my upper body function. So I have something called central spinal
cord syndrome, which means that my lower body works a little bit better than my upper body. So I really would love to improve the function
in my hands. So I come in every day and we put stimulation
on the back of my neck where the spinal cord is, and I do activities like this or anything
you would find in a pre-school to work on my fine motor skills. And just practice, and practice, and practice,
and see if the stimulation helps the nerves connect from my brain to my fingertips. JENNA: What are you hoping to get out of the
study? JESSIE: You know, I’m hoping to get more hand
function. Even 10% more hand function for me makes the
difference in zipping up a jacket or grabbing a glass of water, brushing my teeth, maybe
even playing an instrument. And that would make a big difference in the
independence in my life. CHET MORITZ: So to help Jessie get more hand
function, we’ve placed these electrodes on the back of her neck, above and below where
her spinal cord is injured. And we’re using the stimulator, which Fatma’s
controlling, to deliver very high frequency stimulation through the skin to her spinal
cord. While the stimulator’s running, Jessie works
really hard to move her hands and practice new and challenging activities. And it seems like the combination of the stimulation
and that practice is what might make Jessie better in the long term. BEN: What’s next for this new technology? CHET MORITZ: Well, in addition to helping
Jessie’s hands get better, we’re also really interested in testing the stimulator to see
if we can help people stand, balance, and even to walk. So it’s possible that Jesse could participate
in one of our other studies where we use the stimulator to improve walking. JENNA: Well, thank you so much for telling
us your story. And it was really nice meeting you. BEN: Yeah. Hey, let’s go get Eric and the others. JENNA: OK. Great. BEN: Bye. JENNA: Bye. CHET MORITZ: See you guys later. [MUSIC PLAYING] NOGGIN: How many pairs of spinal nerves exist
in the human body, 45, 65, or 31? Stay tuned to find out the answer. [MUSIC PLAYING] ANNOUNCER: Additional program support provided
by The Dana Foundation, your gateway to responsible information about the brain. More at dana.org. [MUSIC PLAYING] NOGGIN: How many pairs of spinal nerves exist
in the human body, 45, 65, or 31? The answer is 31 pairs. [MUSIC PLAYING] NOGGIN: Now that everyone has seen BCIs in
action, it’s time to find Eric and learn what all of this means for the future. ERIC CHUDLER: Welcome back. I’d like to introduce you to Sara Goering. She works in the Department of Philosophy
here at the University of Washington. SARA GOERING: I hear that you guys have been
touring some BCI labs here at UW. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve
seen so far? JADEN: Elijah and I saw how brain signals
can actually be recorded. BEN: Jenna and I actually met someone who
was in an accident and they use electrical signals to help repair the spinal cord. It’s completely changed her life for the better. SARA GOERING: I do neuroethics in the philosophy
department. And these are the kinds of things that we
look at, trying to think about the design process for BCIs so that we can produce a
device that’s going to be really helpful and benefit people like the woman that you saw
before, but that also pays attention to some of the, what we might call, side effects that
can happen that could put people at risk in various ways. BEN: I think what’s interesting is someone
being able to hack into someone’s brain or limb down the line when technology advances
and becomes more developed. That could be a possibility and make people
think, hm, maybe I shouldn’t get this new technology. SARA GOERING: So if somebody has access to
what’s going on in your brain, even though they can’t really read it well and know details
about your thoughts, you might want to have control over who knows. JADEN: People that have more money have a
lot more access or a louder voice to the new innovations that you and your group are working
with. And so I’m wondering how you decide whether
or not it’s fair for people with more money or people with less money but still have the
same problems get to have access to your program. SARA GOERING: I think it’s a really good question
because in this case, even participating in research seems like it offers some sort of
benefit because if the device is working, then you can control some things around you
that you couldn’t control before. And of course, right, the hope is that you
can recruit people into studies that represent the whole diversity of the people in the nation,
rather than just the most privileged. But that– it can be challenging to do. [MUSIC PLAYING] ERIC CHUDLER: Thanks for joining us here at
Brainworks. We’ve learned a lot about how brains and computers
can talk to each other. BEN: Yeah. Both brains and computers send electrical
signals to communicate. ELIJAH: By connecting brains to computers,
we can control things with our mind. This has really helped people struggling to
recover from bad accidents. JENNA: But we have to be careful when using
this technology and that it exists for everyone. JADEN: Thanks for joining us and we’ll see
you next time for Brainworks. I don’t know about you guys, but I have a
lot of research I want to do and some ideas I want to try. ELIJAH: Me too. ERIC CHUDLER: See ya. [MUSIC PLAYING]

BrainWorks: Brain-Computer Interface
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One thought on “BrainWorks: Brain-Computer Interface

  • July 28, 2019 at 9:19 am
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    Great work

    Reply

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