November 18, 2012

Towards an "intelligent" Brain-Machine Interface

Brain-machine interface (BMI) research has largely focused on the problem of restoring lost motor function in individuals. However, a more compelling aim of such research is the development of a truly "intelligent" BMI that can transcend original motor function by considering the higher-level goal of the motor activity and reformulating the motor plan accordingly. This would allow, for example, a task to be performed faster than is possible by natural movement, or more safely or efficiently than originally conceived. Since a typical motor activity consists of a sequence of planned movements, such a BMI must be capable of analyzing the complete sequence before action. As such, its feasibility hinges fundamentally on whether all elements of the motor plan can be decoded concurrently from working memory.