stephen hawkingScientists have designed a device that reads thoughts. They tried the “iBrain” on British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.

A mind-reading device is created by scientists in California to be used in patients with diseases such as of Stephen Hawking, which removes the ability to communicate with the environment.

The famous British cosmologist was among the first who tried the iBrain, which was invented by Philip Low, 32 year-old neuroscientist from San Diego.

The iBrain belongs to the new generation of mobile devices attempting to monitor and diagnose neurological and psychical disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s disease which Hawking suffers from, depression and autism.

The iBrain can also be used in expensive sleep laboratories, where special hats with dozens of electrodes are used and the patient usually needs to stay overnight.

“The device collects data in real time when the patient is asleep or is watching TV or doing anything else,” explains Philip Low.

The device uses a single channel to record waves of electrical signals in the brain. These waves change depending on the activities and thoughts of the person or the brain dysfunction.

Philip Low has developed an algorithm of reading the brain waves, which was the subject of his doctoral thesis in 2007. The initial research was made on finches.

Last summer Philip Low tried the device on Hawking. “We wanted to see if Stephen can use his mind to form a repetitive and consistent pattern that can be translated by computer into a word or letter or computer command”.

The researchers asked Stephen Hawking to imagine pushing a ball with his right hand. “Although he can not move his hand, the motor cortex can give the command to generate electric brain waves,” says Philip Low. The algorithm managed to read the scientist’s mind and turn his thoughts into a series of graphical representations.

Philip Low’s company, NeuroVigil, is to repeat the experiment on a much larger scale in patients with Lou Gehrig’s syndrome and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Anna LeMind, B.A.

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