Groundbreaking study demonstrates potential to help millions of people with disabilitiesMINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (12/14/2016) — Researchers at the University of Minnesota have made a major breakthrough that allows people to control a robotic arm using only their minds. The research has the potential to help millions of people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases.The study is published online today in Scientific Reports, a Nature research journal.
“This is the first time in the world that people can operate a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in a complex 3D environment using only their thoughts without a brain implant,” said Bin He, a University of Minnesota biomedical engineering professor and lead researcher on the study. “Just by imagining moving their arms, they were able to move the robotic arm.”
The noninvasive technique, called electroencephalography (EEG) based brain-computer interface, records weak electrical activity of the subjects’ brain through a specialized, high-tech EEG cap fitted with 64 electrodes and converts the “thoughts” into action by advanced signal processing and machine learning.
Eight healthy human subjects completed the experimental sessions of the study wearing the EEG cap. Subjects gradually learned to imagine moving their own arms without actually moving them to control a robotic arm in 3D space. They started from learning to control a virtual cursor on computer screen and then learned to control a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in fixed locations on a table. Eventually, they were able to move the robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in random locations on a table and move objects from the table to a three-layer shelf by only thinking about these movements.
All eight subjects could control a robotic arm to pick up objects in fixed locations with an average success rate above 80 percent and move objects from the table onto the shelf with an average success rate above 70 percent.
“This is exciting as all subjects accomplished the tasks using a completely noninvasive technique. We see a big potential for this research to help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases to become more independent without a need for surgical implants,” He said....
Dr. Bin He, IEM director, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Medtronic-Bakken Endowed Chair for Engineering in Medicine, received the prestigious Academic Career Achievement Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), one of the world’s largest professional societies in bioengineering. This award is given annually to an individual “For outstanding contribution and achievement in the field of Biomedical Engineering as an educator, researcher, developer, or administrator who has had a distinguished career of twenty years or more in the field of biomedical engineering.” Scientific contributions and academic achievements are major criteria for the award, which represents the highest honor for the society to recognize one of its 10,000+ members each year. Past awardees include Bob Langer (MIT; tissue engineering) and Roger Barr (Duke University; bioelectricity), among others. Dr. He was recognized “For significant contributions to neuroengineering research and education.”...
The University of Minnesota was recently selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as one of three sites in the nation to establish a strategic Research and Evaluation Hub (REACH), helping to promote commercialization and technology transfer in life sciences and biomedicine. To develop the hub, NIH will invest $3 million grant with another $3 million in matching U of M funds. The university’s MIN-REACH program will provide commercial expertise and resources needed for the development and commercialization of diagnostics, therapeutics, preventive medicine and medical devices. The program will establish new industry partnerships, strengthen existing partnerships, and provide entrepreneurial, commercial-style education for innovators to accelerate the pace at which innovations reach the marketplace. It will fund between 10-20 research projects each year.
The University’s hub, MIN-REACH, will be led by Dr. Charles Muscoplat (PI), Professor of Food Science and Nutrition. Along with Dr. Muscoplat, multiple members of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM) are taking lead roles on the project. Dr. Allison Hubel (Co-PI), director of the IEM-affiliated Biopreservation Core Resource (BioCoR), and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Bin He (Co-PI), IEM director and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, will jointly lead the medical devices side of the program. Dr. Vadim Gurvich, Associate Professor of Pharmacy and associate director of the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, will co-lead, with Dr. Muscoplat, the pharmaceutical side of the program. In addition to the 4 Co-PIs, several IEM members are participating in the MN-REACH grant, including Dr. Kevin Peterson (Co-I), from the Department of Family and Community Health and director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care, who will provide medical advice....
Researchers in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering have developed a new noninvasive system that allows people to control a flying robot using only their mind. The study goes far beyond fun and games and has the potential to help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases.
The study was published today in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Neural Engineering. View a University of Minnesota video of the robot in action.
Five subjects (three female and two male) who took part in the study were each able to successfully control the four-blade flying robot, also known as a quadcopter, quickly and accurately for a sustained amount of time.
“Our study shows that for the first time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just their thoughts sensed from a noninvasive skull cap,” said Bin He, lead author of the study and biomedical engineering professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “It works as good as invasive techniques used in the past.”...
It’s a staple of science fiction: people who can control objects with their minds.
At the University of Minnesota, a new technology is turning that fiction into reality.
In the lab of biomedical engineering professor Bin He, several young people have learned to use their thoughts to steer a flying robot around a gym, making it turn, rise, dip, and even sail through a ring.
The technology, pioneered by He, may someday allow people robbed of speech and mobility by neurodegenerative diseases to regain function by controlling artificial limbs, wheelchairs, or other devices. And it’s completely noninvasive: Brain waves (EEG) are picked up by the electrodes of an EEG cap on the scalp, not a chip implanted in the brain.
A report on the technology has been published in the Journal of Neural Engineering.
“My entire career is to push for noninvasive 3-D brain-computer interfaces, or BCI,” says He, a faculty member in the College of Science and Engineering. “[Researchers elsewhere] have used a chip implanted into the brain’s motor cortex to drive movement of a cursor [across a screen] or a robotic arm. But here we have proof that a noninvasive BCI from a scalp EEG can do as well as an invasive chip.”...
A team of University of Minnesota biomedical engineers and researchers from Mayo Clinic published a groundbreaking study today that outlines how a new type of non-invasive brain scan taken immediately after a seizure gives additional insight into possible causes and treatments for epilepsy patients. The new findings could specifically benefit millions of people who are unable to control their epilepsy with medication.
The research was published online today in Brain, a leading international journal of neurology.
The study’s findings include:
Important data about brain function can be gathered through non-invasive methods, not only during a seizure, but immediately after a seizure.
The frontal lobe of the brain is most involved in severe seizures.
Seizures in the temporal lobe are most common among adults. The new technique used in the study will help determine the side of the brain where the seizures originate.
“This is the first-ever study where new non-invasive methods were used to study patients after a seizure instead of during a seizure,” said Bin He, a biomedical engineering professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering and senior author of the study. “It’s really a paradigm shift for research in epilepsy.”...
University of Minnesota researchers will be featured in the Big Ten Network’s debut of “Impact the World,” a powerful new original series that highlights the academic side of Big Ten universities. The debut program airs Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 8:30 p.m. CST and features the work of University of Minnesota biomedical engineering professor Bin He and his students in the College of Science and Engineering.
He and his team are pioneering technology that allows immobilized or speechless individuals to control real objects with their minds. No other research group has designed a system that allows a person to move objects on a screen at will through 3-D space using noninvasive technology requiring nothing more than thought....
Seated before a computer screen, Elissa Gutterman does what once seemed impossible: She guides a helicopter through virtual 3-D space by the force of her thoughts.
Watching her move the helicopter is fun, but biomedical engineering professor Bin He has a serious purpose in mind. He hopes that someday his work on brain-computer interfaces will give some control over their environment to people who have only their minds with which to communicate. Stroke and paralysis survivors are among the potential beneficiaries.
This is the first time, to He’s knowledge, anyone has demonstrated a system that allows a person to continuously move objects on a screen at will through 3-D space using noninvasive technology. And the system’s noninvasive character means it could have implications far beyond the hospital. It could possibly help people drive or navigate, or it may find a use in entertainment software....