Entries in Brain Waves (3)


Brain-Activated Tail Lets You Wag and Tag

A brain wave-activated tail wags when its wearer is happy. (Image credit: Neurowear/YouTube)(TOKYO) -- Soon you’ll be able to smile with your tail.  A Japanese company has developed a wearable tail that wags when you’re happy.

It’s called Shippo -- Japanese for “tail.” And it reads brainwaves and heart rhythms to gauge its user’s emotional state.

“A Shippo tail moves with your mood,” the gadget maker Neurowear says in a YouTube demo.

The tail gets its orders wirelessly from a brainwave-reading headset and clip-on heart monitor. If you’re relaxed, it moves softly and slowly. If you’re concentrating, its movements will quicken, according to its maker.

Shippo also lets you tag your wag location and share your mood with friends over social media.

Unveiled Saturday at the Tokyo Games Show, Shippo joins brain-activated cat ears on Neurowear’s roster of trendy technology. The ears, called Nacomimi, sell for about $160. The price of Shippo, which is still a prototype, has not been released.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Brain Waves Experiment Offers Hope to the Disabled

A.J. Doud et al, PLoS ONE(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Imagine a person who is confined to a wheelchair but can still get around through nothing less than the power of thought.

Neuroscientists have experimented with brain waves for years, making slow progress.  But now, Dr. Bin He of the University of Minnesota and his team report a promising experiment.

They outfitted volunteers with caps with EEG sensors, and asked them to steer a helicopter on a computer screen through a series of randomly generated rings that appeared on the screen ahead of it.  There were no hand controls, no joysticks.  They could only try to will the helicopter forward with their minds.

It worked surprisingly well, Dr. He and his colleagues reported in the current issue of the online journal PLoS One. Eighty-five percent of the time, the volunteers could steer the virtual helicopter accurately.

"People have never done anything like this using noninvasive techniques," said He in a telephone interview.

There have been other experiments before, but the most successful required that electrodes be surgically implanted in the brain.  In one famous case, Massachusetts researchers were able to get a young quadriplegic man to steer his own wheelchair -- but he ended the experiment, partly because he hated having wires inside his skull.

"Our technique was noninvasive," said He.  The BCI -- short for brain-computer interface -- "is approaching the reliability that used to be done only by invasive procedures, though I will not say that it is better yet."

The challenge in using EEG signals is that they are, in the jargon of scientists, "noisy."  The brain generates minute amounts of electricity as one thinks, and sensors can detect it, but readouts can look like random vibrations, and it is hard to tease out, say, a signal that means you want to turn left or right.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Brain Waves Detect Babies' Potential Risk of Autism

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Although autism is one of the fastest growing diagnoses among toddlers, there are no medical tests to screen for the disorder -- all that's used by specialists in a simple checklist for behavioral signs and symptoms.

But a new study adds to mounting evidence that measuring brain activity during infancy could help determine whether a baby might be at higher risk of developing autism.

Researchers used electroencephalography, or an EEG, to measure the brain waves of nearly 80 babies from the time they were six months old until they reached age two.  Researchers found those who were already known to be at higher risk for autism -- those who had an older sibling on the spectrum -- showed a different brain wave pattern than those with no known risk for the disorder.

Current tests to diagnose autism look at a child's change in behavior, which often becomes apparent when a child reaches around two years old.  Many experts say the earlier they can diagnose and start behavioral therapies, the easier it will be to manage the disorder.

According to the study, at as early as nine months old, many of the infants that were already shown to be at greater risk for autism showed abnormal activity in the front left side of the brain, which is involved in language and social development.

"Just as you can observe certain behaviors after a certain point that indicate a child has autism, this process is really bringing it back a little," said William Bosl, research scientist at Children's Hospital in Boston, instructor of pediatrics at Harvard medical school, and author of the study.

He said that the different brain wave pattern seen in the children with great risk factors "seems to be highly correlated with behaviors that will develop later."

Previous research has studied magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs, and even magnetoencephalography, or MEGs, to see if changes in brain waves could potentially detect whether a child has autism.

But while initial results seemed promising, follow-up research could not reproduce consistent results.  And, as with EEGs, the findings are still too preliminary to convince some experts that the procedure will become a way to detect autism in children younger than two years old.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio