New research coming out of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) will drastically improve and stabilize brain-computer interfaces.
The research was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, with the paper being titled “A stabilized brain-computer interface based on neural manifold alignment.”
Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI)
Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) are devices capable of allowing disabled individuals to control prosthetic limbs, computer curses, or other interfaces by using their minds.
One of the biggest challenges associated with using BCIs in a clinical setting is that the neural recordings can be unstable. The individual controlling the BCI can eventually lose control due to variations in the signals picked up by BCI.
Whenever this loss of control happens, the individual must go through a recalibration process. The individual has to reset the connection between their mental commands and the tasks being performed, and another human technician often has to be present.
William Bishop is a fellow at Janelia Farm Research Campus. He was previously a PhD student and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Machine Learning at CMU.
“Imagine if every time we wanted to use our cell phone, to get it to work correctly, we had to somehow calibrate the screen so it knew what part of the screen we were pointing at,” says Bishop. “The current state of the art in BCI technology is sort of like that. Just to get these BCI devices to work, users have to do this frequent recalibration. So that’s extremely inconvenient for the users, as well as the technicians maintaining the devices.”
New Machine Learning Algorithm
The researchers presented a new machine learning algorithm capable of accounting for the varying signals. The individual is able to keep control of the BCI even when the instabilities are present. The researchers developed this after finding that neural population activity takes place in a low-dimensional “neural manifold.”
Alan Degenhart is a postdoctoral researcher in electrical and computer engineering at CMU.
“When we say ‘stabilization,’ what we mean is that our neural signals are unstable, possibly because we’re recording from different neurons across time,” says Degenhart. “We have figured out a way to take different populations of neurons across time and use their information to essentially reveal a common picture of the computation that’s going on in the brain, thereby keeping the BCI calibrated despite neural instabilities.”
Previous approaches to self-recalibration methods have also been faced with challenges surrounding instabilities. Unlike other methods, this one does not rely on the subject performing well during the recalibration process.
Byron Yu is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at CMU.
“Let’s say that the instability were so large such that the subject were no longer able to control the BCI,” explains Yu. “Existing self-recalibration procedures are likely to struggle in that scenario, whereas in our method, we’ve demonstrated it can in many cases recover from those catastrophic instabilities.”
Emily Oby, a postdoctoral researcher in neurobiology at Pitt, spoke about the issue of instability as well.
“Neural recording instabilities are not well characterized, but it’s a very large problem,” says Oby. “There’s not a lot of literature we can point to, but anecdotally, a lot of the labs that do clinical research with BCI have to deal with this issue quite frequently. This work has the potential to greatly improve the clinical viability of BCIs, and to help stabilize other neural interfaces.”
The paper also included authors Steve Chase, professor of biomedical engineering and the Neuroscience Institute at CMU, along with Aaron Batists, associate professor of bioengineering at Pitt, and Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, associate professor of neurological surgery at Pitt.
The research was funded by the Craig H Neilsen Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, DSF Charitable Foundation, National Science Foundation, PA Dept of Health Research, and the Simons Foundation.
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An Asteroid Bigger Than The Empire State Building Poses ‘No Danger’ On Saturday Night, Says NASA – Forbes
A huge near-Earth asteroid will pass our planet tonight at a safe distance of 3.2 million miles, according to NASA.
After a spate of doom-laden headlines the space agency felt the need yesterday to update a previous post about near-Earth asteroids with the following note:
“Asteroid 2002 NN4 will safely pass by the Earth on June 6 at a distance of approximately 3.2 million miles (5.1 million kilometers), about 13 times further away from the Earth than the Moon is. There is no danger the asteroid will hit the Earth.”
Asteroid 2002 NN4’s closest approach to Earth will be at 11:20 p.m. EDT. on Saturday, June 6, 2020.
NASA also tweeted the same advice:
NASA Asteroid Watch then tweeted this image of the asteroid’s trajectory:
How big is Asteroid 2002 NN4?
Asteroid 2002 NN4 is huge. Measuring between 820 feet and 1,870 feet (250 meters to 570 meters) according to Space.com. New York City’s Empire State Building is 443.2 meters tall, including its antenna.
That’s over a dozen times bigger than the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. That was the biggest meteor for over a century.
Would asteroid 2002 NN4 be dangerous if it hit Earth?
Yes—asteroid 2002 NN4 is city-killer size, but it’s not going to cause any harm to anyone.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
Crew Dragon with two NASA astronauts docks to ISS – TASS
NEW YORK, May 31. /TASS/. The Crew Dragon spacecraft with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on board has successfully docked to the International Space Station (ISS), as follows from a NASA broadcast on Sunday.
The spacecraft began approaching the ISS about two hours before docking than was carried out 10:16 ahead of the schedule. The Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched using the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 22.22 pm Moscow time on May 30 from the Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Crew Dragon is a configuration of the cargo spacecraft Dragon, which had already delivered cargoes to the ISS. A Falcon-9 rocket put the cargo vehicle in space on March 2. Its docking with the ISS was carried out automatically the next day.
NASA stopped crewed flights in 2011 after the Space Shuttle program came to an end. From that moment on all astronauts were delivered to the ISS and back by Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. Originally the Untied States was to start using commercial spacecraft for crewed missions in 2017.
Toddler could be battling rare syndrome in response to COVID-19 – Winnipeg Free Press
More than a month after testing positive for COVID-19, a Winnipeg toddler is fighting another illness – a possible rare inflammatory syndrome that could be part of the body’s reaction to new viruses.
The girl’s mother told CBC News doctors are trying to find out whether the one-year-old has developed Kawasaki disease, or multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, now that she is negative for COVID-19 but is still seriously ill.
To read more of this story first reported by CBC News, click here.
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