Brain Science of BrainGate
Braingate™: Wired for Thought
BrainGate, Inc. is a company owned by Tufts University, focused on the advancement of the ground-breaking BrainGate™ Neural Interface Technology and associated intellectual property. The platform technology is based on the results of many years of research and development at premier academic institutions such as Brown University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia, Emory University, and the University of Utah.
BrainGate™ bridges the gap between the brain and the limb. The BrainGate™ technology consists of a sensor that is implanted on the motor cortex of the brain and a device that analyzes brain signals. Cervical spinal cord or brain injury may have disconnected the motor cortex signals from the limb. However, if the patient still has the ability to “think” about movement, BrainGate™ has the potential to interpret and re-connect those signals, thus allowing the patient to move those limbs simply by thinking about it.
Recent scientific advances in the area of prosthetic devices have significantly improved the prospects of people who have lost their arms due to trauma or vascular disease. These advanced prosthetic devices are currently controlled with mechanical switches; BrainGate™ was created with the belief that once perfected, implanted neural interfaces will provide a more natural control of these devices. Using brain signals to control movement should enable more real-time responses and allow for more complex use of these artificial limbs.
The human brain is a parallel processing supercomputer capable of instantaneously processing vast amounts of information. BrainGate™’s technology allows for an extensive amount of electrical activity data to be transmitted from neurons in the brain to computers for analysis. Once implanted with a device like BrainGate™, the limits of the human brain become unbounded. BrainGate™ can connect your brain to the Internet, to a robot, or to a bionic arm. BrainGate™ could as easily be used to control a wheelchair or car with your mind, as it could to control a submarine. As Wired Magazine remarked after spending time with the first BrainGate™ patient at Cyberkinetics™, “In theory, once you can control a computer cursor, you can do anything from drawing circles to piloting a battleship.”
BrainGate, Inc. does not run clinical trials or perform surgery on patients, but a number of academic institutions are performing clinical trials across the United States and Europe for brain-computer interfaces. The BrainGate™ Neural Interface has been the subject of a clinical trial being conducted under an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) from the FDA with a small group of patients. At a number of labs across the world, there is development underway on BrainGate™ and related neural interfaces to potentially provide limb movement, robotic control, and assistive communication to people with severe motor disabilities. In the future, the BrainGate™ system could be used by individuals whose injuries are less severe. Next generation products may be able to provide an individual with the ability to control devices that allow breathing, bladder, and bowel movements.
BrainGate, Inc. is working to create advancements in technology that allow severely disabled individuals — including those with traumatic spinal cord injury and loss of limbs — to communicate and control common everyday functions, literally through thought. The BrainGate™ technology, as well as other similar technologies, are currently undergoing clinical trials at various academic and research institutes, in addition to hospitals throughout the United States and Europe.
While BrainGate, Inc. does not perform surgeries or clinical trials, BrainGate’s™ intellectual property has been used by universities and hospitals in a number of patients through FDA-approved clinical trials.
Below is a list of clinical trials associated with BrainGate™, as well as those being developed throughout the larger community of Brain-Computer Interfaces:
Center for Neurotechnology and Neurorecovery
Dr. Leigh Hochberg, Mass General Hospital (Massachusetts)
Brown University, Mass General Hospital, and the Veterans association (Massachusetts)
Dr. Philip R. Kennedy (Georgia)
Dr. Theodore Berger, University of Southern California (California)
University of Tubingen:
Dr. Niels Birbaumer (Germany)
Caltech Pine Lab:
Dr. Jerry Pine (California)
US Defense Science Office:
Dr. Geoffrey Ling (United States)
New York State Department of Health (New York)
Johns Hopkins University Neuroengineering Lab
Duke University (North Carolina)