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Brain-Computer Interface

Brain computer interface (BCI) is a system that translates the electrophysiological activity or metabolic rate of an organic organisms’ nervous system into signals that can be interpreted by a mechanical device. The idea of BCI has captured the public imagination for a century; Baby Boomers grew up with the Six Million Dollar Man, a television series featuring a man outfitted with neural prosthesis after an injury. As early as 1908, Le Nyctalope, arguably the first super hero, was also the first BCI described in literature (sporting an artificial heart.) BCI is no longer relegated to fiction, in fact research into the subject has flourished throughout the last decade in which humans, nonhuman primates, and rodents have directly communicated with electrical devices through neural activity (Ganguly and Carmen, 2009; Stieglitz 2009).

Despite the explosion of research into BCI, just a few years ago one would be hard pressed to find a device recording central nervous system activity and using it to control an electronic device below tens of thousands of dollars.