Monday, November 3, 2008

Scott Mackler

The PT site Evidence in Motion posted about Scott Mackler, a neuroscientist with ALS. As it turns out, Scott Mackler is married to a PT researcher, Lynn Snyder-Mackler.

The CBS video, Brain Power, features brain-computer interface technology; Scott, unable to move anything but his mouth, eyes, and thoughts, can select letters from a screen by focusing on a particular letter that he wants: when a random flash highlights that particular letter, his thought, "That's the one I want," and whatever change in electrical potential that his selection creates, effectively communicates itself to the computer through an array of electrodes gelled to his scalp through a cap, and pegs the letter into a window. Then he can move on and peg the next letter. In this way, Scott can express himself and continue work as a neuroscientist.

(Thoughts move. Thoughts are verbs, not nouns. They move - they don't just sit there, being mere nouns. This is one good way that "feeling of certainty" discussed by Robert Burton in his book, On Being Certain, pays off! I am quite certain about that. Almost entirely certain, in fact.)

Also featured in the video we see monkey brain/robot arm interface technology, and an implant into the motor cortex of Cathy, a woman with locked-in syndrome, which gives her an opportunity to communicate with others, control a wheelchair, play music, and adjust the temperature and light level in her home, by moving a computer cursor across a screen, using only her thoughts about moving her hand.

Related blog posts:

1. Smart Prosthetics, Smart Nerves, Smart Brains
2. More Smartness
3. Monkey Robotics
4. Monkey intentions and control of a robotic arm
5. Ginger Campbell's podcast #43, interview with Robert Burton about his book, On Being Certain
6. Harriet Hall's review of the same book

November 4 Update:

7. Mo's Neurophilosophy post about this same topic - Brain Power


Kent said...

Some months back I watched "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly", a movie based on a book by the same name, written by fellow with locked in syndrome. An amazing story. He could only blink one eye, and had no computer accessories. So he had to listen to someone recite the alphbet until they came to the correct letter, then he blinked!

dermoneuromodulator "neuroplastician" said...

I gather this technology is quite new. Too late for the Diving Bell author likely. I hear it's a great book.

Ginger Campbell, MD said...

This is not an area I watch very closely, but it is my impression that the technology in this area is about to take off in a big way. Obviously, there are many patients who will benefit when that happens.

Ginger Campbell, MD
Brain Science Podcast