Toward Direct Brain-Computer Communication

Today I read:

Vidal, Jacques J. 1973. “Toward Direct Brain-Computer Communication.” Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, California 157-180.

A Brain-Computer Interface project, based on neurophysiological considerations about the origins of EEG signals and interpretation of its data, tried a new approach to acquire, preprocess and analyse brain-computer communication data. The goal was to establish the possibilities and limitations of using EEG data in a systematic and strategic way, and how feasible and practical would that system be, in order to power future studies and developments. The experiment followed an experimental strategy supported by a computer system and architecture.

The strategy focused on making a distinction between “ongoing” activity (i.e., sleeping) and “spontaneous” or “evoked” activity (i.e., “game playing”); and considered four parameters: (a) the “condition” upon the realization of which the stimulus was delivered; (b) the stimulus structure (shape, sound); (c) particular features in complex stimulus; and (d) the meaning of the stimulus in the context of a given application.

One of the tasks in the experiment was to concentrate on the horizontal or vertical structure of a grid pattern and “reduce” the pattern to a set of either horizontal or vertical lines, by exercising control over its perception in the appropriate direction. A second task was to play space war and relied on the cognitive influence that would modify waveforms evoked by identical stimulus, in this case, associate evoked potential from visual events to different states of mind or expectations.

The conclusions support three assumptions: (1) mental decisions and reactions can be probed; (2) EEG phenomena is a complex structure that reflect individual cortical events in a flow of messages; (3) conditioning procedures can increase the reliability and stability of signatures and patterns.

I enjoyed reading through this article. Questions that arises from this article (future readings will probably answer me) are:

  • If there are controversial opinion about the correlation between neuronal firing and EEG waves, what is the state of that now?
  • How reliable is EEG data analysis today?
  • Do we still have “noise” from “ongoing” brain activity?
  • Can we know what you’re feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting?

There are many more questions to find the answer. But I still have a lot of papers to read.


Author: Pedro Oliveira

Master in Informatics and Computer Engineering; Game Developer at FABAMAQ. Photographer, Marketer and Designer. Interested in Virtual Reality, Brain-Computer Interfaces, Neuro Engineering.

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