Discovery News reports on Hitachi's development of a simple brain-machine interface that "analyzes slight changes in the brain's blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals." It's activated when it detects "activity in the brain's frontal cortex, which handles problem solving." In a recent demo, doing sums or singing a song activated an electric train, but researchers are working on other applications.

Underlying Hitachi's brain-machine interface is a technology called optical topography, which sends a small amount of infrared light through the brain's surface to map out changes in blood flow….

Since 2005, Hitachi has sold a device based on optical topography that monitors brain activity in paralyzed patients so they can answer simple questions — for example, by doing mental calculations to indicate "yes" or thinking of nothing in particular to indicate "no."

"We are thinking of various kinds of applications," project leader Hideaki Koizumi said. "Locked-in patients can speak to other people by using this kind of brain machine interface."

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