EEG headsets

23 Nov

Electroencephalography or EEG is the method of recording electrical signals from the brain. Usually this is done for medical reasons when doctors need to understand whats going on inside the human mind.

EEG headsets have been around for years. An early recording was created in 1924.

The main method of aquiring EEG information is through a scalp mounted headset. The electrodes, there are on average 19 electrodes in medical grade EEG machines, are mounted at various points on the scalp, firing electricity through the brain an measuring the resistance. Through this method, the headset can read how the neurons in the brain are firing and give you a response.

EEG machines are one of the methods for reading brain waves. Another method is fMRI which is similar to an MRI machine in that the patient is placed inside a huge machine. There are a number of reasons why EEG is normally preferable to fMRI, usually to do with cost.

Reading minds is very tricky. It’s getting more advanced. Usually, as with typical EEG machines, it can make a graph of brain activity. The machine can show you how the patient is responding to certain events, but not exactly what the patient is thinking.

Current EEG based games use this method to distinguish between indiviual thoughts. By training the machine to give commands when a certain pattern of brain activity is achieved, then it can give the illusion of reading your mind.

In reality, medical science is getting closer to distinguishing between exact thoughts. Some Japanese scientists have figured out how to reconstruct images from a patients mind patterns.

As is the case, this technology can only recognise some basic patterns, and even those are very rough.

What I find impressive is the current gaming usage. As stated before, it gives the illusion of mind reading. I think games can benefit from this illusion. Especially with current technology. If you had the time and money, then the Epoch is the way to go, but otherwise, the developer has to give even more illusions to mask how the headset is working. That’s the challenge I am currently facing.

But, knowing the medical side of Electroencephalography is certainly interesting. Knowing that the technology hasn’t really changed for 80 years is intriguing and thought provoking. The only change really is the price and availability of these machines.

My tutor, Adam Martin, was telling me about how his FMP way back when, was about EEG headsets and he created his very own for his project. It ran on Basic and pulled out a graph of brain waves. It was a very odd coincidence when I found this out. After the summer when we returned and I told him about what I was developing, it was bizarre to find this fact out.

How about that.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroencephalography
http://www.technologyreview.com/biztech/18276/
http://www.mindmodulations.com/mindmods/
http://www.nielsgl.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/nn-eeg-analysis.pdf

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