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Damien Coyle PhD, Professor of Neurotechnology, presents as part of the Inaugural Professorial Lecture series

I think, therefore I can communicate sans movement or speech

In 1637, the philosopher René Descartes asked: do we exist or are we living in an illusion? Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one's own existence served as proof of the reality of one's own mind, that there must be a thinking entity, ‘the self’, for there to be a thought. He concluded ‘I think, therefore I am’ (Cognito, ergo sum; Je pense, donc je suis). This examination of ‘the self’ set the stage for the past four centuries of philosophy of mind and neuroscience research aimed at understanding the thinking human brain, probably the most complex structure in the universe. In 1929, Hans Berger recorded the first electroencephalogram (EEG); a non-invasive measure of the electrical activity arising from the electrochemical processes of the brain’s many billions of neurons and synapses. In 1973, Jacques Vidal dared to postulate that this electrical activity could provide a medium for direct brain-computer communication, enabling a person to communicate without movement, positing I think, therefore I can communicate. Since then, research on brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) and neurotechnology has proven that brain activity, modulated intentionally by thinking, can relay information directly to a computer, where it is translated by intelligent algorithms (some inspired by the brain’s neural networks) into control signals that enable communication and interaction with technology without movement.
This lecture will describe Professor Coyle’s neurotechnology research, which is not only aimed at improving quality of life for people with physical disabilities, by helping them communicate, interact with technology or rehabilitate, but also to improve the transfer of information between humans and computers in general, to entertain with brain controlled computer games and even enable ‘cybathletes’ to compete in the Cybathlon championship for athletes with disabilities.

The response will be given by Professor J. A. Scott Kelso, Professor of Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Boca Raton, Florida, USA.

This event takes place in Lecture Theatre MD108 and is open to everyone.

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Event info

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Tuesday 14 March

6.30pm to 8pm

Lecture Theatre MD108

Corporate Events Office

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