It sounds like science fiction: controlling electronic devices with brain waves. But researchers have developed a new type of electroencephalogram (EEG) electrode that can do just that, without the sticky gel required for conventional electrodes. Even better, the devices work through a full head of hair.
The researchers report the flexible electrodes, which could someday be used in brain-computer interfaces to drive cars or move artificial limbs, in the ACS journal Nano Letters (“A Flexible, Robust, and Gel-Free Electroencephalogram Electrode for Noninvasive Brain-Computer Interfaces”).
Often used to diagnose seizure disorders and other neurological conditions, EEGs are machines that track and record brain wave patterns. To conduct an EEG, technicians typically use a very sticky gel to attach electrodes to different regions of the patient’s scalp.
However, this gel is difficult to wash out of hair and sometimes irritates the skin. In addition, hair interferes with the electrical signals. Ming Lei, Bo Hong, Hui Wu and colleagues wanted to develop an EEG electrode that is flexible, robust and gel-free. Such an electrode could help patients, but also might allow people to someday control devices with their brains.

Image Credit:  Amanda Scott,  Alias Group Creative

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