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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2014 Apr;25:70-5. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.11.013. Epub 2013 Dec 27.

Brain-computer interfaces: a powerful tool for scientific inquiry.

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Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, William H. Foege Building, Box 355061, 4000 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98195, United States.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington, AC101 Paul G. Allen Center, Box 352350, 185 Stevens Way, Seattle, WA 98195, United States. Electronic address:


Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are devices that record from the nervous system, provide input directly to the nervous system, or do both. Sensory BCIs such as cochlear implants have already had notable clinical success and motor BCIs have shown great promise for helping patients with severe motor deficits. Clinical and engineering outcomes aside, BCIs can also be tremendously powerful tools for scientific inquiry into the workings of the nervous system. They allow researchers to inject and record information at various stages of the system, permitting investigation of the brain in vivo and facilitating the reverse engineering of brain function. Most notably, BCIs are emerging as a novel experimental tool for investigating the tremendous adaptive capacity of the nervous system.

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