According to a report by Washington University in St. Louis, a 14 year old boy suffering from epilepsy has become the first teenager to play a video game using just his thoughts. The study was headed by Dr. Eric Leuthardt M.D., an assistant professor of neurological surgery at the School of Medicine, and Daniel Moran, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical engineering.
The experiment, conducted by doctors and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, involved the placement of a grid directly on top the boy's brain in order to invasively record surface brain activity. Engineers then programmed the classic video game Space Invaders
to link to the brain interface system.
Researchers noted that the boy completed the first two levels of the game using just his mind, and was then presented with a more challenging version of the game, which he also beat in rapid fashion, learning “almost instantaneously.” Researchers noted that the experiment was performed in hopes that they could see which areas of the brain were impacted by the boy's epilepsy, while at the same time pushing forward research on the possibility of future biomedical devices that could conceivably be used to control artificial limbs.
In 2004, similar research was performed by another team led by Leuthardt and Moran on four adults patients, though Leuthardt noted that the new experiment did yield some interesting differences between what was recorded in the earlier study.
"We observed much quicker reaction times in the boy and he had a higher level of detail of control,” commented Leuthardt. “For instance, he wasn't moving just left and right, but just a little bit left, a little bit right.”
However, he conceded that since there has only been one teenager tested, it is too early to jump to any conclusions.
For more information on this experiment, including additional quotes from those involved with the study, read the full report