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Despite being quite undesirable creatures, some people just love to do research on cockroach legs. Inventor Bryan Salt loves them much that he is trying to control the insect’s limb with his own brain. Together with his team Salt managed to bring the insect’s muscles to life using an Emotiv EPOC brain-computer interface headset and pointing the limb at a ‘Yes’ sign, answering a team member’s ultimate question: ‘Bryan, can you move the leg?’

Salt is a member of the Thinker Thing community science group in Chile, a team experimenting with the Emotiv EEG headset to record electrical signals from their brain.

They have developed a software that converts these signals into waveforms which are turned into electrical signals again to move a cockroach leg. And believe it or not, during the process the insects are not even hurt, they are fully anesthetized before their leg gets removed. And as cockroaches tend to do, they shortly grow those limbs back anyway.

“What we do with the software is we capture how the leg moves to which particular stimulus, so we have lots of different wave lengths in the music and we can find out which one will actually stimulate it in a controlled fashion. So in this way the computer learns how to control the leg.”, explains Salt the process.

The ultimate goal, adds Salt, is to make a direct connection between the brain and a computer – a goal that had been already achieved by scientists at Northwestern Medicine who successfully delivered messages from the brain directly to the muscles – bypassing the spinal cord.

Besides moving cockroach legs the team is also working on building a device that can build real objects with human mind. Salt hopes their research could one day help in the field of neuroprosthetics.


Thinker Thing Team controls cockroach leg via Emotiv EPOC