Most BCIs are not usable by the average consumer.

NB: This is a short explanation of the non-consumer oriented background and applications for BCI technology. For Consumer-BCI technology please read the main article here.


Timeline of Brain Computer Interface progress and major achievements:

1924 - Electrical nature of human brain confirmed, first recording of Brain Waves using Electroencephalography (EEG) by Hans Berger. [1]

Brain-computer interface (schematic)

Experimental set up for Closed Loop BCI control using a Rhesus Monkey

1969 - Researchers at University of Washington School of Medicine teach monkeys to deflect a needle through neural activity. Further research shows that Monkeys are able to activate neurons if given a reward, as with conventional tasks. [2]

1989 - Mathematical relationship between brainwaves and arm movement of Rhesus monkey determined, artificial control of limbs possible through electrical stimulation of the motor cortex. [3]

1999 - By embedding electrodes in the thalamus of a cat, researchers at UC Berkley are able to incercept and decode images directly from the retina and display them on a screen. [4]

2002- The first major commercialisation of BCI technology occurs, with 16 patients paying for vision restoring implants. The technology is later lost due to the death of the private researcher. [5]

2008 - Velliste et. al. demonstrate an apparatus whereby a Rhesus monkey is able to control a robotic arm in three dimensions to pick up food and feed itself using only BCI. [6]

Monkey controls robotic arm with brain computer interface

Monkey controls robotic arm with brain computer interface

2010 - The Annual BCI Research Award is established. [7]

Operating PrinciplesEdit

The main operating principles used in BCI technology are:

Invasive (Surgery Required)

  • Neuroprosthetics
  • Electrocorticography (ECG)


  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
  • Electroencephelography (EEG)


The main applications of BCI technology are medical. As well as offering a new pathway into the understanding of the human brain (and controversially: personality disorder and mental illness), they offer both the rectification of disabilities, and even augmentation of the abilities of healthy people. As an emerging field of technology there really are too many potential applications to list, so for further information please see the links below.


Due to the fact that BCI devices can operate on many different principles (see above) safety issues can vay greatly from one device to another. A brief summary of current safety considerations and concerns was carried out as part of the engineering process part of this wiki. 

External Links for more informationEdit


  1. Über das Elektrenkephalogramm des Menschen. Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, 1929, 87: 527-570.
  2. Fetz, E. E. (1969). "Operant Conditioning of Cortical Unit Activity". Science 163 (3870): 955–8. doi:10.1126/science.163.3870.955.
  3. Georgopoulos, et. al. (1989). "Mental rotation of the neuronal population vector". Science 243 (4888): 234–6. doi:10.1126/science.2911737.
  4. Stanley, GB; Li, FF; Dan, Y (1999). "Reconstruction of natural scenes from ensemble responses in the lateral geniculate nucleus". Journal of Neuroscience 19 (18): 8036–42.
  5. Naumann, J. Search for Paradise: A Patient's Account of the Artificial Vision Experiment (2012), Xlibris Corporation, ISBN 1-479-7092-04
  6. Velliste et. al. Cortical control of a prosthetic arm for self-feeding. Nature, 2008.