Scientists to hack into Stephen Hawking's brain
Even as his body continues to deteriorate, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is working with researchers to "hack" into his own brain to allow him to continue communicating with colleagues.
Hawking and the scientists are testing a groundbreaking device that can let him communicate through brain waves, UK's The Telegraph reported.
"We'd like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain," said Philip Low, a professor at Stanford and inventor of the iBrain, a brain scanner that measures electrical activity.
Researchers may unveil their latest results at a conference in Cambridge next month, and may demonstrate the technology on Hawking, the report added.
Potential medical applications
Beyond mind reading, the report said the device has potential medical applications, such as enlisting the iBrain to help doctors prescribe the correct levels of medication based on a person's brainwave responses.
The 70-year-old Hawking has motor neurone disease and lost the power of speech nearly 30 years ago.
Presently, he uses a computer to communicate but is losing the ability as the condition worsens, The Telegraph said.
He has been working with scientists at Stanford University who are developing the iBrain, which picks up brain waves and communicates them via a computer.
The iBrain could also be used to help treat sleep disorders, depression and even autism.
"This is the first step to personalized medicine," Low said.
Powered by imagination
Hawking and Low described how the physicist had learned to create patterns of impulses by imagining moving his hands and limbs.
"It is hoped that as the technology becomes more advanced it could recognize more sophisticated brain activity and turn it into words," The Telegraph said.
The report added scientists hope that it may soon be able to "read a person's mind," playing a major role in a medical breakthrough.
"This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We're building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time," said Low.
Low added the emergence of such biomarkers opens the possibility to link intended movements to a library of words and convert them into speech, "thus providing motor neurone sufferers with communication tools more dependent on the brain than on the body."
Last summer, Low traveled to Cambridge where he met with Hawking, who was asked to think "very hard" about completing various tasks while wearing the device. — TJD, GMA News