Georgia Institute of Technology
Abstract: The tongue has many inherent features that can turn it into an ideal noninvasive pathway to the human brain, particularly for command and control applications. With a strong representation on the motor cortex, in close proximity of where the hands and fingers are mapped and occupying about the same area, the tongue is capable of sophisticated motor control and manipulation tasks with many degrees of freedom. Unlike most other skeletal muscles, the tongue has a low rate of perceived exertion and the motoneurons controlling its muscles receive a wealth of vestibular input that reflexively adjust its motion regardless of the changes in the body position. Furthermore, its cranial hotline to the brain is immune to the most severe spinal cord injuries and many neurological diseases, and in order to accesses it one does not need to undergo a brain surgery, but to simply open one’s mouth. These reasons seem to be enough to take a closer look at the brain-tongue-computer interfacing (BTCI) not only as environmental control for those with severe physical disabilities but also those who can benefit from new augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools. BTCIs can also be used in novel speech therapy and upper limb rehabilitation paradigms following neurological insults, such as stroke and traumatic brain injuries. In this talk, I will introduce a wireless and wearable BTCI, called the “Tongue Drive System” (TDS), and some of the results we have achieved in administering it to various applications.