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News Link • Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Computer Interface Monitors Your Overworked Brain and Takes Over Tasks For You

•, By Rebecca Boyle
 Yet your computer takes no notice, its beach ball of death spinning away incessantly and its processor failing utterly to work any faster. Now a new brain-computer interface could turn your computer into a more sympathetic partner, taking over some of your tasks when it senses you’re overworked.

The system, called Brainput, is designed to detect when a person’s workload becomes excessive and to modify said workload to make it easier. Erin Treacy Solovey, a postdoc at MIT, uses functional near-infrared spectroscopy to monitor brain activity and aid this brain-computer interaction.

Solovey and her colleagues used the fNIRS to determine when a person was multitasking, analyzing brain signals in earlier experiments to isolate patterns of activity. They could distinguish three specific states of multitasking, and developed classification algorithms for these patterns. The system works by strapping a fNIRS sensor on a user’s forehead — because hair interferes with the signal, for one thing, and also because the area tracks the anterior prefrontal cortex, which is involved in high-level processing.

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