Seminar Series

Evolving models of human brainwaves and brain dynamics

In 1957 Grey Walter connected a circular array of 22 light bulbs to EEG amplifiers to produce the first flickering image of the ever changing scalp electric field produced by spatiotemporal cortical field dynamics. A decade later the first photograph of the whole earth was produced by NASA in response to a one-man campaign by Stewart Brand. After another decade, personal computers made scalp EEG animations feasible but their speed and complexity emphasized how little was understood about EEG dynamics, discouraging even their imagination. Now, nearly 40 years still later, no one has yet produced a high-resolution video of the spatiotemporal dynamics of human cortical local field activity itself. However, much progress has been made in developing methods to sort out and image the many brain and non-brain sources of the flickering scalp EEG. At the same time, accelerating advances in wearable sensing and computing make the prospect of ubiquitous systems enabling unobtrusive EEG-actuated control and cognitive state responsivity -- while not yet practicable, something more than a sci fi dream. I believe full realization of the dream of simple brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) will require still deeper understanding and higher-resolution imaging and modeling of cortical field dynamics. Combined, advanced methods developed for functional EEG brain imaging and BCI will make possible a wide range of medical and everyday applications while advancing basic understanding of natural human cognition.