State Health Department's Wadsworth Center to Host International Brain-Computer Interface Meeting

ALBANY, June10, 2005 - Today the New York State Department of Health announced that the Third International Brain-Computer Interface Meeting will be held June 14-19, 2005, at the Rensselaerville Institute in Rensselaerville, NY. This meeting will focus on brain-computer interface (BCI) research and development, a powerful new communication and control technology for individuals with disabilities, including forms of paralysis.

Prominent scientists, clinicians, and engineers from around the world will review and evaluate the state of this emerging technology and will address issues critical to further advancing BCI-related research and education. Research Physician and BCI pioneer, Dr. Jonathon Wolpaw, along with BCI project coordinator, Theresa Vaughan, of the Department's Wadsworth Center laboratories are organizing the meeting.

"Wadsworth Center has a unique concentration of BCI researchers and is widely recognized as a world leader in this area of medical science," said State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. "I am very proud of the progress we've made in this promising area of research. It's another example of how Governor Pataki has created an environment in which science and technology have flourished in New York State."

Brain-computer interfaces translate electrical outputs from the brain into physical outputs, such as moving a cursor on a computer screen or operating a prosthetic arm. This alternative holds promise for people who are paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, strokes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular diseases. Approximately one million individuals with such motor disabilities live in New York State.

"BCI technology could allow many people living with significant disabilities to improve the quality of their lives by offering a new chance to communicate and control their lives," said Jonathon Wolpaw, M.D.,  "Training the next generation of scientists is a key component in our efforts to carry forward this significant development in medical technology."

Wadsworth's BCI laboratory organized the first two international meetings, also held at the Rensselaerville Institute in 1999 and again in 2002. More than 150 scientists from sixteen countries are registered to participate in the third meeting. They will hear updates from more than fifty BCI research groups and will attend workshops addressing four critical areas of BCI research: signals and recording methods; signal processing; clinical issues and applications; and software and hardware development.

The long-term impact of the meeting will be enhanced through the publication of its review and evaluation findings, as peer-reviewed articles, in a dedicated issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering.

For more information on BCI technology, please visit the Wadsworth Center's web site. (http://www.wadsworth.org).