Q. How is the human brain like a computer?
One major similarity is that both the brain and the computer have intricate circuitry; but the brain has many, many more connections because it contains 100 billion neurons.
The other similarity – and we used this in research for the BrainGate – is the logical processing of information that occurs in both the brain and the computer. We placed an array of 100 electrodes, each thinner than a hair, in a paralysed patient’s brain, at the area that controls the hand. Then we recorded nerve signals from this array while asking the patient to imagine moving a computer cursor.
The BrainGate software correlated specific patterns of nerve activity with specific intentions of the patient, and stored this information. (Brains and computers both have memories.) When the patient wanted to move the cursor, the software gured out that X pattern of nerve activity meant the patient wanted to perform Y task: to check e-mails, control a TV or even move a robotic hand.