Scientists hope to 'hack' into Stephen Hawking's brain

Scientists are developing a new device which would help 'hack into' world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking's brain and help him communicate more easily.

Scientists hope to 'hack' into Stephen Hawking's brain

Stephen Hawking, Photo: Getty Images

Professor Hawking, 70, has been working with scientists at Stanford University who are developing the iBrain, a device which picks up brain waves and communicates them via a computer, reports The Telegraph.

The 'A Brief History of Time' author, who has motor neurone disease, lost the power of speech nearly 30 years ago and uses a computer to communicate. However, his worsening condition is making that more and more difficult.

Phillip Low, a professor at Stanford University and inventor of the iBrain, has been working with Professor Hawking and researchers will unveil their latest findings next month.

"We'd like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain," Professor Low told The Telegraph.

"This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We're building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time.

"The emergence of such biomarkers opens the possibility to link intended movements to a library of words and convert them into speech, thus providing motor neurone sufferers with communication tools more dependent on the brain than on the body."

The device, which is smaller than a matchbox, was fitted onto a headband with a series of neurotransmitters inside it. Prof Hawkins was asked to think about scrunching his right hand into a ball and scientists hope the pattern created in the brain can be converted to words and sentences.

It is hoped the iBrain could also be used to treat sleep disorders and even quickly diagnose autism.

"This is the first step to personalized medicine," Prof. Low added.

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