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NIH Record  
Vol. LXVI, No. 22
  October 24, 2014
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Imagination Takes Flight
He Describes Advances in Mapping Brain Dynamics

Dr. Bin He speaks at NIH.
Dr. Bin He speaks at NIH.

Once his lab perfects its research on mind-flying a full-size helicopter, Dr. Bin He will be spending a lot less time in his car. That day may not come for a while, though, he said, despite his incredible advances in “motor imagination”—brain activity combined with computer and imaging technologies.

In a recent lecture “How to Map the Dynamics of Your Brain—From EEG to BCI,” He described the system his lab designed in 2009 to move a helicopter image around a virtual 3-dimensional landscape using electroencephalography (EEG), in real time. EEG measures brain activity via electrical signals in the scalp. BCI, or brain computer interface, is direct communication between the mind and an external device—using the mind to control a wheelchair, surf the web or turn on the TV, for instance.

Last year, He said his group advanced its BCI research past the video-game realm to ask, “Can we really control flying of an actual helicopter? Certainly not a big helicopter, but a small one...otherwise I can commute every day and not have to pay gas bills.”


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Brain-Oriented Research Festival Encourages Mingling

NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers (l) learns from NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes at festival.
NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers (l) learns from NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes at festival.

Somewhere in the unruly, uncharted depths of the brain lies the urge to communicate, share and, in the best-case scenario, shout “Eureka!”

It is in that spirit that NIH director Dr. Francis Collins launched the 2014 NIH Research Festival on Sept. 22. He encouraged free-form mingling and conversation: “Oftentimes, that’s how new ideas develop,” he told a Masur Auditorium audience assembled for the festival’s opening plenary session.


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