A biomedical engineering doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has successfully typed on a computer using his brain with the help of electroencephalography (EEG) using a system called BCI2000.

Adam Wilson, with the use of EEG, first posted a word SENT FROM BCI2000 in twitter, referring to the model number of the machine he uses.

Wilson posted the 17-character message using a brain-computer interface (BCI2000) in which Wilson found very useful for people with disabilities and have limited motor functions.

Using EEG for Twittering does not make sense (now) if you can move. If you are locked in, though, it could be very useful, Wilson said.

The Brain-Computer Interface (BCI2000) is already used by 120 laboratories worldwide, but its communications applications have been largely restricted to messages appearing on a nearby screen.

In collaboration with research scientist Gerwin Schalk and colleagues at the Wadsworth Center in Albany, N.Y., Justin Williams, an assistant professor who works together with Wilson, began developing a communication interface based on brain activity related to changes in an object on screen.

The system works by monitoring electroencephalography, or electrical activity produced on the scalp by the movement of neurons within the brain.

The way this works is that all the letters come up, and each one of them flashes individually, says Williams. And what your brain does is, if you're looking at the 'R' on the screen and all the other letters are flashing, nothing happens. But when the 'R' flashes, your brain says, 'Hey, wait a minute. Something's different about what I was just paying attention to.' And you see a momentary change in brain activity.

Funding for the research comes from the National Institutes of Health, the UW-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, the UW-Madison W.H. Coulter Translational Research Partnership in Biomedical Engineering and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, according to the research team.