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Exploring Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) and their use for Human Learning Activities

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Brain – Meet Computer…

Brain-Computer Interface technology transforms brain activity into data that can be analyzed digitally, thus serving as input for interactive systems. Advances in brain imaging and cognitive neuroscience are now allowing us to interface with the brain directly. Principles and design patterns that enable us to take advantage of brain data can now be utilized to build systems that are more efficient. There is a growing number of resources on the feasibility of using brain and body sensors to monitor brain activity/user engagement and leverage this information for advanced computing and learning. This research review explores the basics of BCI, the relationship between BCI and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and the role of BCI in human learning activities such as reading.

HCI practitioners are studying ways to use as many neural networks yielded by BCI as possible. The study of BCI is just another advancement in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and the objective to build systems that cater to the cognitive, physiology, and environmental processes of the user.

Emotiv brain-computer interface (EEG augmentation) Photo: Extreme


For generations, humanity has fantasized about just uploading a book to the brain. Like Neo of the movie The Matrix, on a Saturday morning, you upload to your brain a book on how to fix your broken car transmission. Unfortunately, there is no such technology. And humanity has not dreamed of this for generations (especially considering the Matrix was only release in 1999). However, we cannot say that this technology will never be available.

Each moment, technology advances and enhances the ability for humans to interact and communicate with the machines and systems used daily. These very same advances have led to the need to absorb more and more information from various sources to perform numerous tasks. During interactions with these systems, humans generate cognitive states and sensory data that can either be used as direct input into the system or passive data that shows the user’s experience while performing a task. To take advantage of this valuable data, the ability to interface with the human brain must be necessary. It is only recently that advances in cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging have started to allow for the opportunity to interface with the brain. The ability to absorb and use this information is now made possible using Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI).

The use of BCI becomes a powerful communications tool by using the advances in neuroscience and brain imaging technology. It creates opportunities for innovation in the human-computer interaction space. HCI researchers can now collect stronger data around the user’s cognitive state and intent by observing their physiology, behavior, environment and now brain activity. Using this data, they can now develop systems that adapt to and support the user’s task. Learning activities such as reading can significantly benefit from the use of BCI and HCI together.

Learn more about Brain-Computer Interfaces by reading the full paper.

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