Tapping Brainwaves: Will Our Brains Soon Be Hackable?

It’s 2035. As you head out for work, you’re sure to grab your BSH – Brain…

Georgia (Aug 29, 2014) — It’s 2035. As you head out for work, you’re sure to grab your BSH – Brain Security Hat - before heading off to work. The hat has become part of the cultural image of anyone who works in a field with sensitive, proprietary information; as it protects your brain against brain hackers…


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To get a better idea of the technology behind “brainwave-reading” devices, like the toy manufacturers use today, we sat down with Dr. Adriane Randolph, a professor at Kennesaw State University, and the founder and Director of the University’s BrainLab. At BrainLab, Randolph has been exploring the cutting edge of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and how they can be used to assist people who are home-bound, such as people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Dr. Randoph’s BrainLab recently developed a BCI for Google Glass that allows users to trigger swipe and select events through thought alone.

In her 2011 TEDx talk, Randolph describes the human brain as the “ultimate remote control”.

Randolph explained that there’s already an existing effort called “neuro-marketing” being explored by businesses who want to get a better sense of consumer response to products by using neurological indicators, rather than what the consumer actually says about the product.

It’s basically using neuro-physiological tools to get inside of the mind of the consumer. Traditionally, we’ll put you in a focus group and ask you a bunch of questions, but there are so many biases that can come into that, where your conscious brain takes over and colors your responses. However, we can get to your gut reaction through monitoring your brainwaves, monitoring your eyes to see where you’re looking, watching your pulse, and all of these other ways that our bodies give us away.

Dr. Randolph explained that the research-grade technology utilizes a “bathing-cap” looking apparatus covered with electrodes that touch the scalp, all fed back to a “bio-amplifier” via a serial cable.

The bio-amplifier is what provides researchers with a clearer version of the very low-amplitude brain signals picked up from the scalp. Dr. Randolph described how researchers can identify specific actions or behaviors by looking at which frequency of brainwave is changing at any given time.

For example the signal that’s related to movement, the Mu [wave], is around eight to thirteen hertz.

According to Randolph, one of the most significant problems with sensing such low-amplitude signals from the scalp, is that the sensors are so sensitive, they’ll also pick up electrical activity in the room at other frequencies, such as the 60 hertz signal coming from your computer monitor, or the electrical outlets in the room. That signal needs to be filtered out by the hardware and software doing the brainwave analysis. 


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu