Cathy Hutchinson hasn't been able to move her body for the past 15 years. But thanks to a brain implant from a Brown University team of neuroscientists, she's recently been able to pick up a bottle of coffee on her own by controlling a robotic arm with her mind. The team has been conducting testing their implant on various paralyzed patients since 2006, but this is the first time a subject has been able to move something bigger than a mouse pointer on a computer.
Hutchinson's implant — a small chip that sits on the surface of the brain — detects signals coming from her brain. It then transmits the signals to a computer that decodes them and translates them into actionable commands. Right now, the system can only control external components (in this case, a robotic arm), similar to how this Pittsburgh School of Medicine's system helped a paralyzed man give a high five for the first time in years. But the Brown University researchers hope to develop it further to the point that patients can use it to control their own limbs.
[via Technology Review]
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