Thought-controlled robot arm created by US scientists

Two people paralyzed by strokes have been able to move a robot arm using their thoughts, after having an electrode-containing device implanted in their brains

Scientists in the US have created a system that allows a robotic arm to be controlled by thought.

Robotic arm

Two people paralyzed by strokes have been able to move a robot arm using their thoughts, after having an electrode-containing device implanted in their brains. Image credit: Nature

Two stroke victims, who cannot speak or use their limbs, were able to manipulate the arm through a series of electrode-containing devices implanted in their neural cortex, according to a paper published in Nature on Wednesday.

The implants record the neuronal signals made by the brain associated with intention to move. The signals are then decoded by computer, and translated into signals telling the robot arm when and how to move.

One of the study participants, who has been tetraplegic for more than five years, was able to use the arm to take hold of a bottle of coffee and bring it to her lips, Nature reports.

It is hoped the system, known as BrainGate, will eventually lead to the creation of devices that can improve the independence of people with neurologic disease, injury, or limb loss.

The BrainGate research team involves scientists from Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Providence VA Medical Center.

The team has previously conducted clinical trial that used a brain sensor to enable a person with tetraplegia to open and close a prosthetic hand and move a computer cursor using their brain signals.


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