Man uses thoughts to control robotic arm

The Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog reports that “a new thought-controlled robotic arm taps into a different part of the brain than most, which its creators say may give its paralyzed users an easier learning curve and allow for more fluid movements.” The researchers “report on the success of their first patient…in a paper published in Science.”

The US News reports that physicians “implanted small chips into” the man’s “brain during a five-hour surgery in 2013.”

These “sensors recorded the electrical activity of about 100 brain cells as” he “imagined reaching and grasping.”

Following “weeks of imagining movements,” the man worked with “scientists and therapists…to move the robotic arm, starting with a handshake and graduating to more complicated tasks.”

The New York Times reports that “unlike other experimental robotic arms, this one relies on signals sent from a device implanted in” the man’s “posterior parietal cortex — a part of the brain that plans and imagines activities.”

The investigators now “want to implant similar devices in the sensory cortexes of patients’ brains, with the hopes of simulating a touch sensation in paralyzed patients.”

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