Researchers demonstrate brain-machine control interface

According to a press release (13 March 2002), researchers at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island have demonstrated direct, real-time brain control of the movement of the cursor in a computer display. Their report appears in the March 14 issue of Nature.

Read more for details and links to additional coverage of the intriguing research. According to the release, the research was conducted using a primate model. Three Rhesus monkeys received brain implants similar to those used in treating certain human Parkinsonís patients.

ìThis implant is potentially one that is very suitable for humans,î said Mijail D. Serruya, a graduate student enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program at Brown. Serruya performed the work as part of his Ph.D. research. ìIt shows enough promise that we think it could ultimately be hooked up via a computer to a paralyzed patient to restore that individualís interaction with the environment. Our goal is to make sense of how the brain plans to move a hand through space and to use that information as a control signal for someone who is paralyzed. We want to provide some freedom to this individual.î

The device ìwould work for anything you can do or you can imagine doing by pointing and clicking,î said John Donoghue, chair of the Department of Neuroscience and the projectís senior researcher. ëThis includes reading e-mail. Or imagine an onscreen keyboard that someone can use to type sentences or issue commands by pointing and clicking. We would be extraordinarily pleased if this system could allow a patient to become somewhat autonomous. It would restore some independence to paralyzed patients who are cognitively normal people unable to carry out their movement intentions.î

Additional coverage of the research can be found on the web:

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