Volume 4 Issue 14 - July 15, 2006

Sensors implanted in brain help paralysed man use thoughts to move cursor

D.N.I.S. News Network - In a major breakthrough, a paralysed man with a sensor implanted in his brain was able to control a computer, a television set and a robot with the help of his thoughts. The scientists involved in the experiment say these results offer hope that in future, people with spinal cord injuries, Lou Gehrigs disease or other conditions that impair movement may be able to communicate or better control their world.

If your brain can do it, we can tap into it, John P. Donoghue was reported to have stated. Donoghue is a professor of Neuroscience at Brown University, who has lead the development of the system, and was the senior author of a report on it being published in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

The sensor measures four millimetres by four millimetres, and contains 100 tiny electrodes. The device is implanted in the area of the affected persons motor cortex responsible for arm movement and is connected to a pedestal placed on the top of the persons scull. When the device is to be used, a cable connected to a computer is plugged into the pedestal. So the person is directly wired to a computer. He/she would then imagine moving his/her arm to hit various targets, and the sensor would catch on the electrical signals emitted by neurons in his/her motor cortex as they controlled the imaginary arm movement.

The first person to receive the implant, 26-year-old Nagle, moved a cursor, opened e-mail, played a simple game called Pong and drew a crude circle on the screen. He could also change the channel or volume on a television set, move a robot arm slightly, and open and close a prosthetic hand. I pretty much had that mastered in four days, Nagle was reported to have stated in a telephonic interview from the New England Sinai Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

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