Two stroke victims unable to move or speak can now control a robotic arm with their minds.
By thinking about moving her own paralyzed arm, one woman in the experiment used an artificial limb to serve herself coffee for the first time in 15 years. It’s the most complex task yet achieved with a brain-computer interface.
“When the woman with the brain stem stroke reached out for that thermos of coffee and put it to her mouth and then she put it back down, the smile on her face was remarkable,” said Brown University neurologist and engineer Leigh Hochberg, who led the study published May 16 in Nature.
Hochberg directs the BrainGate2 clinical trial, an ongoing test of the BrainGate system. With a 4-millimeter-wide, brain-implanted chip as its centerpiece, the system conducts signals from motion-controlling neurons to a computer that decodes the signals and turns them into software commands.