X-Message-Number: 25939
From: "Basie" <>
Subject: Chip reads mind of paralysed man 
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2005 00:21:04 -0500

Chip reads mind of paralysed man

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Thursday March 31, 2005
The Guardian

A severely paralysed man has become the first person to be fitted with a 
brain implant that allows him to control everyday objects by thought alone.
Matthew Nagle, 25, was left paralysed from the neck down after a vicious 
knife attack in 2001. He uses a wheelchair and is unable to breathe without 
a respirator, and doctors say he has no chance of regaining the use of his 

But following an operation at New England Sinai Hospital in Massachusetts, 
Mr Nagle has become the first patient in a controversial trial of brain 
implants which could help disabled people to be more independent by tapping 
into their brain waves.

During the three-hour operation, electrodes were attached to the surface of 
Mr Nagle's brain. They were positioned just above the sensory motor cortex, 
where the neural signals for controlling arm and hand movement are produced. 
Surgeons completed the operation by fitting a metal socket to Mr Nagle's 
head so he could be hooked up to a computer.

The scientists, lead by Professor John Donoghue, a world expert in 
neurotechnology at Brown University in Rhode Island, used a computer to 
decipher the brain waves picked up by the implant. In early trials, Mr Nagle 
learned to move a cursor around a computer screen simply by imagining moving 
his arm.

By using software linked to devices around the room, Mr Nagle has since been 
able to think his TV on and off, change channel and alter the volume. 
"Eventually, we want him to be able to use it to control the lights, his 
phone and other devices," said Prof Donoghue.

In the most recent tests, performed earlier this year, Mr Nagle was able to 
use thought to open and close an artificial prosthetic hand and move a 
robotic arm to grab sweets from one person's hand and drop them in another. 
He has also sharpened his skills at computer games by playing the old arcade 
game Pong.

Prof Donoghue hopes the implant, called BrainGate, will ultimately allow 
paraplegics to regain the use of their limbs. "If we can find a way to hook 
this up to his own muscles, he could open and close his own hands and move 
his own arms," he said. "We're very encouraged by Matthew, but we're 
cautious. It's just one person. There's further to go, but we're absolutely 
on the way."


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