Thursday, March 31, 2005
Michael Nagle of Massachusetts, who is paralyzed from the neck down, has been kitted out with a brain implant that allows him to navigate a computer screen and move foreign objects merely by thinking about it:
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 . . . .No word yet on whether Mr. Nagle plans to fight crime, as did the similarly-equipped hero of the mercifully short-lived Fox-TV series "M.A.N.T.I.S.," but we do hope the creators of the show will be properly recompensed.
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."