News FocusNeuroscience

Turning Thoughts Into Actions

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Science  29 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5441, pp. 888-890
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.888

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Communication devices that translate thoughts into commands to operate computers, driven by brain waves detected from outside the body or by electrodes implanted in the brain, are now being tested in paralyzed patients. And recent research, some of it presented earlier this week in Miami Beach, Florida, at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, suggests that more sophisticated devices allowing people to operate a robotic arm by thought alone may not be far behind. Many technical hurdles remain, including the need for longer lasting electrode arrays that are more compatible with brain tissue and the puzzle of how to make robotic limbs move and respond in the most realistic manner. But such obstacles don't seem insurmountable, experts say.