John Donoghue and colleagues have previously demonstrated that people with tetraplegia can learn to use neural signals from the motor cortex to control a computer cursor. Work from another lab has also shown that monkeys can learn to use such signals to feed themselves with a robotic arm. Now, Donoghue and colleagues have advanced the technology to a level at which two people with long-standing paralysis — a 58-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man — are able to use a neural interface to direct a robotic arm to reach for and grasp objects. One subject was able to learn to pick up and drink from a bottle using a device implanted 5 years earlier, demonstrating not only that subjects can use the brain–machine interface, but also that it has potential longevity.
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