The science fiction behind the Six Million Dollar Man took a step closer to science reality yesterday when researchers announced a breakthrough in thought control of computers.
Researchers from Stanford University in California have developed an algorithm that translates the neurological signals for movement with greater than ever speed and accuracy. The system, which relies on a silicon chip implanted in the brain, has been used to allow monkeys to control computer cursors – but could one day control prosthetic limbs.
‘These findings could lead to greatly improved prosthetic system performance and robustness in paralysed people,’ said Krishna Shenoy, who led the team that carried out the research.
When a paralysed person imagines moving a limb, cells in the part of the brain that controls movement still activate as if trying to make the immobile limb work again, the researchers explain. Even where a neurological injury or disease has severed the pathway between brain and muscle, the region where the signals originate often remains intact and functional…
Previous research into the field of neural prosthetics has begun to develop brain-implantable sensors able to measure signals from individual neurons, interpret them, and use them to control computer cursors using thoughts alone.But the new algorithm developed at Stanford, known as ReFIT, vastly improves the speed and accuracy of the control, the researchers reported on the November 18 issue of the Journal Nature Neuroscience.
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