In what is believed to be a medical first, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine have enabled a quadriplegic man to control a pair of prosthetic arms with his mind. Surgeons implanted six electrodes into the patient’s brain to improve the sensation in his hands and allow him to mentally operate his prostheses. Now, the patient is able to perform simple tasks such as feeding himself.
Brain-computer interface (BCI) research, has for the most part focused on only one arm, controlled from only one side of the brain. Now, the ability to control two robotic arms performing a basic activity of daily living – in this case, cutting a pastry and bringing it to the mouth using signals detected from both sides of the brain via implanted electrodes – is a clear step forward to achieve more task control directly fed from the brain.