We’re one step closer prosthetics controlled by the human brain.
Jan Scheuermann, 53, worked with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and learned to maneuver a robotic arm with her thoughts, delicately enough to feed herself a candy bar. Scheuerman is paralyzed from the neck down due to a degenerative brain disorder. Scientists in the field say the hand Scheuerman learned to use is the most sophisticated brain-machine interface ever created.
Using an MRI, researchers observed brain activity when a person thought about moving their own arm, pinpointing what areas lit up with activity. They then implanted two microelectrodes in those parts Scheuerman’s left motor cortex and newly adapted algorithms translated what the brain did into motions in the robotic arm. It took her two weeks to learn how to use the arm up to a 91.6 percent success rate, and she got faster as she practiced with the hand.
The next steps are to create a wireless sensor for the brain and possibly a loop-back that tells the person how the surface of an object feels…. that, and the inevitable global cyborg takeover.