Scientists Show Brain Waves
Can Move Objects

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In what sounds like the plot from a Stephen King novel, scientists have found a way to use the mind to move matter. In experiments with monkeys, they were able to harness the animals' brain waves to "will" a robotic arm to move.
This suggests that one day, paralyzed people may be able to move prosthetic limbs simply with the power of their minds, according to a report in the November 16th issue of Nature. Dr. Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, led the study.
"It was an amazing sight to see the robot in my lab move, knowing that it was being driven by signals from a monkey brain at Duke (University)," study co-author Mandayam Srinivasan, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said in a statement. "It was as if the monkey had a 600-mile-long virtual arm."
Nicolelis and his colleagues used "microwires" implanted in the brains of two monkeys to monitor electrical activity as the animals moved their arms and hands. As the monkeys moved, their brain waves were fed to a robotic arm, which in turn mimicked the animals' movement. In addition, the researchers were able to send the brain signals over the Internet to trigger movement in a robotic arm at another location.
According to the researchers, this opens up the possibility of a "brain-machine interface" that allows paralyzed people to move prosthetic limbs.
What was once thought to be in the "realm of science fiction" is now closer to reality, Dr. Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi writes in an editorial accompanying the report. Mussa-Ivaldi, of Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois, notes that the current study's technology will also help researchers better understand how the brain works.

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