The BrainGate neural interface system consists of a sensor to monitor brain signals and computer software and hardware that turns these signals into digital commands for external devices. The sensor is a baby aspirin-sized square of silicon containing 100 hair-thin electrodes, which can record the activity of small groups of brain cells. It is implanted into the motor cortex, a part of the brain that directs movement.
"This technology was made possible by decades of investment and research into how the brain controls movement. It's been thrilling to see the technology evolve from studies of basic neurophysiology and move into clinical trials, where it is showing significant promise for people with brain injuries and disorders," said Story Landis, Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The institute funds BCI research in hopes of restoring function and improving quality of life for people coping with limb amputations or paralysis from spinal cord injury, stroke or neuromuscular disorders.
NIH has supported basic and applied research in this area for more than 30 years. In 2009 and 2010, an additional $3.8 million in NIH funding was made possible through the Recovery Act.
The latest analysis from the BrainGate2 trial focused on two participants a 58-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man. Both individuals are unable to speak or move their limbs because of brainstem strokes they had years ago - the woman's in 1996 and the man's in 2006. In the trial, both participants learned to perform complex tasks with a robotic arm by imagining the movements of their own arms and hands.
In one task, several foam targets were mounted on levers on a tabletop and programmed to pop up one at a time, at different positions and heights. The participants had less than 30 seconds to grasp each
|Contact: Daniel Stimson|
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke