When it comes to making highly advanced prosthetic limbs, Johns Hopkins is leading the pack.
A couple years ago, the university’s Applied Physics Laboratory announced that it was developing a new model of prosthetic arm that was integrated into its wearer’s thoughts, allowing for thought-controlled movement. Now, the university is reporting that its experiment has been successful: For the first time, a person has been able to move individual fingers on a prosthetic arm using only his thoughts.
The subject in the video above isn’t an amputee; he’s an epileptic who was slated to undergo brain surgery at Hopkins to help with his seizures. When the doctors implanted electrodes in his brain to help with the surgery, they also got him to test out their fancy new arm. First, they asked him to move individual fingers so they could map precisely which regions of his brain lit up. Then, they programmed the arm to respond accordingly. Finally, they asked the man to just think about moving a particular finger–and the arm responded.
Even more amazingly, the whole thing took only two hours. “We believe this is the first time a person using a mind-controlled prosthesis has immediately performed individual digit movements without extensive training,” Nathan Crone, professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told the Hopkins Hub.
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