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IPFS News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Wireless, Implantable Interface Lets Monkeys Control Computers With Their Brains


Brain-computer interfaces that can translate thoughts into actions will change how stroke patients, paraplegics and other people with limited mobility interact with their surroundings. But so far, these devices have involved bulky corded equipment inside research labs, requiring patients to be tethered to a computer. Now researchers at Brown University have built the first wireless version. Like a cellphone embedded in the brain, their new implantable brain sensor can relay broadband signals in real time from up to 100 neurons.

The 2.2-inch devices have been implanted in the heads of three pigs and three rhesus monkeys for about 16 months now, and are providing rich detail on the inner workings of the animals’ brains. The electronics are far more complex than those in a cell phone, yet they use a minuscule amount of power, said Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering at Brown who oversaw the device’s invention.