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By Cameron Scott on Nov 14, 2013 08:41 am

Duke University researchers Miguel Nicolelis and Peter Ifft managed to create a two-handed brain-machine interface using monkeys in a study recently published in Science Translational Medicine.

The term “brain-machine interface” seems to invoke fear and discomfort in the minds of many, and gleeful enthusiasm in the minds of technophiles. Both of these reactions often overlook one of the major reasons for developing such interfaces: to enable amputees and those who suffer from paralysis to regain self-sufficiency by mentally controlling a mobile robot or robotic getup.

Prosthetic limbs controlled by a wearers’ thoughts are already available, though not commercially. They’re great for people who lack use of a single limb, usually just the part below the knee or elbow. But what about quadriplegics, for example?

Duke University researchers Miguel Nicolelis and Peter Ifft managed to create a two-handed brain-machine interface using monkeys in a study [pdf] recently published in Science Translational Medicine. Nicolelis has previously done similar work with a single arm. Attempts to empower two robotic limbs using a brain-machine interface have met with very limited success.
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