A new study in Nature reports that two people with tetraplegia were able to reach for and grasp objects in three-dimensional space using robotic arms that they controlled directly with brain activity.
About the BrainGate collaboration
This advance is the result of the ongoing collaborative BrainGate research at Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Providence VA Medical Center; researchers at Stanford University have recently joined the collaboration as well. The BrainGate research team is focused on developing and testing neuroscientifically inspired technologies to improve the communication, mobility, and independence of people with neurologic disorders, injury, or limb loss.
Funding for the study and its projects comes from the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health (some grants were funded all or in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (HD53403, HD100018, HD063931), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS025074), the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (EB007401), the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the MGH-Deane Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke, Katie Samson Foundation, and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. The contents do not represent the official views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.
The implanted microelectrode array and associated neural recording hardware used in the BrainGate research are manufactured by BlackRock Microsystems LLC (Salt Lake City, Utah). The research prototype Gen2 DEKAarm was provided by DEKA Integrated Solutions Inc, under contract from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
The BrainGate pilot clinical trial was previously directed by Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems Inc. Foxborough, Mass., (CKI). CKI ceased operations in 2009, before the collection of data reported in the Nature manuscript. The clinical trials of the BrainGate2 Neural Interface System are now administered by Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass. Donoghue is a former chief scientific officer and a former director of CKI; he held stocks and received compensation. Hochberg received research support from Massachusetts General and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospitals, which in turn received clinical trial support from Cyberkinetics.