Could you control a robotic arm with your mind?

You probably could, with the proper electrodes planted in your brain. An article in Nature last week presented the results of a study with paralyzed patients who were able to control a robotic arm using brain signals, transferred via electrodes. One of them was even able to tell the arm to grasp a bottle and then bring it to her so she could sip through a straw!

When I first saw the title of this article I was immediately intrigued–it sounds so space-age-y and futuristic (sort of like The Force)! But it also has incredibly important applications regarding future improvements to the standard of life for disabled and paralyzed people. And obviously it’s a huge advancement technologically. I’m also interested in what this might tell us about our brains. Does the brain produce the same commands when it’s trying to move a robotic arm as when it’s moving your actual arm? Could data from these types of experiments be used to develop ways to rehabilitate paralyzed patients and help them regain control over their bodies? These are just some of my thoughts as I read the article.

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