Restoration of neural output from a paralyzed patient by a direct brain connection

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Abstract

PATIENTS with severe paralysis of limbs, face and vocal apparatus may be intelligent and aware and yet, tragically, unable to communicate. We describe a communication link for such a ‘locked-in’ patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We recorded action potentials in her brain over several months by means of an electrode that induces growth of myelinated fibers into its recording tip. She was able to control the neural signals in an on/off fashion. This result is an important step towards providing such patients with direct control of their environment by interfacing with a computer. Additionally, it indicates that restoration of paralyzed muscles may be possible by using the signals to control muscle stimulators.

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