The latest iteration of the BrainGate Neural Interface System (NIS), called BrainGate2, has enabled two paralyzed participants with ALS to type words on a computer screen simply by imagining their finger moving. The patients received implants into their motor cortex of microelectrode arrays , which decoded neural signals produced by the patients to move a cursor on a computer screen. By imagining their fingers moving to select letters on the screen, the users were able to type out words with unprecedented accuracy. In order to accelerate the typing process, the researchers incorporated Dasher, an open-source software that predicts letter selection to more rapidly spell out words. As reported by Jaimie Henderson and colleagues in the September 28 Nature Medicine, one participant was able to type at a speed of 6 words per minute, a dramatic improvement upon earlier versions of the NIS. The team is now aiming at even further improving this technology.
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Gilja V, Pandarinath C, Blabe CH, Nuyujukian P, Simeral JD, Sarma AA, Sorice BL, Perge JA, Jarosiewicz B, Hochberg LR, Shenoy KV, Henderson JM. Clinical translation of a high-performance neural prosthesis. Nat. Med. 2015 Sep 28. [Pubmed]