The Power of Thought
The New York Times (link requires login to NYT news section) reports that Matthew Nagle, a man who has been paralyzed below the shoulders for five years, is now able to draw pictures, change television channels, and control a robot arm and a prosthetic hand all through the power of thought. Channeling that power is a small electronic device which has been implanted in Nagle’s brain and which provides a unique new human/computer interface.
The Times quotes John P. Donoghue, the Brown University professor who led the team that developed the implant as saying, “If your brain can do it, we can tap into it.”
With this new interface, Nagle can move a computer cursor by thinking about it. Of course, the ability to move a computer cursor around may sound trivial to those of us who do it literally thousands of times a day using our fully-functioning arms and hands, but there is nothing trivial about the hope for independence that these kinds of breakthroughs represent for millions. The ability to turn thought into physical motion outside ourselves is so fundamental that we rarely think about it. Yet now, just maybe, we stand on the brink of being able to return that ability to those whom we had every reason to believe had lost it forever.
That is some pretty good news, folks.