Brain Controlled Robotic Arm Lets Paralyzed Man Drink

Picking up a cup from the counter to take a drink is something that we all do hundreds of times a month without putting much thought into it. The process of picking up a cup is rather complex when you stop and think about it since we have to hold the cup in a way that it doesn't spill and need to put enough pressure on the cup to keep it from dropping, but not so much that we crush the cup.

Paralyzed individuals typically require someone else to perform this sort of basic task for them. A paralyzed man named Erik Sorto has been unable to perform the simple task of picking up a cup for the last 13 years, but that has changed now thanks to a robotic arm controlled by implants in his brain.

That robotic arm is controlled completely by his mind and is dexterous enough to pick up a glass and allow him to drink without assistance. The creators of this robotic arm a team of researchers from different institutes including Caltech. The neural chips are implanted into the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) of Sorto's brain.

The implant location for this robotic arm is different from that of other robotic limbs that have been successfully controlled by paralyzed users. Typically, this sort of limb targets area of the brain that control muscles. The PPC is the area of the brain that controls our intent to move and allow the robotic limb Sorto uses to move more fluidly and naturally. All Sorto has to do to make the arm work is think of what he intends to do and with lots of practice he is able to make the arm perform the task he is thinking of.

SOURCE: Engadget