Mind-Controlled Robots Take Big Step Forward

A team of researchers at Brown University have taught a paralyzed woman to move a robotic arm with her mind, enabling her to take an independent sip of coffee for the first time in 15 years. 

What's the Latest Development?


A team of researchers at Brown University have taught a paralyzed woman to control a robotic arm with her mind, allowing her to take an independent sip of coffee for the first time in 15 years. After implanting a small electrode in the woman's brain, researchers showed her video of the robotic arm and asked her to imagine that she was controlling its movement. By recording the electrical signals in the woman's brain that corresponded to different movements--up, down, left, right, forward and backward--researchers were able to teach the robotic arm to obey those distinct signals.

What's the Big Idea?

While the Brown team had previously taught a man to move a cursor on a computer screen with his mind, the more recent experiment marks the first time humans have manipulated real-world objects simply by thinking about them. John Donoghue, a member of the research team, envisions robotic arms being placed on wheel chairs, enabling paralyzed individuals to reach for and manipulate every-day objects. "A distant goal is to use the brain to reactivate a person's own muscles with the help of an implanted electrical device that reconnects the two within the body. Donoghue is working on such a system with a volunteer."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists invent method to extract gold from liquid waste

The next gold rush might take place in our sewers.

Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • Even though we think of it as exceedingly rare, gold can be found all around us.
  • The trouble is, most of the gold is hard to get at; its too diluted in our waste or ocean waters to effectively extract.
  • This new technique quickly, easily, and reliably extracts gold from most liquids.
Keep reading Show less

How 'dark horses' flip the script of success and happiness

What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.

Big Think Books

When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.

Keep reading Show less