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From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.
Monkeys have learned to control the movement of both arms in a computerized image of a monkey, just by thinking about moving them. The study is part of an effort to develop brain-controlled devices for severely paralyzed patients. Spinal cord injuries have affected millions of people worldwide. They are unable to use or move one or more parts of the body. The study is the work of researchers at the Duke University Center for Neuroengineering in North Carolina. The researchers have developed what they call a brain-machine interface. It connects the brain of the monkey to a machine. They hope it could someday be used to let someone with a spinal cord injury control an artificial arm or leg, just by thinking about it. Early versions of the software could control only one artificial limb. But a newer version lets rhesus monkeys move two arms at the same time as they watch a likeness of themselves on a computer screen. Miguel Nicolelis is a neurobiology professor at Duke. He says the monkeys first learned to control the limbs on the computer screens using joysticks. Then the animals were trained not to move. Professor Nicolelis says scientists are now developing a brain-controlled neuroprosthetic vest. Anyone wearing the vest would be able to move a mechanical arm or leg. The device takes electrical signals from the brain and makes them into motor commands. These messages are then made into digital signals that a machine in the vest can understand. Professor Nicolelis plans to show the device at the 2014 World Cup later this year. A report on the study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.