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Neurochip acts as a second motor cortex

Cyrus Farivar

Haven't you ever wished that you had a second motor cortex? If you've suffered a brain injury of some kind, you just might. For the last few years, researchers at the University of Washington have designed and installed a special computer chip attached to the top of monkeys' heads to record the brain's motor cortex nerve signals. This computer chip, dubbed the Neurochip, creates a brain-computer interface that records every movement sent from the motor cortex to the rest of the monkeys' bodies. Then the Neurochip converts those signals into a stimulus that can be fed back to the brain, creating new neural pathways that theoretically could be used if the motor cortex was damaged in some way. We've still got a few questions, like exactly how this happens, how big physically this interface is, and when we should expect human trials. Of course, we've seen previous brain-computer interfaces before, but this one seems a bit more practical than strapping your head to some type of computer. The team published its results in the November 2, 2006 issue of Nature.

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