Researchers from Brown University have made a discovery about how the human brain operates when gripping an object. Previously, it's been assumed that the mind had a short, single command to drive the hand, but in reality it's much more complex than that. With this new information, it's hoped that engineers will be able to build prosthetic limbs that are significantly more responsive. In addition, the finds could also go some way to helping develop new tools for people with severe paralysis.
Let's boil this down so simply that we'll get angry emails from scientists for the next month. Historically, it was assumed that brains have a one-size-fits-all command for picking up and holding an object. This new study says that this simply isn't the case, because as soon as you look at a soda can on a table, you're already calculating how you'd pick it up. In addition, your brain is taking into account the size, strength and weight of the item to pick the most suitable grip style and strength.
That's a whole lot more information being processed than anyone had ever assumed, and now scientists can look for this "grip planning" when it starts. If a prosthesis can work out that a grip command is coming, it should make future hardware more responsive. There's still plenty more research to be done, but this could certainly benefit plenty of people further down the line. Until then, however, you're just going to have to work out a way not to get Semisonic's Get a Gripstuck in your head.