Tag Archives: Brown University

Woman Controls Robotic Arm… With Her MIND

May 19th, 2012 | Brain, Robot

Woman Controls Robotic Arm With Her Mind

Well, this is certainly one of the most amazing things I have seen in quite some time (and thanks to artist and Facebook Fan, Luanne Meader for sharing).  Cathy Hutchinson has been unable to move her own arms or legs for 15 years, but thanks to research out of Brown University, she is able to control this robotic arm to give herself a drink of coffee for the 1st time without assistance.  The smile on her face upon success is priceless.

I first heard about this technology several years ago in Monkeys from research conducted by Miguel Nicolelis, MD/PhD, who is professor of neurobiology and co-director of the Duke Center for Neuroengineering.  See video below:

The technology basically works by implanting a sensor in the motor cortex of the brain (see below).  This sensor reads the brain’s electrical “thoughts” and then sends them to an external computer for decoding.  This decoded signal is then transferred to the robotic arm so that it can deliver the coffee (or whatever else the user desires).

Motor and Somatosensory Cortex


It’s pretty breathtaking stuff, and I’m really excited to see where the field of Neuroengineering goes from here.  This certainly marks the beginning of a new era of man’s relationship with machine.