Brain implants help many paralyzed people move again — but … – Genetic Literacy Project


Academic teams across the nation are working on projects aimed at restoring function to those with disabilities or degenerative diseases. Scientists are working to map the visual center of the brain so points of light can be projected in the mind’s eye to help the blind see shapes and letters. Other teams are working on translating neural electricity into speech, cursor control, handwriting and typing applications.
Several companies, including Neuralink, are working on fully implantable devices. Paradromics, a start-up in Austin, Texas, is developing a device that sits inside the skull. Another company, Synchron, based in New York City, is taking a different approach, making an incision in the chest and pushing a tube-shaped device into an artery close to the brain. This avoids the dangers of brain surgery, but the signal it captures from the brain is considerably weaker, according to Tom Oxley, chief executive of Synchron.
Despite all the promise in the field, scientists say this technology has very little to offer to the typical consumer, as it is merely approaching the speed and precision of able-bodied control.
That seems as if it’s about to change, Dr. Ajiboye said. He compared to the field to the computer industry in 1980 when it was on track for a revolution.
“I firmly believe that we’re at the same initial ramp curve in terms of understanding brain mechanisms,” he said.
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