A robotic hand controlled by the power of thought alone has been demonstrated by researchers in Japan.
The robotic hand mimics the movements of a person's real hand, based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of their brain activity. It marks another landmark in the advance towards prosthetics and computers that can be operating by thought alone.
The system was developed by Yukiyasu Kamitani and colleagues from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, and researchers from the Honda Research Institute in Saitama.
Subjects lay inside an MRI scanner and were asked to make "rock, paper, scissor" shapes with their right hand. As they did this, the MRI scanner recorded brain activity during the formation of each shape and fed this data to a connected computer. After a short training period, the computer was able to recognise the brain activity associated with each shape and command the robotic appendage do the same.