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Brain-computer interface tech sees major progress in Hangzhou

By Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-01-17 16:34

Chinese scientists have made progress in the clinical application of brain-computer interface technology after a successful experiment on a 72-year-old patient suffering from paraplegia in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province.

According to an announcement made by Zhejiang University on Thursday, a team of researchers and doctors from the university's Qiushi Academy for Advanced Studies and the university's Second Affiliated Hospital has successfully implanted microelectrodes, or the brain-computer interface, into a patient's brain. This links the central nervous system to a mechanical arm exterior to the body, enabling a patient to control the arm through natural signals from the brain.

This was the first successful BCI operation on an elderly patient in China.

For those with spinal nerve traumas or disabilities in motor functions, simple actions such as grabbing and holding are almost impossible because to complete such activities, there are complex brain signals which must be transmitted and decoded.

"There are billions of neurons in the brain sending out electric pulses to issue orders to our body," one researcher from Zhejiang University said. Their work is to collect and decode the signals, then match them with physical movements.

The BCI, usually comprised of tiny recording instruments or microelectrodes, is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external mechanical device. As long as the cerebral cortex functions well, computers can receive and read the signals and help control external devices.

Video footage provided by Zhejiang University.

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