This is the Special English Technology Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglishCathy Hutchinson is a tetraplegic. She has not been able to move her arms, legs or speak since suffering a stroke nearly fifteen years ago. Recently, she learned how to control a robotic arm using her thoughts. She now can use brain activity to serve herself a drink.The American woman is one of two people who took part in a research project known as BrainGate2. The researchers have spent years studying how to help people who are paralyzed regain movement in their arms and legs. John Donoghue was part of the project. He is a neuroscientist with Brown University and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He says people who are paralyzed have their brain disconnected from their body. So he and other researchers decided to go around the damaged nervous system. They developed a way to go directly from the brain to the outside world. The two paralyzed people had small sensors connected to the part of the brain that controls movement. The devices measured brain activity and sent that information to a computer. The computer has special software that turns the information into digital commands for operating other devices. The researchers used a highly developed robotic arm to recreate human actions. Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the German Aerospace Center also took part in the study. The BrainGate team had its first success in two thousand six. A tetraplegic stabbing victim was able use the brain-computer interface system to control a computer cursor. John Donoghue says the latest development using robotic arms is a major victory. A video of the experiment shows Cathy Hutchinson using such an arm to pick up a cup of coffee. She guides the cup toward her mouth, moves it forward and drinks through a straw. The research team carried out almost two hundred tests with two different robotic arms. The two individuals were able to pick up their target objects forty-three to sixty-six percent of the time. The researchers are calling the information very promising. But they say it will take years to fully develop the technology for everyday use.A report on the BrainGate study appeared in the scientific journal Nature. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. To read, listen and learn English with our stories, go to voaspecialenglish.com. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 21May2012)
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