'60 Minutes': BrainGate: Movement controlled by mind Video
'60 Minutes': BrainGate: Movement controlled by mind Video Transcript
>> Cathy Hutchinson is among the first humans to have her brain directly wired to a computer. Years ago Cathy suffered a stroke that left her mentally sharp, but trapped inside a paralyzed body and unable to speak, locked in like Scott Macklin [assumed spelling]. Three years ago Cathy volunteered to have the same kind of sensors we saw in the monkeys implanted in her motor cortex, which controls movement and is located right on the surface of the brain. The sensors connect to the computer through this plug on her head. The system is called BrainGate, and it was created by a team led by Brown University neuroscientist, John Donahue.
>> If you look at this square, each one of these little black boxes is the electrical signal coming from one electrode in the brain.
>> And each one of those is a neuron firing.
>> Right. It's its electrical potential. It lets out a one thousandth of a second pulse.
>> How well do we understand this language?
>> We have somewhat of an understanding. We know that there's a general pattern of, for example, left, right, up, down -- even fast or slow.
>> Scott, Cathy now has neural control over that cursor.
>> Dr. Lee Hochberg of Massachusetts General Hospital is leading the clinical trail. We watched together as Cathy showed us what she can do.
>> So there's a handful of icons that have been placed on the screen.
>> Here's Google, the New York Times, Boston Globe, and here's Mass General Hospital Stroke Service.
>> We're seeing Cathy moving this cursor with nothing but her mind.
>> That's right. She's thinking about the movement of her hand, and she's moving the cursor much as if she had her hand on a mouse.
>> So if a patient who's paralyzed thinks, "Move my left arm," the brain fires those neurons.
>> Even though the arm does not move.
>> Yes. It's a very surprising -- it fires even though you're not moving.
>> The cursor's still a little bit wavier some days --
>> Moving the cursor with her mind is not as fluid or direct as using a mouse. While we were there the cursor meandered a bit, sometimes overshot. But Cathy always hit her target in the end.
>> You want to play some music? All right. She'll click on it. Imagine you squeezing your hand, which is the -- we're doing something else for the click.
>> And she just clicked play.
>> Yep. She did. ^M00:02:21 [ Music and laughing ] ^M00:02:26
>> That's pretty amazing. And so, I mean if Cathy can control a cursor, she can control anything a computer is connected to.
>> That's the goal.
>> The lights, the temperature in the room, even a wheelchair at some point.
>> Ready to try it for real?
>> In fact, Cathy has already driven a wheelchair.
>> See if you can drive it right over to the door.
>> They haven't let her ride in it yet, for her own safety. But with monkeys adopting robot arms and a completely paralyzed person driving a chair, imagine where this could be headed.
>> Fantastic. Very good.
>> Great. ^M00:03:04 [ Clapping ] ^M00:03:06 [ Clock ticking ]
By implanting an electrode inside the brain of a monkey, Andrew Schwartz has been able to decode the language of the brain in a greater attempt to create a new technology which would allow those who are paralyzed to control movement by their minds.
Using an implanted grid of electrodes inside the brain of monkey, Andrew Schwartz has found a relationship between how fast a neuron fires and the way the monkey moves its hand. Once they can understand the relationship, they can write a set of equations which will decode the monkey's intended hand movement in order to find a way to control a prosthetic device.
Andrew Schwartz, a neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh, has implanted a grid of electrodes inside a monkey's brain in order to listen to the different brain cells (or neurons) in an attempt to decode the language of the brain.
People who are paralyzed because of illness or trauma are getting help with a new technology that connects their brains to a computer. See the full broadcast this Sunday, November 2, on "60 Minutes."
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