Connecting cortex to machines: recent advances in brain interfaces

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Nov;5 Suppl:1085-8. doi: 10.1038/nn947.


Recent technological and scientific advances have generated wide interest in the possibility of creating a brain-machine interface (BMI), particularly as a means to aid paralyzed humans in communication. Advances have been made in detecting neural signals and translating them into command signals that can control devices. We now have systems that use externally derived neural signals as a command source, and faster and potentially more flexible systems that directly use intracortical recording are being tested. Studies in behaving monkeys show that neural output from the motor cortex can be used to control computer cursors almost as effectively as a natural hand would carry out the task. Additional research findings explore the possibility of using computers to return behaviorally useful feedback information to the cortex. Although significant scientific and technological challenges remain, progress in creating useful human BMIs is accelerating.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Electrodes, Implanted / standards
  • Electrodes, Implanted / trends
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Electrophysiology / trends*
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Paralysis / rehabilitation*
  • Prostheses and Implants / standards
  • Prostheses and Implants / trends*
  • Psychophysiology / methods
  • Psychophysiology / trends*
  • User-Computer Interface*