Their study’s purpose was to improve prosthetics and brain-controlled devices for the severely disabled patients. But scientists at Duke University have shown for the first time that long-term training with brain-machine interfaces also can lead to partial neurological recovery.
Eight patients who had suffered paralysis for at least one year as a result of spinal injury spent two hours a week controlling devices with their brain signals. They learned how to operate their own avatar in a virtual reality environment. Their brain activity was recorded and transmitted through non-invasive electrodes in fitted caps. After a year of training, both patients and doctors were amazed to find that some sensation and muscle control had been restored.