January 18, 2005


Someday soon, I'll be able to make blogposts in my head:

In June, a surgeon had implanted a tiny sensor into Nagle?s brain, making him the first human subject in an experiment that Brown professors and alumni hope will make patients like Nagle begin to regain their ability to manipulate the physical world around them. The implanted sensor picks up the electrical signals from Nagle?s brain that would normally command parts of his body to move. The signals, instead of proceeding to Nagle?s damaged spinal cord, are collected and sent through wires and fiber-optic cable to hardware and software that translate them into computer-driven movement.


A few weeks after the implantation surgery, researchers, including Henry Merritt Wriston Professor John Donoghue ?79 PhD, who chairs Brown?s neuroscience department, told Nagle to relax and to think about moving his hand to the left and to the right. What came next was a thrill. The scientists could see on a computer screen that when Nagle imagined moving, he not only activated neurons in his primary motor cortex; he did so with ease. With no training or practice, Nagle could transform his mental intentions into an action the scientists could observe. ?That,? says Donoghue, ?completely blew me out of my chair.?

In a matter of weeks, Nagle was guiding the cursor. As he sat in the Massachusetts rehabilitation center that serves as his home, he moved quickly from manipulating the cursor to controlling the channels and the volume on his television set. Soon he could play simple video games, scroll through simulated e-mail messages, and draw a crude circle on a screen. By last fall he was able to open and close a prosthetic hand?all by imagining the movement of a cursor.

Over just a few months, operating the system became so intuitive that Nagle has at times whistled a tune or carried on a conversation as he moved the cursor. This was particularly important because it told researchers that unlike existing systems aimed at helping quadriplegics manipulate the world around them, such as technology that responds to voice commands, Donoghue?s implanted device does not require single-focus concentration.
Posted by Dennis at January 18, 2005 9:24 AM


Sorry, I'm trying to catch up. Are you in Spain on some kind of Tapies grant project?

Hey Scott:

No... why did you ask?

We're in Spain to be closer to my galleries and the communities therein... to be closer to family... to live in this crazy house we bought there... to provide Stephanie a sabbatical... to grab the brass ring, you only live once kind of thing.

A whole complex of reasons.

It looks like the Tapies post is overdue.


Ah Scott,

I scrolled back and figured that the Butterfingers post might read that way. No, checking out art is part of of the job description. And if you are a painter living in Catalunya, a visit to the Tapies Foundation is overdue at nine months.


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