New record in the use of a brain-computer interface

The implanted devices allow a brain-computer interface to manage any type of prosthesis. A 26-year-old man has broken a new record after living seven years and three months with a cyborg-style implant. There is still no certainty as to how long they will be operational or how often an update will be necessary.

New record in the use of a brain-computer interfaceOn August 17, Nathan Copeland became the record man for the time it took to interface a body with a computer. Following a car accident in 2004, Copeland was paralyzed from the chest down, with an inability to move his limbs. The electrodes are the size of a pencil eraser. They are surgically installed in the motor cortex. From there, their neural impulses are translated into commands that enable the control of external devices. These are a computer, video games and a robotic arm that can move him with his thoughts.

An interface for better living

Ten years after his accident, Copeland joined a study at the University of Pittsburgh. It was intended for people with severe spinal cord injuries. The goal is to have interfaces, between the brain and a computer, to restore those functionalities that may have been lost. The young man never hesitated to make himself available for university work. Initially he was told it would last 5 years, since the only data they had was based on monkey studies.

The implant has been in use for 7 years and continues to function without side effects or major complications. This is a breakthrough, and a very promising one, in a field that has been developing since the 1960s. However, there are still some doubts about the long-term durability of the implanted matrices.