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PROVIDENCE – Brown University researchers who developed BrainGate, a brain-computer interface that could help restore independence to people with paralysis, were awarded the $1 million Moshe Mirilashvili Memorial Fund B.R.A.I.N. Prize.
The award was presented at a brain science conference in Israel Oct. 15 by Israeli President Shimon Peres.
John Donoghue, co-director of the BrainGate team, a researcher at the Providence V.A. Medical Center and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science, said the award will enable the team to continue their research into improving the lives of the paralyzed.
The BrainGate system involves implanting a tiny device into the brain that picks up signals about movement. A computer translates the signals into commands that move robotic arms and other assistive devices. Users have successfully used the system to perform tasks such as drinking from a bottle, by simply thinking about moving their arms and hands.
BrainGate is now being tested in clinical trials. The team is in the midst of developing a wireless version of the brain sensor.
The prize is awarded for “breakthrough in the field of brain technology for the betterment of humanity,” according to Israel Brain Technologies, which grants the prize. •