The coffee sip was taken by a 58-year-old woman paralysed in 1996 by a stroke. In the first test of its kind, she guided a flask of coffee to her lips using a robotic arm controlled by her brain.
“You could see an enormous grin when she managed it,” says John Donoghue of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “For the first time in 15 years, she was doing something for herself.”
Previously, the team implanted a chip into the brain of a paraplegic man who then successfully used his neurological signals to manoeuvre cursors on computer screens. The latest experiment is the first in which humans have used their brain signals to manipulate real-world objects using a robotic arm.