Brief Communication | Published:

Brain-machine interface

Instant neural control of a movement signal

Nature volume 416, pages 141142 (14 March 2002) | Download Citation



The activity of motor cortex (MI) neurons conveys movement intent sufficiently well to be used as a control signal to operate artificial devices1,2,3, but until now this has called for extensive training or has been confined to a limited movement repertoire2,3. Here we show how activity from a few (7–30) MI neurons can be decoded into a signal that a monkey is able to use immediately to move a computer cursor to any new position in its workspace (14° × 14° visual angle). Our results, which are based on recordings made by an electrode array that is suitable for human use4,5, indicate that neurally based control of movement may eventually be feasible in paralysed humans.

Hands-free operation of a cursor can be achieved by a few neurons in the motor cortex.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    et al. Nature 408, 361–365 (2000).

  2. 2.

    & Proc. 6th Annu. Conf. Intl Functl Elec. Stim. Soc. 132–134 (2001).

  3. 3.

    , , & Nature Neurosci. 2, 664–670 (1999).

  4. 4.

    , & Electroenceph. Clin. Neurophysiol. 102, 228–239 (1997).

  5. 5.

    & NeuroReport 9, 1707–1711 (1998).

  6. 6.

    et al. J. Neurosci. 19, 8083–8093 (1999).

  7. 7.

    , , & Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 665.9 (1999).

  8. 8.

    , , & J. Neurosci. (submitted).

  9. 9.

    , , , & Biol. Cybern. (in the press).

Download references

Author information

Author notes

    • Nicholas G. Hatsopoulos
    •  & Liam Paninski

    Present addresses: Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA (N.G.H.); Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York 10003, USA (L.P.)


  1. Department of Neuroscience, Box 1953, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA e-mail:

    • Mijail D. Serruya
    • , Nicholas G. Hatsopoulos
    • , Liam Paninski
    • , Matthew R. Fellows
    •  & John P. Donoghue


  1. Search for Mijail D. Serruya in:

  2. Search for Nicholas G. Hatsopoulos in:

  3. Search for Liam Paninski in:

  4. Search for Matthew R. Fellows in:

  5. Search for John P. Donoghue in:

Competing interests

M.D. Serruya, N.G. Hatsopoulos, and J.P. Donoghue are founders and major stockholders of a Cyberkinetics, Inc. The purpose of this company is to promote the development of neural prosthetic devices. The company was founded June, 2001 and has not product, granted patents or intelluctual property at this time. All five authors are co-inventors on a Brown University patent which has just been submitted (November 2001) for review. This patent is related to the work described in this report. The research reported in our article was performed by Brown University faculty and students and was funded only by a NIH/NINDS contract to JPD.

Supplementary information

About this article

Publication history



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.